Wesleyan’s Garnett and Franklin-Branch tabbed for MEC All-Conference football honors

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. – The Mountain East Conference today unveiled its 2023 Football All-Conference Teams and postseason award winners following a vote of the league’s head coaches.

Charleston running back Chavon Wright was voted the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, while UNC Pembroke’s Jamae Blank and Charleston’s Nick Evans shared Defensive Player of the Year honors for 2023.

UNC Pembroke running back Sincere Baines was voted the MEC Offensive Freshman of the Year, and Frostburg State defensive back Darrell Scott earned Defensive Freshman of the Year recognition. UC head coach Quinn Sanders was voted the league’s Coach of the Year.

Wright, a redshirt sophomore from Pembroke Pines, Fla., led the MEC in rushing this season with 1,231 yards on 203 carries (6.1 yd/carry). Wright also rushed for a league-high 14 touchdowns and put together five 100-yard rushing performances on the year. He rushed for a season-high 276 yards and three touchdowns on Oct. 14 against Notre Dame.

Blank, a redshirt junior from Durham, N.C., led the league with 12.5 sacks and finished second in the MEC with 21.5 tackles for loss this season. For the season, the defensive end also chipped in 49 tackles, had six pass breakups, and forced and recovered three fumbles. Blank had five multiple sack performances on the season.

Evans, a redshirt senior from Boston, Mass., finished the year with 22 tackles, 9.5 sacks and one forced fumble to lead the Charleston defense. He totaled 12.0 tackles for loss from his defensive end position this season. Evans ranks second in the league in sacks this season. He recorded a season-high six tackles and two sacks in Charleston’s season opener against Gannon. He had four multiple sack performances this season.

Baines, from Fayetteville, N.C., finished fourth in the league with 797 rushing yards on the season. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry and also rushed for 11 TDs on the year. Baines was also a contributor in the UNCP passing game, hauling in 15 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. Over the final four weeks of the season, Baines had three 100-yard rushing games and nine touchdowns. His best outing of the year was in week 11, when he rushed for 178 yards and five scores against Concord.

Scott, a cornerback from Brandywine, Md., recorded 14 solo tackles, nine pass breakups and one interception in the Frostburg State secondary this season. Scott recorded a season-high four solo stops and four pass breakups against Wheeling back in September. He recorded his lone interception of the year against Charleston on Oct. 28.

Sanders was named the MEC Coach of the Year after leading Charleston to a 9-1 record in 2023, including an 8-1 mark in league play. Charleston is making its first NCAA playoff appearance since 2015. UC also won its first-ever Mountain East Conference Football Championship in 2023 and currently ranks 23rd in the AFCA National Poll.

Charleston earned the No. 2 seed in Super Region 1 and will host New Haven on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs.

In addition to the 2023 award winners, the league also announced it all-conference teams on Tuesday afternoon (listed below).

2023 MEC Individual Awards
Offensive Player of the Year: Chavon Wright (RB, Charleston)
Offensive Freshman of the Year: Sincere Baines (RB, UNC Pembroke)
Defensive Player of the Year (co-): Jamae Blank (DL, UNC Pembroke), Nick Evans (DL, Charleston)
Defensive Freshman of the Year: Darrell Scott (DB, Frostburg State)
Coach of the Year: Quinn Sanders (Charleston)

2023 All-MEC First Team
Pos. Name School
QB Donovan Riddick West Virginia State
RB Joel Felder West Virginia State
RB Idris Lawrence Notre Dame
RB Chavon Wright Charleston
WR Kris Copeland Concord
WR Trey Dixon UNC Pembroke
WR Rashawn Harvey West Liberty
WR Tae Marrero Charleston
TE James Faulkner Notre Dame
FB/HB Niko Kausky Charleston
OL Brandon Dillard Frostburg State
OL Carson Heidecker Notre Dame
OL Donovan McCollister Charleston
OL Joe Petryszak Fairmont State
OL Ian Pomeroy Glenville State
OL Chris Russell UNC Pembroke

DL Jamae Blank UNC Pembroke
DL Nick Evans Charleston
DL Lavell Gibson Notre Dame
DL Cam Rice West Liberty
DL Leonard Scott Frostburg State
LB Seth Arnold Glenville State
LB Brocton Blair Fairmont State
LB Willie Floyd Charleston
LB Sean Hill UNC Pembroke
LB Isaiah Stephens Notre Dame
LB Colby Street Frostburg State
DB Cashawn Beasley Charleston
DB Eltayeb Bushra Fairmont State
DB Wylan Harich Frostburg State
DB Antoine Holloway Notre Dame
DB Jy Martin West Virginia State

K Cam Shirkey Notre Dame
P Josh Hutley Concord
RS Tae Marrero Charleston

2023 All-MEC Second Team
Pos. Name School

QB Colin Johnson UNC Pembroke
RB Sean Aaron Frostburg State
RB Sincere Baines UNC Pembroke
RB LeJay Hatcher Fairmont State
RB Alfred Menjor Glenville State
WR Orion Bonner Glenville State
WR Yves Bosmans Charleston
WR Chris Charles West Liberty
TE Carter Giacomo Fairmont State
FB/HB Joe Jones West Virginia State
OL Barnabas Baning Charleston
OL Ryan Creech West Liberty
OL Mike Hudren Frostburg State
OL Andres Sagastume West Virginia State
OL Peter Schmitt Wheeling
OL Zach Slapnicker Notre Dame

DL PK Ackah-Yensu Charleston
DL Raydarius Freeman UNC Pembroke
DL Caleb Grant Wheeling
DL Isaiah Macklin Glenville State
DL Jaylen Parks Frostburg State
DL Randy Robinson Fairmont State
LB Jacob Clark Glenville State
LB Jalen Jones West Virginia State
LB Saige Ley UNC Pembroke
LB Aden Miller Charleston
LB Michael Morgan Frostburg State
DB Jovon Jackson Fairmont State
DB Keyshawn Pickett UNC Pembroke
DB Isaiah Powell-Major Fairmont State
DB Mark Shepherd Glenville State
DB Roderick Webb Charleston

K Tim McCutchen Charleston
P Dom Buttazzoni Notre Dame
P Brennan Schmitt West Virginia State

2023 All-MEC Honorable Mention
QB (2): Rudy Garcia (West Liberty), Javonte Howard (Charleston)
RB (2): Alex Brink (Charleston), Elijah Young (Wheeling)
WR (3): Nate Garnett (West Va. Wesleyan), Kobe Harris (Fairmont State), Quron Winder (Wheeling)
TE (1): Jayden Smith (UNC Pembroke)
FB/HB (1): Jessie Collins (West Liberty)
OL (7): Justin Collier (Glenville State), Jabari Edwards (Concord), Jon Fitzpatrick (West Virginia State), John Holland (Fairmont State), Isaiah Lewis (Wheeling), Jacob Perry (UNC Pembroke), Ethan Wolford (Charleston)

DL (5): Amir Franklin-Branch (West Va. Wesleyan), Yasir Holmes (Frostburg State), Lane Martinez Beasley (Notre Dame), Nemo Roberts (Fairmont State), Corlyn Witcher (West Virginia State)
LB (5): J.R. Atkinson (Wheeling), Thaxton Gallagher (Charleston), Emarion Perkins (Notre Dame), Nathan Rosario Santos (Notre Dame), Jamari Smith (Concord)
DB (6): Nick Blake (West Virginia State), Aaron Davis (Wheeling), Vincent Nwachi (Frostburg State), Anthony Smith (Frostburg State), Shaun Sterling Jr. (Glenville State), Chris Wilson (West Liberty)

K (1): Emmanuel Richardson (Fairmont State)
RS (1): Max Davis (Frostburg State)

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