WASHINGTON–Howard University senior linebacker Keith Pough has been voted the 2012 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Defensive Player of the Year while his teammate, Damon Gresham Chisholm, was named the MEAC Rookie of the Year, as announced by the conference.
The Bison, which finished 7-4 overall and second in the MEAC with a 6-2 conference record after being picked to be eighth in the pre-season poll, capped an outstanding season by having four players named to the first team and three to the second team.
A 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound red-shirt senior linebacker from Orangeburg, S.C., Pough closed out a brilliant career as the Football Championship Subdivision all-time career leader in tackles for losses wth 71.5.
The FCS All-American and the pre-season MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, Pough finished third on the team in tackles with 44 solo tackles, 28 assists, 10.0 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, including his first career touchdown, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. One of the team captains the past two years, Pough's leadership played a great role in the program's turnaround the past two seasons.
“I’m very proud of Keith and how he has played not only this season, but every year he has been here with Howard,” said Howard head coach Gary Harrell. “No other defensive player worked harder than Keith this season and definitely deserves it. It’ll be hard to see him leave because he was such an outstanding player and person.”
Greshman Chisholm, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound freshman from Covington, Ga., came on strong late in the season and proved to be a terror to opposing offensive lineman. Gresham did not start until the sixth game of the season, but he made the most of the opportunity by finishing with 28 solos, 13 assists, 18.0 tackles for losses, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and nine quarterback hurries.
Chisholm ranked fourth in the country in the tackles for losses and was the highest ranked among all freshmen. His forced fumbles tied him for ninth nationally and fumbles recovered tied for 13th. It is one of the rare occasions in MEAC history that a true freshman has been named to the first team.
“Having a player come in this season like Chisholm and play the way he played, no wonder he is getting the accolades that he’s getting,” Harrell told the AFRO. “At the same time, his main goal is the same as the goal that the team shares and that’s to win the MEAC. We know how close we came to doing that this season, so he’ll be one our leaders heading into next season when we try to win the MEAC again.”
Joining Pough and Chisholm on the first team were Julien David and Joshua Matthews. David, a 5-foot-11-inches, 190-pound junior safety from Coral Springs, Fla. proved to be one of the most consistent players at his position in the conference. He tallied a team and conference-high 108 tackles, including an impressive 67 solos, which tied him for 11th nationally in that statistical category.
A sure tackler and one of the more cerebral players in school history, David also recorded nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage, a sack, an interception, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks, including a blocked PAT that preserved an overtime win over Norfolk State.
Matthews, a 6-foot-4-inch, 330-pound junior guard from Bowman, S.C., had his best season by far and was a key to the success of the Howard running game, which averaged over 221 yards per game, good enough to rank 15th nationally and second in the conference.
The talented junior proved to be a main cog in the offensive from ranked second in the MEAC in total offense (365 yards per game) and second in fewest sacks allowed.
Named to the second team were tight end David Wilson, offensive tackle Davin Morris and offensive center Bradley Bush Johnson.
Wilson, a 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound junior transfer, helped provide balance to the Howard offensive attack by catching 16 passes for 220 yards and three TDs, including game winner in the closing seconds of the season opening win over Morehouse. It was the most passes caught by a Bison tight end in over a decade.
Morris, a 6-foot-6-inch, 310-pound senior from Houston, Texas, had his best season and proved to be an anchor on the offensive line that dominated defensive fronts and helped the productivity of the Bison offense.
Bush Johnson, 6-foot-3-inches, a 275-pound senior center from Charlotte, N.C., was truly the anchor of the offensive line as he called out the various defensive fronts and made few errors snapping the ball. His decisive blocks created running lanes for Bison runners and also allowed his team to be one of the more successful on third- and fourth-down short yardage situations.
AFRO Sports Editor Perry Green contributed to this report.