Fritz, Spears headline league-high 16 Tulane All-AAC honorees
Irving, Texas – The nationally ranked Tulane football team (10-2, 7-1 AAC) added a few end of the season awards to the ledger to the memorable season on Wednesday. Overall, this year, the No. 18-ranked Green Wave tied for the most AAC First Team choices with six and most total selections of any school in the conference with 16.
The program also earned a pair of American Athletic Conference (AAC) specialty awards with Willie Fritz earning Coach of the Year honors and Tyjae Spears being named the Geico Offensive Player of the Year.
Willie Fritz was named the AAC Coach of the Year for the first time in his car0eer. It is also the first time that a Tulane coach ever been named the AAC Coach of the Year and only the second time overall that a Tulane coach has taken home the honor from a conference as Tommy Bowden was named the Conference USA Coach of the Year in 1998. Fritz has led Tulane to a 10-win campaign for only the fourth time in school history and the first time since 1998. His seven wins in league play are the most for the program since 1934 and mark only the second time in the school’s history that a team has won seven or more conference games in a single campaign.
Tulane’s first nationally ranking this year, seven weeks ago, was a first for the program since 1998. The program also received its first-ever College Football Playoff Ranking this year and are currently placed 19th nationally in that metric. Tulane’s AAC regular season title earned with the victory over Cincinnati on Nov. 25 was only the third in the history of the program and was the first since the Conference USA Championship title in 1998. Fritz led Tulane to its first win over a fellow ranked opponent since 1956 with the victory over then No. 23 ranked Cincinnati. The win over the Bearcats ended their 32-game home winning streak.
Spears was named the AAC’s Geico Offensive Player of the Year for th0e first time in his career. It also marked the first time that a Tulane player has ever taken home an end-of-the-year specialty award from the AAC since the Green Wave joined the conference in 2014. Spears is the first Tulane player to be named a conference player of the year since Shaun King took home the honor in 1998 when the school was playing in Conference USA. It is only the third time overall that a Tulane player has taken home the honor with King also being named the 1997 CUSA Player of the Year.
The Ponchatoula product leads the team and is placed third in the conference with his 1,177 yards rushing. He became just the sixth different Tulane player to ever top 1,000 yards rushing in a single season. Spears has topped 100-yards in seven games this year including six straight to end the regular season. Spears was named the AAC Player of the Week on Nov. 28 after running for 181 yards against Cincinnati in the 27-24 road victory over the Bearcats. Spears leads the conference and is placed eighth nationally in touchdowns scored with 16. His 16 touchdowns scored (14 rushing and two receiving) are the third-most ever in a single season for a Tulane player. His 96 points scored this year is the sixth-highest single season total in school history. He is also one of seven players on the team with 20 or more receptions this year. In addition to being named the AAC Offensive Player of the Year, Spears also was named First Team All-AAC for the first time in his career.
Joining Spears from the offense as AAC First Team All-Conference selections this year is guard Prince Pines and center Sincere Haynesworth. It is the first-time that Pines has earned All-AAC honors since he transferred to Tulane from Sam Houston State, while this is the third time that Haynesworth has been an All-AAC choice (Second Team in 2020 and Honorable Mention in 2021).
Pines and Haynesworth have helped paved the way for a Tulane offense that is averaging 34.3 points a game. The offense is putting up 192.3 yards rushing and 223.7 passing yards a contest. Tulane has topped the 20-point barrier in 11 of the team’s 12 games with a high of 59 points against SMU.
Earning First Team All-AAC honors from the defense this year for Tulane are linebacker Dorian Williams, cornerback Jarius Monroe and safety Macon Clark. This is the third time that Williams has earned All-Conference honors at Tulane as he was Second Team in 2020 and Honorable Mention in 2021. This is the second time that Clark have been honored by the conference with All-AAC honors as he was an honorable mention selection in 2021. This marks the first time that Monroe has earned an honor from the league after transferring to Tulane in the spring of 2022.
Williams leads the team with his 105 tackles. He is tied for the team lead with his four sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and six pass breakups and is second with 6.5 tackles for loss. He was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 7.
Monroe is tied for the team lead with his six pass breakups, ranks second on the club with his two interceptions and is fifth on the squad with his 40 tackles while playing in all 12 games.
Clark leads the team with his seven tackles for loss, tied for the lead with two interceptions and is fourth with his 56 tackles. He was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 5 and Oct. 10.
The Second Team All-AAC Tulane selections are offensive tackle Joey Claybrook, quarterback Michael Pratt, joker Darius Hodges, defensive lineman Patrick Jenkins, linebacker Nick Anderson, punter Casey Glover and return specialist Jha’Quan Jackson. It is the second time that Claybrook is All-AAC as he was Honorable Mention in 2020. It is the first-time selection for Pratt, Hodges, Jenkins, Anderson, Glover and Jackson.
Claybrook has helped the Tulane offense average 34.3 points a game this year. The offense is putting up 192.3 yards rushing and 223.7 passing yards a contest. Tulane has topped the 20-point barrier in 11 of the team’s 12 games with a high of 59 points against SMU.
Pratt has been one of the two focal points of the offense this year. He has completed 187 of 288 passes for 2,381 yards and a 21-4 touchdown to interception ratio. He is also the second leading rusher on the squad with his 347 yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Pratt ranks second in the league in passing efficiency (155.7) and is fourth in passing touchdowns, seventh in passing yards and eighth in passing yards per game (216.5). He was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 21.
Hodges has totaled 28 tackles, five tackles for loss and four sacks this season. He is tied for the team lead in sacks and ranks fourth on the club in tackles for loss.
Jenkins has 29 tackles, five tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He is tied for fourth on the team in tackles from loss from his interior defensive line position.
Anderson is tied for the team lead with his two forced fumbles, is second on the club with his 100 tackles and ranks third on the squad with 5.5 tackles for loss. He was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week on both Sept. 18 and Oct. 3.
Glover has punted 41 times for 1,701 yards. He is averaging 41.5 yards a kick with a long of 65. He has seen 17 of his punts downed inside the 20 and has five 50+ punts this season. He also handles kickoffs for Tulane and has kicked off 73 times for 4,518 yards with an average of 61.8 yards a kick.
Jackson was chosen as a return specialist as he is averaging 11.4 yards a punt return to lead the conference and place ninth nationally. Jackson has returned 18 punts for 206 yards with a long of 90 yards against Memphis. His 90-yard touchdown return against the Tigers was the second longest return in school and league history. Jackson also ranks tied for second on the team with his 28 catches and is third on the club with his 427 receiving yards
Tulane also had a pair of players earn All-AAC Honorable Mention honors in defensive back Larry Brooks and tight end Tyrick James.
Brooks is third on the team with his 74 tackles and is tied for the team lead with his two interceptions and two forced fumbles.
James ranks third on the team in touchdown catches with four. He is fourth on the team in receiving yards (265) and fifth on the squad with his 24 catches.
Tulane’s football team will host the AAC Football Championship for the first-time in school history at Yulman Stadium on Saturday at 3 p.m.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE GEICO OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COACH OF THE YEAR
Willie Fritz, Tulane
All-Conference First Team
OG Prince Pines
C Sincere Haynesworth
RB Tyjae Spears
LB Dorian Williams
CB Jarius Monroe
S Macon Clark
All-Conference Second Team
OT Joey Claybrook
QB Michael Pratt
DL Darius Hodges
DL Patrick Jenkins
LB Nick Anderson
P Casey Glover
RS Jha’Quan Jackson
All-Conference Honorable Mention
S Larry Brooks
TE Tyrick James
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