DALLAS – North Texas senior receiver Jaelon Darden was named Conference USA’s Most Valuable Player, the league office announced Tuesday. The award was voted on by the conference’s head coaches.
Darden becomes the first UNT player to be named league MVP since the Mean Green moved to C-USA in 2013, and the first out and out player of the year in a conference since former running back Jamario Thomas was named Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2004. Other former Mean Green standouts to earn a similar award are Brandon Kennedy (2002 and 2003 in the Sun Belt) and Mitch Maher (1994 in the Southland).
Darden, a First Team All-America selection (Pro Football Focus), as well as a Biletnikoff Award and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award semifinalist, was named to the C-USA first team on Monday. He is among the nation’s leaders in all of the major receiving categories. The Houston native finished with 74 receptions for 1,190 yards and a single-season program record 19 touchdowns in just nine games. His 19 receiving scores lead the Football Bowl Subdivision and entering the postseason has two more than Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, who has the second-most nationally. Darden ranks seventh in the country in receptions per game (8.2). Darden led the nation in games with three or more receiving touchdowns, with four, and also tied for the most receiving scores in a single game in the country with four. Darden ranks third nationally in receiving yards per game (132.2) and receiving yards (1,190) and fourth in receptions (74). Darden concluded his time in Denton as the program’s career record-holder in receptions (230), receiving yards (2,782) and receiving touchdowns (38).
COURTESY NORTH TEXAS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS AND CONFERENCE USA