IRVING, Texas – Conference USA announced its 2016 Players of the Year today, as selected by the league’s 13 head football coaches. C-USA is completing its 21st football campaign by sending a record seven teams to bowl games.
Louisiana Tech senior QB Ryan Higgins is the recipient of the Conference USA Most Valuable Player Award, marking the eighth time in the last nine seasons that a quarterback has been named C-USA MVP.
He leads C-USA in completions (300), attempts (456), passing yards (4,208) and passing touchdowns (37). Higgins’ average of 350.7 yards per game ranks third in the FBS, while his touchdown total is tied for fifth nationally.
He topped the 300-yard mark in passing six times this season, including a pair of 500+- yard performances. Higgins led the Bulldogs to the West Division Championship and the school’s third consecutive bowl appearance with a spot in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
Louisiana Tech junior WR Carlos Henderson becomes the first player to be named Offensive Player of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year in the same season since the league began sponsoring football in 1996.
Henderson is second in C-USA and tied for fourth nationally with 21 touchdowns (league-high 17 receiving, two rushing and two on kickoff returns). As a receiver, he has caught 72 passes for 1,406 yards, a league-leading 19.5 yards per reception. As a kick returner, Henderson has 22 returns for 668 yards (30.4 average), with two scores.
Defensive recognition went to Florida Atlantic senior DE Trey Hendrickson, the first Owl to win the award and the first defensive lineman since 2011. He closed his career as the school’s all-time sack leader with 29.5, a figure that ranks seventh in C-USA history.
This season, Hendrickson placed second in the conference in sacks with 9.5 and tackles for loss with 15. He posted a career-high in tackles (50), added a forced fumble and a fumble recovery and had a huge impact on special teams with four a nation-leading blocked kicks.
Freshman of the Year honors were given to UTSA LB Josiah Tauaefa, who leads all C-USA rookies and ranks third in the FBS among freshmen in tackles with a school-record 104.
Just the third linebacker to win the honor in league history, Tauaefa added five sacks, seven quarterback hurries, one interception and two passes defended. He becomes the first UTSA player to win a conference individual award in the program’s six-year history.
Junior QB Mike White of WKU garnered the league’s Newcomer of the Year award, becoming the fourth straight signal-caller to win the award after leading the Hilltoppers to their second consecutive Conference USA Championship.
He has a league-high seven games with 300 or more passing yards, totaling 4,027 through the air, a figure that ranks fifth nationally. White ranks 10th nationally in completion percentage (67.4), is ninth in touchdown passes (38) with only six interceptions on 386 attempts. He is third in the FBS with a 180.96 quarterback rating.