RICHMOND, Va. – A total of eight University of New Hampshire football players, led by junior wide receiver R.J. Harris (Odenton, Md.) on the First Team, received CAA Football All-Conference recognition Tuesday morning. The Wildcats had two representatives on the Second Team and five on the Third Team.
Senior offensive lineman Ricky Archer (The Plains, Va.) and junior running back Nico Steriti (Toms River, N.J.) were Second Team selections. The Third Team honorees were sophomore linebacker Akil Anderson (Morristown, N.J.) and senior safety Manny Asam (Bloomfield, N.J.) on defense as well as senior wide receiver Justin Mello (Dartmouth, Mass.), senior offensive lineman Seamus O'Neill (Manchester, N.H.) and junior tight end Harold Spears (Perkasie, Pa.) on offense.
Harris, a repeat selection to the First Team from 2012, ranks second on the team in receptions (46), receiving yards (603) and receiving touchdowns (four) despite missing three games due to injury and being hampered early in the season by another injury. Those numbers average to 13.1 yards/catch and 75.4 receiving yards per game. Harris also had eight carries for 90 yards (11.2/carry) and one TD. Harris' signature game in 2013 was a 10-catch, 183-yard effort that included three TDs against (then) No. 22 James Madison University to propel UNH to a 33-17 win. He was subsequently bestowed the Ray Gallant Insurance New England Football Writers' Gridiron Club of Boston Gold Helmet Award for that performance, which came off a three-week absence.
Archer has started all 11 games in the offensive trenches at right guard and O'Neill, a First Team honoree a year ago, has started every game at left tackle. The duo has helped UNH's offense average 31.1 points per game and 434.3 yards per game, which ranks third in the CAA in scoring and fourth in total offense. The 'Cats are also third in rushing offense (196.4 yards/game) and fourth in passing offense (237.9 yards/game).
Steriti, named to the Second Team for the second straight year, is New Hampshire's leading rusher with 152 carries for 826 yards and seven touchdowns; with those numbers, he is averaging 5.4 yards/carry and 75.1 yards/game. He has also caught 12 passes for 157 yards (13.1 yards/catch) and amassed 105 kickoff return yards (15.0/return) for a total of 1,088 all-purpose yards (98.45/game). In the CAA, Steriti ranks sixth in rushing yards, seventh in rushing TDs and 11th in all-purpose yards. He helped propel the 'Cats to a 24-3 victory against (then) No. 4 Maine with 18 carries for 139 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown that capped the scoring early in the fourth quarter.
Anderson has played in all 11 games and been in the starting lineup 10 times. He ranks second on the team in total tackles (85) with a team-high 51 unassisted tackles and 34 assisted tackles. Anderson also leads the team in tackles for loss (11 for 48 yards) and that includes five sacks. He ranks 14th in the CAA in tackles (7.7/game). Anderson tallied a personal-best 12 tackles – all solo – Sept. 28 at Lehigh University and matched that at Albany (Nov. 16).
Asam, a 2012 Second Team honoree, has started all 11 games at strong safety. He ranks third on the team in total tackles (73) with 49 unassisted tackles and 24 assisted tackles. He is credited with five pass breakups and has registred five tackles for a loss. Asam recorded double-digit tackles in the Sept. 7 season opener at Central Michigan University (8-3-11) as well as the Nov. 16 game at Albany (5-6-11).
Mello, who has started all 11 games, has had a breakout senior season in which he leads UNH in receptions (58), receiving yards (797) and receiving TDs (eight); those numbers average to 13.7 yards/catch and 72.5 receiving yards/game and rank No. 5 in the CAA in yards, No. 6 in yards/game and No. 2 in TDs. Mello has recorded four 100-yard receiving yard games this season with career highs in both catches (10) and yards (123) against James Madison. One game earlier, he had a personal-best three touchdowns at Stony Brook University.
Spears, who was also named to the Third Team last season, started all 11 games at tight end. He ranks third on the squad in both receptions (29) and receiving yards (378), and he is tied for second in receiving TDs (four); those numbers calculate to 13.0 yards/reception and 34.4 yards/game. Spears tied his personal best of two touchdowns in a game in the Sept. 14 home opener against Colgate University. He hauled in four passes for 106 yards – one less than his career high – Oct. 5 at Towson University.
No. 15 UNH (7-4 overall, 6-2 CAA) returns to the NCAA postseason for a national-best 10th consecutive year with a first-round game against Lafayette College on Saturday, Nov. 30. Kickoff at Cowell Stadium is 12 p.m. Tickets are available online by clicking here or by calling 1-800-745-3000.