BIRMINGHAM â€“ Southern University QB Bryant Lee was named Offensive Most Valuable Player and Jackson State LB Marcellus Speaks was named Defensive Most Valuable Player of the 2008 Southwestern Athletic Conference football season, among individual honors announced Wednesday.
Grambling State QB Greg Dillon earned Newcomer of the Year honors, and Texas Southern CB Deâ€™Markus Washington earned Freshman of the Year accolades in voting by conference coaches, sports information personnel, and selected members of the media.
Lee led the SWAC in completions (217), attempts (352), passing yards (2,682) and touchdown passes (20) while throwing just seven interceptions. Lee was seventh in the conference and second in rushing yards among quarterbacks with 534 yards (on 139 attempts) with six touchdowns. Lee had four games of at least 300 yards passing (including one 400-yard game), and posted back-to-back games where he accounted for at least five touchdowns. Lee was a three-time conference Offensive Player of the Week, and also won National Player of the Week honors once in 2008.
In back-to-back games against Texas Southern (Oct. 11) and Florida A&M (Oct. 18), the 6-2, 200-pound junior from Boutte, La combined to complete 43-of-76 passes for 712 yards with five touchdowns and one interception and rushed 37 times for 180 yards and six touchdowns. In the game against the Rattlers, Lee completed 25-of-42 passes for a career-high 407 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and rushed 16 times and 64 yards and three touchdowns. His 471-yard, six-touchdown effort helped him earned National Offensive Player of the Week honors
Speaks led the SWAC with 115 tackles (54 solo; 20.5 for loss), along with 5.0 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick in leading the Tigers to the SWAC Championship Game for the second consecutive year. The 6-2, 230-pound senior from Jackson, MS earned conference Defensive Player of the Week honors three times this season.
Speaks had six games of at least 10 tackles this season, with a streak of three consecutive 10+ tackle games earlier this season. Speaks made 14 tackles at Grambling State (Sept. 20), a season-high 16 tackles (with 1.0 for loss with 0.5 sacks) vs. Southern (Oct. 4), and 13 tackles (with 3.5 for loss with 0.5 sacks) vs. Univ. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Oct. 11). Speaks made his interception on the road at Texas Southern (Oct. 18) and blocked a field-goal attempt vs. Alcorn State (Nov. 22).
Dillon emerged as the No. 1 QB for Grambling State, leading them to a nine-game winning streak and a return trip to the SWAC Championship Game. This season, he has completed 97 of 172 passes for 1,242 yards with 15 touchdowns (seven INTs) while rushing 164 times for 676 yards and three touchdowns. Dillon led all SWAC signal callers in rushing this season.
Dillon earned conference Newcomer of the Week honors four times this season, and earned conference Offensive Player of the Week honors once. Dillon had three games in 2008 in which he posted at least 100 yards both passing and rushing: His best double-double game came against Alabama State on Oct. 18, in which he had career highs in passing yards (180) and rushing yards (147).
Washington made 37 tackles with five interceptions with one forced fumble and averaged nearly 16 yards per kickoff return for Texas Southern. Washington was tied for second in the SWAC in interceptions and tied for third in the nation in interceptions among freshmen.
The 5-9, 160-pounder from Dallas proved to be one of SWACâ€™s best ball hawks, posting a pair of two-interception games in the first three games of the season. Washington had two picks each vs. Prairie View A&M (Aug. 30) and vs. Shaw (Sept. 6), the latter game helping TSU post its first win since 2006. Washington also had a career-high nine tackles against Mississippi Valley State on Nov. 8.