(HALIFAX, N.S.) - Atlantic University Sport is pleased to announce the 2017 football major award winners and all-stars as selected by the conference's five head coaches following regular season play.
OUTSTANDING PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Dale Wright, Acadia Axemen (Chris Flynn Trophy)
Running back Dale Wright of the Acadia Axemen has been selected as the Atlantic University Sport outstanding player of the year.
A third-year business student in his second year of eligibility from Markham, Ont., Wright led the AUS conference and finished third in the country with 1,030 yards rushing this season for an average of 128.8 yards per game.
This is the second-most in school history. The only other Acadia player rush for over 1,000 yards is former Axemen standout Brian Walling, who posted 1,122 yards rushing during the 1986 season.
Wright also led the Atlantic conference in rushing touchdowns this season with six. He finished second in total carries with 161.
Prior to this standout season, the five-foot-eight, 198-lb running back was plagued by injury his first two seasons, playing in just one game in his 2015 rookie season and being forced to sit out last season in its entirety.
Wright's MVP nod marks the first time since 2014 that an Acadia player has been honoured as the conference's top player. Former Axemen standout Brian Jones took home the award in 2014.
Wright now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the Hec Crighton Trophy as U SPORTS outstanding player of the year. The Acadia Axemen had three Hec Crighton Trophy winners in four years between 1974 and 1977, but have not had a player earn the national honour since.
The most recent Atlantic conference player to earn the national honour was former Saint Mary's standout Erik Glavic who won the award in 2007.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Liam Patton, Bishop's Gaiters
The AUS rookie of the year is defensive back Liam Patton from the Bishop's Gaiters.
A six-foot-four, 205-lb political studies student from Thornhill, Ont., Patton played in seven of eight regular season games for the Gaiters this season.
He averaged 3.9 tackles per game and had 27.0 total tackles on the season (23 solo and eight assisted).
He also had two tackles for loss this season, a fumble recovery (which he returned 25 yards) and three pass break ups.
This season marks the Bishop's Gaiters' first as a member of the AUS football conference.
Patton now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the national rookie of the year award.
Mount Allison quarterback Jakob Loucks is the most recent AUS winner of the Peter Gorman Trophy as the top rookie in the nation. He earned the honour last season.
OUTSTANDING DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bailey Feltmate, Acadia Axemen (Tony Proudfoot Trophy)
Acadia Axemen linebacker Bailey Feltmate has been named the AUS outstanding defensive player of the year.
A second-year science student from Moncton, N.B., Feltmate led the Atlantic conference and finished fifth in U SPORTS in total tackles (58.5) and tackles per game (7.3) this season.
With 58.5 tackles on the season, he ranked fourth in school history for most tackles in a single season.
Feltmate finished fourth in the conference in tackles for loss with 5.5.
His stats also included two quarterback sacks this season as well as a pass break up.
The most recent member of an Acadia team to be named the AUS outstanding defensive player of the year was former Axemen standout Drew Morris who earned the honour in 2015.
Feltmate will now represent the conference as the AUS nominee for the Presidents' Trophy awarded to the national outstanding defensive player of the year.
An Acadia player has yet to earn the national honour.
OUTSTANDING LINEMAN OF THE YEAR: Adam Melanson, Acadia
Axemen defensive tackle Adam Melanson has been named the 2017 Atlantic University Sport outstanding lineman of the year.
A fifth-year education student from Kentville, N.S., Melanson had 17.5 tackles (13 solo and nine assisted) in eight games played for the Axemen, who finished with a 6-2 regular season record and went on to win the 2017 championship title.
Melanson had a team-high 3.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and 30 loss yards on the season.
In addition to being named the league's top lineman, Melanson has also been named an AUS all-star for the third consecutive season.
He will represent the conference as the nominee for the J.P. Metras Trophy which was last brought back to the AUFC in 1997 when StFX's Mike Kushnir was named the nation's top lineman.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Brandon Jennings, Acadia Axemen
Brandon Jennings from the Acadia Axemen is the 2017 AUS student-athlete community service award recipient and will be the conference nominee for the prestigious Russ Jackson Award.
Named after CFL quarterback Russ Jackson, this award recognizes a Canadian university football player who excels on the field, in academics, and in community service.
This is the fourth consecutive year a player from the Acadia Axemen has earned the honour.
A fourth-year community development student from St. Albert, Alta., Jennings is a U SPORTS academic all-Canadian, boasting a 3.87 GPA in the classroom.
Acadia football's team captain, he was named a 2016 AUS all-star and U SPORTS second team all-Canadian free safety.
His career stats include 4,632 punt yards as a punter/kicker, along with 94.5 tackles, nine interceptions and nine pass break ups on defence for the Axemen.
Jennings is also heavily involved in the community. He co-organized the Canadian Federation of University Women's book sale which raised over $20,000 to be used for scholarships and donations.
He participates in the "Acadia Recreation Buddies" program, serving as a mentor and friend to an at-risk youth "buddy" for two hours each week, exploring different recreation opportunities.
He has served as a volunteer coach with the Valley Bulldogs minor football program, the Team Nova Scotia U17 football team and the Wolfville Middle School track team.
Jennings is a member of the Acadia Players' Association and also participates in an array of team volunteering initiatives, including CIBC's Run for the Cure which raises money for the Canadian Cancer Society.
He now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for the national award. The last AUS student-athlete to earn the national honour in this category was Mount Allison's Dan Parker who won the award in 2005.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Jeff Cummins, Acadia Axemen (Larry Uteck Trophy)
Acadia Axemen head coach Jeff Cummins has been chosen by his peers as the Atlantic conference coach of the year for the fifth time in his career.
In his 15th year at the helm of the Acadia program, Cummins led the Axemen to a 6-2 regular season record and first-place finish in the Atlantic conference standings.
His Acadia squad led the conference this regular season in rushing yards per game (208.3), total carries (308) and rushing first downs (99).
This is Cummins' fifth time being selected as the AUS coach of the year. He previously earned the honour in 2012, 2011, 2005 and 2006. In 2011, he took home the Frank Tindall Trophy as the CIS (now U SPORTS) coach of the year.
Cummins now becomes the Atlantic conference nominee for this year's U SPORTS coach of the year award.
Former head coach of the Mount Allison Mounties, Kelly Jeffrey, is the most recent AUS coach to receive the national honour, which he was awarded in 2014.
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR: Dave Bance, StFX (Phil Hughes Award)
Dave Bance of the StFX X-Men is the 2017 recipient of the Phil Hughes Award and the AUS nominee for the national Gino Fracas Award.
This award is given annually to an assistant coach who does not make their full-time living coaching football for the university.
Bance currently serves as the X-Men's defensive line coach.
A starter for five years as a player for StFX—playing under StFX assistant coach Phil Hughes for whom the award is named—he has since spent 12 seasons on the team's coaching staff.
Now a full-time school teacher in Antigonish, N.S., Bance remains involved with the X-Men football program, attending morning workouts and assisting with off-season training.
"I cannot think of a more worthy recipient of this award than Coach Dave Bance," said StFX head coach Gary Waterman. "He takes great pride in working with his unit throughout the week and always comes to practice prepared. He is also a great asset to the team on game day as a positive presence on the X-Men sideline."
This marks the third consecutive year an assistant coach from the StFX X-Men team has been honoured with the Phil Hughes Award. Jim Daley earned the award last season and Bob Howes was the 2015 recipient.
2017 AUS All-Stars:
Defensive Tackle: Adam Melanson, Acadia (5th year – Kentville, N.S.)
Defensive Tackle: Donovan Glave, Mount Allison (3rd year – Brampton, Ont.)
Defensive End: Damian Halstead, Mount Allison (3rd year – Brampton, Ont.)
Defensive End: Jalen Burley, StFX (1st year – Winnipeg, Man.)
Linebacker: Bailey Feltmate, Acadia (2nd year – Moncton, N.B.)
Linebacker: DeAndre Smith, Saint Mary's (2nd year – Dunn, North Carolina)
Linebacker: Brad Herbst, Saint Mary's (4th year – Ottawa, Ont.)
Free Safety: Dylan Bell, StFX (4th year – Brockville, Ont.)
Halfback: Nathaniel Fermin, StFX (4th year – Pickering, Ont.)
Halfback: Nate Rostek, Mount Allison (4th year – Stillwater Lake, N.S.)
Cornerback: Jadin White-Frayne, Acadia (2nd year – Calgary, Alta.)
Cornerback: Antoine Lyte-Myers, Saint Mary's (3rd year – Toronto, Ont.)
Centre: Jonathan Zamora, StFX (2nd year – Toronto, Ont.)
Guard: Jacob Czaja, StFX (4th year – Sudbury, Ont.)
Guard: Nathan Heide, Acadia (2nd year – Warman, Sask.)
Tackle: Keiler Cherry, Acadia (3rd year – Lloydminster, Alta.)
Tackle: Matthew Ouellet De Carlo, Bishop's (4th year – Pierrefond, Que.)
Receiver: Kaion Julien-Grant, StFX (3rd year – Toronto, Ont.)
Receiver: Cordell Hastings, Acadia (2nd year – Calgary, Alta.)
Receiver: Malik Richards, Mount Allison (3rd year – Brampton, Ont.)
Receiver: Nathan Walker, Bishop's (3rd year – Brampton, Ont.)
Running Back: Dale Wright, Acadia (2nd year – Markham, Ont.)
Running Back: Chris Reid, Mount Allison (4th year – Brampton, Ont.)
Quarterback: Cody Cluett, Acadia (3rd year – Cole Harbour, N.S.)
Special Teams All-Stars:
Place Kicker: Brian Hope, Saint Mary's (2nd year – Port Coquitlam, B.C.)
Punter: Vincent Dubé, Bishop's (4th year – Montmagny, Que.)
Kick Returner: Johnny King, Saint Mary's (1st year – Greensboro, North Carolina)
All Atlantic University Sport major award winners automatically become finalists for the U SPORTS awards which will be handed out at the U Sports All-Canadian Football Awards Gala being held Nov. 23 at the Hamilton Convention Centre.