FootballScoop is proud to announce that Andre Powell is the 2016 FootballScoop Special Teams Coordinator of the Year presented by ProGrass.
Pitt's offense drew the headlines in the Panthers' 8-4 season, but all those yards and points would have been for nought without support from a best-in-class special teams unit.
Take, for instance, Pitt's season-defining 43-42 upset of Clemson on Nov. 12. That win would have gone down simply as a near miss had Chris Blewitt not converted a 48-yard field goal with six seconds remaining, snapping the longest home winning streak in college football at the time.
Pitt also claimed the crown as the best return team in college football this season. The Panthers led the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 29 yards on their 34 total returns with three touchdowns. The club's punt return unit placed fifth nationally, averaging 16.7 yards on 15 returns with one touchdown.
Pitt was one of just five teams nationally to take four punts or kicks back for touchdowns this season.
The Panthers also ranked in the top quartile of college football by averaging 42.6 yards on their 55 punts.
Sophomore Quadree Henderson, the conference's leader in punt returns and the second-leading kickoff returner and all-purpose yardage gainer, was named the First Team All-ACC specialist.
A near 30-year coaching veteran, Powell began coaching as an undergraduate at Indiana in 1988 and moved into a graduate assistant role in 1989. He moved to South Carolina a year later, then achieved his first full-time role handling inside linebackers for Army in 1991. Powell moved to coaching running backs at VMI in 1992 and has since coached running backs at Rhode Island, Army, Virginia, North Carolina (where he began coordinating special teams), Clemson, Maryland and, finally, Pittsburgh, where he joined Pat Narduzzi's staff in 2015.
"Andre Powell is an incredibly passionate teacher of special teams play," Narduzzi said. "His high level of commitment to those units, and most importantly to our players, resulted in special teams that played a huge role in our success this year. Andre is so meticulous in his preparation. This is a well deserved recognition for him."
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Tony Levine [Western Kentucky], Chad Lunsford [Georgia Southern], Chris Partridge/Jay Harbaugh [Michigan] and Powell) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel. The prior winners selected this year's winner.
Powell will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention in January.
Previous winners of the Special Teams Coordinator of the Year award are James Shibest (Ole Miss, 2008), Mike Tolleson (Texas, 2009), Joe Robinson (LSU, 2010), John Baxter (USC, 2011), D.J. Durkin (Florida, 2012), Jeff Ulbrich (UCLA, 2013), Robby Discher (Oklahoma State, 2014) and Sean Snyder (Kansas State, 2015).
1st Nationally - Kickoff Returns
1st Nationally - Punt/Kick Return TDs
5th Nationally - Punt Returns
33rd Nationally - Punting
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