O'Hara Fluellen of Lincoln University Named First Team All-MIAA
JEFFERSON CITY -- After leading the Lincoln defense with 67 tackles, four interceptions and two blocked kicks, O'Hara Fluellen capped off his senior season by being named to the All-MIAA First Team Defense, becoming the first all-league first team selection since LU rejoined the MIAA last season. Fluellen was one of seven members of the Lincoln football team to be recognized by the MIAA in its yearly postseason awards, which were announced on Tuesday (Nov. 13).
In addition to Fluellen's first team distinction, six other LU players were selected as honorable mentions in a vote by all 15 MIAA football coaches. Joining Fluellen on the all-MIAA list were junior running back Morris Henderson, junior receiver Maurice Woodard, sophomore center J.J. Johnson, junior defensive lineman Darryl Blackmon, senior defensive end Cecil Frison, senior linebacker Johnny Beautelus and freshman defensive back Markuice Savage. Fluellen was also honored twice by the MIAA for his play this season, claiming honorable mention recognition as a kick returner.
Fluellen made a team-best 55 solo tackles and assisted on 12 others, finishing 35th in the conference with 67 tackles. Four of those take downs went for a loss of 12 yards. Fluellen's biggest impact has been as a pass defender, as he finished second in the conference in passes defended with the four picks combined with an MIAA-best 11 broken-up passes. His four interceptions were the fourth-most by any player in the league in 2012. One of the leaders of the defense this season, Fluellen was also credited with Lincoln's sole safety of the season, making a tackle in the end zone against Washburn on Oct. 6.
Besides being one of the best defensive backs in the MIAA, Fluellen made an impact on all three phases of football this year. Fluellen racked up 516 yards on 24 kick returns this season, finishing second in the league with a 21.5 yards-per-return average to earn an honorable mention from the conference at that position. In Lincoln's win over Nebraska-Kearney on Oct. 13, Fluellen also played on offense, catching a 97-yard touchdown pass on his first-ever snap as a receiver. That reception was both the longest in the MIAA this season and the longest in Lincoln history, breaking the previous mark of 96 set in 1974.
Henderson finished with 1,214 all-purpose yards, the eighth-most in the MIAA. Over the last three games of the season, Henderson had over 100 all-purpose yards, including racking up 338 total yards against Central Oklahoma on Oct. 27. Henderson returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in that game, making him just one of seven MIAA players to accomplish that feat this year, and finished the game with an MIAA-season high 186 total kick return yardage. He joined Northwest Missouri's Jordan Simmons as the only MIAA players to return two kickoffs for touchdowns, as Henderson also ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a score in the season finale at Southwest Baptist on Nov. 10. As a running back, Henderson led Lincoln with 475 net yards while scoring five touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 303 yards.
Woodard was Lincoln's top receiver in 2012, catching 68 passes for 705 yards and six touchdowns. His performance was nearly record-setting, as he finished just four receptions shy of breaking the program record of 71, set last season by Corderious Gregory. Against Pittsburg State, Woodard averaged 50.3 yards-per-catch, the second-most in a single game this year by any MIAA player. For the season he averaged 6.2 receptions per game and 64.1 receiving yards per game, ranking sixth and eighth, respectively, in the MIAA in those statistics.
Johnson became the second LU offensive lineman in the past two years to be named All-MIAA honorable mention, joining Justin Campbell, who received the award in 2011. An every-game starter at center this season, Johnson's pass protection was crucial as Lincoln set program records for passing yards in a season with 2,410 and pass completions with 223. He also helped Lincoln rush for 1,324 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Blackmon led Lincoln with four sacks and was second with 11.5 tackles for loss this season, forcing opponents back a total of 38 yards. For the season he finished fourth with 45 total tackles, including 32 solo, and also had a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry. He ended the season ranked 13th in the MIAA in tackles for loss. Blackmon made an immediate impact on the team, recording nine tackles with three going for loss against Lindenwood in LU's season opener (Sept. 1). He recorded at least five tackles in four games this season, including finishing with six total tackles and three for loss against Southwest Baptist in the season finale.
Frison was a force at defensive end this year after converting from playing offense last season. A former tight end with Lincoln, Frison tied for fourth on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss, forcing opponents to lose a total of 23 yards. He finished 2012 with a team-high four quarterback hurries and tied for third in the MIAA with three forced fumbles. Frison made 19 solo tackles and assisted on 12 others for 31 take downs this year and he also recovered a fumble.
Beautelus finished second on the team in both total tackles (52) and solo take downs (37) and was third in tackles for loss (8.5). Beautelus also recorded two pass break-ups, including an interception against Missouri Southern (Sept. 15) and a sack. His best performance of the season came against Emporia State (Sept. 29), when he had eight solo tackles and 10 overall with two tackles for loss. In 10 games this year, Beautelus recorded at least five tackles seven times, including a seven tackle performance vs. Central Oklahoma.
Savage was selected as the MIAA's Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting three passes in Lincoln's Homecoming win over Nebraska-Kearney. He defended 12 passes this season, ranking fifth in the MIAA in that stat, and his three-interception performance tied for the most in a single game by a league player in 2012. Savage was fifth on the team in total tackles with 44, 35 of which were solo, and he also had two tackles for loss, including one sack. He also forced and recovered a fumble against Washburn.