Six Pirates earn All-American Conference honors

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, December 2, 2015

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS ONE LAST TIME: Zeek Bigger takes the field prior to Saturday’s game. He was one of 17 seniors honored before kickoff against Cincinnati.

ONE LAST TIME: Zeek Bigger takes the field prior to Saturday’s game. He was one of 17 seniors honored before kickoff against Cincinnati.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — East Carolina seniors Zeek Bigger and Bryce Williams have been named First-Team All-American Conference according to an announcement by the league office Wednesday.

The Pirates also placed a pair of players on the second-team in receiver Isaiah Jones and outside linebacker Montese Overton, while offensive linemen J.T. Boyd and Ike Harris were named honorable mention.

Bigger, and inside linebacker who earned second-team honors a year ago, led the Pirates with 98 tackles (51 solo) while ranking seventh in the league with 8.2 tackles per game. The Gastonia, N.C. native recorded double-digit stops on four occasions in 2015, which included a season-high 13 against Tulsa. He led the defense in tackles eight times, while posting hits behind the line of scrimmage in six contests.

The three-time all-conference performer wrapped up his four-year career with multiple stops in 41 of 51 games (38-straight) and posted double-digit hits 12 times including a personal-best 17 against in-state foe North Carolina (2014). In all, Bigger tallied 333 tackles (164 solo), which ranks 10th on ECU’s all-time list. He also added 14.5 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and three interceptions to go along with 10 pass breakups and 12 quarterback hurries.

Williams a tight end, closed out the season with 58 receptions for 588 yards and four touchdowns. The Winston-Salem, N.C. native, who accepted an invitation to play in the 2016 Reese’s Senior Bowl, started all 12 games and became the first Pirate tight end to earn inclusion on the John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List. He hauled down multiple catches in each game (five or more seven times), with a career-best nine against Florida.

During his four-year career, Williams caught 96 passes for 1,045 yards (10.9 ypc) with 13 scores, which set a new positional school record. Forty-one (41) of his 96 catches went for 10 or more yards with a career-long of 56 against USF on Nov. 7. He grabbed multiple passes 26 times and caught two TD throws in a game twice (Tulsa/2014 and SMU/2015).

Jones became the sixth Pirate in school history to post a 1,000-yard season after hauling down a league-best 98 passes (fourth on single-season charts) for 1,099 yards (sixth on single-season charts) with five touchdowns. The junior from Austin, Texas ranks among the NCAA leaders in receptions per game (7th/8.2 pg), receiving yards per contest (21st/91.6 pg) and total receiving yards (21st). Jones topped the century mark on five occasions with a career-best 181 receiving yards at UCF, while also catching 10 or more passes in a game six times with a new personal-best of 14 receptions against Florida and UCF.

A three-year starter at wide receiver, Jones currently ranks third on ECU’s all-time receptions (241) and receiving yards (2,533) lists, trailing only Justin Hardy (387/4,541 yards) and Dwayne Harris (268/3,001 yards). He has caught multiple passes in 37 of 38 career games and extended his current streak to 35-straight games with at least one catch with his 11-yard grab in the first quarter against Cincinnati in the regular season finale.

Overton, a two-time all-conference selection, ranked third on the team with 70 tackles (40 solo), while leading the squad in sacks (7.5) and TFLs (10.0). He set an AAC record and tied a school standard with four sacks at SMU, earning him defensive player-of-the-week honors.

The Greenville, N.C. native booked 217 career tackles (120 solo) with 35.5 TFLs and 17.5 sacks, which generated a combined total of 185 “lost yards.” Overton, who started 26 games in four years, recorded at least one stop in 45 of 46 contests and registered multiple tackles 40 times with a career-best 12 at Navy during his senior year.

Boyd and Harris, who both earned second-team honors in 2014, anchored an offensive line unit that produced a pair of 100-yard rushers, while providing pass protection for five 300-yard efforts by Blake Kemp.