BAY CITY, Mich. - Saginaw Valley State University wide receiver Jeff Janis (Tawas, Mich.) was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive "Back of the Year" and was one of three Cardinals to make the All-GLIAC First Team, conference officials announced Wednesday (Nov. 14).
Janis had a record-breaking season for the Cardinals in 2012. To date, his 106 receptions rank second in NCAA Division II, while his 1,635 yards are top in the nation. Janis caught 17 touchdown passes this season and was named GLIAC Offensive "Player of the Week" four times. He registered a GLIAC and SVSU record 300 yards receiving against Lake Erie in week four, and broke the GLIAC and SVSU marks for receptions in a game with an 18 catch effort against Michigan Technological University in week nine. In that same contest, he eclipsed single season SVSU marks for receptions and yards in a season. In the game against Grand Valley State in week 11, Janis set a new single season GLIAC standard for receptions in a season with 91. Janis has also been named one of 24 candidates for the annual Harlon Hill Award in 2012.
Joining Janis on the first team was senior linebacker Grant Caserta (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa HS) and senior safety Jeff Heath (Lake Orion HS). Caserta finished the regular season with 109 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks. He ranked sixth in the GLIAC in tackles per game with 9.9 in 2012 and finished his SVSU career ninth on the all-tackles list with 319. Heath finished the season with 77 tackles, 12 passes defended and was tied for the GLIAC lead with five interceptions on the year. For his career, Heath recorded 16.5 tackles for loss, seven interceptions and forced and recovered four fumbles.
On the second team, Saginaw Valley was represented by Jonathon Jennings (Columbus, Mich./Westerville South HS) at quarterback, Tim Hogue (Inkster, Mich.) at running back, Christian Babini (Rochester, Mich. / Rochester Adams HS) on the offensive line and Ryan Busch (Holton, Mich.) on the defensive line. Jennings finished the 2012 season 270-of-420 for 3,282 yards and 27 touchdowns through the air. He would also add 291 yards and six scores on the ground in 2012. Hogue, who finished the season with 1105 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground, became the first Cardinal running back to surpass the 1,000 yard plateau since 2008. Babini was the only SVSU offensive lineman to start and play in all 11 games this season, grading out as one of the top Cardinal players on the line in each game in 2012. He was part of a unit that blocked for a 3,200 yard passer and 1,100 rusher, while allowing just eights sacks on the season. Busch led all SVSU defensive lineman with 47 tackles, he also had 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks on the year.
Six Cardinals received honorable mention: Junior wide receiver Michael Albrecht (Midland, Mich.), senior tight end Zach Cecich (Crown Point, Ind.), junior offensive lineman Tevon Conrad (Detroit, Mich.), junior linebacker Brian Johnson (Muskegon, Mich./Catholic Central HS), junior wide receiver Mark Thrash (Wyoming, Mich. / Wyoming Park HS) and junior defensive back DeAngelo Parris (Clinton Twp., Mich./Waren De La Salle HS).
GLIAC POSTSEASON AWARDS (courtesy Jeff Ligney, Assistant Commissioner)
Offensive Player of the Year, Taylor Housewright (Ashland University) - Housewright is one of 24 finalists for the 2012 Harlon Hill Trophy. A three-year starter, Housewright leads the GLIAC in touchdown passes (30) and is second in passing yards per game (264.1). He is currently fourth in the nation in pass efficiency (173.46), and set the NCAA Division II record for consecutive passes without an interception (377) this season. Housewright has completed 221-of-324 passes (68.2 percent) for 2,905 yards, while only being intercepted once. Housewright has posted a 25-8 record Ashland's starting quarterback.
Offensive Back of the Year, Jeff Janis (Saginaw Valley State University) - Janis had a record-breaking season for the Cardinals in 2012. To date, his 106 receptions rank second in NCAA Division II, while his 1,635 yards are top in the nation. Janis caught 17 touchdown passes this season and was named GLIAC Offensive "Player of the Week" four times. He registered a GLIAC and SVSU record 300 yards receiving against Lake Erie in week four, and broke the GLIAC and SVSU marks for receptions in a game with an 18 catch effort against Michigan Technological University in week nine. In that same contest, he eclipsed single season SVSU marks for receptions and yards in a season. In the game against Grand Valley State in week 11, Janis set a new single season GLIAC standard for receptions in a season with 91. Janis has also been named one of 24 candidates for the annual Harlon Hill Award in 2012.
Defensive Back of the Year, Brian Gamble (Ashland University) - Gamble is an All-GLIAC First Team pick for the second time in his career, as he was also on that unit in 2009. This year, Gamble has 59 tackles (42 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss (34 yards) and a team-leading three interceptions. He's second on the team in tackles. Gamble also takes snaps as a wide receiver. He's caught 13 passes for 242 yards (17.2 ypc.) with two touchdowns.
Offensive Lineman of the Year, Tim Lelito (Grand Valley State University) - Lelito, who was a two-time First-Team All-GLIAC selection, started 45 straight games for the Lakers on the offensive front during his career. Lelito anchored an offensive line that helped the Laker offense rank second in total offense (474.4) and scoring offense (41.9) this season. In addition, Lelito was a key contributor in an offensive line that allowed just six QB sacks in 11 games and ranked eighth nationally in pass efficiency. Grand Valley State has had an offensive lineman earn this award in seven of the last eight years and 11 times since 1990.
Defensive Lineman of the Year, Jamie Meder (Ashland University) - Meder has been one of the GLIAC's top players throughout his career. He was named the GLIAC "Freshman of the Year" in 2010 and he's been an all-conference first team selection in 2010 and 2011. This season, Meder has 58 tackles (19 solo) with 5.0 tackles for loss (22 yards) and 3.0 sacks (21).
Freshman of the Year, Jason Vander Laan (Ferris State University) - Vander Laan directed the Bulldogs to only the program's second season with seven or more victories in the last decade, which included FSU's first win over rival Grand Valley State since 1999 and the program's first triumph over divisional opponent Michigan Tech in 10 years. Vander Laan established a GLIAC single-season record for rushing yardage by a quarterback as he ran for a FSU rookie record 1,338 yards on 247 carries (5.4 avg.) and 16 touchdowns in leading the Bulldogs. His team-high rushing total helped the Bulldogs rank among the nation's top 10 teams in both rushing offense and total offense as Ferris State shattered a school record with 3,364 yards on the ground and averaged 473 yards per game of total offense. He was 133 of 231 in the air for 1,493 yards and 13 scores.
Coach of the Year, Lee Owens (Ashland University) - Owens has guided the Eagles to their first undefeated regular season since 1972. AU is ranked fourth in the country – that's the highest the Eagles have been ranked since becoming an NCAA Division II institution. Ashland is 11-0, this is only the second time in school history the Eagles have reached double digits in wins. Ashland won its first GLIAC football championship this year and is in the NCAA playoffs for the fifth time in school history. This is the third time AU has made the trip under Owens. At Ashland, Owens is 66-33. This is his ninth year. Owens was also the GLIAC coach of the year in 2005.
For the complete list of All-GLIAC first and second teams, plus honorable mention, CLICK HERE.