The Mid-American Conference announced its football awards for the 2021 season Wednesday, and there were plenty of athletes honored from the Michigan schools.
Central Michigan running back Lew Nichols III, the nation's leading rusher, was named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Nichols, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound redshirt freshman from Detroit Cass Tech, rushed for 1,710 yards on 311 carries (5.5 yards per carry) with 15 touchdowns, and caught 38 passes for 300 yards and two scores. Nichols is the sixth Chippewa to win the award and the first since Dan LeFevour in 2009. Nichols was the MAC Freshman of the Year last season during the COVID-19 shortened season.
Fayad (Dearborn) led the league in sacks with 11½ — seventh in the nation — and tackles for loss with 15 — 21st in the FBS.
The speedy Pimpleton (Muskegon) averaged 20.3 yards per punt return and returned two for touchdowns this season, both against WMU, including a CMU-record 97 yards for the third-longest punt return in MAC history. He is the first Chippewa to win the award since Antonio Brown in 2008-09.
All three schools are bowl-eligible: CMU finished 8-4, 6-2 in the MAC; EMU and WMU each went 7-5, 4-4.
Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum won top player in the MAC. He threw 15 touchdowns against four interceptions, completed 65% of his passes, and rushed for 565 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Northern Illinois' Thomas Hammock won coach of the year, completing a "worst to first" regular season, winning seven games by one possession or less.
Kent State (7-5, 6-2) and Northern Illinois (8-4, 6-2) will play for the conference championship at Ford Field on Saturday at noon (ESPN).
The list of CMU, WMU and EMU players honored by the MAC (read for complete list):
Offense: Offensive line: Sidy Sow, Eastern Michigan, Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan, Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan, Mike Caliendo, Western Michigan; Receiver: Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan, Skyy Moore, Western Michigan; Running back: Lew Nichols III, Central Michigan.
Defense: Defensive line: Troy Hairston, Central Michigan, Ali Fayad, Western Michigan;
Linebacker: Troy Brown, Central Michigan.
Specialist: Punt returner: Kalil Pimpleton, Central Michigan.
Offense: Quarterback: Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan; Receiver: Hassan Beydoun, Eastern Michigan; Running Back: Sean Tyler, Western Michigan; Placekicker: Chad Ryland, Eastern Michigan.
Defense: Defensive line: Ralph Holley, Western Michigan; Linebacker: Zaire Barnes, Western Michigan; Defensive back: Devonni Reed, Central Michigan, Dorian Jackson, Western Michigan.
Specialist: Punter: Jake Julien, Eastern Michigan.
Offense: Offensive line: Brian Dooley, Eastern Michigan; Tight end: Thomas Odukoya, Eastern Michigan; Receiver: Dallas Dixon, Central Michigan, JaCorey Sullivan, Central Michigan.
Defense: Defensive line: Jose Ramirez, Eastern Michigan; Linebacker: Corvin Moment, Western Michigan.
Specialist: Kick return: Marion Lukes, Central Michigan.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: CMU's Lew Nichols III among MAC football award winners