Dec. 6, 2011
Rice senior punter Kyle Martens and senior defensive end Scott Solomon have been honored by Conference USA coaches by being named to the 2011 All C-USA Football Team which was announced on Tuesday.
Martens was named to the first team for the second consecutive season, while Solomon was named to the second team. They were joined by Chris Boswell, Tyler Smith, Luke Willson, Cameron Nwosu, Paul Porras and Bryce Callahan who picked up honorable mention honors.
Callahan, who leads all FBS freshmen with six interceptions, was joined by guard Drew Carroll and punt returner Mario Hull in earning a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman team.
A repeat honoree on the C-USA first team, Martens completed his career as the Rice career record holder with a 43.1 average on 230 career punts. He bettered his 2010 All America year statistics, reaching career highs for punts over 50 yards (15) and punts inside the 20 (24), with 13 of those 24 punts being downed inside the 10. He also forced 25 fair catches and had only seven touchbacks in 78 punts. Martens also averaged 46 yards on 18 punts from inside the Owls 25.
Solomon bounced back from a broken foot that held him out of all of the 2010 season to post career highs in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (13.5) while tying the school career record with 24 sacks. He had at least one TFL in eight of his last nine games and closed the season ranked among the top five active players in sacks, solo sacks, tackles for loss and solo tackles for loss. He was one of 19 defensive ends who were named to the final Ted Hendricks Award Watch List.
Boswell continued to excel as a placekicker while also taking on kickoff chores as a sophomore. He tied the school record with 17 field goals and closed the regular season as one of six kickers in the country to have booted three field goals of 50-yards or longer. He ranked 22nd nationally and second in C-USA with 1.41 field goals per game. He converted on 17 of 21 field goal attempts, including 8-11 from 40 yards or more. He recorded 14 touchbacks on kickoffs, one more than the Owls total from the previous three years combined, and five better than the best season among the 11 years in which kickoff stats were compiled. His kickoff average of 63.1 yards per kickoff were a school record and marked the first time a Rice kicker has averaged over 60 yards for the season.
Smith lead the Owls in rushing (860 yards) and all purpose yards (1,169) and was second in receiving with 39 catches for 309 yards. He ran for over 550 yards and scored five times in the Owls last six games, twice topping 100 yards rushing. He rushed for a career-high 170 yards vs. Houston, highlighted by a school and conference record 97-yard touchdown run.
Willson was a Mackey Award Semifinalist and mid-season, All C-USA selection. He was second on the team with 311 receiving yards and third with 29 catches despite missing time at the end of the year with an injury. His top game was a seven-catch, 104 yard effort vs. Tulsa.
Nwosu led the Owls with 108 tackles, becoming the first Owl linebacker to top 100 tackles since Brian Raines had 118 in 2006. He accounted for two of the Owls' five defensive touchdowns, returning fumbles for scores vs. Houston and SMU. He also was credited with the tackle on two of the Owls' nine fourth-down stops on the year.
Porras was third on the team with 91 tackles and was second to Callahan with eight pass breakups and tied for second on the team with a pair of interceptions.
Callahan led all FBS freshmen with six interceptions and was second with 15 passes defended. Over his last three games, he had a total of six passes thrown against, picking off one, breaking up a pair while a pair were incomplete. The only completion came on a fourth-down play and Callahan tackled the runner short of the first down. He had a pair of two interception games (Southern Miss and Northwestern) and had one of three interceptions allowed by Case Keenum in the regular season.
Carroll stepped into a starting spot at guard in the second week of the season and made a total of 10 starts before being limited in the finale vs. SMU because of an injury. Hull finished fifth in the conference and ranks 23rd nationally with a 10.2 average on 16 punt returns despite not taking on the role until the midpoint of the season. He tied the school record with eight returns vs. Memphis.