DENTON North Texas placed 10 players on the Sun Belt’s first team all-conference list while head coach Darrell Dickey and defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy took home the league’s top individual honors announced today.
Dickey was named Coach of the Year after leading North Texas to a perfect 6-0 record in Sun Belt games and leading the Mean Green to its second straight appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. Dickey is now only the second coach in school history to be named conference Coach of the Year more than once, joining Odus Mitchell who earned the honor in 1958 and 1966. He is the only coach in school history to earn the honor in consecutive seasons.
Kennedy was named the Sun Belt’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year after finishing second in the nation with 24 tackles for loss. Kennedy led the league with nine quarterback sacks and tallied a career-high 72 tackles, which lead all Sun Belt defensive linemen. It is the second straight year that a Mean Green player earned the Defensive Player of the Year award.
The North Texas defense that led the conference in every defensive statistical category and ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense was honored with six players on the first team. Kennedy, who was a unanimous choice on the defensive line, was joined by teammates Taylor Casey, Darrell Daniels, Craig Jones, Don McGee and Cody Spencer. Other than Kennedy, all were making their first appearance on the all-conference first team and only Jones and Spencer had ever earned any all-conference recognition.
The Mean Green returned all four of its first team offensive all-conference selections to the team again this season. Running back Kevin Galbreath, tight end Jeff Muenchow and offensive linemen J.R. Randle and Nick Zuniga all earned first team honors for the second straight year. Galbreath and Munechow were both unanimous selections to this year’s team.
Six players earned second team honors, including offensive lineman Matt Turney, defensive tackle Chris McIver, defensive end Adrian Awasom, safety Jonas Buckles, punter Brad Kadlubar and all-purpose player Ja’Mel Branch. It was Turney’s second straight year on the second team and McIver’s second time in three years after earning second team all-Big West honors in 2000. Buckles was a first team Sun Belt selection last season while Awasom and Kadlubar are both first time honorees. Branch was the Sun Belt’s Freshman of the Year last season.
North Texas’ 10 players on the first team is a school record and is more honorees than any other conference team placed on the first and second team combined. Of the 16 Mean Green players on the first and second team, seven are seniors, five are juniors and four are sophomores.
North Texas finished the regular season with a 7-5 record including a perfect 6-0 mark in conference games. The Mean Green will conclude the season by playing in the New Orleans Bowl Dec. 17 against a representative of Conference USA on ESPN 2 beginning at 6 p.m. CST.
North Texas Players on the 2002 Sun Belt Football All-Conference Team
First Team Offense
Offensive Line J.R. Randle, Sr., Copperas Cove, Texas; Nick Zuniga, Jr., Grand Prairie, Texas
Tight End Jeff Muenchow, Sr., Converse, Texas
Running Back Kevin Galbreath, Sr., Edmond, Okla.
First Team Defense
Defensive Line Brandon Kennedy, Jr., Terrell, Texas; Darrell Daniels, Sr., Kansas City, Kan.
Linebacker Taylor Casey, Jr., Odessa, Texas; Cody Spencer, Jr., Grapevine, Texas
Defensive Back Craig Jones, Jr., Sinton, Texas; Don McGee, Sr., Richardson, Texas
Second Team Offense
Offensive Line Matt Turney, Sr., Muleshoe, Texas
Second Team Defense
Defensive Line Adrian Awasom, So., Fort Bend, Texas; Chris McIver, Sr., San Antonio, Texas
Defensive Back Jonas Buckles, So., Houston, Texas
Second Team Special Teams
Punter Brad Kadlubar, So., Ennis, Texas
All-Purpose Ja’Mel Branch, So., Katy, Texas