Temple LB Matakevich named 1st-team all-AAC

Temple LB Matakevich named 1st-team all-AAC
December 11, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Tyler Matakevich recorded 13 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in a 33-14 win over Army on Oct. 19. (USA Today Images)

Temple's Tyler Matakevich on Wednesday was named to the American Athletic Conference's first-team, all-conference defense.

The sophomore linebacker is Temple's lone representative on the first team, and no Owl made the second team.

Although Matakevich led the conference in total tackles (137) and the nation in solo tackles (99), he did not take home the American's defensive player of the year award. That went to Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith, who finished second in the FBS in sacks, with 12½, recorded 15½ tackles for loss and forced three fumbles.

Matakevich, who finished behind only San Jose's Keith Smith in total tackles in the nation, also led Temple in tackles for loss (11 1/2), forced fumbles (three), fumble recoveries (two) and hurries (two).

These achievements come one year after he won the Big East rookie of the year award and became the first freshman in Temple history with 100 tackles.

Through two seasons, the rising junior, with 238 stops, is almost halfway to Steve Conjar's all-time Temple record of 492 tackles set from 1978-1981.

“It’s nice to know that the hard work was recognized,” said Matakevich, who all year has tried to deflect attention from his individual performance. “Every day [head coach Matt Rhule] and [linebackers coach Mike Siravo] challenged me to be better; to work harder. They taught me how to be a leader, to get everyone playing at a higher level. You saw that pay off as our defense got better late in the season. I’m excited about this honor, but I’m more excited about the future of this team.”

As for the conference's other award winners, UCF quarterback Blake Bortles won offensive player of year, UCF's George O'Leary won coach of the year, Houston returner Demarcus Ayers and Memphis punter Tom Hornsey shared special teams player of the year, and Houston quarterback John O'Korn won rookie of the year. Voting was conducted by the conference's 10 head coaches.

That final award very likely could have gone to Temple freshman QB P.J. Walker had he accumulated a full season's worth of statistics.

O'Korn -- after David Piland had his career ended by a concussion in the Cougars' game against Temple on Sept. 7 -- completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,889 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 12 games and 10 starts.

Walker, in just about 7½ games, completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 2,084 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions and picked up three more touchdowns on 332 rushing yards.

In doing so, Walker became the first freshman and only the third Owl in Temple history to throw for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, as the offense broke the program's all-time record for passing yards in a season with 2,996.

Temple averaged 31.4 points per game once Walker took over as the full-time starter five games into the season.