Early-to-mid December is one of the most loaded news cycles of the year in college football. Although the action on the field is at a minimal, news runs high as the end of the 2022 season collides with preparation for 2023. As teams prepare for bowl games, coaching moves and transfer portal dominate the headlines. But also, prestigious awards such as the Heisman Trophy and All-American honors are handed out.
The Associated Press released its All-American team Tuesday, and there was no lack of MACtion on it. The AP All-American Third Team consisted of three defenders from the Mid-American Conference — Eastern Michigan defensive end Jose Ramirez, Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell, and Buffalo free safety Marcus Fuqua.
After no AP All-American recognition in 2021, the three defensive stars become the first MAC players to receive this honor since Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson was a Second Team selection in 2020.
Ramirez was the 2022 MAC Defensive Player of the Year after an outstanding season as an edge rusher. Heading into bowl season, he is the only player in the FBS to average more than one sack per game and he ranks second nationally in total sacks with 12.0. Ramirez racked up 19.5 tackles for loss to tie for third among all players, and his pass rushing ability helped guide Eastern Michigan to an eight wins — its most since 1987. The senior is the 20th All-American in program history, and he also earned All-American status from another major selector in the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
Mitchell earned First Team All-MAC honors in a breakout season for the MAC champion Rockets. He made a name for himself in an Oct. 8 victory over Northern Illinois where he pieced together arguably the most spectacular individual performance by any defensive back this season, corralling four interceptions and running two back for touchdowns. Mitchell secured his fifth interception of the year in the regular season finale at Western Michigan. In addition to his knack for picking off passes, the sophomore leads the FBS in deflections with 20. Mitchell, also a Walter Camp All-American selection, broke up three passes in the MAC Championship Game while his defense held Ohio to just seven points.
Fuqua is the nation’s leader in a major category — interceptions. He is a major reason why Buffalo earned its sixth win to clinch bowl eligibility, thanks to a two-interception performance in the regular season finale against Akron. That was Fuqua’s second multi-interception game of the year as he also picked off three passes in a late October triumph over Toledo. Overall, the free safety has seven picks on the year in addition to 60 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and five pass breakups. The junior earned First Team All-MAC status and is the second Bull to be named an AP All-American in the 2020s decade.
Three AP All-Americans is the most the MAC has earned since 2013, when Jordan Lynch, Khalil Mack, and Jimmie Ward all qualified for the honor.