MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Dual-sport athlete and Middletown native, Devon Carrillo, has been named Connecticut's 2017 Male Athlete of the Year, as voted on by the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance (CSWA). Carrillo will be honored at the CSWA 76th Annual Gold Key Dinner on April 30, 2017 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington, Conn. The dinner will begin at 4 p.m. WNBA guard Bria Holmes of the Atlanta Dream was selected as the Connecticut Female Athlete of the Year.
Carrillo is the first Wesleyan athlete to receive the prestigious award, which began in 1973 and includes past winners Dick Jauron (Yale football, 1973), Dr. Rick Diana (Yale football, 1982), Steve Young (NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, 1985), Craig Janney and Brian Leetch (US Olympic hockey, 1987), Marlon Starling (1988 World Welterweight Boxing Champion), Rob Dibble (Cincinnati Reds pitcher, 1990), Dwight Freeney (Syracuse football, who will be honored with a Gold Key this year for his NFL career), Carl Pavano (Pitcher for 2003 World Series Champion, Florida Marlins), Dan Orlovsky (UConn football, 2005), Kemba Walker (UConn basketball, 2012), Matt Harvey (New York Mets pitcher, 2014), Kris Dunn (Providence basketball, 2016), and many others.
"This is a tremendous honor for Devon, Wesleyan and the city of Middletown," said Wesleyan Director of Athletics Mike Whalen '83. "He is an amazing athlete both on the football field and on the mat. After not wrestling for three years, Devon is now competing at a national level. This is truly a remarkable accomplishment!"
The senior has excelled on both the football field and the wrestling mat for the Cardinals. This season, he was named First Team All-NESCAC Offense at wide receiver/running back, and Second Team All-NESCAC Specialist as a punt returner. The all-conference accolades mark the second of his career, as he was named a second team punt returner as a freshman in 2013. This year, the versatile senior excelled in multiple areas as he amassed 807 all-purpose yards, and averaged 100.9 per game to rank ninth in the NESCAC. He also led the league in punt return yards (267), finished second in the conference in rushing touchdowns (12), and finished 12th in receiving yards (349). Carrillo went 2-for-3 passing for 51 yards and two touchdowns as well, including a 48-yard score, and finished the season with 15 total touchdowns.
"Devon had a great career as a Wesleyan football player, but he took it to another level his senior year," said Head Football Coach Dan DiCenzo. "He worked extremely hard last spring and summer, and came to camp in the best shape of his career.
"He was the best player in the league this past season and is one of the most versatile players to ever play in the NESCAC. He was an outstanding leader for the team and really took his game to another level this year."
On the wrestling mat, Carrillo has excelled in two seasons with the program and has qualified for the NCAA Tournament both years. He currently boasts an incredible 22-1 record at 197, and returns to the national championships after placing second in the regionals.
Carrillo is the first Wesleyan University, Middletown High School, and Middletown native to be honored. Two years ago, Middletown High School football player and current Cardinal, Dario Highsmith '20, was named the CSWA Male High School Athlete of the Year and was honored at the 2015 dinner.
"I honestly don't even know what to say, I'm still in shock," said Carrillo on receiving the award. "I just want to thank everyone for supporting me throughout my career, including my family, my coaches, and of course the University!"
Additionally, Carrillo will be honored alongside NFL star Dwight Freeney from Bloomfield, Conn., Farmington High School Soccer Head Coach Steve Waters, former Cheshire High School Swim Head Coach Ed Astin, and five-time Olympian archer Butch Johnson, who will all receive Gold Keys.
Tickets to the Gold Key Dinner are $75 and can be purchased by contacting dinner chairman Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-394-5091; or CSWA President Matthew Conyers of The Hartford Courant at 860-874-4166, or email@example.com. Tickets can also be obtained by mailing a check to the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT, 06085. Proceeds benefit the Alliance's Bohdan Kolinsky Memorial Sports Journalism Scholarship.