Houston Cougars Place Eleven on Preseason All-AAC Team


Preseason recognition continued for the Houston Cougar Football team as 11 Cougars were named to the Athlon Sports 2014 Preseason All-American Athletic Conference Team announced Wednesday. The Coogs garnered five first-team selections, tying for the league best with East Carolina and UCF.

The Cougars had three defensive representatives on Athlon’s first-team, which included senior defensive tackle Joey Mbu, senior linebacker Derrick Mathews and junior safety Trevon Stewart. Junior receiver Deontay Greenberry was a first-team offensive selection for the Cougars, while sophomore Demarcus Ayers garnered first-team recognition as a kick returner, coming off a 2013 season that saw him named the American’s Co-Special Teams Player of the Year.

Sep 15, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) is sacked by Houston Cougars linebacker Derrick Matthews (49) at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kriby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Athlon’s second-team featured three Cougars, led by two offensive players in sophomore quarterback John O’Korn, last year’s 2013 American Rookie of the Year and senior offensive lineman Rowdy Harper. Joining that offensive duo as a second-team selection was senior linebacker Efrem Oliphant.

Houston had three players named to Athlon’s third-team, as junior running back Kenneth Farrow, senior offensive lineman Bryce Redman represented the offensive side with junior safety Adrian McDonald a defensive honoree.

Breaking down the positions, Houston had two players recognized at both the linebacker and safety positions. With that, the Cougars were the only team in the league that had more than one honoree represented at multiple positions.

Mbu started at defensive tackle in all 13 games for Houston in 2013 and led all defensive tackles with 29 stops for the second straight year. He tallied multiple tackles in 11games with a season-high four stops at UTSA, while producing four games with tackles for loss, including a half-sack at Louisville.

Mathews leads all active players nationally with 348 career tackles and 39 career tackles for loss. Like Harper, Mathews has started all 39 games of his career and has eclipsed the century mark in tackles his first three seasons with the Cougars. The team’s Wilson Whitley Co-Defensive MVP in 2013, Mathews led all linebackers in The American with seven sacks.

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Stewart led the nation in 2013 with 10 turnovers – a nation’s best and UH single-season record six fumble recoveries and four interceptions. Stewart shared the team’s Wilson Whitley Defensive MVP with Mathews and was third on the team with 109 tackles.

Greenberry led The American with 1,202 receiving yards despite missing a game with an injury and leaving a second after Houston’s first series. His 11 receiving touchdowns ranked second in the league as he became the 17th player in UH history to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

Ayers led The American and was 12th nationally with an average of 27.6 yards per kick return. He finished the year with 37 returns for a UH freshman-record 1,021 yards including a 95-yard touchdown return vs. BYU.

The Cougars kick off the 2014 season, their second one in the AAC, on August 29th when they open play in the brand new Houston Football Stadium by hosting UTSA.