Thursday, December 18, 2008

Maine Black Bears DE Jovan Belcher Garners Many Honors


ORONO, Maine – University of Maine senior defensive end Jovan Belcher (West Babylon, N.Y.) has been named a First-Team All-American this week by both the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Walter Camp Foundation. It marks the second-straight season Belcher earned All-America honors, as he was named a Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press and a Third-Team All-American by The Sports Network last year. Belcher becomes just the fourth Black Bear in program history to earn All-America honors in multiple seasons, joining John Huard (1965-66), Aaron Dashiell (1998-99) and Stephen Cooper (2001-02).

Belcher, who was named the 2008 CAA Football Defensive Player of the Year, currently leads the conference in tackles for loss with 17.5. It marks the second-straight year he leads the league in that category. Belcher also recorded 7.5 sacks this season, which ranks third in the CAA. He made at least one stop for loss in 10-of-13 games, including the final five of the season. Belcher recorded multiple tackles for loss in seven games, including the final three in which he totaled a combined 7.0 stops for minus-30 yards. He ranks 26th nationally in tackles for loss and 46th in sacks. Belcher finished his career with 44.0 tackles for loss, which places him among the top 25 all-time in NCAA FCS history for career tackles for loss.

A candidate for the 2008 Buck Buchanan Award which is presented annually to nation's most outstanding defensive player at the FCS level, Belcher led all CAA defensive lineman this season with 98 tackles. The total was 26 more than the nearest competitor. He recorded at least seven tackles in eight games, including three double-digit performances. He made a career-high 16 stops in Maine's thrilling 41-40 double-overtime victory over Hofstra on Oct. 18.

Belcher's finest performance of the 2008 season came in Maine's exciting 27-10 win at No. 20 Delaware on Oct. 11. He recorded seven tackles, two sacks (-15 yards) and two forced fumbles in Maine's first win over a ranked opponent in more than two years. His initial forced fumble came early in the fourth quarter in Delaware territory with the game tied at 10-10. The offense turned the fumble into points two plays later as quarterback Michael Brusko scored on a five-yard run to put Maine on top at 17-10. With Maine holding a 20-10 lead late in the quarter, and Delaware trying to mount a comeback, Belcher turned in another outstanding play as he crashed through the offensive line and sacked Blue Hen quarterback Robby Schoenhoft, forcing a fumble. Jordan Stevens scooped up the loose ball and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to seal the win for the Black Bears. For his performance, Belcher was named both the CAA Defensive Player of the Week, and The Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week.

Belcher's All-America honors are the latest in a long line of awards he has earned this season. In addition to all the honors listed above, Belcher has also earned: 2008 All-CAA First-Team; 2008 New England Football Writers All-Star; 2008 CAA Football Preseason Defensive Player of the Year; 2008 Sporting News Preseason All-American; 2008 Sports Network First-Team reseason All-American; was named the top defensive player in the CAA in the 2008 preseason according to the Sporting News; 2008 Phil Steele Preseason First-Team All-American; 2008 Lindy's preseason Second-Team All-American; 2008 Preseason All-CAA selection; and a 2008 Phil Steele Preseason First-Team All-CAA selection.

Belcher, a senior co-captain, helped guide Maine to an 8-4 record this season and a berth in the NCAA FCS playoffs, marking the program's fifth trip to the national tournament. The Black Bears used a six-game winning streak near the end of the season to finish second in the CAA North Division after they were tabbed to finish fourth in the league's preseason poll. Maine finished 20th nationally in The Sports Network Top 25 Poll, marking the second time in the last three seasons the Black Bears concluded the regular season ranked in the nation.

Courtesy University of Maine



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