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East Carolina’s Keaton Mitchell runs the ball during a game against Cincinnati on Friday. Mitchell and kicker Owen Daffer were named to the AAC’s first-team, the league announced Wednesday.

Two players from the East Carolina football team were named to the All-American Athletic Conference first team, the league announced Wednesday.

Pirates running back Keaton Mitchell and kicker Owen Daffer were first-team selections. Also earning all-conference honors for the Pirates were linebacker Bruce Bivens, cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian, receiver Tyler Snead and punter Jonn Young. Each were selected as second-teamers by the conference’’s head coaches.

Mitchell started all 12 games for ECU and his 1,132 rushing yards led the AAC. He also led the conference in all-purpose yards per game with an average of 115.83. Mitchell also finished second in average rushing yards per game at 94.3.

The freshman became the 17th 1,000-yard rusher in ECU history, and the first since Tay Cooper rushed for 1,193 yards in 2013. Mitchell had four 100-yard games this season, including a career-high 222 against Tulane which set the single-game rushing record for a Pirates freshman.

He is the second ECU running back to earn first-team honors as classmate Rahjai Harris earned that honor last season as the AAC’s co-rookie of the year.

Daffer, meanwhile, was a two-time AAC Specialist of the Week. He led the league in field goal attempts (23), kick scoring (8 points per game) and tied for first in field goals made (19). Daffer, whose career-long 54-yard field goal sent ECU to a 38-35 win over Navy, became the second Pirate to earn first-team specialist honors in the AAC following Jake Verity’s selection in 2018.


Daffer made 19 of his 23 field-goal attempts, was 30-for-41 on extra points, and he enters the Dec. 27 Military Bowl having made at least one field goal in nine consecutive games.

Bivens led the Pirates with 57 tackles. He also recorded 2.0 sacks, and 4.5 tackles for loss and added two quarterback hurries.

McMillian, a three-year starter, is one of 10 players in the country to intercept five passes. The cornerback also made 56 tackles. It marked the third-straight season he led the ECU defense in interceptions (three in 2019, four in 2020). The Winston-Salem native and Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist also led the nation in passes defended per game (1.8).

Snead, who earned all-conference accolades for the second-straight year as a receiver, caught a team-high 67 passes for a team-best 855 yards. The Raleigh native scored four touchdowns and turned in three 100-yard games. The receiver extended his reception streak to 33-consecutive games with his six receptions against No. 4 Cincinnati. Snead also returned 17 kickoffs for 378 yards and 12 punts for 81 yards, while throwing a pair of touchdown passes.

Young finished fourth in the AAC with a 43.1-yard punting average. Young landed 21 of his 47 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Eleven of his punts went for 50 or more yards, including a season-long 59-yarder against Temple.