NEW YORK CITY -- Senior Tarik Cohen (5-foot-6, 179, Bunn, N.C.) added to his legacy on Tuesday, becoming the first player in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference history to win offensive football player of the year three times.
The conference made the announcement at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in partnership with the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame during the 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner. South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard was named defensive player of the year.
Cohen closed out his career at N.C. A&T with an exclamation point as his final rushing tally was 5,619 yards. In addition, he finished fifth in the national voting for the Walter Payton Award given to the top FCS offensive player in the country. The top three vote getters are invited to the awards banquet and presentation in Frisco, Texas on Jan. 6.
The star back ran for a single-season school record 1,588 yards, breaking his own record from the previous season when he ran for 1,543 yards. He did not stop there, however, when it came to shattering records in 2016. In a nationally-televised game against Norfolk State on Oct. 6, Cohen broke the all-time MEAC rushing record on a 62-yard touchdown dart down the middle of the field to give him not only the record but 200 yards rushing for the game. Two hundred yards rushing would be a theme for Cohen in 2016. He ran for 200-plus yards in four games this season including three weeks in a row from Sept. 29-Oct. 15. Three consecutive 200-yard games are a school record.
There was also a period during the season where Cohen had a consecutive offensive player of the week streak going. He won the honor five weeks in a row from Oct. 3-Oct. 31 and won it two other times including on Sept. 12 following the Aggies historic win over Division I-FBS Kent State when
Cohen had 133 yards rushing and 125 yards receiving. In the 46 weeks Cohen played for the Aggies, he won offensive player of the week 16 times. In two additional weeks, he was named rookie of the week by the MEAC.
“With all the talk about what a great player he is, and he is a tremendous player. But he has also been a great representative for this university, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” said N.C. A&T coach Rod Broadway. “Our great university has received so much publicity because of Tarik Cohen, and he handled it with grace, humility and dignity and made the university proud. It’s what you expect out of him because he is a great person.”
Cohen has been the subject of several SportsCenter highlights on ESPN. He also visited the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn., to do three different live segments on a Saturday morning SportsCenter in May of 2015. He earned the opportunity after a video of him catching footballs while coming out of a backflip went viral. Cohen was also featured in national video post by The Undefeated, ESPN’s newest website.
But it is his many records that will have a lasting legacy for the running back who had only one scholarship offer (N.C. A&T) coming out of Bunn High School. Cohen broke the single-season touchdown record this season with 19. He tied Stoney Polite for the single-season rushing touchdowns record (18). There are a two other touchdown records he holds. His 56 rushing and 59 total TD’s are both school records.
With two touchdown passes, Cohen was responsible for 61 touchdowns which ranks him second behind Alan Hooker with 66. His 339 points scored is also tops in N.C. A&T history. Cohen also took over the school’s career all-purpose yards record with 6,564 (5,619 rushing, 945 receiving). His 868 carries are also a record. His 98 receptions tie him for 10th all-time in school history.