Six Chippewas Named Midseason All-MAC by Phil Steele
Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
Junior wide receiver Titus Davis, senior linebacker Shamari Benton and junior linebacker Justin Cherocci headlined the Central Michigan honorees, earning first team recognition. Senior safety Avery Cunningham was named to the second team while sophomore running back Saylor Lavallii and redshirt sophomore center Nick Beamish received third team honors.
A Biletnikoff Award candidate, Davis leads CMU in receptions (29), receiving yards (518) and touchdowns (4) and his 86.3 yards per game average ranks third in the MAC. With 20 career touchdowns, Davis sits third in the CMU record book and his 2,129 career yards are seventh all-time among Chippewa receivers. He is also ranked No. 2 in the nation among active players with a career 19.0 yards per reception average and No. 9 with a career 71.0 yards per game average.
Benton and Cherocci combine to provide the Central Michigan defense with one of the nation’s top tackling tandems. The duo is tied for the MAC lead and rank fifth nationally with 73 tackles. Benton has led the Chippewas in tackles in each of the last four games, including a career best 14 stops in last week’s win over Ohio, and has five double digit tackle games thus far in 2013. Cherocci also tops the team in tackles for loss (7.0), sacks (3.0) and forced fumbles (2). Over the past 20 games, Benton and Cherocci have combined for 404 tackles, an average of over 20 per contest.
A starter of 38 consecutive games, the second longest streak in the nation among safeties, Cunningham is the veteran leader of the CMU secondary. He leads the Chippewas with 35 solo tackles and ranks third in total stops with 50, including 4.0 for a loss.
Lavallii has gone from capable back up coming into the season to full-time starter following the injury to All-MAC rusher Zurlon Tipton to one of the nation’s top backs in the span of six weeks. In the win over Ohio, Lavallii set career highs in rushing attempts (26) and rushing yards (184) for the second consecutive week. He currently ranks third in the MAC and 13th nationally with 705 rushing yards. He has also proven to be a durable workhorse for the Chippewas, as he is third in the NCAA in carries with 138 behind only Washington’s Bishop Sankey (159) and Boston College’s Andre Williams (157). Thus far this season, he has put together three 100-yard games and two two-touchdown efforts. Entering this weekend, Lavallii is just 32 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark for his career.
Beamish anchors the middle of a young but talented CMU offensive line. After redshirting in 2011, he has started every game since, a streak of 20 consecutive contests. Following a 2012 season in which Zurlon Tipton rushed for nearly 1,500 yards, Beamish has helped pave the way for Saylor Lavallii, who is on his way to the 1,000-yard rushing benchmark this year.
Winners of two straight MAC road games, Central Michigan (3-4, 2-1) returns home for the first time since September 21 this weekend, hosting defending MAC champion No. 23 Northern Illinois (6-0, 2-0) in the Chippewas’ annual Homecoming game. The intradivisional contest is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff and will be broadcast by ESPN3. Central is the last team to deal the Huskies a conference loss, claiming a 48-41 victory in Mount Pleasant in 2011.