(STATS) – Perhaps by the time the FCS' top freshman is done with his college career, there will be a second Hines Field in Pittsburgh.
Duquesne running back A.J. Hines has been named the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award winner, edging South Dakota State linebacker Christian Rozeboom by a single vote for the nation's best freshman.
A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Rice Award, which had 23 finalists from 12 FCS conferences.
Playing a few miles away across the Allegheny River from Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers, Hines was a big reason the Dukes won a share of a second straight Northeast Conference title. He ran for a Duquesne freshman record 1,291 yards and 13 touchdowns, the most in either category by any Dukes running back since senior Mike Hilliard (1,544 yards, 15 TDs) in 2003.
Nicknamed “Baby Gurley” at Wilson, North Carolina's Fike High School, after former Georgia and current Los Angeles Rams tailback Todd Gurley, Hines hadn't even heard of Duquesne until last summer. He was initially a Richmond recruit but had admissions issues, so instead of doing a semester of prep school and hoping to eventually qualify, Hines answered a call from Duquesne.
The Dukes are glad he did.
Hines got 30 first-place votes from the panel and needed every one of them, finishing with 333 overall points – one more than Rozeboom. The Jackrabbits linebacker finished second while Sam Houston State receiver Nathan Stewart was third with 295 points despite amassing 25 first-place votes to Rozeboom's 22.
Hines is the third running back to win in six years of the Jerry Rice Award's existence, joining Towson's Terrance West (2011) and Fordham's Chase Edmonds (2014). Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus was the 2015 recipient.
The Jerry Rice Award voting reflected the regular season and was conducted before the start of the FCS playoffs.
The results for fourth through 23rd place were as follows:
4. Tyrie Adams, QB, Western Carolina: 20-12-15-5-14-217