GWU’S Cook and Riddick earn FCS All-America honors
Gardner-Webb receiver Kenny Cook and defensive end Shaquille Riddick each earned FCS All-America honors Wednesday from The Sports Network.
Cook (Cross Hill, S.C. / Clinton HS) was named to the third-team offense, and is just the second Gardner-Webb receiver since 2001 to earn All-America honors from The Sports Network – one of five All-America teams officially recognized by the NCAA. Former GWU standout Dobson Collins was an honorable mention Sports Network All-America choice in 2008.
Cook became the first receiver to lead the Big South in catches, yards and touchdown receptions since Liberty’s Chris Summers in 2011. Cook hauled in 76 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns this past season with his reception and yardage totals the second-highest in Gardner-Webb history.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound standout became the first Gardner-Webb receiver since 1992 to post a 1,000-yard season and just the second in program history to do so. Cook had 15 catches of 20 yards or longer, including four of his nine touchdown receptions.
Cook ranked 21st nationally in receptions per game and 25th in receiving touchdowns. His impact on Gardner-Webb’s offense was more valuable than those numbers represent, however, particularly when the Runnin’ Bulldogs needed to move the chains.
Cook had a team-high 25 receptions on third down, with 23 of those going for first downs or touchdowns. He saw 19 of his 21 catches on 3rd-and-long go for first downs or touchdowns in 2013. He posted five 100-yard receiving games this past season, the most in his career.
In his 23 career games at Gardner-Webb, Cook has hauled in 124 passes for 1,674 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has seven career games with at least 100-yards receiving and two with at least 10 catches. Cook ranks 12th in career receptions and yardage at Gardner-Webb in just two seasons wit the program.
Riddick (Akron, Ohio / Buchtel HS) was named to the second-team defense by the Sports Network, adding to his growing list of postseason honors in 2013. He was also named first-team All-America on defense by the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Riddick is the first Gardner-Webb defensive player to earn Sports Network All-America honors since Jeffery Williams was named to the third-team defense in 2008. Riddick is the eighth Gardner-Webb defensive player to earn Sports Network All-America honors since 2001.
The 6-foot-7, 240-pound end finished his third season in a Gardner-Webb by setting a new Big South Conference single-season record with 8.5 sacks, and recording career-high totals several categories. He finished 2013 with 67 total tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss (minus-109), 8.5 sacks (minus-71), two pass break ups and 17 quarterback pressures.
He ranked second nationally and led the Big South in tackles for loss per game and his 109 negative yards recorded was the top mark in the nation during the regular season. Riddick’s stat line against top-25 opponents in 2013 was notable.
GWU went 3-1 in those four games and Riddick recorded 28 total tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and nine pressures against ranked opponents.
Riddick’s efforts also helped him finish fifth in balloting Monday for the prestigious Buck Buchanan Award – given annually by The Sports Network to the top defensive player in FCS. It marked the highest finish ever for a Gardner-Webb player in that award’s final vote. Riddick was also named to the 2013 Ted Hendricks Award Mid-Season Watch List.
Cook and Riddick pace a group of 18 returning starters on offense and defense for the 2014 Gardner-Webb squad – which posted more wins in 2013 (7-5 record) than it had since going 8-4 in 2003. Of those 18 returning starters, 16 are rising juniors or seniors.