CLEVELAND (WFFT) – Today the Mid-American Conference announced the All-MAC Teams & Specialty Award selections for the 2020 football season. All of the awards were voted on by the league's 12 head coaches.
Buffalo junior running back Jaret Patterson was tabbed the winner of the 39th Vern Smith Leadership Award as the top player in the MAC and was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Buffalo Head Coach Lance Leipold was selected as the MAC Head Coach of the Year, while Central Michigan running back Lew Nichols III was named MAC Freshman of the Year. Ball State linebacker Brandon Martin and Central Michigan defensive end Troy Hairston II shared MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Western Michigan senior wide receiver/kickoff returner D'Wayne "Dee" Eskridge was named MAC Special Teams Player of the Year.
Patterson is the first player in Buffalo program history to win the prestigious Vern Smith Leadership Award. He is just the second UB player to win MAC Offensive Player of the Year honors, joining former quarterback Tyree Jackson who won the award in 2018.
Patterson has assembled a historic season through only five games. He leads the nation in rushing, averaging 203 yards per game and has scored 18 rushing touchdowns, third in the country. With 1,025 yards on the season, the junior running back became just the 12th player in FBS history to rush for 1,000 yards in the first five games of the year.
Leipold was named the MAC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. He also won the award in 2018. Leipold has led Buffalo to a 5-0 record and a MAC East Division Championship. The Bulls lead the nation in scoring (51.8 ppg) and rushing yards per game (344.6). He is the first UB head coach to win the honor multiple times. Former head coach Turner Gill won the award in 2007.
Martin, who returned this year after sustaining a season-ending injury in the 2019 opener, ranks fourth nationally with 12.0 tackles per game.
The redshirt junior from Indianapolis had 6.5 tackles for loss, including 5.0 in the past three games.
Martin is the first Ball State player to win the defensive player of the year honor since Brad Maynard won it as a punter in 1996 and the first traditional defensive player to win the award for BSU since linebacker Greg Garnica did it three straight years from 1987-89.
Hairston leads the MAC in both sacks (5.5) and tackles-for-loss (12). Nationally, he ranks third in tackles-for-loss and 10th in sacks per game.
Hairston is the third Chippewa to earn the MAC Defensive Player of the Year Award, joining Dan Bazuin (2005) and Ray Bentley (1982).
Eskridge was one of two players in the league with a kickoff return for a touchdown this season, while his 27.5 yards per kickoff return led the league among players with at least five returns.
At receiver, Eskridge led the MAC in receiving yards (784), yards per game (130.7) and receiving touchdowns (eight). It marks the third time in the last five seasons a Bronco has collected Special Teams Player of the Year after Darius Phillips won it in 2016 and '17.
Nichols led the Chippewas with 508 yards rushing and he caught 10 passes for 109 yards and scored five touchdowns. He ranked seventh in the MAC in rushing yards per game (84.7) and was ninth in yards per carry (6.5).
Nichols is the sixth Chippewa to earn the MAC Freshman of the Year Award and the first since Antonio Brown in 2007.
The All-MAC First, Second & Third Teams were also announced and are listed below.
No. 23 Buffalo Bulls will meet Ball State Cardinals in the 2020 Rocket Mortgage MAC Football Championship Game, scheduled for Friday, December 18 at Ford Field in Detroit.
The game will kick-off at 7:30 pm EST on ESPN.
2020 MAC Specialty Award Winners
Coach of the Year: Lance Leipold, Buffalo
Offensive Player of the Year: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
Co-Defensive Players of the Year: Troy Hairston II, DE, Central Michigan // Brandon Martin, LB, Ball State
Special Teams Player of the Year: D’Wayne “Dee” Eskridge, WR/KOR, Western Michigan
Freshman of the Year: Lew Nichols III, RB, Central Michigan
Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo
2020 All-MAC First Team Offense
Quarterback – Dustin Crum, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Kayode Awosika, Buffalo +
Offensive Lineman – Mike Novitsky, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Tommy Doyle, Miami &
Offensive Lineman – Bryce Harris, Toledo #
Offensive Lineman – Mike Caliendo, Western Michigan +
Tight End – Quintin Morris, Bowling Green +
Wide Receiver – Justin Hall, Ball State &^
Wide Receiver – Isaiah McKoy, Kent State %
Wide Receiver – Tyrice Richie, Northern Illinois
Wide Receiver – D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Running Back – Teon Dollard, Akron
Running Back – Jaret Patterson, Buffalo &#
Placekicker – Marshall Meeder, Central Michigan
2020 All-MAC First Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Anthony Ekpe, Ball State
Outside Linebacker – Troy Brown, Central Michigan &
Inside Linebacker – Brandon Martin, Ball State
Inside Linebacker – James Patterson, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo &
Down Lineman – Ralph Holley, Western Michigan
Down Lineman – Troy Hairston II, Central Michigan
Down Lineman – Mohamed Diallo, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Bryce Cosby, Ball State
Defensive Back – Willie Reid, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Noski LaFleur, Eastern Michigan
Defensive Back – Bricen Garner, Western Michigan
Punter – Luke Elzinga, Central Michigan
2020 All-MAC First Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Kickoff Return Specialist – Justin Hall, Ball State &
2020 All-MAC Second Team Offense
Quarterback – Drew Plitt, Ball State
Offensive Lineman – Curtis Blackwell, Ball State %
Offensive Lineman – Jake Fuzak, Buffalo
Offensive Lineman – Derek Smith, Central Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Bill Kuduk, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan +
Tight End – Daniel Crawford, Northern Illinois
Wide Receiver – Antonio Nunn, Buffalo %
Wide Receiver – Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan &
Wide Receiver – Jack Sorenson, Miami ^
Wide Receiver – Skyy Moore, Western Michigan &
Running Back – De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio
Running Back – La’Darius Jefferson, Western Michigan
Placekicker – Chad Ryland, Eastern Michigan
2020 All-MAC Second Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Christian Albright, Ball State ^
Outside Linebacker – Jamal Hines, Toledo %
Inside Linebacker – Bubba Arslanian, Akron
Inside Linebacker – Terry Myrick, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Turan Rush, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Weston Kramer, Northern Illinois
Down Lineman – Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
Down Lineman – Austin Conrad, Ohio
Defensive Back – Antonio Phillips, Ball State &
Defensive Back – Jordan Gandy, Northern Illinois
Defensive Back – Tycen Anderson, Toledo
Defensive Back – Nate Bauer, Toledo
Punter – Nathan Snyder, Ball State
2020 All-MAC Second Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Trayvon Rudolph, Northern Illinois
Kickoff Return Specialist – De’Montre Tuggle, Ohio
2020 All-MAC Third Team Offense
Quarterback – Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan
Offensive Lineman – Nathan Monnin, Kent State
Offensive Lineman – Danny Godlevske, Miami %^
Offensive Lineman – Brayden Patton, Northern Illinois
Offensive Lineman – Brett Kitrell, Ohio
Tight End – Zac Lefebvre, Buffalo
Wide Receiver – Yo’Heinz Tyler, Ball State
Wide Receiver – Hassan Beydoun, Eastern Michigan
Wide Receiver – Isaiah Winstead, Toledo
Wide Receiver – Jaylen Hall, Western Michigan
Running Back – Caleb Huntley, Ball State +
Running Back – Kevin Marks, Buffalo
Placekicker – Alex McNulty, Buffalo
2020 All-MAC Third Team Defense
Outside Linebacker – Kholbe Coleman, Bowling Green %
Inside Linebacker – Jaylin Thomas, Ball State %
Inside Linebacker – Kyle Pugh, Northern Illinois #
Inside Linebacker – Treshaun Hayward, Western Michigan &
Down Lineman – Eddie Wilson, Buffalo
Down Lineman – Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan
Down Lineman – Kam Butler, Miami +
Down Lineman – Lonnie Phelps, Miami
Defensive Back – A.J. Watts, Akron
Defensive Back – Devonni Reed, Central Michigan
Defensive Back – Emmanuel Rugamba, Miami %
Defensive Back – Devin Lafayette, Northern Illinois
Punter – Nick Mihalic, Western Michigan
2020 All-MAC Third Team Specialists
Kickoff Return Specialist – Bryson Denley, Bowling Green
Kickoff Return Specialist – Ron Cook, Buffalo
- & 2019 First-Team All-MAC
- + 2019 Second-Team All-MAC
- % 2019 Third-Team All-MAC
- @ 2018 First-Team All-MAC
- # 2018 Second-Team All-MAC
- ^ 2018 Third-Team All-MAC
- = 2017 First-Team All-MAC
- * 2017 Second-Team All-MAC
- ! 2017 Third-Team All-MAC