Leftwich, Yates are MAC Players of the Year

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Mid-American Conference announced today that Marshall University quarterback Byron Leftwich and linebacker Max Yates have been selected as the league's Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year for the 2001 season.

Leftwich, a junior from Washington, D.C., is the third member of the Thundering Herd football team to be named MAC Offensive Player of the year since Marshall rejoined the league in 1997. Randy Moss won the honor in 97 and Chad Pennington took home the award in 1999.

Marshall QB Byron Leftwich

Yates, a senior from Newport News, Va., is the first Marshall player to ever pick up the MAC Defensive Player of the Year award.

Leftwich has already established a new MAC record this season for total offense with 3,804 yards this year. He needs just 89 yards passing in Friday's MAC Championship game against Toledo to break the league mark for passing yards in a season. Pennington set that record with 3,799 yards in 1999.

Leftwich received 35 of 58 votes cast by the MAC News Media Association for the award. Toledo running back Chester Taylor finished second (19), with Miami quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (2), Northern Illinois running back Thomas Hammock (1) and Toledo quarterback Tavares Bolden (1) receiving the remaining votes.

Marshall linebacker Max Yates

Yates, who leads the Mid-American Conference with 145 total tackles this year, which is 31 more than the next leading tackler, received 28 1/2 of the 58 votes cast for the award. Eight players split the remaining 29 1/2 votes, with Bowling Green's Brandon Hicks finishing second in the voting with 10 votes.

The Mid-American Conference will announce the winners of the annual Vern Smith Leadership Award and the Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon at the Vern Smith Awards Luncheon at the Radisson Hotel in Toledo.

The Thundering Herd (10-1) will go for an unprecedented fifth consecutive MAC crown on Friday night at the Glass Bowl against the Toledo Rockets (8-2). The game is slated for 7:30 p.m. and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

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