Akron's Steve Zakuani, who led the nation in scoring, is only the second sophomore to win Soccer America Men's Player of the Year honors after Virginia's Claudio Reyna, who won the first of back-to-back awards in 1992.
Unlike Reyna, Zakuani was a total unknown when he arrived at Akron in 2007.
New Zips coach Caleb Porter was looking at tape of an English player he hoped to fill out his first recruiting class when he spotted Zakuani, who arrived the next year.
Zakuani was born in Zaire and raised in London, where he played up until the age of 15 in Arsenal's youth system. His older brother Gabby was signed by Fulham from Leyton Orient for $2 million in 2006 but has never made a first-team appearance for the Cottagers.
Steve, meanwhile, was open to the idea of coming to America to study.
He had a decent freshman season with six goals but nothing like his sophomore campaign when he led the nation with 20 goals and 47 points.
Porter says Zakuani didn't create that many more chances in 2008 but he did a better job of finishing. Seven of his goals were game-winners.
Zakuani is pursuing a degree in sports management. If he isn't plucked away by the pros, he should make Akron, loaded with young stars and an excellent incoming class, one of the favorites to win the 2009 national title.
SOCCER AMERICA MEN'S PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2008 --Steve Zakuani, Akron
2007 --O'Brian White, Connecticut
2006 --Joseph Lapira, Notre Dame
2005 -- Jason Garey, Maryland
2004 -- Ryan Pore, Tulsa
2003 -- Joseph Ngwenya, Coastal Carolina
2002 --Alecko Eskandarian, Virginia
2001 --Luchi Gonzalez, Southern Methodist
2000 --Chris Gbandi, Connecticut
1999 -- Aleksey Korol, Indiana
1998 --Wojtek Krakowiak, Clemson
1997 --Ben Olsen, Virginia
1996 -- Johnny Torres, Creighton
1995 --Mike Fisher, Virginia
1994 -- A.J. Wood, Virginia
1993 -- Claudio Reyna, Virginia
1992 --Claudio Reyna, Virginia
1987-91 --No winner announced
1986 --Paul Caligiuri, UCLA, John Kerr, Duke
1985 --Michael Brady, American
1984 -- Paul DiBernardo, Indiana