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After an All-America freshman season at Duquense University, Fike High product A.J. Hines showed no signs of slowing off his torrid pace.
Hines was recently named a 2017 HERO Sports First-Team Sophomore All-American after closing out his second season with the Dukes with 1,038 yards rushing and 10 TDs. His 115.3 yards per game on the ground ranked sixth among NCAA Football Championship Subdivision rushers.
Duquense finished 7-4 overall and 4-2 in Northeast Conference play. As a freshman, Hines was lauded with the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award, presented to the most outstanding freshman in the FCS ranks.
With two seasons of eligibility remaining, Hines is already eighth all-time on the Dukes’ rushing charts, amassing 2,329 career rushing yards with 23 touchdowns.
RUIZ CELEBRATES IN STYLE
One year, one national championship for Fike High product Noel Ruiz.
Ruiz, a freshman placekicker for the North Carolina A&T Aggies, quickly established a stranglehold on the starting job and kicked all three extra points to help the Aggies to a 21-14 win over Grambling State in the Celebration Bowl, which is considered the national championship game for historically black colleges and universities.
The showing completed an undefeated 12-0 season for North Carolina A&T as Ruiz handled the kickoff duties and made 9 of 12 field goals with a long of 41 yards.
PHOENIX RISES FOR SPEIGHT
Although only a sophomore, Hunt product T.J. Speight has turned into a key contributor defensively for the Elon Phoenix.
Speight, a linebacker, recently concluded a 2017 season that saw him collect nine starts. He posted 56 tackles and had a pair of sacks. Speight was instrumental in Elon’s victory over No. 13 Villanova, where he tied for the team lead with six tackles and recorded a sack.
Elon, which finished 8-4 and concluded the regular season ranked No. 11 in the FCS, garnered an at-large bid to the playoffs, where the Phoenix fell 28-27 to No. 22 Furman.
WILLIAMS TOTING THE BALL IN BOONE
SouthWest Edgecombe product Marcus Williams Jr. has found a home running the football for Appalachian State as the Mountaineers continue their successful integration into the world of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
After redshirting in 2016, Williams has appeared in seven games for Appalachian State (8-4) ahead of Saturday’s Dollar General Bowl versus Toledo. Williams, who picked up his first career start at UMass on Oct. 28, has accounted for 500 yards on 97 carries, including nine rushes for 68 yards in ASU's 34-0 whipping of Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl. His 61.7 yards per game rank second among Mountaineer running backs in Scott Satterfield’s spread offense, a far cry from the offensive presentation in Pinetops.