Quartet claims FCS Player of the Week honors

Mercer Football vs. Jacksonville (Aug. 31, 2017)

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - There were plenty of outstanding performances by defensive players in the FCS this past weekend, including box score-filling dominance by All-Americans Mike Basile of Monmouth and Darious Leonard of South Carolina State. So Mercer linebacker Lee Bennett really had to stand out to earn a STATS National Player of the Week award.

The Citadel can vouch for him.

On Monday, Bennett, Northern Arizona's Case Cookus, Dayton's Sean Smith and Tennessee State's Vincent Sellers were named the STATS FCS National Players of the Week for Week 6 games ending Oct. 7.

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NATIONAL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Case Cookus, Northern Arizona, QB, R-So., 6-4, 200, Thousand Oaks, California

There's no doubt Cookus is recovered from last year's season-ending shoulder injury because the 2015 national freshman of the year is not just throwing touchdowns, he's catching them. He completed 26 of 45 passes for 380 yards, three TDs and no interceptions and was on the receiving end of a 23-yard score to power Big Sky member Northern Arizona past then-No. 11 Illinois State 37-16. Cookus' first career TD reception came on a pass from wide receiver Chance Brewington. Prior to the game, Illinois State had allowed only three offensive touchdowns.

Honorable Mention: Dewayne Betts, QB, Mississippi Valley State; Davion Davis, WR, Sam Houston State; Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington; Jack Heneghan, QB, Dartmouth; Brady Mengarelli, RB, South Dakota State; Peter Pujals, QB, Holy Cross; Trey Samuel, RB, South Carolina State; Andre Stoddard, RB, Wofford; Ryan Wells, QB, Jacksonville

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NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Lee Bennett, Mercer, LB, Sr., 6-0, 221, Leesburg, Florida

Bennett was in charge as Mercer beat a nationally ranked team for the second time since reviving football in 2013, 24-14 over then-No. 17 The Citadel, the two-time defending Southern Conference champ. He posted a career-high 16 tackles, forced two fumbles, had his school-record sixth career fumble recovery and added both a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. The Citadel entered the game averaging about 333.5 rushing yards per game, but was held to 201.

Honorable Mention: Mike Basile, SS, Monmouth; Christian Boutte, CB, Nicholls; Brandon Bryant, LB, Lafayette; Josh Clarke, S, Northern Arizona; Darin Greenfield, DE, South Dakota; De'Andre Hogues, LB, Grambling State; Juan Jackson, S, Central Arkansas; Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State; Troy Reeder, LB, Delaware; Brett Zanotto, LB, Duquesne

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NATIONAL SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Sean Smith, Dayton, P, Jr., 6-4, 222, Avondale, Pennsylvania

Smith basically had a perfect day as a punter in Dayton's 20-10 win at rival Drake in the Pioneer Football League. Five of his seven punts were downed inside the Drake 20-yard line with two of them going for more than 50 yards. On his three punts from inside Dayton's 25, he boomed them to an average of 56.7 yards. Drake attempted just one return on his seven punts and muffed the catch, with Dayton recovering the ball.

Honorable Mention: Khris Gardin, RS, North Carolina A&T; Mike Lamb, DL, Robert Morris; Juwan Petit-Frere, KR, Southeastern Louisiana; Rashaan Miller, P, Southern Utah; Gabriel Vicente, PK, Murray State

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NATIONAL FRESHMAN PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Vincent Sellers, Tennessee State, S, Fr., 6-1, 180, Sarasota, Florida

Sellers tied the FCS single-game record with two interception returns for touchdowns as Tennessee State beat Eastern Kentucky 45-21 in the Ohio Valley Conference. As the Tigers clung to a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter, Sellers scored off a 34-yard return with 6:40 to play. Less than three minutes later, he added a 44-yard touchdown return to put the game out of reach. Sellers, who became the 29th player in FCS history to achieve the feat, also had eight tackles (seven solo) and a pass breakup.

Honorable Mention: Jaquan Amos, FS, Villanova; Bryson Armstrong, DE, Kennesaw State; Grant Breneman, QB, Colgate; Juwan Carter, QB, Norfolk State; Gresch Jensen, QB, Montana; Austin Mitchell, WR, Southeastern Louisiana; Tim Simon, S, Dayton

Updated October 9, 2017

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