IRVING, Texas – Standout student-athletes from Tulane, Cincinnati and Temple claimed major individual awards as the American Athletic Conference announced its 2022 players of the year and all-conference selections as chosen by the league’s 11 head coaches.

Tulane saw running back Tyjae Spears chosen as The American’s Geico Offensive Player of the Year, while Green Wave coach Willie Fritz was unanimously chosen as Coach of the Year. Cincinnati had two individual award-winners as linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. was named the RoofClaim Defensive Player of the Year, while punter Mason Fletcher was tabbed as Special Teams Player of the Year. Temple freshman quarterback E.J. Warner was the coaches’ choice as Rookie of the Year.

In addition to the individual awards, Tulane and Cincinnati both had a league-leading six players chosen to The American’s all-conference first team. UCF and Houston had five first-team players each.

Spears becomes the first Tulane player, and the first non-quarterback, to be named as American Offensive Player of the Year. Spears finished the regular season with 1,177 rushing yards, good for third in The American, and a league-leading 14 rushing touchdowns. He registered a conference-best 972 yards and eight TDs in conference games, helping the Green Wave to a 7-1 league record (10-2 overall) and its first appearance in The American Championship Game.

Pace is the second consecutive Cincinnati player to be named as The American’s Defensive Player of the Year, following cornerback Sauce Gardner’s honor in 2021. This year’s selection also marks the second consecutive conference player-of-the-year honor for Pace, who was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year at Miami (Ohio) last season. An Associated Press Mid-Season All-America choice and a finalist for the Butkus Award and the Bednarik Award, Pace leads The American with 120 tackles and 19.5 tackles for loss and is second in the conference with 9.0 sacks.

Fletcher is Cincinnati’s first player to win American Special Teams Player of the Year honors. The sophomore leads The American and is fourth nationally with a 46.7-yard punting average and 28 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. He hit 14 punts of at least 50 yards, including an 84-yard punt that shattered The American’s distance record. A Ray Guy Award finalist, Fletcher helped Cincinnati finish the regular season ranked second nationally in net punting at 44.7 yards.

Warner becomes the first Temple player to be chosen as The American’s Rookie of the Year. The true freshman took over as the Owls’ starter in the third game of the season and finished the 2022 campaign with  3,028 passing yards and 18 touchdown passes, capped by a 527-yard, five-touchdown effort in the season finale against East Carolina. Warner finished fourth in The American in passing, averaging 275.3 yards per game in his debut season.

Fritz was the unanimous choice of his peers as American Coach of the Year after he orchestrated Tulane’s turnaround from a 2-10 season in 2021 to a 10-2 showing and a first-place finish in The American’s regular-season standings. The Green Wave is ranked No. 18 in this week’s Associated Press poll as Tulane earned its first 10-win season and top-25 rankings since 1998. He is the third coach to be unanimously chosen as American Coach of the Year, joining Justin Fuente of Memphis in 2014 and Scott Frost of UCF in 2017.

In addition to the major award-winners, The American also named its first, second and honorable mention all-conference teams. East Carolina running back Keaton Mitchell, Houston wide receiver Nathaniel Dell and Houston offensive tackle Patrick Paul were repeat first-team selections. Navy linebacker John Marshall was the lone unanimous first-team all-conference selection.

2022 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL AWARDS

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE GEICO OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOFCLAIM DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Mason Fletcher, P, Cincinnati

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
E.J. Warner, QB, Temple

AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
Willie Fritz, Tulane *

ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM

Pos.PlayerSchoolCl.Ht.Wt.Hometown
WRNathaniel Dell 1HoustonJr.5-10165Daytona Beach, Fla.
WRRashee Rice HSMUSr.6-2203North Richland Hills, Texas
WRKeylon Stokes 2TulsaGr.5-10202Manvel, Texas
OTRyan SwobodaUCFGr.6-10325Clermont, Fla.
OTPatrick Paul 1HoustonSo.6-7310Houston, Texas
OGLokahi Pauole 2 HUCFSr.6-4305Kapolei, Hawaii
OGCam’Ron JohnsonHoustonSo.6-4305Houston, Texas
OGPrince PinesTulaneJr.6-5345Baton Rouge, La.
CSincere Haynesworth 2TulaneSr.6-1300Pearland, Texas
TEJosh Whyle HCincinnatiSr.6-6250Cincinnati, Ohio
QBClayton TuneHoustonSr.6-3220Carrollton, Texas
RBKeaton Mitchell 1East CarolinaSo.5-9184McDonough, Ga.
RBTyjae SpearsTulaneJr.5-11195Ponchatoula, La.
DLRicky BarberUCFJr.6-3295Louisville, Ky.
DLTre’mon Morris-BrashUCFSr.6-2245Richmond, Va.
DLJowon BriggsCincinnatiSr.6-1313Cincinnati, Ohio
DLDontay CorleoneCincinnatiRFr.6-2320Cincinnati, Ohio
DLD’Anthony JonesHoustonSr.6-2270Lawndale, Calif.
DLDarian VarnerTempleSo.6-2260Norfolk, Va.
LBJason JohnsonUCFJr.6-2200Matteson, Ill.
LBIvan Pace Jr.CincinnatiSr.6-0235Cincinnati, Ohio
LBJohn Marshall *NavySr.6-2209Highland, Md.
LBDorian Williams 2 HTulaneSr.6-2230Indian Land, S.C.
CBJa’Quan SheppardCincinnatiSr.6-2200Zephyrhills, Fla.
CBJarius MonroeTulaneJr.6-1205LaPlace, La.
SQuindell Johnson 2 2MemphisSr.6-0205New Orleans, La.
SMacon Clark HTulaneSr.6-1205St. Rose, La.
KChris HowardMemphisSr.6-2210Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
PMason FletcherCincinnatiSo.6-7213Melbourne, Australia
RSJimmy Horn Jr.South FloridaSo.5-10174Sanford, Fla.

* unanimous selection

ALL-CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM

Pos.PlayerSchoolCl.Ht.Wt.Hometown
WRRyan O’Keefe 2UCFSr.5-10175Austin, Texas
WRTyler ScottCincinnatiJr.5-11185Norton, Ohio
WRC.J. JohnsonEast CarolinaJr.6-2222Greenville, N.C.
WRXavier WeaverSouth FloridaJr.6-1180Orlando, Fla.
OTJames TunstallCincinnatiSr.6-5320Indian Head, Md.
OTJoey ClaybrookTulaneSr.6-7300Starkville, Miss.
OGSam JacksonUCFGr.6-6325Bradenton, Fla.
OGJustin OsborneSMUJr.6-5309Flower Mound, Texas
CMatt Lee 1UCFJr.6-4295Oviedo, Fla.
TECaden PrieskornMemphisJr.6-5255Lake Orion, Mich.
QBMichael PrattTulaneJr.6-3220Boca Raton, Fla.
RBIsaiah BowserUCFGr.6-1220Sidney, Ohio
RBBrian BattieSouth FloridaSo.5-8165Sarasota, Fla.
DLElijah Chatman 2SMUSr.6-0291Shreveport, La.
DLDarius HodgesTulaneSo.6-2280Montgomery, Ala.
DLPatrick JenkinsTulaneSo.6-2286New Orleans, La.
DLAnthony GoodlowTulsaSr.6-5286Del City, Okla.
LBXavier CullensMemphisGr.5-11225Ecru, Miss.
LBLayton JordanTempleJr.6-2220McKeesport, Pa.
LBNick AndersonTulaneSr.5-11230Vicksburg, Miss.
LBJustin Wright HTulsaSr.6-2244Abilene, Texas
CBMalik FlemingEast CarolinaJr.5-10184Fairburn, Ga.
CBArt GreenHoustonSr.6-2200Chesterfield, Mo.
SJa’Von HicksCincinnatiSr.6-2210Cincinnati, Ohio
SGervarrius Owens 1HoustonSr.6-0200Moore, Okla.
KRyan CoeCincinnatiSr.6-3227McDonald, Pa.
PCasey GloverTulaneJr.6-5205Jericho, N.Y.
RSJha’Quan JacksonTulaneJr.5-10185Luling, La.

ALL-CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION

Pos.PlayerSchoolCl.Ht.Wt.Hometown
CBArquon BushCincinnatiSr.6-0198Cleveland, Ohio
OTJoe HuberCincinnatiSo.6-5310Dublin, Ohio
OGDylan O’Quinn 1CincinnatiSr.6-4305Toledo, Ohio
WRIsaiah WinsteadEast CarolinaGr.6-4213Richmond, Va.
RSJayce RogersHoustonSr.5-8175Valdosta, Ga.
DLJaylon AllenMemphisSr.6-3240Humble, Texas
CBDavion RossMemphisJr.5-10175Warner Robins, Ga.
DLJacob BusicNavyJr.6-4256Westminster, Md.
LBDwayne Boyles Jr.South FloridaGr.6-3230Miami, Fla.
CBrad CecilSouth FloridaGr.6-4294Jacksonville, Fla.
OGJaylon Thomas 2SMUSr.6-5311Lubbock, Texas
SLarry BrooksTulaneSr.6-1200Fort Worth, Texas
TETyrick JamesTulaneSr.6-2235Waco, Texas
CBTyon DavisTulsaGr.6-0186Putnam City, Okla.

1 2 H indicates previous selections to the first, second or honorable mention all-conference teams

American Athletic Conference Offensive Players of the Year
2013        Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
2014        Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina
2015        Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy
2016        Quinton Flowers, QB, USF
2017         McKenzie Milton, QB, UCF
2018        McKenzie Milton, QB, UCF
2019        Malcolm Perry, QB, Navy
2020        Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
2021        Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
2022        Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

American Athletic Conference Defensive Players of the Year
2013        Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville
2014        Jacoby Glenn, CB, UCF
                Tank Jakes, LB, Memphis
2015        Tyler Matakevich, LB, Temple
2016        Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
2017         Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
2018        Nate Harvey, DE, East Carolina
2019        Quincy Roche, DE, Temple
2020        Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa *
2021        Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati *
2022        Ivan Pace Jr., LB, Cincinnati

American Athletic Conference Special Teams Players of the Year
2013        Demarcus Ayers, WR/KR, Houston
                Tom Hornsey, P, Memphis
2014        Jake Elliott, K, Memphis
2015        Jake Elliott, K, Memphis
2016        Tony Pollard, WR/RS, Memphis
2017         Tony Pollard, WR/RS, Memphis
2018        Isaiah Wright, WR/RS, Temple
2019        Dane Roy, P, Houston
                Antonio Gibson, WR/RS, Memphis
2020        Chris Naggar, K, SMU
2021        Marcus Jones, CB/RS, Houston
2022        Mason Fletcher, P, Cincinnati

American Athletic Conference Rookies of the Year
2013        John O’Korn, QB, Houston
2014        Marlon Mack, RB, USF
2015        Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF
2016        Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
2017         T.J. Carter, CB, Memphis
2018        Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
2019        Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
2020        Rahjai Harris, RB, East Carolina
                Ulysses Bentley IV, RB, SMU
2021        Alton McCaskill, RB, Houston
2022        E.J. Warner, QB, Temple

American Athletic Conference Coaches of the Year

2013        George O’Leary, UCF *
2014        Justin Fuente, Memphis *
2015        Tom Herman, Houston, Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
2016        Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
2017         Scott Frost, UCF *
2018        Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
2019        Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
2020        Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
2021        Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
2022        Willie Fritz, Tulane *


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