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UCF’s 2023 All-Big 12 Football Awards Announced

by Justin Wilson

Following UCF’s inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference, 16 Knight players have garnered All-Big 12 honors, including two first-team selections, a second-team selection and 13 honorable mentions, the league office announced Wednesday.

The league’s 14 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players, made the selections.

UCF wide receiver Javon Baker and defensive end Tre’mon Morris-Brash secured spots on the All-Big 12 first team, becoming the first players in program history to accomplish the feat, while linebacker Jason Johnson earned selection to the second team.

Colton Boomer (kicker), Tylan Grable (offensive line), RJ Harvey (running back), Demari Henderson (defensive back), Kobe Hudson (wide receiver), Lee Hunter (defensive line), Malachi Lawrence (defensive line), Morris-Brash (defensive lineman of the year), Lokahi Pauole (offensive line), Randy Pittman Jr. (offensive freshman of the year), John Rhys Plumlee (quarterback), Corey Thornton (defensive back), Xavier Townsend (KR/PR) and John Walker (defensive freshman of the year) were tabbed All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.

After leading the Big 12 in receiving yards with 966, Baker garnered first-team all-conference honors. The Atlanta native’s receiving total ranks 24th nationally and he also leads the league in receiving yards per game with 80.5, which is 27th nationally. Baker is averaging 22.47 yards per reception, the third most in the nation. He surpassed 100 receiving yards in four games this season, headlined by a career-high 134 at then-No. 6 Oklahoma with a pair of touchdown receptions.

Morris-Brash turned in an incredible final season in the Black and Gold to earn first team honors, leading the league with 18.5 tackles for loss and ranking second in the Big 12 with 8.5 sacks. His 18.5 TFLs are the fourth most nationally and the fifth year’s 8.5 sacks are tied for 16th nationally. Morris-Brash also received votes for the conference’s defensive lineman of the year award and was tabbed an honorable mention in that category.

Following his second consecutive season with at least 100 tackles, Johnson was tabbed a second-team selection by the league’s head coaches. His 101 tackles are second most in the Big 12 and it marked the first time a Knights player has had consecutive seasons with 100 or more tackles since Clayton Geathers and Terrance Plummer accomplished the feat in 2012-13. Johnson tallied at least eight tackles in nine games this season, headlined by a season-high 15 against Baylor.

After helping the Knights’ offense finish the regular season ranked fourth nationally in rushing yards per game with 233.2 and eighth nationally in total offense at 492.2 yards per game, offensive linemen Grable and Pauole were named honorable mentions. Grable started all 12 games at left tackle, while Pauole started the first nine games at right guard and the last three games at center.

Harvey was tabbed a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s best running back, and is an honorable mention selection. He rushed for the ninth-most yards in the country with 1,296 and sixth-most rushing TDs with 16 to tie the program record for most in a single season. Harvey is the first Knights running back to surpass 1,000 yards since 2018.

After missing three games during the season due to injury, Plumlee finished the season strong by passing for 2,073 yards and 13 TDs. He also rushed for 473 yards and five TDs.

Hudson was an honorable mention selection after reeling in 42 passes for 853 yards with seven TDs. His 20.3 yards per catch are the third most in the conference and his seven receiving TDs are fifth.

Defensively, Hunter, Henderson, Lawrence and Thornton were named honorable mentions. Hunter tallied 64 tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, leading the nation in tackles and tackles for loss by a defensive tackle. Henderson was strong down the stretch, putting together his best performance of the season against then-No. 15 Oklahoma State with two interceptions and a fumble recovery, which led to the Sanford, Florida, native earning National and Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week. For the season, Henderson had 42 tackles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

Lawrence was third in the Big 12 in sacks with 7.5, while registering 26 tackles and 10 tackles for loss with six hurries. Thornton tied for the team lead with three interceptions and led the Knights with nine pass breakups in additional to 27 tackles.

A pair of highly-touted freshmen, Pittman Jr. and Walker, were considered by Big 12 head coaches for the conference’s offensive and defensive freshman-of-the-year awards, respectively. Pittman Jr. tallied 19 receptions for 215 yards with a TD, while Walker had 22 tackles, including five tackles for loss and a half sack.

UCF’s Boomer and Townsend earned all-conference honors as specialists with Boomer connecting on 12 field goals and 46 extra points, while Townsend earned the selection as a punt returner/kick returner, ranking second in the league in punt returns (9.5 each).

After earning its sixth win of the season against Houston last weekend to become bowl eligible, UCF is the only Big 12 newcomer to reach six overall wins and its three conference wins are the most by a newcomer.

The Knights are bowl eligible for the eighth consecutive season, the longest streak by any FBS team in the state of Florida.

UCF's All-Big 12 Selections
First Team
WR Javon Baker
DE Tre’mon Morris-Brash

Second Team
LB Jason Johnson

Honorable Mention
QB John Rhys Plumlee
RB RJ Harvey
WR Kobe Hudson
OL Lokahi Pauole
OL Tylan Grable
PR/KR Xavier Townsend
DE Malachi Lawrence
DT Lee Hunter
CB Corey Thornton
S Demari Henderson
K Colton Boomer
DE Tre’mon Morris-Brash (Defensive Lineman of the Year)
DT John Walker (Defensive Freshman of the Year)
TE Randy Pittman Jr. (Offensive Freshman of the Year)