Thirteen Houston players received All-Conference honors Tuesday as Conference USA announced its All-Conference teams. Jacolby Ashworth, Phillip Steward, D.J. Hayden and Richie Leone all received first-team honors while Charles Sims and Brandon Hartson earned second-team honors.
Bryce Redman, Derrick Mathews, Zach McMillian and Matt Hogan earned honorable mention All-Conference while Deontay Greenberry, Larry McDuffey and Trevon Stewart were named to the league’s All-Freshman Team.
Houston’s four first-team selections were third in the league behind UCF’s six selections and Tulsa’s five.
A linebacker with 47 consecutive starts, Steward led the league and was 14th nationally with 11 sacks. The senior led Conference USA and was fourth nationally with five forced fumbles. He was second in the league and ninth nationally with 19 tackles for loss.
The Missouri City, Texas, native led Houston and was ninth nationally with 128 tackles. Steward also had three interceptions, three pass breakups, one fumble recovery and 10 quarterback hurries.
Hayden was second in the league with four interceptions despite only playing nine games after suffering a life-threatening tear of the inferior vena cava in the heart from a collision in practice. The defensive captain returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns, both returns over 75 yards.
Prior to his injury, just 45 of 362 pass attempts (12.4%) from UH opponents went Hayden’s way. Of the 45, just 11 were completed, representing just 5% of the 216 completions from UH opponents with Hayden in the lineup. The senior also had eight pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Leone led Conference USA and set a Houston single-season record with an average punt of 45.6 yards including a conference-best 20 punts over 50 yards and four over 60 yards with a career-long 77-yard punt. Placed 18 of his 60 punts inside the 20-yard line including nine inside the 10-yard line. Just 21 punts were returned with opponents calling for 24 fair catches and just six touchbacks on the year. Also handled kickoff duties for Houston with 25 touchbacks on 71 kickoffs this season.
A 2011 second-team All Conference honoree, Ashworth helped lead the league’s No. 2 offense along the line at right guard. He started at the position in 10 games after switching from left tackle the first three years of his collegiate career. Ashworth ended his career with 39 starts along a line that was second in the conference with 18 sacks allowed (1.6 per game) and in total offense (479.6 yards per game). The Lufkin, Texas, native helped pave the way for four 100-yard rushing games from Sims, the league’s No. 3 rusher, on the season.
Sims led Houston with 851 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns to go along with 37 receptions for 373 yards and three TDs. The junior finished third in Conference USA with 94.6 rushing yards per game, third in scoring with 9.3 points per game and second in all-purpose yards with 136 yards per game despite missing three full games and the second half of three others with injuries. Sims compiled four 100-yard rushing games and one 100-yard receiving game this season.
Hartson earned second-team honors in his fourth season as Houston’s long snapper. The senior was perfect on 131 snaps on the season (61 punts, 45 PATs, 25 FGA) while also posting three tackles on punt coverage.
Houston claimed two of the three receiver positions on the freshman team as Greenberry led all freshmen in the league with 47 receptions for 569 yards. He had three receiving touchdowns on the year, a number that trailed just McDuffey for the conference lead.
McDuffey led all freshmen receivers with his four touchdowns while his 28 receptions for 382 yards, ranked behind just Greenberry among freshmen. He also had three kickoff returns for 63 yards on the season and his first career 100-yard game with 100 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions in Houston’s win over Rice. The Galena Park, Texas, native led Houston in receiving yards in three games.
The nation’s top freshman tackler with 126 tackles, Stewart took over as Houston’s starting free safety in the third game of the season and ended with 10 consecutive starts. He finished second on Houston’s team and fourth in the conference regardless of class with tackle total boosted by six games with at least 10 tackles including a career-best 21 stops at East Carolina. Stewart recorded first career interception against Tulane and broke up seven passes on the year. The Patterson, La., native also had 3.5 tackles for loss for 13 yards including a 10-yard sack against UTEP.
One of four honorable mention selections, Redman took over as the starting center for the conference’s No. 2 offense in the third game of the season and finished with eight starts at the position. He helped pave the way for four 100-yard rushing games from Charles Sims, the league’s No. 3 rusher, and Ryan Jackson’s 129-yard game against Tulane.
Mathews finished third in Conference USA and 20th nationally with 17 tackles for loss and fourth in the league and 12th nationally with 126 tackles on the season. The Houston native was also eighth in the league with six sacks for a loss of 46 yards and had eight games this season with at least 10 tackle. Mathews also had two forced fumbles, five pass breakups and nine quarterback hurries.
McMillian was forced to step up as Houston’s No. 1 corner following the season-ending injury to Hayden and finished tied for the conference lead with five interceptions including an interception in all three games that Hayden missed. McMillian also finished with six pass breakups on the season along with 51 tackles.
Hogan closed out his career tied for the league lead in kick scoring with 105 points and 20-of-25 on field goals for the season including a perfect three-for-three from at least 50 yards. He set the Conference USA and Houston record with six field goals in a game in UH’s 39-17 win over UAB.
The Keller, Texas, native holds the Conference USA record and is ninth on the NCAA charts for career kick scoring (405) as he became just one of 10 kickers in NCAA history to score over 400 points in a career. Hogan also owns the Conference USA record for career extra points with 228 and had multiple field goals in six games this season and 19 career games.