SOMERSET, N.J. – After winning a share of the Northeast Conference title last weekend and boasting the best record the program has ever seen at the Division I FCS level, the University at Albany football team had nine players awarded all-conference honors, announced by the league office Wednesday evening. The Great Danes had six named to the first team -- Drew Smith, Kadeem Williams, Ocieka Bakou, Jon Morgan, Leon Saddler, and Paul Layton – and three to the second team in Ryan Kirchner, Anthony Bazzoffi, and Dean Mercuris.
Senior tailback Drew Smith capped a historic career with three rushing touchdowns in Week 12, making him the all-time leader for touchdowns scored (45) and co-leader for all-time rushing touchdowns (40). In four active seasons, Smith accrued 3,196 career rushing yards and 4,721 all-purpose yards, both good for second all-time. This season, the Schenectady, N.Y. native eclipsed the 1,000 rushing yards mark for the second time in his career and the 10th time in program history, rushing for 1,001 yards and 18 touchdowns, while totaling 1,280 all-purpose yards. Smith also led the NEC and ranked fourth at the FCS level for scoring (11.40). The honor marks his second all-conference selection in as many years.
Likewise, senior Ryan Kirchner earned second-team honors for the second year in a row. Kirchner is UAlbany’s all-time receptions leader hauling in 172 career catches. This season, Kirchner led the squad with 50 receptions for 578 yards, while scoring three touchdowns. He was also the Great Danes’ top punt returner, totaling 100 yards on special teams.
Offensive linemen junior Kadeem Williams earned his second consecutive first-team all-NEC award, while senior Anthony Bazzoffi was named to the second team. The duo helped UAlbany to the league’s top-ranked scoring offense (34.1), and limited opponent sacks to just 1.45 per game. Bazzoffi capped his career with his first career touchdown in the season finale, rushing across the goal line from the one-yard line.
Earning first-team honors for the second straight season, senior inside linebacker Jon Morgan led UAlbany with 72 tackles, three interceptions, and two blocked kicks this fall. The Copiague, N.Y. native finished his career ranked eighth all-time at UAlbany with 265 career tackles.
Senior defensive tackle Ocieka Bakou totaled 28 tackles this fall, while also making a number of big turnover plays, putting himself on the conference’s first team. Bakou forced and recovered two fumbles, blocked two punts (both against Colgate), and returned a fumbled for a touchdown in the Great Danes’ title win over Central Connecticut State. In his career, Bakou accrued 95 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Fellow defensive lineman senior Dean Mercuris also earned conference honors. Mercuris ranked fourth on the squad with 49 tackles this season, as well as two sacks, an interception, six pass breakups, and one fumble recovery.
Earning his second all-NEC honor in his career, senior cornerback Leon Saddler tallied 36 tackles, a team-high 10 pass breakups, and a fumble recovery this fall. Saddler totaled 125 tackles in his career with the Great Danes, as well as two interceptions.
Junior Paul Layton averaged 40.4 yards per punt this fall, including a program record 82-yarder against Wagner. Through three seasons, Layton currently owns a program-best average of 41.0 yards per punt in his career (159 punts, 6,519 yards).
In the 14 seasons UAlbany competed in the Northeast Conference, the Great Danes earned 137 first or second team all-conference honors. An end to an era, UAlbany will compete in the Colonial Athletic Association next year.
UAlbany’s nine honorees this fall marked the most all-NEC selections of any team, with Wagner and Duquesne each claiming eight. The recipients of all honors were determined by a vote of the conference’s nine head coaches.
The University was established in 1844 and designated a University Center of the State University of New York in 1962. With it's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service, the University engages 17,000 diverse students across three campuses within Albany.
With 10 schools & colleges within the University, including the Honors College, the University has long been recognized for its selective programs. The University holds a research profile near $400 million, and ranks among the nation's top public universities.
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
UAlbany's College of Nanoscale Science and Technology is the first in the world dedicated to research, development, education, and deployment in nanoscience, nanoengineering, nanobioscience, and nanoeconomics. The NanoTech Complex - a $3.5 billion, 450,000-square-foot facility that has attracted over 250 global corporate partners - is the most advanced research complex of its kind at any university in the world.
School of Business
The School of Business has maintained its AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation since it was first granted in 1974, and was the first school in the world to be recognized by AACSB at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
School of Criminal Justice
Founded in 1968, UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice became the first Ph.D.-granting criminal justice program in the nation. SCJ is concerned with all aspects of crime and societal reactions. They examine political, economic and cultural patterns that shape definitions of crime and influence public response. They also study social forces that lead to criminal conduct, and crime control systems. Ranked #2 in the nation
School of Education
UAlbany's School of Education: Educational Administration Doctoral program ranked seventh in the nation.
National Rankings of UAlbany's Rockefeller College Programs: Information Management & Technology 4th, Public Administration & Management 6th, Public Finance 9th, and Public Policy 25th. Ranked #10 in nation overall.
The Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics is committed to research that will discover the genetic origins of cancer and lead to finding a cure for the disease. Located on the University at Albany's East Campus, the center combines UAlbany research expertise in genomics and biomedical sciences with state-of-the-art technology in a new 117,000 square foot facility.
Northeast Regional Forensics Institute
UAlbany's Northeast Regional Forensic Institute (NERFI) is an innovative organization that addresses the current high demand for trained professionals in forensic laboratories while simultaneously fostering the research required to improve the speed, accuracy, and effectiveness of future forensic analyses.
Atmospheric Sciences Research Center
New York State Writers Institute
The University Libraries provide over two million volumes and rank among the nation's top one hundred research libraries.
Since its inaugural exhibition, Paintings and Sculpture from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection in 1967, the University Art Museum maintains its commitment to presenting contemporary art exhibitions that connect community and worldviews with the vast resources of the University.