Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Part of an offense dominated by big-name playmakers, Eastern Illinois redshirt sophomore running back Shepard Little is emerging as one of the more noticeable players.
On Saturday, in his team's rout of Ohio Valley Conference rival Jacksonville State, Little became the first OVC player in two seasons to record a rushing, passing and receiving touchdown in the same game. His offensive explosion earned him an offensive player of the week nod.
Little, Richmond's Michael Strauss, Southeastern Louisiana's Isiah Corbett, Furman's Ray Early, Missouri State's Chris Sullens and Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp have been named The Sports Network FCS National Players of the Week for all Week 12 games ending Nov. 16.
CO-OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Shepard Little, Eastern Illinois, RB, R-So., 5-10, 198, Schaumburg, Ill.
The last OVC player to rush, pass and catch a touchdown in a single game was Murray State's Casey Brockman in 2011. Little accomplished the feat and thensome Saturday as his Panthers demolished Jacksonville State, 52-14. Little totaled 245 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, which put him over the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. The 245 yards were the 10th-highest single-game total in the FCS this season. In the first quarter, Little was involved in the team's first three touchdowns. His 3-yard run opened up the scoring, followed by his 18-yard touchdown grab and a 10-yard touchdown pass that went to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Little's effort helped Eastern Illinois claim the OVC's outright championship and its automatic FCS playoff bid.
Michael Strauss, Richmond, QB, R-Jr., 6-3, 210, Key Biscayne, Fla.
On the heels of his standout performance against Stony Brook a week earlier, Strauss kept his tempo going against Delaware on Saturday. The junior quarterback threw for a school-record 543 yards and five touchdowns, highlighted by a touchdown pass to Reggie Diggs with seven seconds remaining in the game to give the Spiders the win on the road. It marked the second consecutive week that Strauss threw for five touchdowns in a contest. He now owns or shares every single game passing record at Richmond.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Isiah Corbett, Southeastern Louisiana, LB, Jr., 6-3, 250, Belle Glade, Fla.
Corbett's total tackles don't jump off the page from Southeastern Louisiana's win over Southland Conference foe Sam Houston State, but the junior linebacker made a much bigger impact in the Bearkats' backfield. Corbett recorded six total tackles, five of which were for a loss in the Lions' 34-21 win over Sam Houston State. He also notched a forced fumble and an interception in the win over the previously No. 4-ranked Bearkats. The Lions received the outright Southland title and the conference's automatic playoff bid with the win.
CO-SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Ray Early, Furman, PK/P, Sr., 6-0, 200, Darlington, S.C.
In Saturday's win over Western Carolina, Early set a Furman school record and tied the Southern Conference record of six made field goals in a game. Early connected on attempts from 48, 24, 40, 39, 30 and 32 yards, and missed a seventh attempt from 39 yards out when it went over the left upright, which by rule is no good. The senior kicker accounted for 20 of Furman's 32 points in the contest, which is a program kicking record. To round out his day, Early averaged 41.3 yards on three punts, and sent seven of his nine kickoffs into or out of the end zone for touchbacks.
Chris Sullens, Missouri State, P, So., 6-0, 181, Camdenton, Mo.
Sullens, the Bears' sophomore punter, was evidently feeling great about his leg strength Saturday in Missouri State's loss to Northern Iowa. Sullens sent six punts away to the Panthers for a booming average of 50.2 yards per punt, which beat out Missouri State's previous single-game kicking record of 48.4 yards set by Chris Hurst in 1995. Sullens' kicks included a long of 68 yards - his best of the season. At the end of the day, he finished with three kicks that traveled over 50 yards and five that went over 40.
FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington, WR, Fr., 6-2, 195, Yakima, Wash.
The Eagles' freshman phenom was at it again Saturday, as Kupp hauled in 139 receiving yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Kupp tied the FCS record with his 11th consecutive game catching a scoring pass, also held by Randy Moss (Marshall, 1996), Ramses Barden (Cal Poly, 2008) and Brandon Kaufman (Eastern Washington, 2010). Kupp also set an FCS freshman record for most receiving yards in a season with 1,231. The previous high of 1,196 was set by former Appalachian State receiver Sean Price a year ago. The all-time mark for most touchdown receptions by a freshman in a season is 19, set by Moss in 1996. And Kupp still has one more regular-season game plus the playoffs to go.