FAU Football: Akileis Leroy is back and the Owls find itself with two players on preseason national award watch lists

Akileis Leroy and Chris Robison will have high expectations for the 2020 season.


LB Akileis Leroy (Left) and QB Chris Robison (Right) are both on preseason national award watch lists. Photos by Alex Liscio.

Jensen Jennings, Sports Editor

With the kick-off to the college football season just over a month away, FAU fans received some big news Monday morning as linebacker Akileis Leroy had been added back to the active roster.   

Leroy, who had been suspended since the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, is back on the active roster for the first time since shortly before the bowl game. 

With linebacker Rashad Smith gone to the NFL and Hosea Barnwell now in the transfer portal, it was very important for the Owls to get Leroy back on the team. Defensive end Leighton McCarthy, safety Zyon Gilbert and Leroy, are the only returning starters on defense.

Leroy led the team in tackles for loss last season with a school record 15.5. He finished the season with 101 total tackles (55 solo), 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions. 

On Monday, it was also announced that Leroy had been named to the Chuck Bednarik award preseason watch list. The award is presented annually to the best collegiate defensive player in the country.

Tuesday afternoon saw another FAU football player receive a spot on a pre-season national award watch list. Quarterback Chirs Robison was the only player from Conference USA to be put on the watch list for the Davey O’Brien award. The award is presented annually to the nation’s best collegiate quarterback.

Robison had a record-breaking year as the Owls signal caller in the 2019 season. He finished the season with a school record 3,701 passing yards, completed 291 of his 471 attempts (61.8 %), threw 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also added two rushing scores on the ground.

The offense will need to replace four of the five top receiving weapons from the 2019 season. Mackey Award winning tight end Harrison Bryant is now in the NFL, wide receivers Deangelo Antoine and Tavaris Harrison graduated and tight end John Raine transferred to Northwestern University. 

John Mitchell and Willie Wright are the lone receivers who finished with double digit catches. Mitchell finished the season with 38 receptions for 488 yards and five touchdowns. Wright finished with 20 receptions 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Robison will have some new weapons to work with in the upcoming season thanks to the transfer of three notable weapons. Wide receivers Aaron Young (Duke University) and TJ Chase (Clemson University) will look to make immediate impacts in the passing game, and tight end Michael Irvin II (University of Miami) will have big shoes to fill with the departures of Harrison Bryant and John Raine. 

FAU’s season opener is now scheduled for Sept. 12 against Stony Brook at FAU Stadium. The Owl’s original season opener against the University of Minnesota was canceled last Thursday due the COVID-19 pandemic. 

No matter who FAU ends up playing in the 2020 football season, one thing is for certain, Leroy and Robison will play an important role in the team’s overall success this season. 

Jensen Jennings is the sports editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Jensen_Jennings.