Cal Poly's David Cooper, left, looks to tackle Montana's Jerry Louie-McGee at San Luis Obispo, California, last season. Louie-McGee finished seventh in voting for the Jerry Rice Award.

TOM BAUER, tom.bauer@missoulian.com

MISSOULA -- Montana's Jerry Louie-McGee placed first on seven ballots, but the dynamic wide receiver finished seventh overall in the voting for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award given to the nation's best freshman football player.

Duquesne running back A.J. Hines edged South Dakota State linebacker Christian Rozeboom by a single vote for the top honor. Hines pulled in 333 total votes. Louie-McGee had 121 votes.

Hines set a Duquesne freshman record with 1,291 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, the most by any back for the program since 2003, in helping the Dukes to a share of the Northeast Conference title.

He beat out Rozeboom, followed by Sam Houston State receiver Nathan Stewart, Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams, Jacksonville State safety Marlon Bridges and Nicholls quarterback Chase Fourcade.

Louie-McGee led the Griz with 73 catches for 651 yards, but played in only eight games because of a knee injury near the season's midway point. Before the setback, the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho product set Montana's single-game record with 21 catches against Cal Poly, a performance that also tied the Big Sky Conference mark.

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He was named FCS freshman of the week after the big outing and also earned a Big Sky special teams player of the week award after an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown against Northern Iowa.

Northern Arizona's Case Cookus, the record-setting quarterback from the Big Sky, earned the Rice award last season. The voting reflected only the players' regular-season performances and was conducted before the start of the FCS playoffs.

A national panel of more than 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Rice Award, which had 23 finalists from 12 FCS conferences.


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