Ten Times The Honors

A total of 10 Mountaineers were named to the first- and second-team All-Big East Conference squads when the league's postseason awards were announced Wednesday.

Running back Noel Devine and kicker Tyler Bitancurt represented WVU on the first-team offense.

Devine was one of two running backs named to the list, splitting the backfield honors with Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis (who was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year).

The junior from North Fort Myers, Fla., battled through multiple injuries to post 1297 yards (a career-high) on 225 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per tote.

He added a career-high 12 touchdowns and made several key plays -- notably a game-winning 56-yard touchdown run in the closing moments to give his team a 28-24 win over Connecticut.

Bitancurt set Mountaineer Field records with four field goals in wins over both Liberty and Pittsburgh, going a perfect 4-of-4 in both games. He was 13-of-14 on field goals on the season, with a long of 45 yards.

His 43-yarder as time ran out was the difference in the Mountaineers' thrilling victory over the arch-rival Panthers.

Linebacker J.T. Thomas, cornerback Brandon Hogan and safety Robert Sands earned the nod on the defensive side of the ball, joining a first-team defense anchored by the Panthers' Greg Romeus and Mick Williams.

Thomas tied as the team's second-leading tackler, totaling 71 takedowns on the season. He had 7.0 tackles for loss, good enough for second-best on the Mountaineer roster. The junior also added one fumble recovery, two interceptions and five pass break-ups.

The pair of Pitt defensive linemen were named co-Defensive Players of the Year.

Hogan made strides in his second season since switching from wide receiver to cornerback. The junior had a team-high 10 pass break-ups and one interception to go with a fumble recovery.

He also was WVU's second leading tackler, also earning 71 takedowns -- two of which went for a loss.

Sands showed great strides out of his free safety position, particularly later in the season. The sophomore had a team-high five interceptions to go with eight pass break-ups (second most on the roster).

He also recovered a fumble and had 1.5 tackles for loss.

Representing West Virginia on the Big East's second-team All-Conference offense are offensive tackle Selvish Capers and quarterback Jarrett Brown.

Capers was the senior anchor on an otherwise young offensive line that paved the way for Devine's big season on the ground.

Brown, the team's senior quarterback, was 186-of-292 passing on the season (a 63.7 percent completion rate) for 2129 yards and 11 touchdowns.

While the signal-caller's rushing statistics might not be as staggering as those of former WVU quarterback Pat White, he made several key plays using his legs. Brown rushed for a net of 423 yards on 111 attempts. He scored five more times on the ground and had a long scamper of 36 yards.

On the defensive side of the second-team squad, defensive lineman Chris Neild and linebacker Reed Williams earned honors. They were joined by punter Scott Kozlowski.

Neild anchored the Mountaineer defensive front from the nose tackle spot, tallying 32 total tackles as a run-stopper in coordinator Jeff Casteel's gap-control oriented 3-3-5 stack defense.

The junior had two tackles for loss, one interception (sealing the win against Louisville in the final minute) and one pass break-up.

Williams returned after sitting out the 2008 season as he rehabilitated his shoulders after off-season surgery. The senior had 57 total tackles, including two sacks and five tackles for loss.

The Moorefield, W.Va., native added seven pass break-ups and a forced fumble. He came on strong at the end of the season after being limited due to injuries once more near the mid-point of the year.

Kozlowski was one of the nation's leading punters, averaging 44.8 yards per kick on his 61 attempts this season. He had a long punt of 63 yards and had 17 kicks of 50 yards or more. On 17 occasions, he pinned his opponent inside the its own 20-yard line.


  • Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly was named the conference's Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year. He is the first three-time winner of the award since Dennis Erickson did so at Miami in 1991, 1992 and 1994.

    One of Kelly's players, Mardy Gilyard, also repeated as Big East Special Teams Player of the Year. In doing so, Gilyard became the first player to do so since Pitt punter Andy Lee did so in 2002 and 2003.

  • To honor the memory of Jasper Howard, the Big East named the Connecticut cornerback, who was murdered in early October, as the Honorary Captain of the All-Big East teams.

  • By winning both of his awards, Pitt's Lewis became the first player to earn both Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Big East since Michael Vick of Virginia Tech did so in 1999.

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