Ten Wildcats Named to All-Conference Team
Nov. 26, 2013
RICHMOND, Va.--Senior defensive end Rakim Cox (San Diego, Calif.) was named a first team All-CAA selection and a total of 10 Villanova players earned all-conference recognition in an announcement by the conference on Monday afternoon. In addition to first team recognition for Cox the Wildcats had five players on the second team and four third team honorees. Villanova had six offensive players, three defensive players and one member of special teams receive All-CAA accolades.
Second team all-conference honors were awarded to sophomore quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) and sophomore offensive lineman Josh Bucci (Beaver, Pa.) from the offense in addition to senior nose guard Antoine Lewis (Somers Point, N.J.), senior cornerback Craig James (Mays Landing, N.J.) and sophomore linebacker Don Cherry (Trumbull, Conn.) from the defense.
The four third team selections from the Wildcats were junior running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.), junior offensive lineman Ross Hall (Leola, Pa.), sophomore safety Cameron McCurry (Orange Park, Fla.) and senior kicker Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.). The 10 total All-CAA players for Villanova were tied for fourth among the 11 conference teams.
Six of the Wildcats all-conference honorees earned repeat selections. Lewis is a three-time All-CAA performer in his career, while Bucci, Cox, Hamilton, Monangai and Robertson all received honors for the second time. Robertson was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the league last season and is one of two league players to be among the 15 finalists for the Walter Payton Award.
Villanova finished the season with a 6-5 record and came in fourth in the CAA with a 5-3 league mark. During the year the Wildcats played five of their eight conference games against nationally-ranked opponents and recorded wins over then-No. 16 Stony Brook (35-6) and then-No. 3 Towson (45-35). Villanova ended the season with consecutive victories over Rhode Island (45-0) and Delaware (35-34), with the latter win coming in the annual Battle of the Blue rivalry game.
The announcement from the CAA on Monday afternoon included the first, second and third team all-conference lists as well as the league's major award winners. Towson running back Terrance West was chosen as the Offensive Player of the Year, James Madison linebacker Stephon Robertson was the Defensive Player of the Year and William & Mary kick returner Tre McBride was tabbed as the Special Teams Player of the Year. The Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year were Towson running back Darius Victor and Maine linebacker Christophe Mulumba, respectively. Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove was selected as the Coach of the Year after leading the Black Bears to their first-ever outright CAA title.
Below, in alphabetical order, are profiles of each of the Wildcats players to earn All-CAA accolades.
Josh Bucci (Senior, Right Guard, 6-6, 345, Beaver, Pa. / Beaver)
Bucci was a starter on the Villanova offensive line for the fourth straight season and repeated as an all-conference honoree. He was also a second team selection last year. This season the Wildcats offensive line was again one of the team's strong points and Villanova finished the season leading the CAA in rushing yards per game. This is the second straight year that the Wildcats have ended the regular season as the top running team in the conference, and the team's average of 250.9 rushing yards per game ranks eighth in the nation. Villanova has run for a total of 2,760 yards on the year and the offensive line allowed only 29 quarterback sacks in 11 contests.
The Wildcats offense averaged 30.6 points per game for the season and racked up 35 or more points in five of the team's six victories, including three that came by double-digit margins. Bucci, who was a redshirt freshman on the Villanova national championship team in 2009, wrapped up his collegiate career having played in 47 games and making 44 consecutive starts.
Don Cherry (Sophomore, Linebacker, 6-1, 230, Trumbull, Conn. / Trumbull)
CAA Second Team (Linebacker)
In his first season as a starter Cherry emerged as one of the Wildcats top defensive players. He started all 11 games and led Villanova with 99 tackles, including 60 solo stops and 39 assisted tackles. His 12.5 tackles for loss were also led the team and Cherry added one sack and two pass break-ups to his season stat line. Cherry reached double figures in tackles four times during the season, including three times in the final four games. He made 12 stops against Maine on October 26, set a career high with 14 tackles at James Madison on November 2 and then had 11 tackles versus Delaware in the season finale.
Cherry was a top performer for a Wildcats defense which averaged nearly six tackles for loss per game. Villanova also registered its first shutout since the 2010 season when it defeated Rhode Island, 45-0, on November 16. This is the seventh straight year and the 12th time in the last 13 seasons that the Wildcats have had at least one linebacker receive all-conference accolades. In his first two seasons at Villanova, Cherry has played in 21 career games and recorded 109 tackles.
Rakim Cox (Senior, Defensive End, 6-4, 260, San Diego, Calif. / San Diego)
Cox has been the top playmaker for the Villanova defense and in 2013 was a starter on the defensive line for the fourth consecutive season. Cox had a career-high 9.0 sacks for the season, good for second-best in the CAA, while his sacks per game average is tied for 12th in the nation. Cox finished the season with 30 total tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and the nine sacks. He was credited with rushing the passer three times and had one pass breakup and one forced fumble.
Aside from his pass coverage Cox was also a standout for the Wildcats on special teams with three blocked kicks. He blocked extra points against both Stony Brook and New Hampshire and also blocked a field goal versus Penn which was eventually picked up and returned for a Villanova touchdown.
Cox finished his career having played in 48 games for the Wildcats. His career totals include 18 sacks and a total of 33.5 tackles for loss. Cox had 105 career tackles, broke up 16 passes and had four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. He also blocked four kicks.
Ross Hall (Junior, Center, 6-4, 300, Leola, Pa. / Lancaster Catholic)
Hall started all 10 games he appeared in for Villanova this season and finished the season with a streak of 28 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of the 2011 campaign. This season the Wildcats offensive line was again one of the team's strong points and Villanova finished the season leading the CAA in rushing yards per game. This is the second straight year that the Wildcats have ended the regular season as the top running team in the conference, and the team's average of 250.9 rushing yards per game ranks eighth in the nation. Villanova has run for a total of 2,760 yards on the year and the offensive line allowed only 29 quarterback sacks in 11 contests.
The Wildcats offense averaged 30.6 points per game for the season and racked up 35 or more points in five of the team's six victories, including three that came by double-digit margins.
Mark Hamilton (Senior, Placekicker/Punter, 5-11, 185, Gaithersburg, Md. / Our Lady of Good Counsel)
Hamilton had a sensational season for Villanova as the team's placekicker and punter. He scored 67 points for the year thanks to making 43-of-44 extra points and connecting on eight-of-nine field goal attempts. Hamilton had a season-high three field goals in the 35-34 win over Delaware in the season finale, including a 24-yard attempt with one second to play which was his first career game-winner.
Until he had a point-after attempt blocked in the Delaware game Hamilton had a streak of 87 consecutive successful extra points dating back to the start of the 2012 season. He wound up making 130-of-133 point-after attempts in his career and was successful on 33-of-42 field goals. Hamilton racked up 229 career points, which is the fourth-most in school history.
As the Wildcats punter Hamilton averaged 41.7 yards per punt on 44 tries. He amassed a total of 1,835 punting yards and had a career-long punt of 66 yards in the season opener against Boston College. For the season he drilled six punts that traveled more than 50 yards and placed 14 of his attempts inside the 20-yard line.
In his 42 career games for Villanova, Hamilton had 157 punts for 6,616 yards and an average of 42.1 yards per punt. Those totals include 53 punts inside the 20-yard line and 25 punts of longer than 50 yards.
Craig James (Senior, Cornerback, 5-11, 200, Mays Landing, N.J. / Oakcrest)
In his third season as a starter for the Wildcats defense James continued to put up big numbers. He was third on the team in tackles with 63, including 43 solo tackles and 20 assisted stops. He also led the team with eight pass breakups and had one interception. James had a season-high 10 tackles in a 35-6 win over Stony Brook and had a career-high three pass breakups to go along with his first career interception in a 45-35 win at Towson. Villanova held four of its opponents to fewer than 20 points and registered its first shutout since 2010 with a 45-0 win at Rhode Island.
James also made contributions on specials teams during the season. He blocked a field goal in the win over Towson and returned a blocked field goal against Penn 73 yards for a touchdown. James finishes his Wildcats career with a string of 28 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of the 2011 season. He wound up starting 32 of the 41 games he played in and had career totals of 193 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 15 pass breakups and one interception. James also tallied four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one blocked kick and one return touchdown.
Antoine Lewis (Senior, Nose Guard, 6-2, 290, Somers Point, N.J. / Mainland)
Lewis repeats as an All-CAA selection after earning first team accolades last season. He continued to be a top-notch player for Villanova and during the 2013 season made 56 tackles, had three tackles for loss and registered two pass breakups. He was part of a Wildcats defense which held four opponents under 20 points, including three games where the other team was held to six points or fewer. Villanova recorded its first shutout since the 2010 season with a 45-0 win at Rhode Island on November 16.
Prior to receiving all-conference honors in each of the past two seasons, Lewis was also a third team All-CAA pick as a freshman in 2010. He started every game of his collegiate career and played in 48 games during his four seasons on the team. Lewis finishes his Wildcats career with totals of 206 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, four sacks, three pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and one blocked kick.
Cameron McCurry (Sophomore, Safety, 5-11, 200, Orange Park, Fla. / Fleming Island)
In his first year in a starting role McCurry enjoyed a breakout season in 2013 and emerged as one of the top Villanova defensive players. He ranked fourth on the team with 60 tackles, including 42 solo stops and 18 assisted tackles. McCurry also had a team-high four interceptions, had one pass breakup and added a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a blocked kick to his season totals. In a 45-35 win at Towson on October 12, McCurry was one of the stars of the game with five tackles to go along with an interception, a fumble recovery and a blocked extra point. He is the only Villanova player in the last 10 years to have a blocked kick, a fumble recovery and an interception in the same game, while his four interceptions for the season rank him second in the CAA.
McCurry played in 11 games as a freshman last season and last spring was named the Most Improved Defensive Player on the team. Through two seasons in a Wildcats uniform he has career totals of 70 tackles and four interceptions.
Kevin Monangai (Junior, Running Back, 5-8, 215, Roseland, N.J. / Seton Hall Prep)
After leading the CAA in rushing for the 2012 season Monangai continued to reach big milestones this season and is a repeat all-conference selection. He ran for 643 yards and five touchdowns on 130 carries during the 2013 season, averaging 58.5 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. Monangai also had four receptions for 53 yards. In a 35-6 win over Penn on September 28 he recorded 17 carries for a season-high 101 yards to notch his eighth career 100-yard rushing game. Monangai also tied a career high with two rushing touchdowns in a 45-0 win at Rhode Island and had a career-long 57-yard run against Fordham.
In the season finale against Delaware, Monangai ran for 83 yards and reached two milestones during a 35-34 victory. He broke into the top 10 in school history in career rushing yards and surpassed 2,000 career yards in the process. Monangai has now played in 31 career games and has run for 2,029 yards and 17 touchdowns. His eight career 100-yard games is also the fourth-most ever at Villanova. Monangai also has career totals of 20 receptions for 171 yards and two scores.
John Robertson (Sophomore, Quarterback, 6-1, 215, Paramus, N.J. / Paramus)
Robertson was one of the most dynamic players in the nation this season and is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award. This is the second straight year that he has been an All-CAA selection, after he earned third team accolades to go along with the conference Offensive Rookie of the Year award last season. During the year Robertson was selected as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week four times.
As the leader of the Villanova offense Robertson is a true dual-threat player. In 11 games this season he ran for 1,405 yards and 20 touchdowns to establish himself as the top running quarterback in the country. He led all FCS quarterbacks in both rushing yards and touchdowns, while his 1,405 yards rank as the second-most for a single-season in school history. Robertson also joined Wildcats legend Brian Westbrook as the only players in the history of the program to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Robertson currently ranks second in the CAA and eighth in the nation in rushing yards, while his 20 touchdowns are also second in the conference and are tied for fourth in the country. He averaged 127.7 yards per game for the season, had seven games with at least 100 yards and two games with over 200 yards. Robertson ran for a career-high 256 yards and three touchdowns against New Hampshire, then came back one week later versus Maine with 214 yards and four scores. He is the only Villanova player ever with back-to-back 200-yard rushing efforts. The four rushing touchdowns against Maine were a career high and he matched the total with four more scores in a 45-0 win at Rhode Island.
As a passer Robertson ranked second in the CAA in completion percentage and averaged 177.9 yards per game through the air. He went 169-of-247 for 1,957 yards with 13 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Robertson's passing skills were never more evident than in the season finale against Delaware, when he threw three fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally Villanova from a 22-point deficit for a 35-34 victory. He was 11-of-13 for 146 yards in the fourth quarter of that game and finished the day with 252 passing yards and 417 yards of total offense. Robertson had back-to-back outings against Towson and New Hampshire in which he was a combined 32-of-35 passing, including 17 straight completions to begin the Towson game. In those two contests he also ran for a combined 406 yards. Robertson finished the season with 3,362 yards of total offense, which ranks second in the CAA and ninth in the country. His total is the third-highest in a season in school history.
Through the first 24 games of his collegiate career Robertson has put up lofty totals. He already holds a school record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback with 2,427 yards. That total is fourth overall in the Wildcats record book and Robertson's 34 career rushing touchdowns are second on the Villanova all-time list. Robertson now holds both the freshman (1,021) and sophomore season running records for the Wildcats. He also ranks fifth in school history in career total offense (6,349), is sixth in passing (3,922) and is eighth in scoring (204 points). He has two of the eight 200-yard rushing games in the Villanova record book and ranks third in the program annals with 10 career 100-yard rushing games.