NEW YORK CITY - North Carolina A&T State running back Tarik Cohen was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Offensive Player of the Year, while South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year.
The conference announced the award winners Tuesday morning at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, in a partnership with the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame, during the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner.
All honors were voted on by the MEAC’s head football coaches and sports information directors.
Cohen, the 2015 Offensive Player of the Year, became the conference’s all-time leading rusher this season as he amassed 1,588 rushing yards this season. The senior running back finished his collegiate career with 5,619 rushing yards. Cohen led the MEAC in rushing yards per game (132.3), scoring (9.5) and all-purpose yards (160.6). A four-time All-MEAC First Team selection, Cohen was third in the nation in rush yards per carry (7.49), rushing touchdowns (18) and rushing yards per game. He notched four 200-yard rushing performances this season, the most in the conference, to break his own single-season rushing record from last year. A seven-time MEAC Offensive Player of the Week selection, Cohen is also a finalist for the 2016 Walter Payton Award. With this year’s MEAC Offensive Player of the Year honor, Cohen becomes the first offensive player in MEAC history to receive the honor three consecutive years.
Leonard led the conference in tackles, as he collected 124 this season (6th in FCS). He was selected the 2016 Preseason All-MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the 2016 All-MEAC First Team. A three-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Week, Leonard finished the season with 78 solo tackles (4th in FCS), 14.5 tackles for a loss of 64 yards, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, five pass deflections, four forced fumbles (8th in FCS) and two blocked kicks. Leonard notched a season-high 19 tackles against #3 Clemson on Oct. 15. The Lake View, S.C. native has 281 total tackles in three seasons of play with one remaining. Leonard is also a finalist for the 2016 Buck Buchanan Award.