News & Analysis

College Football: 2019 PFF All-MAC Team

The dust has settled on the 2019 regular season at the FBS level and it's time to take a look back. Ahead of the MAC championship, we take a look at the best players at their respective positions with an in-depth look at how they graded over the course of the full season.

Utilizing our play-by-play grades of every player on every play of every game, our All-MAC Team takes into account every player's actions on the field on Saturdays while also utilizing our wealth of signature statistics to determine the list. The strength of opponent and consistent play also factor into our selections detailed below.

The 2019 All-MAC Team

Quarterback

First Team: Dustin Crum, Kent State

Kent State rattled off three straight wins to close the season at 6-6 for their first bowl-eligible campaign since 2012. A big reason for that was first-year starter Dustin Crum, who limited turnover opportunities at not only the best rate in the MAC but at the best rate in all of college football. In 409 total dropbacks, Crum produced just three turnover-worthy plays, or a turnover-worthy play once every 136 dropbacks. To put that in perspective, no other FBS quarterback had a rate better than 100 dropbacks per turnover-worthy play. Given that ability to limit negative plays, it comes as no surprise that Crum led the MAC in both passing grade (88.4) and passer rating (111.3) among qualifying quarterbacks.

Second Team: Nathan Rourke, Ohio
Third Team: Mike Glass III, Eastern Michigan
Honorable Mention: Kyle Vantrease, Buffalo

Running Back

First Team: Jaret Patterson, Buffalo

Buffalo ran the ball on 65% of their offensive plays this season — the fifth highest rate in the FBS — and Patterson led the way in that backfield in both volume and efficiency. When you look at Patterson’s raw numbers, they compare favorably to some of the top backs in all of college football. His 1,015 rushing yards after contact fall behind only Chuba Hubbard, AJ Dillon and Jonathan Taylor. His 94 first downs on the ground are fewer than only Taylor and Dillon. His 71 missed tackles forced come in at ninth among all FBS running backs. The effort was enough to earn him PFF All-American status as an honorable mention and a no-brainer spot on the First Team All-MAC squad.

Second Team: Caleb Huntley, Ball State
Third Team: Bryant Koback, Toledo
Honorable Mention: Kobe Lewis, Central Michigan

Running Back

First Team: LeVante Bellamy, Western Michigan

Joining Patterson as a MAC running back receiving an honorable mention in the All-America team, Bellamy turned in his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season for the Broncos. He ended his career at Western Michigan averaging over six yards per carry, and when you watch his tape, it’s easy to see why. Bellamy has speed to burn. He used that speed to break off plenty of big gains on the ground in 2019, as his 13 runs of 20 or more yards were good enough to rank seventh among all FBS running backs. His nine touchdowns on those 20-plus yard runs were more than any other back in college football.

Second Team: Jonathan Ward, Central Michigan
Third Team: Tre Harbison, Northern Illinois
Honorable Mention: Walter Fletcher, Ball State

Wide Receiver

First Team: Skyy Moore, Western Michigan

You don’t expect to see too many true freshmen make first-team all-conference in their first taste of collegiate action, but Moore earned it in his first season with the Broncos. He finished with the third-most receiving yards of any wide receiver in the conference with 734 yards on 47 receptions. Moore flashed impressive body control on several of his best catches along the sidelines, and he was a threat all season with the ball in his hands after the catch. Moore’s 12 broken tackles after the catch and 6.7 yards after the catch per reception were both top-five marks among MAC wide receivers. His future in Kalamazoo looks bright.

Second Team: Quian Williams, Eastern Michigan
Third Team: Justin Hall, Ball State
Honorable Mention: Isiah Cox, Ohio

Wide Receiver

First Team: Arthur Jackson III, Eastern Michigan

Jackson turned in some of the most impressive receptions in the conference — a one-handed touchdown grab in their penultimate game against Northern Illinois comes to mind — but he was also one of the most efficient receivers on a weekly basis. Jackson’s 2.60 receiving yards per route run were the most among the 25 MAC wide receivers with 250 or more routes run this season, and his contested catch rate of 63.6% (7-of-11 targets) led all MAC wide receivers with 10 or more contested targets this season.

Second Team: Antonio Nunn, Buffalo
Third Team: Isaiah McKoy, Kent State
Honorable Mention: Shane Hooks, Ohio

Wide Receiver

First Team: JaCorey Sullivan, Central Michigan

Sullivan failed to record 80 or more receiving yards in each of the first six games that he played this season, but that changed in a big way as the third-year wide receiver picked up 80 or more receiving yards in each of his final five games. Sullivan did much of his damage with big plays. His 22 receptions of 15 or more yards were the most of any wide receiver in the MAC and were tied for 36th most among wide receivers nationally.

Second Team: Yo'Heinz Tyler, Ball State
Third Team: Riley Miller, Ball State
Honorable Mention: Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan

Tight End

First Team: Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ricci’s selection as first-team All-MAC tight end gives Western Michigan a first-team representative at each of running back, wide receiver and tight end. Ricci earned his spot with a career-best 77.3 receiving grade, serving as a big-time red-zone threat, where his seven receiving touchdowns led all FBS tight ends this season. He showed the versatility to line up both in-line and in the slot, but Ricci did his best receiving work when lined up tight. He generated a passer rating of 131.5 on those 39 targets this season.

Second Team: Mitchell Brinkman, Northern Illinois
Third Team: Ryan Luehrman, Ohio
Honorable Mention: Quintin Morris, Bowling Green

Offensive Tackle

First Team: Danny Pinter, Ball State

Pinter is coming off his second season as the starting right tackle for Ball State, and in 2019, he was able to match the pass-blocking success he saw in 2018 with similar results in the run game. He increased his run-blocking grade from 67.4 in 2018 to 85.7 this season — good for the best mark of any tackle in the MAC and 10th among tackles nationally.

Second Team: Kayode Awosika, Buffalo
Third Team: Marques Grimes, Ohio
Honorable Mention: Evin Ksiezarczyk, Buffalo

Offensive Guard

First Team: Nick Rosi, Toledo

In his first season as a starter, Rosi burst onto the scene with the highest grade of any guard in the MAC this season. Rosi was particularly impressive in pass protection, where he lost a pass-blocking snap just once every 36 snaps. That was the best rate of any guard in the conference and ranked 26th among all qualifying guards. There’s nothing more important than keeping your quarterback upright as an offensive lineman, and Rosi excelled in that department in year one.

Second Team: Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, Buffalo
Third Team: Oge Udeogu, Central Michigan
Honorable Mention: Jake Donnellon, Eastern Michigan

Center

First Team: Luke Juriga, Western Michigan

Juriga has been a model of consistency since stepping into the Western Michigan offensive line back in 2016. Since then, he has played at least 800 snaps and graded at 70.0 or higher each season. Juriga shifted from right guard — the position he manned from 2016 to 2018 — to center this season, but he didn’t miss a beat, earning first-team honors at his new spot. Juriga allowed only five pressures in 413 pass-blocking snaps all season. That pressure rate allowed of 1.2% led all qualifying centers in the conference.

Second Team: Mike Novitsky, Buffalo
Third Team: Luke Doerger, Toledo
Honorable Mention: Jake Kramer, Bowling Green

Offensive Guard

First Team: Derek Smith, Central Michigan

Smith has built his snap count each of the past three seasons, from 274 as a redshirt freshman in 2017 to 498 last season to 807 in his first-team All-MAC performance in 2019. Smith showed off a well-rounded game, grading above 70.0 as both a pass-blocker and as a run-blocker. He was one of only three guards in the conference to accomplish that feat alongside Nick Rosi and Tomas Jack-Kurdyla.

Second Team: Paul Nosworthy, Buffalo
Third Team: Jordan Asbury, Western Michigan
Honorable Mention: Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan

Offensive Tackle

First Team: Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan

Central Michigan boasted the second-highest graded run-blocking unit in the MAC this season, behind only Buffalo, and Goedecke was a big part of leading that charge in his first season as a starter for the Chippewas. Apart from Pinter, Goedecke was the only tackle in the conference with a run-blocking grade of 80.0 or higher (80.6). Meanwhile, he allowed just one sack in 432 pass-blocking snaps on the season, providing value in both phases.

Second Team: Jordan Steckler, Northern Illinois
Third Team: Austen Pleasants, Ohio
Honorable Mention: Mark Brooks, Western Michigan

Edge Defender

First Team: Taylor Riggins, Buffalo

The Buffalo pass rush was no joke this season. They finished the year as the fifth-highest graded pass rush among all 130 FBS teams after recording a sack or a quarterback hit on 18% of their pass-rushing snaps as a unit. Ledarius Mack and Malcolm Koonce also got recognition on second and third-team, respectively, but it is Riggins drawing first-team honors for his 17.7% pass-rush win rate and 13.6% pressure rate this season for the Bulls. Riggins was able to make his 36 pressures count, converting 11 of them into sacks based on PFF’s sack totals (most of any MAC defender).

Second Team: Ali Fayad, Western Michigan
Third Team: Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo
Honorable Mention: Sean Adesanya, Central Michigan

Edge Defender

First Team: Matt Lorbeck, Northern Illinois

There were big shoes to fill with the departure of Sutton Smith to the NFL this past offseason, and Lorbeck did his part to help fill them with an 86.0 pass-rushing grade off the edge for Northern Illinois. Lorbeck’s pass-rush win rate of 19.0%, pressure rate of 15.8% and total pressure count of 46 all ranked second among edge defenders in the conference. It’s not quite the 160 pressures that Smith put up for the Huskies across 2017 and 2018, but it’s an impressive effort worthy of all-conference recognition, nonetheless.

Second Team: Ledarius Mack, Buffalo
Third Team: LaQuan Johnson, Central Michigan
Honorable Mention: Kameron Butler, Miami

Interior Defender

First Team: Jack Heflin, Northern Illinois

Joining his teammate Lorbeck off the edge, Heflin used his massive 6-foot-4, 310-pound frame to earn a 90.7 run-defense grade and a 90.8 overall grade. Heflin led all MAC interior defenders in run tackles for no gain or less, but he wasn’t just a run-stuffing, one-dimensional player. The big man showed some pass-rushing ability, as well. Heflin was one of only two interior defenders in the entire country with 200 or more pass-rushing snaps and a pressure rate of 15% or higher.

Second Team: Davon'te Jest, Akron
Third Team: Robi Stuart, Central Michigan
Honorable Mention: Chris Crumb, Ball State

Interior Defender

First Team: Doug Costin, Miami (OH)

Seeing Costin’s name on this list wouldn’t have been a surprise coming into this season, and all he did was have the best season of his collegiate career to ensure a deserved spot as a first-teamer on the All-MAC squad. Costin earned an overall grade of 87.4, and he was a consistent worry for opposing quarterbacks. His 46 total pressures this season were the most of any FBS interior defender. It was a fitting end to what has been a strong career at Miami for Costin.

Second Team: Theo Majette, Kent State
Third Team: Weston Kramer, Northern Illinois
Honorable Mention: Andrew Sharp, Miami

Linebacker

First Team: Jaylin Thomas, Ball State

Jaylin Thomas was one of the top run-stuffing linebackers in all of college football this season, something that comes in handy in a conference with backs like Patterson and Bellamy. His run-defense grade of 87.6 led all MAC linebackers and ranked 12th among all linebackers nationally. His 44 run stops — or tackles that can be qualified as a “win” for the defense based on the down and distance situation — were a top-10 mark among all FBS linebackers.

Second Team: Kadofi Wright, Buffalo
Third Team: Antonio Jones-Davis, Northern Illinois
Honorable Mention: Chuck Jones, Central Michigan

Linebacker

First Team: John Lako, Akron

Lako was another one of the names expected to find its way onto this list come the end of the season, and though he didn’t quite live up to the bar he set last season with an overall grade of 90.9, it was a solid all-around performance in 2019. Lako graded at 68.0 or higher in run defense, as a tackler, as a pass rusher and in coverage. Akron’s season may have been an unmitigated disaster at 0-12, but Lako was once again a bright spot.

Second Team: Jacob White, Ball State
Third Team: Kobe Burse, Miami
Honorable Mention: Troy Brown, Central Michigan

Cornerback

First Team: Travion Banks, Miami Oh

Banks was one of the players who garnered recognition on the national level as an honorable mention on the PFF All-American team this season, so his spot on the All-MAC team was never in doubt. Banks had a versatile role in the Miami defense, playing 50 or more snaps at slot cornerback, wide cornerback, free safety and in the box. Regardless of where he was lined up, Banks made plays on the football. His four interceptions were tied for the second-most among MAC cornerbacks, but that figure could have been even higher considering Banks dropped another three interceptions.

Second Team: Kyron McKinnie-Harper, Central Michigan
Third Team: Devon Russell, Buffalo
Honorable Mention: Amechi Uzodinma II, Ball State

Cornerback

First Team: Antonio Phillips, Ball State

There were few cornerbacks in the MAC who were stingier in the production they allowed to opposing wide receivers than Phillips was for Ball State this season. Phillips allowed just 18 of the 35 passes thrown into his coverage to be completed for 265 yards and one touchdown, while he intercepted four passes. That comes out to a passer rating when targeted of 46.4 (second-best mark among MAC cornerbacks with 25 or more targets against them). It was the second consecutive season that he allowed a sub-60 passer rating on 25-plus targets, and he’ll be looking for three in a row in 2020.

Second Team: Kevin McGill, Eastern Michigan
Third Team: Roy Baker, Buffalo
Honorable Mention: Aapri Washington, Buffalo

Safety

First Team: Sterling Weatherford, Miami (OH)

Miami had the highest-graded coverage unit in the MAC, and Weatherford is the second member of that unit to make a first-team appearance. Like Banks, Weatherford had a bit of a mixed role, splitting his time between free safety, box safety and the slot with a lean toward free safety late in the season. Weatherford’s coverage grade of 83.7 on the season ranked second among qualifying MAC safeties.

Second Team: Jordan Anderson, Bowling Green
Third Team: Bryce Cosby, Ball State
Honorable Mention: Blake Bogan, Eastern Michigan

Safety

First Team: Brody Hoying, Eastern Michigan

Hoying served as one of the leaders on the Eastern Michigan defense, having two seasons under his belt already prior to this season with 500-plus defensive snaps and an overall grade above 75.0. He notched another such season in 2019 with 654 defensive snaps and an overall grade of 76.4 as a senior. Hoying spent a good portion of his time in the slot, and he had success in coverage from those alignments. He allowed a passer rating of just 44.4 on 29 slot targets in 2019.

Second Team: Alvin Davis Jr., Akron
Third Team: Justin Tranquill, Western Michigan
Honorable Mention: Javon Hagan, Ohio

Flex Defense

First Team: Emmanuel Rugamba, Miami (OH)

Out of the 157 cornerbacks who were targeted 50 or more times this season, 27 allowed a completion percentage of 50% or lower into their coverage. Rugamba counted himself among that group, allowing 33-of-67 targets to be completed for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Even when he did allow receptions, Rugamba did a good job of limiting yardage. His 8.5 yards per reception allowed were the fewest of any FBS cornerback with 30 or more receptions allowed.

Second Team: Ilyaas Motley, Ohio
Third Team: Caleb Biggers, Bowling Green
Honorable Mention: Jamal Parker, Kent State

Kicker

First Team: Matthew Trickett, Kent State

A perfect 35-for-35 on extra points, Trickett single-handedly won the Golden Flashes' early-season game against Kennesaw State, as well. He was the nation's second-highest-graded kicker overall and finished his year by 9-of-9 kicks for 40-49 yards with just one kick blocked in the regular-season finale against Eastern Michigan.

Second Team: Samuel Sloman, Miami
Third Team: Louie Zervos, Ohio
Honorable Mention: John Richardson, Northern Illinois

Punter

First Team: Kyle Kramer, Miami

Kramer knocked more opponents inside the 20-yard line than any other punter in the MAC this season and had an incredibly healthy net punt average on 66 total punts. He finished the year with an average hangtime just at 4.00 seconds as he was terrific at flipping field position for the RedHawks.

Second Team: Michael Farkas, Ohio
Third Team: Matt Ference, Northern Illinois
Honorable Mention: Derek Adams, Kent State

Kick Returner

First Team: Malik Dunner, Ball State

Dunner returned a kick 99 yards for a score and averaged 23.9 yards per kick return throughout the year. He led all returners with 694 total yards on kick returns and was the only MAC player to return a kick for a touchdown all season long.

Second Team: Jamal Parker, Kent State
Third Team: Keith Mixon Jr., Western Michigan
Honorable Mention: DL Knock, Ohio

Punt Returner

First Team: Maurice Thomas, Miami

Thomas racked up an average of 13.7 yards per punt return, leading the way among returners with at least five attempts this season in the MAC. He totaled 164 yards on 12 attempts and fair caught five more with just one muff to his credit.

Second Team: Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan
Third Team: Devin Maddox, Toledo
Honorable Mention: Dylan Drummond, Eastern Michigan

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