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NJCAA Announces Football Players of the Year; 2011 Season Wrap-Up
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 15, 2012) – Following their record-breaking seasons, East Mississippi Community College freshman quarterback Bo Wallace and Rochester Community & Technical College (Minn.) freshman defensive back Caleb Leichtnam were named the 2011 NJCAA Football Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year today by the NJCAA Headquarters on behalf of the NJCAA Football Coaches Association.
Wallace was named the Offensive Player of the Year, while Leichtnam garnered Defensive Player of the Year honors. The duo is the first pair of freshman to receive both awards.
The 2011 season marks the 22nd consecutive year that the NJCAA Football Coaches Association has presented a Player of the Year Award. Since 2000, an award has been granted to both an offensive and defensive player.
Quarterback (6’ 5”, 210 lbs., Fresh.)
East Mississippi Community College
Statistically, Bo Wallace compiled the best season by a quarterback in the history of the NJCAA. Wallace broke three NJCAA single-season records, while leading the East Mississippi Lions to a perfect 12-0 record and their first ever national championship in any sport.
The freshman set new NJCAA records with 4,604 passing yards (4,001 yds – Marc Dunn – Ricks College, Idaho), 53 passing touchdowns (50 TDs – Tony DeLeon – Vermilion CC, Minn. – 1992) and 4,810 yards of total offense (4,075 yds – Will Hall – Northwest Mississippi CC – 1994). Wallace is only the second player in NJCAA history to surpass the 4,000-yard mark passing and the first freshman to win the offensive award since 2004.
In all 12 games this season, Wallace registered over 300 yards of total offense. Wallace also threw for over 400 yards five times and recorded seven passing touchdowns in four games.
At the El Toro Bowl, Wallace put on his best performance of the season to outgun No. 1 Arizona Western College 55-47 for the national championship. Wallace completed 31-of-44 passes for 486 yards and seven touchdown passes, the most ever thrown in a NJCAA sanctioned national title game.
From Pulaski, Tenn., Wallace transferred to East Mississippi from Arkansas State University. Wallace has yet to decide where he will continue his collegiate career next season. Although he has received an offer from Memphis according to Rivals.com, the recent hiring of Hugh Freeze as head coach at Mississippi could reunite Wallace with the former-Arkansas State coach.
Defensive Back (6’ 0”, 177 lbs., Fresh.)
Rochester Community & Technical College, Minn.
Caleb Leichtnam’s ball-hawking skills made him the single biggest defensive threat on the field this season. His defensive efforts anchored Rochester’s Top 10 passing defense and spurred the Yellowjackets on to an 11-0 record in the regular season and their second-consecutive MCAC championship.
Leichtnam intercepted 20 passes in 2011, shattering the previous NJCAA single-season record of 14 (Vonkeith Spencer – Middle Georgia College – 1996/Landrain Gordon – Central Lakes College-Brainerd, Minn. – 2007). The freshman had multiple interceptions in seven games this season, including three contests where he picked off three or more passes. Totaling 422 return yards off his interceptions, Leichtnam returned two picks for touchdowns this season. He also tallied 39 total tackles, including three for a loss.
The best effort Leichtnam displayed this season was his four-interception performance in a 12-2 key conference win over Central Lakes College-Brainerd (Minn.). That showing earned Leichtnam one of his two Offensive Player of the Week awards in 2011.
Leichtnam is the second player from Rochester to receive Player of the Year honors and the first freshman to win the defensive award since 2007.
Read the entire 2011 NJCAA Football Season Wrap-Up here
About the NJCAA:
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is the governing body of two-year college athletics, offering athletic and academic opportunities to college students. It is the second largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states. Each year over 60,000 student-athletes compete in one of 28 different sports and the organization sponsors 48 national championship events and nine football bowl games. For more, visit http://www.njcaa.org.
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