Nine Tribe football players earn All-CAA honors

  • CAA honorsNine Tribe football players were recently selected to the All-Colonial Athletic Association teams,including freshman tailback Jonathan Grimes, who ended the season earning the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and being named as a first team all-league performer as a kick returner.

    Photo by Jim Agnew

    CAA honors
  • CAA honorsJunior defensive end Adrian Tracy, pictured here in one of his two sacks against Richmond, was named to first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association honors as one of the league's top defensive lineman.

    Photo by Jim Agnew

    CAA honors

After turning in a solid 7-4 campaign that featured a 5-3 mark in the ultra-competitive Colonial Athletics Association, nine Tribe football players have been selected to the All-Colonial Athletic Association teams, capping off an outstanding season for the College.  Despite what will surely be a top 20 final national finish (final polls not relased until mid-december), W&M was quite literally one of the final two teams left just out of the 16-team NCAA Playoff field (as selected by the NCAA on Nov. 23).

Junior defensive end Adrian Tracy, junior place kicker Brian Pate and freshman kick returner Jonathan Grimes were named as first-team honorees. Grimes also earned second-team distinction as a running back and was chosen as the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Senior cornerback Derek Cox and junior tight end Rob Varno garnered second-team honors, while senior quarterback Jake Phillips, junior wide receiver D.J. McAulay, senior linebacker Josh Rutter and sophomore punter David Miller were all named to the third team.

One of the top defensive ends in the country, Tracy led the conference in sacks per game (0.91) and tackles for a loss (1.41) per game. His sack average ranked tied for sixth nationally, while his TFL average ranked tied for 21st in the country. Additionally, the Sterling, Va., native ranked second in the CAA among defensive linemen in tackles with 6.5 per game. His best effort of the season came in the win at then-No. 4 New Hampshire when he totaled a career-high 13 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss.

Grimes earned first-team all-league honors as a kick returner after leading the conference with 24.5 yards per return. His longest return of the season came against Villanova when he brought back a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. A second-team all-conference selection at running back, Grimes also earned offensive rookie of the year distinction after ranking first in the CAA and 12th nationally with 162 all-purpose ypg. The Palmyra, N.J., native averaged 84.5 ypg rushing and established a W&M freshman rushing record with 929 yards on the ground. In addition to scoring seven rushing touchdowns, Grimes also hauled in a pair of touchdown receptions to go with his 39 catches for 314 yards receiving. Grimes becomes the fourth Tribe player to earn conference rookie of the year honors, joining wide receiver David Conklin (1996), quarterback David Corley (1999) and wide receiver Rich Musinski (2000).

Pate posted a tremendous junior season, as he ranked first in the conference by connecting on 81.2 percent (13-of-16) of his field goal attempts. In addition to making three of his four field goal attempts from beyond 40 yards, he ranked second in the CAA among kickers with 7.3 points per game.

The Fredericksburg, Va., native also converted all 41 of his extra-point attempts and ranked 17th in the country with 1.8 field goals made per game.

Varno was one of the league's top pass-catching tight ends in the CAA and finished the year with 36 receptions for 397 yards and three touchdowns.

During the final four games of the season, the Wilmington, N.C., native averaged more than four catches per contest.

Cox earned all-conference accolades for the second consecutive season after ranking tied for fifth in the league with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. While opposing quarterbacks often elected to avoid throwing to his side of the field, Cox ranked 11th in the league with 0.82 passes defended per game. He also made a significant impact on special teams returning punts, averaging 16.4 yards per return with a pair of touchdowns (89 yards vs. Northeastern and 80 yards vs. Richmond).

Like Cox, Phillips also garnered all-conference honors for the second consecutive season. The Warm Springs, Va., native ranked third in the CAA in total offense with 241.3 ypg, while he was fifth in passing yards per game (224.3 ypg). Additionally, he threw 21 touchdown passes and found the end zone four times on the ground. One of the top quarterbacks in school history, Phillips finished his career ranked third at W&M in career passing yards (7,371), total offense (7,983), pass completions (568), pass attempts (972) and touchdown passes (57).

After missing most of his sophomore season due to injury, McAulay returned for an impressive junior campaign. The New Haven, Conn., native ranked tied for second in the CAA with eight touchdown catches, while his 18.0 yards per catch led the league. McAulay posted more than 90 yards receiving in three of the last four games en route to ranking fourth in the conference with 65.3 ypg. Among his many highlights in '08 was a 17-yard go-ahead touchdown reception with 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter in the 38-34 victory at then-No. 4 New Hampshire.

Although he missed four games due to injury, Rutter earned all-conference honors after averaging 8.1 tackles per game with 5.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, an interception and two forced fumbles. The middle linebacker's best effort of the season came against Villanova when he registered 15 tackles (12 solo), a sack and 1.5 TFL.

One of the top punters in the country, Miller ranked 16th nationally in punting with 41.53 yard per kick. Additionally, he pinned the opposition inside the 20-yard line 12 times, while eight of his punts were longer than 50 yards.