New Hampshire Football Report

UNH places two on All-CAA team

BALTIMORE – University of New Hampshire junior wide receiver Neil O’Connor (Leominster, Mass.) and UNH sophomore cornerback Prince Smith, Jr. (Philadelphia, Pa.) were voted to the CAA Football Preseason All-Conference Team that was released Tuesday morning at the annual Media Day at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

O’Connor led UNH in both receiving yards (834) and receiving touchdowns (six) en route to being named to the 2016 All-CAA Football Third Team. He ranked second on the team in receptions (58), and he averaged 14.4 yards per catch and 64.2 receiving yards per game. With those numbers, O’Connor ranked fifth in the CAA in receiving yards/game and sixth in receptions/game.

He was the top Wildcats in receptions in five of 13 games and was also the team leader in receiving yards five times. O’Connor’s season highlights included a career-high 10 catches and personal-best 192 receiving yards in the regular-season matchup against James Madison University at Wildcat Stadium. He also had seven catches for 171 yards and a TD in the NCAA first round victory against Lehigh University.

Smith was the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, when he played in all 13 games with 10 starts. He made seven of those starts, including six of the last seven games, at cornerback; his three other starts were as the free safety. Smith, Jr. led UNH in both interceptions (five) and pass breakups (13). He led the CAA in passes defended (18), tied for third in interceptions and was one of two conference players with two interception returns for a touchdown.

Smith also recorded 31 solo and six assisted tackles for a total of 37 stops. He scored a TD in consecutive weeks with a 16-yard interception return at Towson University and a 43-yard INT return against Stony Brook University. Smith, Jr. recorded a season-high six tackles Lehigh and matched that total the following week in the NCAA second round playoff game at JMU.

In 2016, the UNH Wildcats reached the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs for the 13th consecutive season, the longest current streak in the nation. The inaugural season at Wildcat Stadium saw the program establish records for the highest single-game attendance (21,943; Oct. 1), highest opening game attendance (13,242; Sept. 10), highest regular-season average attendance (11,108) and highest overall average attendance (9,630).

UNH kicks off the 2017 season against archrival Maine in the inaugural Thursday Night Throwdown on Aug. 31 (7 p.m.). It will mark the first time the Wildcats play their home opener on a weeknight.

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