PHILADELPHIA--Quarterback Ricky Santos of the University of New Hampshire football team was named the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year following a end-of-season vote by the conference head coaches. The announcement was made today by the Atlantic 10 office.
Santos is the first sophomore to earn Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year honors since former New Hampshire running back Jerry Azumah in 1996. The Bellingham, Mass., resident enters this weekend's NCAA playoff game with Colgate leading the Conference in five offensive categories, including passing yards (3,200) and touchdown passes (33). A five-time A-10 Offensive Player of the Week selection in 2005, Santos leads the nation in completion percentage (71.1) and ranks in the top 10 nationally in passing efficiency (171.6 - third) and total offense (312.2 - fourth). He surpassed the 300-yard passing mark six times this season - tops in the A-10. Santos has also rushed for 234 yards and seven touchdowns.
One of 16 candidates for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented to the top player in I-AA, Santos led the Wildcats to a share of the Atlantic 10 title with a 7-1 record and an overall mark of 10-1. New Hampshire is ranked No. 1 in both The Sports Network and ESPN/USA Today top 25 polls and is the top seed in the I-AA playoffs.
Santos, who was also named a first-team all-conference pick at quarterback, was one of 10 players honored by the Atlantic 10.
Named first team on offense for the Wildcats were: Santos, junior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) and senior tight end Jonathan Williams (Rochester, N.Y.). Ball presently leads the nation in touchdown receptions with 18 and is also ranked in the top 10 in catches (68), and receiving yardage (1,190). Like Santos, Ball is also one of the top 16 candidates for the Walter Payton Award in 2005.
Williams has emerged as an All-America candidate once again this season with 41 catches for 455 yards and five touchdowns. He is also averaging 45.5 yards per contest.
Three players were also named second-team all-conference on the offensive side of the football. Leading the way on the offensive line is senior David Sundberg (Erie, Pa.) who has been praised by UNH head coach Sean McDonnell as UNH's steadiest linemen.
A pair of specialists for UNH were also named to the second team in junior kick returner Corey Graham (Buffalo, N.Y.) and freshman punt returner Mike Boyle (Plymouth, N.H.). Graham had 25 kick returns this season for 641 yards giving him an average of 25.6 yards per return. He also scored a touchdown. Boyle returned 22 punts for 290 yards for an average of 13.2 yards per return with one for a touchdown.
Named to the third team offense was junior offensive lineman Tucker Peterson (Clarendon, Vt.), who is one of the strongest players on the squad and UNH's all-time leading placekicker in senior Connor McCormick (Forty Fort, Pa.). McCormick has made 8-11 field goals and has hit on 57 of 60 PATs for 81 points. He holds the all-time UNH career marks in field goals made and for extra point kicks made.
On the defensive side of he football, senior defensive lineman Derek Stank (Etters, Pa.) was named to the Atlantic 10 second team with 34 total tackles and five sacks as UNH's most experienced and talented lineman. Graham, who was also honored as a kickoff returner, was second-team as a defensive back with 81 tackles and three interceptions.
Making the third-team defense was senior safety Baron Flenory (Pittsburgh,Pa.). Flenory is one of the hardest-hitting players in the conference and posted 72 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions and fit in well in UNH's turnover oriented defense.