Dec. 7, 2011
Houston, Texas - For the second time in his career Houston quarterback Case Keenum has been named the Conference USA Most Valuable Player. Keenum was one of five Cougars to be honored by the league's head coaches on Wednesday and became the first two-time winner of the MVP award in league history.
The Abilene, Texas, native was joined by Patrick Edwards (Offensive Player of the Year), Tyron Carrier (Special Teams Player of the Year), D.J. Hayden (Newcomer of the Year) and Kevin Sumlin (Coach of the Year) in claiming individual awards. It's also the first time ever a team has swept both the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. Conference USA began handing out the Most Valuable Player Award in 2008 and Keenum won the honor in both 2009 and 2011.
Keenum was the country's top passer this season, throwing for 5,099 yards and 45 touchdowns. His yardage and TD totals led the nation, while his completion percentage (71.7) and passing efficiency (177.9) ranked among the top six in America. Named the 2011 Sammy Baugh Award winner as college football's top passer, Keenum has more wins than any quarterback in UH history and led the team to a school record 12 victories in 2011.
Edwards was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year after pacing the conference in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and yards per catch. A former walk-on, Edwards caught 79 passes for 1,524 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. He also averaged 19.3 yards per reception and his 1,524 yards broke the C-USA single-season record. Over his career Edwards is the Houston and Conference USA all-time leader in receiving yardage (4,279) and is tied for the C-USA career record with 16 100-yard games.
Edwards is the fourth Cougar to win Offensive Player of the Year honors from C-USA, joining Keenum (2008), quarterback Kevin Kolb (2006) and running back Antowain Smith (1996). He is also the first UH wide receiver ever to win the award.
Sumlin claimed Coach of the Year honors for the second time in his four seasons at the helm of the UH program. He led the Cougars to a school-record 12 victories and a No. 6 ranking in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Sumlin has won more games through his initial four seasons at Houston than any coach in school history, accumulating 35 wins, while leading UH to its first January Bowl game since the 1984 season.
Carrier was named the Special Teams Player of the Year. It's the first time a Cougar has won the award and Carrier tied an NCAA record with his seventh career kickoff return for a TD when he raced 100 yards on the opening kickoff vs. Rice. The Houston native (Worthing HS) is tied with former Clemson standout C.J. Spiller for the most kick returns for score in college football history and has a chance to break the record vs. Penn State in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl in Dallas at Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Hayden was without question C-USA's most valuable newcomer in 2011 and the junior college transfer was named Newcomer of the Year by the league's head coaches after helping UH evolve into one of the country's Top 10 most-improved defenses this season. Hayden had 62 tackles from his cornerback position, but also led the club with nine passes broken up and four forced fumbles. He also recorded two interceptions, returning a pick 54 yards for a score at UAB and had six tackles for loss.
Houston is completing a historic 2011 campaign, which has seen the program win a school-record 12 games and rise to unprecedented heights in the Bowl Championship Series standings. UH students and fans have also made this an incredible season with their support, breaking the Robertson Stadium attendance record for a second consecutive year. UH also finished the 2011 campaign by breaking the single-game attendance mark at Robertson Stadium in back-to-back games (vs. SMU and Southern Miss).
Game time in Dallas at the 2012 TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium is scheduled for 11 a.m. Penn State enters the game 9-3 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play. The two clubs will meet for just the third time in series history and for the first time in postseason play.
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### GO COOGS ###