With the help of PFF grades and advanced statistics — which are now available to PFF’s CFB Premium Stats+ Subscribers — we present to you the PFF 2020 All-MAC team.
First-Team: Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
The three names that immediately come to mind when thinking of the biggest quarterback breakouts of the 2020 college football season are Mac Jones, Zach Wilson and Kyle Trask. But one player who hasn’t been talked about enough in that same category is Western Michigan's Kaleb Eleby.
He may not be on the level of those three, but he went from a 59.9 passing grade as a freshman in 2018 to not playing a single snap in 2019 to a 91.5 passing grade — the ninth-best in the FBS — in 2020.
First-Team: Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
Patterson has put up full-season numbers in just half a campaign this year. Sure, the offensive line has helped to a certain extent as is evident on the All-MAC offensive line first-team, but Patterson has done his fair share with how ferocious he has been after contact.
He leads the MAC in yards after contact per attempt (4.7) and missed tackles forced per attempt (0.32) in addition to being the highest-graded runner.
First-Team: Caleb Huntley, Ball State
Huntley may have played in only three games, but he was fed with 80 carries — the seventh-most rush attempts in the conference this season — and performed at a high level.
Huntley trailed only his fellow first-team All-MAC running back Jaret Patterson in PFF grade in the conference.
First-Team: D'Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
Eskridge missed almost the entire 2019 season due to injury but returned for his fifth year in 2020 and was an explosive play waiting to happen.
He generated 18 gains of 15-plus yards in six games, doing almost all of that damage on non-vertical routes. In fact, more than 36% of his non-vertical route targets went for explosive gains of 15-plus yards, which led all FBS wide receivers by three percentage points.
First-Team: Hassan Beydoun, Eastern Michigan
Beydoun was uber-productive in his five games for Eastern Michigan this year. He generated an impressive 3.37 yards per route run in the slot, leading all MAC receivers and ranking eighth in the FBS.
First-Team: Justin Hall, Ball State
Hall has been one of the most elusive receivers in college football over the past few years. He has broken a tackle on over 36% of his touches this season, whether it be a trick run or after the catch as a receiver.
That’s really been the story of his entire career. Since 2017, Hall has broken over 20 more tackles after the catch than any receiver in the FBS.
First-Team: Bryson Cannon, Eastern Michigan
It was a down year at the tight end position in the MAC, but Cannon was the top performer of the bunch. He wasn’t asked to do a lot as a receiver, but he made the most of his opportunities when called upon.
Cannon produced a full yard more per route run than any other tight end in the conference (2.87) and picked up a 78.9 receiving grade on 15 targets.
First-Team: Kayode Awosika, Buffalo
Awosika has been a top-three graded tackle in the MAC for three straight years now. As a starter at right tackle in 2018 and 2019, he posted PFF grades just north of 80.0. Awosika kicked over to start at left tackle for the 2020 season and elevated his play to elite status with a PFF grade above 90.0.
First-Team: Jacob Gall, Buffalo
After a couple of years of serving as a key reserve with just a handful of starts, Gall earned a starting spot this year and made the most of it with an elite PFF grade above 90.0.
Not only was he the highest-graded guard in the entire conference, but he also produced the second-best single-season grade we have recorded from a MAC guard — behind only Taylor Moton (Western Michigan) in 2015.
First-Team: Mike Novitsky, Buffalo
Novitsky earns a first-team spot solely because of his run blocking. He — like everyone else — has been a key cog in Buffalo’s strong run game.
Not only did Novitsky lead all MAC centers in run-blocking grade this season, but he also led every center in the FBS.
First-Team: Jack Klenk, Buffalo
Klenk didn’t quite hit elite status like his teammate and fellow guard Jacob Gall, but he was right there behind him as the second-highest-graded player at the position in the MAC.
The fifth-year senior came into the season with only 46 career snaps and got off to a rough start in the season-opener with a 46.7 PFF grade. He evidently overcame that, earning a spot here on the All-MAC team.
First-Team: Jake Fuzak, Buffalo
Yes, that’s right — the Buffalo Bulls have a clean sweep of the All-MAC first-team offensive line. And Fuzak has been perhaps the best and most surprising of the bunch.
The fifth-year senior entered the 2020 season with just 164 snaps under his belt but has been nothing but dominant from the right tackle spot. He has eclipsed a 90.0 PFF grade for the season and is the highest-graded tackle in the entire conference.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE
First-Team: Ralph Holley, Western Michigan
Senior defensive tackle Ralph Holley had himself a career year in 2020. He was one of the most dominant pass-rushing 3-techs in his six games this season.
In fact, Holley edged out Alabama's Christian Barmore for the highest pass-rush grade in the FBS from the 3-tech position.
First-Team: Desjuan Johnson, Toledo
Johnson comes in at No. 2 among MAC interior defensive linemen in both run-defense grade (87.4) and pass-rush grade (78.8).
His 13 run stops were three more than anyone else in the conference, seven of which were a tackle for loss or no gain and one being a forced fumble.
First-Team: Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo
Buffalo has fielded one of the best pass-rush units in the Group of Five over the past few years, with Koonce playing a large role in that.
He recorded an 82.4 PFF grade in 2020, making it three straight years of 75.0-plus PFF grades. He racked up at least three pressures in each of his six games and was the owner of the highest win rate in the conference (21.5%).
First-Team: Anthony Ekpe, Ball State
Ekpe transferred to Ball State from Rice after last season, and the fifth-year senior had the best season of his career with the Cardinals.
He cracked the top five in the FBS in pass-rush grade (90.9), featuring a 19% pass-rush win rate and two strip-sack fumbles.
First-Team: Kadofi Wright, Buffalo
Calling Wright a playmaker is an understatement. He may have played in only six games, but he managed to make seven total plays on the ball. That’s nearly double what he had from 2017 to 2019 combined. On top of that, he allowed only two catches.
First-Team: Troy Brown, Central Michigan
Brown — who came to CMU as a corner — shined in coverage last year but had a ways to go against the run and as a blitzer. This year, we still saw an impact player in coverage, but he improved greatly in the other two facets.
On top of four pass breakups, Brown notched nine pressures (one of which was a strip-sack) and 19 run stops en route to a 77.0 run-defense and an 81.6 pass-rush grade.
First-Team: Dishon McNary, Central Michigan
It was a tale of two halves for first-year starter Dishon McNary. He got off to a rough start in his first three games with a 54.0 coverage grade. But he put together a hot stretch of play after that.
In his three subsequent games, McNary posted a conference-best 85.1 coverage grade, making more plays on the ball (six) than total catches allowed (five).
First-Team: Samuel Womack, Toledo
Womack went from allowing more yards than any MAC cornerback in coverage in 2019 (611) to being one of the conference's stingiest and most productive defensive backs in 2020.
He was tested routinely, with 32 targets in six games, but Womack still managed to allow 0.90 yards per coverage snap and led the MAC in forced incompletion rate (28.1%).
First-Team: Tycen Anderson, Toledo
Anderson was one of the top box safeties in the country this season. On top of leading MAC safeties in PFF grade from the box, Anderson ranked 13th in the FBS. He allowed just five total catches in coverage in six games en route to an 80.6 coverage grade.
First-Team: Bryce Cosby, Ball State
Cosby played over 100 snaps in the box, slot and at free safety, but he features on the PFF All-MAC first-team primarily because of his slot play.
He recorded a 75.8 coverage grade on 127 coverage snaps in the slot and allowed just five first downs on 21 targets. Crosby also made four plays on the ball and four defensive stops.
First-Team: A.J. Thomas, Western Michigan
Thomas’ role shifted a bit from 2019 to 2020, and the move paid dividends. He went from playing predominantly playing free safety in 2019 to SAM linebacker in 2020, increasing his coverage grade from 58.6 to 77.2.
Thomas mostly resided in the slot, but regardless of where he was at, he was incredibly productive in coverage. He picked up nine passing stops in 2020, three more than anyone else in the MAC.