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Four MAC players named to 2023 College Football Network Freshman All-American team

Jalen Buckley and Kaion Strader highlight the #MACtion names in the 2023 edition of the fab freshman list.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Ball State at Western Michigan Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College Football Network unveiled their Freshman All-American teams on Wednesday morning, with four players from the Mid-American Conference featuring prominently.

The list, which takes into consideration both true and redshirt freshman, lists two running backs, three receivers and a “flex” on the first-team and honorable rosters on offense, while listing two “edge” rushers, three each of defensive tackles, linebackers and cornerbacks, and two safeties on defense.

Western Michigan running back Jalen Buckley and Miami defensive back Raion Strader were named to the first-team offense and defense, respectively, while Kent State wide receiver Chrishon McCray and Eastern Michigan defensive back Daiquan White did the same on the honorable mentions list.

Buckley earned additional honors, winning the title of Freshman Running Back of the Year after a 2023 campaign which saw him carry the ball 189 times for 1,003 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns, averaging an impressive 5.43 yards per rush. Buckley also caught 18 passes for 161 yards. Buckley broke the 100+ yard rushing mark four times for the Broncos in 2023, with three games where he scored two touchdowns.

Strader was named a first-team cornerback after his debut season in Oxford. The true freshman was a revelation, playing all 13 games (12 starts) and finishing with 57 tackles, 13 pass break-ups and an interception. Strader is the first Freshman All-American for the RedHawks since 2001, when Ben Roethlisberger was named to the Football Writers of America (FWAA) All-Freshman list.

McCray was Kent State’s offensive lid-breaker, finishing his redshirt freshman campaign with 41 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns despite having three different quarterbacks under center. McCray broke the 100+ threshold twice, and had two multi-score games as well, with his best performance of the season against Akron in the season finale, gaining 161 yards and two touchdowns on just six receptions.

White was Eastern Michigan’s best cover corner, with 12 pass break-ups and a fumble recovery to go with 18 tackles, including a tackle-for-loss. Opposing quarterbacks completed just 40 percent of passes thrown in his direction, with 11 first downs allowed over 12 contests.