Dec. 10, 2008
HOUSTON - For the first time in school history, the University of Houston racked up three players of the year honors in Conference USA, when the league office announced on Wednesday the six C-USA individual honors one day after announcing the all-conference squads.
C-USA is completing its 13th football campaign by sending six teams to bowl games for the third time in four years
Sophomore quarterback Case Keenum was named Offensive Player of the Year, senior defensive end Phillip Hunt was named Defensive Player of the Year and true freshman running back Bryce Beall picked up Freshman of the Year \.
Keenum has passed for more than 300 yards in every game this season and leads the nation in total offense (4,993 yards), while ranking second in passing yards (4,768) and passing touchdowns (43). The 2007 C-USA Freshman of the Year has completed 67 percent of his passes (375-of-556) and is averaging 397.3 yards per game.
With Keenum at the controls, the Cougars lead the FBS in total offense at 575.1 yards per game, while averaging 41.7 points per game. His efforts have led Houston to its fourth straight bowl game as its gets ready to face Air Force in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on December 31 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Keenum joins former Cougar standouts Kevin Kolb (2006) and Antowain Smith (1996) as C-USA Offensive Players of the Year.
Hunt becomes the second Cougar to win the honor, joining Wayne Rogers, who shared the award following the 2000 season. Hunt leads Conference USA and ranks fourth nationally with 12 sacks, all solo. He is third in the league lead in tackles for loss with 16.5, totaling 110 lost yards. Hunt has posted 40 total tackles, forced a team-high three fumbles (second in C-USA), broke up one pass and blocked a field goal attempt.
Hunt was the C-USA Defensive Player of the Week after recording three sacks in the Cougars' 44-38 win at SMU.
Bursting on to the scene as a true freshman, Beall set UH freshman rushing marks with his 1,112 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 92.7 yards per game. Beall led Conference USA in rushing touchdowns with 12, while adding four receiving scores to rank third in the league in total touchdowns with 16. He ran for a score and caught a TD in the same game three times.
Beall also tacked on 30 receptions for 404 yards and an additional four scores, and he topped the 100-yard plateau five different times in 2008...all Cougar wins. Beall also was a member of the Conference USA All-Freshman squad.
Beall becomes fifth Cougar to win C-USA freshman accolades, joining Keenum (2007), Kolb (2003), Jason McKinley (1997) and Ketric Sanford (1996.)
The Cougars return to action on Dec. 31, traveling to Fort Worth to face Air Force in a rematch in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 11 am and will be broadcast on ESPN.