Just as Miami has improved from three wins in 2015 to six wins in 2016, Miami's All-MAC honorees continue to climb. In fact, the seven award winners this season matches Miami's total from 2014 (5) and 2015 (2) combined. Also of note, five of Miami's All-MAC honorees will be back in 2017.
Harding is Miami's lone first-team All-MAC honoree, finishing the year third on the team with 65 tackles and adding four interceptions and 10 pass breakups for the league's top overall defense. Harding, who played just three games in 2015 before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season, rebounded with a remarkable campaign in 2016, highlighted by his contest versus Ball State in which he recorded seven tackles, an interception and a career-best three pass breakups. He had a season-high nine tackles and an interception versus Ohio and had six stops and an interception in a win over Eastern Michigan.
Buchanan started 11 games in 2016 at right tackle for the Red and White earning second-team honors. The fifth-year senior was part of an offensive line unit that helped Miami average 133.5 yards on the game this season and 168.5 yards per game on the ground during Miami's current six-game win streak to help Miami become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.
Jones, a third-team All-MAC award winner last season, improved his play in 2016 to earn second-team honors. Overall, he recorded 40 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble and four quarterback hurries. His best game this season was at Eastern Michigan in which he recorded five tackles and two sacks in Miami's 35-24 victory. He added a sack and forced fumble at Iowa and had six tackles and a sack at Bowling Green.
Gardner is one of four sophomore RedHawks to earn third-team honors this season. Gardner, who missed two games due to injury, still managed to record 40 catches for 658 yards and five touchdowns. He began the season with six grabs for 95 yards and a pair of scores at Iowa. Two weeks later he had five receptions for a career-high 136 yards and one touchdown versus Western Kentucky. At Bowling Green, despite missing the entire second half with an injury, still managed to post nine receptions for 120 yards.
Montgomery finished the year with 61 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass breakups, 5.0 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. The sophomore had a game for the ages in Miami's 35-24 win at Buffalo. Not only did he record six tackles, he added two touchdowns. He first recorded a pick-6, intercepting a bubble screen for a score, and later returned a fumble 92 yards for a touchdown versus the Bulls. Montgomery, who tied for the team lead with four interceptions, also recorded picks against Eastern Illinois, Western Kentucky and Bowling Green.
McMullen is currently second on the team with 82 tackles to earn third-team All-MAC. The middle linebacker added 6.0 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a sack on the season. His best game of the year was at Cincinnati, where he recorded 14 stops, earning MAC East Defensive Player of the Week. He added double-digit tackle performances versus Kent State (10) and Buffalo (10), both Miami wins.
Thomas earned third-team All-MAC as a kick returner, averaging 23.5 yards per return in 2016. He added a 94-yard return at Cincinnati, the longest play in Miami football history to not go for a touchdown. Overall, he had 22 returns for 516 yards and had at least one 20-yard return in every game he played this season.
A list of MAC Specialty Awards and a complete run-down of All-MAC honorees is listed below.
2016 MAC Specialty Award Winners Coach of the Year: P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan Offensive Player of the Year: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan Defensive Player of the Year: DE Tarell Basham, Ohio Special Teams Player of the Year: KR Darius Phillips, Western Michigan Freshman of the Year: S Javon Hagan, Ohio Vern Smith Leadership Award Winner: QB Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
2016 FIRST TEAM ALL-MAC 2016 All-MAC First Team Offense Position - Name - School Quarterback - Logan Woodside, Toledo Offensive Linemen - Taylor Moton, Western Michigan ! Offensive Linemen - Storm Norton, Toledo ^ Offensive Lineman - Chukwuma Okorafor, Western Michigan Offensive Linemen - Max Scharping, Northern Illinois Offensive Linemen - Mike Ebert, Toledo Tight End - Michael Roberts, Toledo Wide Receiver - Corey Davis, Western Michigan ^&@ Wide Receiver - Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois * Wide Receiver - Cody Thompson, Toledo Wide Receiver - Scott Miller, Bowling Green Running Back - Kareem Hunt, Toledo *& Running Back - James Gilbert, Ball State Placekicker - Louis Zervos, Ohio
2016 All-MAC First Team Defense Position - Name - School Outside Linebacker - Blair Brown, Ohio Outside Linebacker - Ulysees Gilbert, Akron Inside Linebacker - Quentin Poling, Ohio ! Inside Linebacker - Malik Fountain, Central Michigan Down Lineman - Tarell Basham, Ohio % Down Lineman - Terence Waugh, Kent State ^ Down Lineman - John Stepec, Toledo Down Lineman - Pat O'Connor, Eastern Michigan & Defensive Back - Darius Phillips, Western Michigan * Defensive Back - Amari Coleman, Central Michigan Defensive Back - Heath Harding, Miami Defensive Back - Najee Murray, Kent State Punter - Joe Davidson, Bowling Green ^
2016 All-MAC First Team Specialists Position - Name - School Kickoff Return Specialist - Aregeros Turner, Northern Illinois ^ Punt Return Specialist - JoJo Natson, Akron
2016 SECOND TEAM ALL-MAC 2016 All-MAC Second Team Offense Position - Name - School Quarterback - Zach Terrell, Western Michigan !+ Offensive Lineman - John Keenoy, Western Michigan Offensive Lineman - Troy Watson, Ohio Offensive Lineman - Levon Myers, Northern Illinois * Offensive Lineman - Collin Buchanan, Miami Offensive Lineman - Cole Gardner, Eastern Michigan Tight End - Mason Schreck, Buffalo Wide Receiver - Corey Willis, Central Michigan Wide Receiver - KeVonn Mabon, Ball State !% Wide Receiver - Jon'Vea Johnson, Toledo Wide Receiver - JoJo Natson, Akron Running Back - Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan & Running Back - Joel Bouagnon, Northern Illinois ^ Placekicker - Paul Fricano, Eastern Michigan
2016 All-MAC Second Team Defense Position - Name - School Outside Linebacker - Trenton Greene, Bowling Green * Outside Linebacker - Asantay Brown, Western Michigan ! Inside Linebacker - Robert Spillane, Western Michigan Inside Linebacker - Khalil Hodge, Buffalo Down Lineman - Joe Ostman, Central Michigan % Down Lineman - JT Jones, Miami ! Down Lineman - Treyvon Hester, Toledo +# Down Lineman - Keion Adams, Western Michigan Defensive Back - Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois ^ Defensive Back - Dejuan Rogers, Toledo ! Defensive Back - Javon Hagan, Ohio Defensive Back - Jerrell Foster, Kent State Punter - Austin Barnes, Eastern Michigan
2016 All-MAC Second Team Specialists Position - Name - School Kickoff Return Specialist - Darius Phillips, Western Michigan *% Punt Return Specialist - Darius Phillips, Western Michigan
2016 THIRD TEAM ALL-MAC 2016 All-MAC Third Team Offense Position - Name - School Quarterback - Cooper Rush, Central Michigan * Offensive Lineman - Andrew Wylie, Eastern Michigan Offensive Lineman - Jake Pruehs, Ohio Offensive Lineman - Tim McAuliffe, Bowling Green Offensive Lineman - Logan Dietz, Bowling Green Offensive Lineman - James O'Hagan, Buffalo Tight End - Donnie Ernsberger, Western Michigan Wide Receiver - Jerome Lane, Akron Wide Receiver - Sebastian Smith, Ohio ! Wide Receiver - Sergion Bailey II, Eastern Michigan Wide Receiver - James Gardner, Miami Running Back - Jordan Johnson, Buffalo Running Back - Fred Coppet, Bowling Green Placekicker - Tom O'Leary, Akron
2016 All-MAC Third Team Defense Position - Name - School Outside Linebacker - Sean Wiggins, Ball State ^ Outside Linebacker - De'Andre Montgomery, Miami Inside Linebacker - Ju'Wuan Woodley, Toledo Inside Linebacker - Junior McMullen, Miami Down Lineman - Jeremiah Harris, Eastern Michigan Down Lineman - Jon Cunningham, Kent State Down Lineman - Casey Sayles, Ohio Down Lineman - Anthony Winbush, Ball State Defensive Back - Justin Ferguson, Western Michigan Defensive Back - Josh Cox, Central Michigan Defensive Back - DaQuan Pace, Eastern Michigan Defensive Back - Jamari Bozeman, Bowling Green Punter - Michael Farkas, Ohio
2016 All-MAC Third Team Specialists Position - Name - School Kickoff Return Specialist - Maurice Thomas, Miami Punt Return Specialist - Corey Jones, Toledo ^