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NEAL STERLING NAMED NEC OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Updated: November 23, 2011 - 4:43 p.m. (ET)
Monmouth Sports Information

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth University wide receiver Neal Sterling (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan) was named Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, league officials announced on Wednesday.

Sterling, who was also named Second Team All-NEC, was joined by four other Hawks on all-league teams.  Senior safety Jose Gumbs (Queens, N.Y./Mt. Hebron) and senior defensive end Ian Simon (West Windsor, N.J./West Windsor Plainsboro/Howard) were named First Team All-Northeast Conference while redshirt junior offensive tackles Dino Molina (Damascus, Md./Damascus) and Mike Murphy (Toms River, N.J./Toms River East) were named to the conference's second team.

"Neal had a great first year," said Head Coach Kevin Callahan. "He is very deserving of this recognition. I am happy that a number of our players were rewarded for their excellent play this season. Having five players named to the All-NEC team is a testament to the hard work that these players put in."

Sterling becomes the third Monmouth player to earn NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year (Joe Migliore, David Sinisi).  The 6' 4" wideout led the team in receptions with 57, which is the third most in school history.  Sterling was recently named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the nation's top FCS freshman.  He amassed 677 yards, which was second among all FCS freshman, and had five touchdowns.

Gumbs was named First Team All-NEC for the third straight season after finishing first on the team in tackles for the fourth straight year (75). Gumbs led the NEC in forced fumbles with four, had nine pass breakups, two interceptions and blocked three kicks.

Simon earns his first all-league nod after finishing first in the league in sacks with nine and third in the league in tackles-for-a-loss with 13.5.  The senior had 35 tackles, three forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries in his final season in West Long Branch. His nine sacks were the most for a Monmouth player since the 2003 season.

Murphy and Molina, Monmouth's two starting offensive tackles earn the first All-NEC recognition of their careers. The duo led the way for a team that averaged almost 25 points per game and owned the league's third ranked pass offense. Murphy started every game at left tackle while Molina missed just the final game of the season due to injury.  Monmouth has had at least one offensive lineman represented on one of the two teams for nine straight years, dating back to the 2003 season.

Bryant's Jordan Brown was Offensive Player of the Year, Duquesne's Serge Kona was Defensive Player of the Year, Albany's Bob Ford took home Coach of the Year honors.

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