RICHMOND, Va. – James Madison Head Coach Mike Houston was named the 2017 Bobby Ross Coach of the Year, recognizing the top Division I football coach in the Commonwealth of Virginia by the Touchdown Club of Richmond, on Wednesday evening at the All-Metro Banquet at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa/Short Pump.
It was the second straight year Houston was the recipient of the award and marked the eighth time a JMU coach has won the accolade, formerly known as the Richmond Touchdown Club Coach of the Year. He became the first JMU coach to win the honor in consecutive seasons.
“It’s a tremendous honor, it’s a great honor for our coaching staff and for our football program,” Houston said. “Myself being recognized like this is a reflection of the work of the group this year – the entire coaching staff and our student-athletes.”
Houston guided JMU to its second straight 14-1 season, in which the Dukes advanced to the national championship game. They achieved the program’s first-ever undefeated and untied regular season, going 11-0 to earn the top seed for the FCS Playoffs. JMU claimed its third straight Colonial Athletic title and the second outright championship in a row. The Dukes became the CAA’s first team to ever go 8-0 in conference play in back-to-back years.
JMU had won a program- and CAA-record 26 straight games between the 2016 and 2017 seasons, which ranks second all-time in FCS history.
The Dukes led the country in scoring defense, holding teams to just 11.1 points per game. They also paced the FCS in interceptions (31), takeaways (44) and team pass efficiency defense (83.12 rating).
JMU ranked in the top 10 nationally in 14 categories, as it was also third in total defense (252.0), turnover margin (1.47), defensive touchdowns (5) and first downs (325), fourth in punt-return defense (3.33), fifth in sacks (3.4), seventh in rushing defense (90.5), eighth in fumble recoveries (13), ninth in completion percentage (64.9%) and net punting (38.77) and 10th in passing defense (161.5), third-down defense (30.1%), punt-return average (13.0) and blocked punts (2).
Eight players were voted All-Americans in 2017, including Andrew Ankrah, who was named a Consensus All-American after being tabbed to six different All-America First Teams. Ankrah won the FCS ADA Defensive Player of the Year award and finished third for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award.
Joining Ankrah on the All-America list were Aaron Stinnie, Jordan Brown, Rashad Robinson, Raven Greene, Kyre Hawkins, Jahee Jackson and Harry O’Kelly. The Dukes also had 16 All-CAA honorees, which included three players garnering top-league awards. Ankrah was voted Defensive Player of the Year, John Miller was tabbed Special Teams Player of the Year and Bryan Schor became JMU’s first winner of the Chuck Boone Leadership and Excellence Award.