(STATS) – After being named the MEAC’s top players on Tuesday, North Carolina A&T quarterback Lamar Raynard and South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard were anxious to share how playing football has impacted their lives.
Raynard was named the MEAC offensive player of the year, while Leonard earned defensive player of the year for the second consecutive season.
“Basically for me, it’s a team sport,” Raynard said. “No one man can get the job done. You’re going to have to come in as a collective group and work each and every day to produce. I feel like that’s what we did this year.”
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“One play,” Leonard said, “it doesn’t just take one guy scoring a touchdown, it takes all 11 guys scoring a touchdown or it takes all 11 guys making one tackle. So I think the team unity is actually what I learned from football.”
The MEAC’s head coaches and sports information directors didn’t have a difficult assignment with their selections for players of the year.
Raynard, a junior, leads the MEAC in eight statistical categories, including passing yards (2,707), touchdown passes (26) and passing efficiency (171.6). He’s helped guide the seventh-ranked Aggies to an 11-0 record, the conference title and a berth in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Dec. 16.
Leonard collected 113 tackles as a senior, with at least 12 in six games, and ranks first in the MEAC and fourth in the FCS in tackles per game (11.3). He also had eight sacks and two interceptions.
A South Carolina State player has won defensive player of the year in five straight seasons, and North Carolina A&T has had an offensive player of the year in the last four seasons.