BOONE, N.C. — App State had 19 players receive All-Sun Belt recognition, the second-highest total in the conference, as the league announced its 2020 award winners Monday morning.
The Mountaineers (8-3, 6-2 Sun Belt) put five players on the All-Sun Belt first team: senior center Noah Hannon (OL), senior right guard Baer Hunter (OL), senior cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles (DB), senior defensive end Demetrius Taylor (DL) and junior cornerback Shaun Jolly (DB). Hannon, Taylor and Jolly repeated as first-team selections.
The All-Sun Belt second team included App State junior inside linebacker D’Marco Jackson (LB), sophomore right tackle Cooper Hodges (OL) and sophomore running back Camerun Peoples (RB).
The Mountaineers were represented on the third team by senior safety Kaiden Smith (DB), senior quarterback Zac Thomas (QB), senior receiver Thomas Hennigan (WR), senior receiver Malik Williams (WR), senior left guard Ryan Neuzil (OL), senior returner/receiver Jalen Virgil (return specialist) and junior running back Daetrich Harrington (RB). For Thomas, it was his third straight year receiving All-Sun Belt recognition.
App State’s four players named All-Sun Belt honorable mention were senior defensive end/tackle/H-back Caleb Spurlin, junior safety Ryan Huff, junior tight end Henry Pearson and sophomore outside linebacker Brendan Harrington.
Jean-Charles and Jolly form the nation’s No. 1 FBS cornerback duo, according to PFF College, and Jean-Charles leads the nation with 16 PBUs and 17 passes defended. They’ve helped App State stake a claim as the only FBS team allowing its opponents to complete less than 50 percent of its passes (46.6 percent through 11 games).
Taylor had 6.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in App State’s eight Sun Belt games.
Hannon, who has started at center in all 51 games that App State has played since he enrolled as a true freshman, and Hunter, who has started 31 straight games at right guard, are the top-ranked Sun Belt players at their respective positions, according to PFF College. Hunter leads the team with 68 knockdown blocks.
On the second team, Jackson totaled 56 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, five PBUs, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery in App State’s eight league games, giving him the fourth-most tackles among defenders from teams with winning records this season. Hodges ranks second on the team with 59 knockdown blocks, and Peoples is third in the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game thanks to his 807 yards over 10 games — he’s No. 2 at 81.0 in the eight league games.
In receiving All-Sun Belt recognition in each of his three years as a starter, Thomas ended the 2020 regular season with a 31-6 record — good for the second-most wins among active FBS quarterbacks. He ranks third in the league in passing efficiency this season.
Hennigan and Williams rank No. 2 and No. 7 among active Sun Belt players in career receiving yards, and in nine of App State’s 11 games, one of them has posted at least 60 receiving yards.
Neuzil has started 43 straight games at left guard and is the top-ranked Sun Belt player at that position, according to PFF College.
Virgil returned a kickoff 100 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of the win at Georgia Southern, and Daetrich Harrington was leading the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game (99.2) and rushing touchdowns (seven) before he suffered a season-ending injury.
Smith, a first-year starter as a senior safety, made a career-high 12 tackles in the regular-season finale, ranks third on the team with 64 stops and has defended 10 passes (two interceptions, eight PBUs) this season.
Brendan Harrington leads the team with four interceptions, including a pick-six touchdown, and Huff ranks second on the team with three interceptions.
Pearson, who suffered a serious injury in the 2020 opener, worked his way back into the lineup by App State’s fifth game and ended the regular season with three catches for a career-high 62 yards.
2020 SUN BELT FOOTBALL POSTSEASON HONORS
Player of the Year
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Offensive Player of the Year
Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State
Defensive Player of the Year
Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina
Freshman of the Year
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Newcomer of the Year
D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina
Coach of the Year
Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina
All-Sun Belt First Team
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina, QB
CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina, RB
Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana, RB
Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina, TE
Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State, WR
Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina, WR
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama, WR
Noah Hannon, App State, OL
Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina, OL
Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State, OL
Austin Stidham, Troy, OL
Baer Hunter, App State, OL
Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina, DL
Demetrius Taylor, App State, DL
Raymond Johnson, Georgia Southern, DL
Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina, DL
C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina, DL
Carlton Martial, Troy, LB
Justin Rice, Arkansas State, LB
Riley Cole, South Alabama, LB
D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina, DB
Shemar Jean-Charles, App State, DB
Shaun Jolly, App State, DB
Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern, DB
Noel Ruiz, Georgia State, Kicker
Jack Martin, Troy, Punter
CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina, All Purpose
Chris Smith, Louisiana, Return Specialist
All-Sun Belt Second Team
Levi Lewis, Louisiana, QB
Trey Ragas, Louisiana, RB
Camerun Peoples, App State, RB
Josh Pederson, ULM, TE
Kawaan Baker, South Alabama, WR
Kaylon Geiger, Troy, WR
Sam Pinckney, Georgia State, WR
O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana, OL
Cooper Hodges, App State, OL
Dylan Bradshaw, Troy, OL
Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina, OL
Max Mitchell, Louisiana, OL
Will Choloh, Troy, DL
Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana, DL
Forrest Merrill, Arkansas State, DL
Hardrick Willis, Georgia State, DL
Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina, LB
Rashad Byrd, Georgia Southern, LB
D’Marco Jackson, App State, LB
Bralen Trahan, Louisiana, DB
Quavian White, Georgia State, DB
Terence Dunlap, Troy, DB
Jarron Morris, Texas State, DB
Antavious Lane, Georgia State, DB
Massimo Biscardi, Coastal Carolina, Kicker
Rhys Byrns, Louisiana, Punter
Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State, All Purpose
Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State, Return Specialist
All-Sun Belt Third Team
Zac Thomas, App State, QB
Destin Coates, Georgia State, RB
Daetrich Harrington, App State, RB
Thomas Hennigan, App State, WR
Marcell Barbee, Texas State, WR
Malik Williams, App State, WR
Roger Carter, Georgia State, TE
Ken Marks, Louisiana, OL
Ryan Neuzil, App State, OL
Aaron Dowdell, Georgia Southern, OL
Sam Thompson, Coastal Carolina, OL
Shane Vallot, Louisiana, OL
Nico Ezidore, Texas State, DL
Richard Jibunor, Troy, DL
Dontae Wilson, Georgia State, DL
Jeremiah Littles, South Alabama, DL
Jordan Strachan, Georgia State, LB
Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana, LB
Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina, LB
Keith Gallmon, South Alabama, DB
Eric Garror, Louisiana, DB
Alex Spillum, Coastal Carolina, DB
Kaiden Smith, App State, DB
Dell Pettus, Troy, DB
Diego Guajardo, South Alabama, Kicker
Anthony Beck, Georgia Southern, Punter
Chris Smith, Louisiana, All Purpose
Jalen Virgil, App State, Return Specialist
App State’s players
Brendan Harrington, OLB
Ryan Huff, DB
Caleb Spurlin, DE
Henry Pearson, TE