Dec. 22, 2010
BOCA RATON, FL - Three former Florida Atlantic University football players have been selected for the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Ten Year Anniversary football team, a team that was selected over the course of the season, as well as through voting by the SBC head coaches and media panel. FAU has been a full football member of the SBC since 2006.
FAU's Rusty Smith, currently a member of the NFL Tennessee Titans, was selected as the quarterback, Jason Harmon was selected as tight end, and Frantz Joseph was selected for the defense as linebacker. All three players continued their football careers as professionals. Smith has seen limited action as a rookie, with one start. Joseph has played two seasons in the Canadian football league. Harmon signed as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but was limited in camp due to an injury.
The anniversary celebration also included a top-ten moments' category. FAU's Motor City Bowl Makes Owls Back-to-Back Bowl Victories was selected among the 10.
Rusty Smith, 2006-2009:
Rusty Smith made his impression on the Florida Atlantic University football program early, winning the position of quarterback as a redshirt freshman. He seized firm control of the starting job midway through the season and maintained it the remainder of his career. Smith enjoyed a breakout campaign as a sophomore, when he threw for school records in yardages (3,688), TDs (32), and TDs in a game (5). Smith was the USA TODAY's National Player of the Week following a 463 yard, 5-TD performance vs. Minnesota, the Sun Belt's first victory over a Big Ten team. He threw for 291 yards and two TDs to clinch the Sun Belt title game at Troy. Smith earned the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year and New Orleans Bowl MVP Award after throwing 5 TDs in a win over Memphis. He also was named the Palm Beach County Amateur Athlete of the Year. As a junior, Smith enjoyed a second-consecutive 3,000+ yard passing season, threw for 24 TDs, earned Motor City Bowl MVP honors and was Palm Beach County Amateur Athlete of the Year for the second-consecutive year. His final campaign was cut short by injury, but not before he threw for 1,915 yards and 14 TDs. In April 2010, Smith became the first FAU player to be drafted by an NFL team, when the Tennessee Titans selected him in the sixth round. Smith has seen action in two NFL games, including a start.
Jason Harmon, 2005-2009:
Jason Harmon turned in a stellar collegiate career. As a senior, he recorded a reception in his final 37 games and was listed among the nation's leaders for consecutive games with a reception. He was first team All-Sun Belt and made the same list for Phil Steele. Harmon was named Honorable Mention TE of the Week, nationally, by Football Performance Awards (11/1/09, 11/14/09 and 12/7/09). He also earned the John Mackey TE of the week (11/18/09). On the season, Harmon recorded 48 receptions and was in a rotation with a second strong tight end. He averaged 13.5 yards per catch and 54.1 yards per game. Harmon was the only Sun Belt tight end to be listed among the receiving leaders. Harmon concluded his collegiate career among the top three in four of the six FAU categories. A torn ACL kept him off the playing field in 2008 following an eye stopping 2007 season. In 2007, he earned First Team All-SBC honors, was tied at no. 77 nationally among receivers for receptions per game and was listed no. 89 in receiving yards per game. Harmon was instrumental in FAU capturing the Sun Belt Conference Title and New Orleans Bowl berth. He had seven receptions against USF, ranked no. 6 at game time, to nearly steal the game. Harmon added seven for 97 yards and a score in the New Orleans Bowl. He earned a first team spot on the Miami Herald All-State team. Harmon is listed as FAU's third all-time receiver with 1,745 yards and 13 TDs. In his career, Harmon averaged nearly three catches a game, 12.6 yards per catch and 36.4 yards per game. Those numbers are skewed with 11 games of special team work as a freshman. He also averaged 24.8 yards as a kick returner his senior season.
Frantz Joseph, 2006-2008:
Arguably the best defensive player FAU has ever produced, Frantz Joseph made his presence known to FAU early in his career. In 2006, after transferring from Boston College, Joseph finished third on the team in tackles as a sophomore with 41 tackles, with 14 coming against Louisiana-Lafayette. He was given the Bone Award as the team's hardest hitter at the end of the season. As a junior in 2007, Joseph earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors by finishing the season with a then-school record and conference best 131 tackles, 12.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions. Ten of those tackles came in FAU's victory over Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl, and he won the team's Bone award for the second-consecutive year. To date, Joseph is the award's only two-time winner. As well as he played in his first two years, he played even better as a senior. Joseph broke his own school record with 154 tackles on the year, including nine for loss. He was named first-team All-Sun Belt for a second-straight year and helped the Owls to a second straight- bowl win, this time over Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl. Joseph led the league and nation in total tackles as a senior. Joseph has the two best single-season tackle totals in school history, in addition to being the school's all-time leading tackler by more than 50, despite having only played three seasons.
Sun Belt Conference Tenth Anniversary Football Top Ten Moments
As part of the Sun Belt Conference's Ten Year Anniversary of football, fans, coaches and members of the media combined to select the Top Ten Moments in the history of the Sun Belt Conference. Below is a noteworthy FAU accomplishment:
Motor City Bowl Makes Owls Back-to Back Bowl Champs
FAU was chosen to travel to Detroit where they would serve as host to Central Michigan. It would be billed as an offensive game with two of the country's best quarterbacks. However, it was the defense that dominated the game and defense that gave FAU the 24-21 victory over CMU. Rusty Smith was honored as the game's MVP and Frantz Joseph as the game's Defensive MVP. Both celebrated as Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger and Lloyd Carr exchanged the championship trophy. It was the second bowl celebration in as many years for the Owls with each holding a different meaning. The first was accomplishment, the second relief that they had truly lived up to expectation and would become the players that earned the Sun Belt Conference back-to-back bowl victories, the first time in the league's history. The back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008 also noted FAU as the only team in the state of Florida to earn bowl victories in both 2007 and 2008.