IRVING, Texas – East Carolina running back Keaton Mitchell and placekicker Owen Daffer have been named First-Team All-American Athletic Conference the league office announced Wednesday.
Linebacker Bruce Bivens, cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian, receiver Tyler Snead and punter Jonn Young were selected as second-teamers by the league’s head coaches.
Mitchell, who started all 12 games in 2021, led The American in total rushing yards (1,132) and all-purpose yards per game (115.83), while also ranking among league leaders in four other categories including rushing yards per game (second/94.33). The McDonough, Ga. native became the 17th 1,000-yard rusher in program history (first since Tay Cooper in 2013) and tallied four 100-yard rushing games on the season which included a career-best 222 against Tulane, setting a single-game record for an ECU freshman running back (true or redshirt). He caught 22 passes out of the backfield for 253 yards with one score, has registered 17 plays of 20 or more yards (eight resulting in a TD) and is the second Pirate running back to earn first-team honors behind fellow classmate Rahjai Harris (2020 AAC Co-Rookie-of-the-Year).
Daffer, a two-time AAC Specialist-of-the-Week selection, led the league in field goal attempts (23), kick scoring (8.0 ppg) and tied for first in field goals made (19). He became the second Pirate to earn first-team specialist honors in The American following Jake Verity’s selection in 2018. On the season, Daffer has connected on 19-of-23 three-pointers, 39-of-41 PATs, tallied five multi-FG games and enters the Military Bowl having made at least one FG in nine-straight contests. The Wilmington, N.C. native has tallied double-digit points in a game three times with a career-high 12 twice and booted a career-long 54-yard game-winning field goal as time expired lifting ECU to a 38-35 win over Navy.
Bivens, a first-time all-conference selection, led the Pirates with 57 tackles, an average of 4.8 per contest to stand 36th in The American. He registered 2.0 sacks (-13 yards) and 4.5 TFLs (-18 yards), while adding a pair of quarterback hurries. The Houston, Texas native and four-year starter has booked 236 career stops (102 solo) with 5.0 sacks (-26 yards), 19.0 TFLs (-65 yards) and has registered at least one stop in 47 of 55 career games (multiple 42 times).
McMillian, a three-year starter and two-time all-conference honoree, picked off a nation-best five passes while booking 56 tackles (38 solo) during his junior campaign. It marked the third-straight season he led the unit in interceptions (three in 2019, four in 2020) with his pass thefts against Appalachian State, Marshall, Charleston Southern, Tulane and Memphis. The Winston-Salem, N.C. native and Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist also led the nation in passes defended per game (1.8) and stood third in interceptions per contest (0.4).
Snead, who earned all-conference accolades for the second-straight year as a receiver, caught a team-high 67 passes for a team-best 855 yards. The Raleigh, N.C. native scored four touchdowns, authored three 100-yard contests (Houston, Memphis, Navy), extended his reception streak to 33-straight games with his six grabs against No. 4 Cincinnati and ranks among the league leaders in five statistical categories including third in all-purpose yards (1,313). Snead returned 17 kickoffs for 378 yards (22.2 avg.), 12 punts for 81 yards (6.8 avg.) and threw a pair of TD passes (South Carolina/75 yards, Marshall/27 yards). He enters the Military Bowl among the program’s all-time leaders in receptions (fourth/201), receiving yards (fifth/2,374) and receiving TDs (sixth/18)
Young earned his first career all-conference accolade after ranking fourth in The American and 42nd nationally with a 43.1 punting average. The Advance, N.C. native registered 47 punts for 2,024 yards and landed 21 inside the opponent’s 20yards line. Eleven of his punts went for 50 or more yards, including a season-long 59-yarder against Temple. A two-time Ray Guy Award Watch List candidate (nation’s top punter), Young ranks seventh in the Pirate annuals with a 41.3 punting average after booting 206 balls for 8,508 yards. In all, 28 punts went for 50 or more yards and he has landed 59 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line with 11 touchbacks.