RICHMOND, Va. – Eleven members of the 11th-ranked University of New Hampshire football team were feted Monday as members of CAA All-Conference Teams, including First Team recognition for linebacker Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.), wide receiver R.J. Harris (Odenton, Md.), left tackle Seamus O'Neill (Manchester, N.H.) and defensive tackle Jared Smith (Greencastle, Pa.).
Running back Nico Steriti (Toms River, N.J.), cornerback Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md.) and safety Manny Asam (Bloomfield, N.J.) were tabbed to the All-CAA Second Team, while tight end Harold Spears (Perkasie, Pa.), center Mike Coccia (Bethlehem, Pa.), left guard Chris Zarkoskie (West Caldwell, N.J.) and place kicker Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) earned berths on the Third Team.
Evans, an All-CAA First Teamer for the second straight season, is the league leader in total tackles (115) and solo tackles (77), and the co-captain is ranked second in tackles/game (10.5). Evans, New Hampshire's all-time tackle leader (449) and the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award winner as the national FCS defensive player of the year, was this year's CAA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and, during his sophomore season (2010), was a member of the All-CAA Second Team.
Harris, the CAA's leader in receiving yards/game (89.2) and total receiving yards (981), moves up to the First Team as a sophomore after being selected to the Second Team as a redshirt freshman in 2011. Harris ranks second in the league in receptions (73) and receptions/game (6.6), and his team-leading nine TD catches rank third in the conference.
O'Neill, who garnered All-CAA Third Team honors as a sophomore in 2011, claims a spot on the First Team as a junior. The offensive lineman, who has started 23 consecutive games at left tackle, anchors the front line for an offense ranked second in the CAA in scoring (36.5 points/game), total offense (470.9 yards/game), rushing (234.2 yards/game) and third in passing (236.7 yards/game).
Smith, a first-time All-CAA honoree, leads the Wildcats in tackles for loss (9.0), sacks (4.0), and blocked kicks (three). His two forced fumbles are tied for second in the CAA. The defensive tackle and Senior Bowl Watch List representative has accumulated 36 tackles, including 23 solo, in 10 games –all starts.
Steriti claims All-CAA Second Team honors after rushing 129 times for 870 yards and nine TDs during the regular season. The sophomore running back ranks fifth in the league in rushing yards/game (79.1), and his 5.5 points/game are ranked ninth. He added 13 receptions for 108 yards and a receiving TD and 11 kickoff returns for 167 yards.
Peters, who made the All-CAA Third Team as a running back in 2010, notched a place on the Second Team in his first season as a cornerback. The senior co-captain is tied for third in the league with four interceptions, and his eight pass breakups are good for eighth. In nine games, Peters has notched 49 tackles, a forced fumble and has added 10 kickoff returns for 268 yards, pacing the Wildcats with 26.8 yards/return.
Asam ranked second on the team with 64 total tackles and 47 solo stops while starting all 11 games at strong safety. The junior amassed five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Spears, a sophomore, posted 20 receptions for 305 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games, highlighted by a three-catch, 107-yard, two-TD performance in a win at Maine and a six-reception, 94-yard, TD effort in a victory at Georgia State.
Coccia, a sophomore, has started all 23 games of his Wildcat career at center alongside Zarkoskie, a senior co-captain and three-year starter who has logged the start at left guard all 11 games this season.
MacArthur earns All-CAA honors for the third straight season. The Third Team kicker is 11-for-14 in field goal attempts, with a long of 43 yards.
The CAA Coach of the Year is Villanova's Andy Talley, the Offensive Player of the Year is Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke, Stephon Robertson of James Madison was named the Defensive Player of the Year and the co-Special Teams Players of the Year are B.W. Webb of William & Mary and Albert Wilson of Georgia State. The Offensive Rookie of the Year is Villanova's John Robertson, and Delaware's Jeff Williams garnered the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
UNH (8-3, 6-2 CAA) will venture to Spartanburg, S.C., to challenge No. 9 Wofford (8-3, 6-2 SoCon), the co-champions of the Southern Conference, in the second round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Gibbs Stadium (2 p.m). The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
The Wildcats are playing in the postseason for the ninth consecutive year, the longest active streak in the nation. For tickets, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.