All-Sun Belt Football Teams Stacked With App State Standouts

Friday, December 3rd
December 2, 2021
Stolen Skateboard
December 2, 2021

All-Sun Belt Football Teams Stacked With App State Standouts


BOONE, N.C. — Highlighted by Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year recognition for linebacker D’Marco Jackson and a Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year award for quarterback Chase Brice, East Division champion App State led the league with nine first-team selections and 23 honored players as the All-Sun Belt teams were announced Thursday.

The first-team picks included four App State defenders (Jackson, DL Demetrius Taylor, CB Steven Jones Jr., CB Shaun Jolly), four App State offensive players (OL Baer Hunter, WR Corey Sutton, OL Cooper Hodges, RB Nate Noel) and one App State specialist (K Chandler Staton).

Taylor and Jolly were first-team picks for the third straight year, while Hunter repeated as a first-team selection to go along with second-team honors in 2019. Hodges and Sutton have added first-team recognition to a pair of second-team honors from earlier in their careers.

A Reese’s Senior Bowl selection, Jackson is one of only two FBS players this year with at least 100 tackles (103), 15.0 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, five passes defended (he has six) and one interception. He’s the only Sun Belt player to rank in the top 20 in each of the first four of those categories, and he’s one of only five players nationally to have more than 100 tackles on a team successful enough to be receiving AP Top 25 votes.

Heading into the Sun Belt Championship Game against West Division champion Louisiana on Saturday, the Mountaineers (10-2) lead the nation in tackles for loss per game (8.2) while ranking in the top 15 nationally in scoring defense (18.9 points), total defense (319.4 yards), rushing defense (113.1 yards), third-down defense (31.6%), red-zone defense (74.3%), interceptions (15) and defensive TDs (four). They are No. 2 in the league in total offense, scoring offense, offensive first downs and passing efficiency.

A first-year App State quarterback after playing previously at Clemson and Duke, Brice ranks No. 2 in the Sun Belt in touchdown passes (22), No. 2 in yards per attempt (8.6), No. 3 in passing yards per game (241.8), No. 3 in completion percentage (63.8) and No. 3 in passing efficiency (151.7).

App State’s second-team All-Sun Belt selections were WR Thomas Hennigan, WR Malik Williams, RB Camerun Peoples, DB Kaiden Smith, LB Trey Cobb and Jalen Virgil (return specialist).

Brice, OL Anderson Hardy, LB Nick Hampton and Caleb Spurlin (all-purpose selection) made the All-Sun Belt third team.

LB T.D. Roof, DL Jordon Earle, DB Ryan Huff and TE Henry Pearson received honorable mention.

Hunter and Hodges are the most experienced members of an offensive line that is tied for fourth place nationally this year with just 10 sacks allowed, while the trio of Sutton, Williams and Hennigan all rank in the top 10 in the Sun Belt in both catches and receiving yards. Noel has a league-best 1,034 rushing yards, and Peoples ranks third at 76.4 rushing yards per game while being tied for No. 1 with 13 rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, the work up front has helped Jackson, Cobb, Hampton and Roof combine for 388 tackles, 58.5 tackles for loss, 23 sacks and seven interceptions this season. Taylor contributed 9.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in league play.

Jones is tied for the national lead with five interceptions, Jolly has limited opposing receivers to a combined 47 yards after the catch on 16 receptions (none longer than 33 yards), and Smith had 36 tackles while starting all eight Sun Belt games even though he suffered a torn Achilles in mid-April. App State’s defense leads the league with only 11 touchdown passes allowed as well as fewest gains of 20-plus, 30-plus and 40-plus yards in Sun Belt play.

A Lou Groza Award semifinalist who is the career scoring leader at App State and in the Sun Belt, Staton is 18 of 19 on field goals this year and has added 51 PATs for a league-leading 105 points. Virgil returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season while leading the league at 32.1 yards per return, and Spurlin is the only FBS player this season with more than one sack and more than one receiving touchdown this season.

Player of the Year
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Offensive Player of the Year
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
Defensive Player of the Year
D’Marco Jackson, App State
Newcomer of the Year
Chase Brice, App State
Freshman of the Year
Montrell Johnson, Louisiana
Coach of the Year
Billy Napier, Louisiana

All-Sun Belt First Team Offense
QB – Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
RB – Nate Noel, App State
RB – Shermari Jones, Coastal Carolina
OL – Max Mitchell, Louisiana
OL – Cooper Hodges, App State
OL – O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana
OL – Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State
OL – Baer Hunter, App State
TE – Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
WR – Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
WR – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
WR – Corey Sutton, App State
All-Sun Belt First Team Defense/Special Teams
DL – Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina
DL – Demetrius Taylor, App State
DL – Javon Solomon, Troy
DL – CJ Brewer, Coastal Carolina
LB – D’Marco Jackson, App State
LB – Carlton Martial, Troy
LB – Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina
DB – Steven Jones Jr., App State
DB – Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama
DB – Shaun Jolly, App State
DB – Antavious Lane, Georgia State
DB – D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina
K – Chandler Staton, App State
P – Rhys Burns, Louisiana
RS – Alan Lamar, Arkansas State
AP – Chris Smith, Louisiana

All-Sun Belt Second Team Offense
QB – Levi Lewis, Louisiana
RB – Camerun Peoples, App State
RB – Montrell Johnson, Louisiana
OL – Malik Sumter, Georgia State
OL – Shane Vallot. Louisiana
OL – Austin Stidham, Troy
OL – Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina
OL – Dylan Bradshaw, Troy
TE – Roger Carter, Georgia State
WR – Malik Williams, App State
WR – Thomas Hennigan, App State
WR – Corey Rucker, Arkansas State
All-Sun Belt Second Team Defense/Special Teams
DL – Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina
DL – Kivon Bennett, Arkansas State
DL – Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana
DL – CJ Wright, Georgia Southern
DL – Will Choloh, Troy
LB – Chauncey Manac
LB – Trey Cobb, App State
LB – Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana
DB – Keith Gallmon Jr., South Alabama
DB – Percy Butler, Louisiana
DB – Kaiden Smith, App State
DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana
K – Blake Grupe, Arkansas State
P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern
RS – Jalen Virgil, App State
AP – Alan Lamar, Arkansas State

All-Sun Belt Third Team Offense
QB – Chase Brice, App State
RB – Chris Smith, Louisiana
RB – Tucker Gregg, Georgia State
OL – Anderson Hardy, App State
OL – Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina
OL – Dalton Cooper, Texas State
OL – Pat Bartlett, Georgia State
OL – Khalil Crowder, Georgia Southern
TE – Lincoln Sefcik, South Alabama
WR – Tez Johnson, Troy
WR – TeVailance Hunt, Arkansas State
WR – Boogie Knight, ULM
All-Sun Belt Third Team Defense/Special Teams
DL – Richard Jibunor, Troy
DL – Tayland Humphrey, Louisiana
DL – Dontae Wilson, Georgia State
DL – Andre Jones, Louisiana
LB – Nick Hampton, App State
LB – Eldrick Robinson II, Georgia Southern
LB – Blake Carroll, Georgia State
DB – Quavian White, Georgia State
DB – Anthony Wilson, Georgia Southern
DB – Alex Spillum, Coastal Carolina
DB – Mekhi Garner, Louisiana
DB – TJ Harris, Troy
K – Calum Sutherland, ULM
P – Ryan Hanson, Arkansas State
RS – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
AP – Caleb Spurlin, App State

All-Sun Belt Honorable Mentions (App State)
TE – Henry Pearson
DL – Jordon Earle
LB – T.D. Roof
DB – Ryan Huff