Appalachian State seniors Josh Thomas and Desmond Franklin have both been named to the preseason watch list for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, which recognizes the best defensive back in college football, and senior Akeem Davis Gaither has made the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the best linebacker in college football.
App State is one of eight teams nationally with more than one candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award. Presented by the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, it focuses on performance, athletic ability and character.
Thomas, a 2018 starter at strong safety, and Franklin, a 2018 starter at free safety, intercepted four passes apiece last season for a defense that ranked fourth nationally at 15.5 points allowed per game, set a Sun Belt Conference record with only 20 defensive touchdowns allowed and tied for first place nationally with only eight passing touchdowns allowed.
Last season, with Thomas, Franklin and then-senior Austin Exford taking most of the snaps at the two safety positions, Appalachian ranked No. 3 nationally with only eight passes of 30-plus yards allowed and No. 4 with one pass of 50-plus yards allowed. Those three players were the three highest-rated safeties in the Sun Belt Conference, according to PFF College.
Thomas also totaled 43 tackles during a 2018 season in which he was one of two junior captains for the Mountaineers. He intercepted passes in the New Orleans Bowl win against Middle Tennessee, the Sun Belt Championship Game win against Louisiana and two road victories in which App State didn't give up a defensive touchdown.
Franklin made 51 tackles, scored on a 26-yard interception return against Georgia State and had a 47-yard interception return to the goal line at Charlotte. He allowed just 0.31 yards per snap in coverage, according to PFF College, and his passer rating of 38.4 when targeted with a throw ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt regardless of defensive position.
Davis-Gaither is one of only eight linebackers from a Group of Five program on the watch list for the Butkus Award, and he's the only Sun Belt Conference linebacker on the list.
Davis-Gaither already had been named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award that goes to the College Defensive Player of the Year. He amassed 105 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries in 2018 for a defense that ranked fourth nationally in points allowed per game.
Davis-Gaither had the most tackles in the Sun Belt by a player from a bowl-eligible team, recorded three games with at least 14 tackles and had the eighth-most PBUs in the country among non-DBs.
The Butkus Award watch list includes 51 linebackers, mirroring the legendary "51" pro jersey associated with the award's namesake Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history.
Appalachian State senior Collin Reed is a repeat selection to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, which is presented annually to the nation's best college tight end.
Reed leads active Sun Belt Conference tight ends with nine career touchdown catches, including eight during the previous two seasons. Only two players on the 2018 preseason watch list had more touchdown catches the previous year than Reed's five as an App State sophomore, and he added three more to his total as a junior.
All three of his TD catches in 2018 occurred in league play, including a road win in which he hauled in a 43-yard reception on App State's first play from scrimmage at Texas State. Reed also contributes as a blocker for a program that has ranked in the top 25 nationally in both rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed for five straight seasons.
The award is named after NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey, who is considered to be the best tight end in football history. The 2019 winner will be announced Dec. 11.
Director of Men's and Women's Golf, Elliot Gealy has announced the hiring of Imkeleen Meyer as the new Graduate Assistant. Meyer comes to Lenoir-Rhyne after finishing a stellar career at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major in Business Management and Marketing.
While at Newman, Meyer amassed several honors during her collegiate career. Her accolades include four individual tournament championships, four All-Conference award selections and a three-time participant in the NCAA DII West Super Regional. Academically, Imkeleen was a four year President's Honor Roll recipient while serving on the Student Alumni Board and the International Student Association. She also was a four year SAAC representative for the golf team as well serving as the Social Chair for the committee.
"I am very excited to have Imkeleen join the Men's and Women's Golf Programs at Lenoir-Rhyne," said Gealy. "Her international experience and positive energy will be an immediate asset to our program. I look forward to watching Imkeleen develop our student-athletes into successful young men and women on and off the golf course."
The Hickory Crawdads rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to upend the Hagerstown Suns 5-3 at Municipal Stadium Sunday.
Chandler Day (L, 2-3) entered in the ninth looking for his first save of the season with the Suns (42-58, 12-18) leading 3-1. Day was quickly greeted by back-to-back singles, and then Kole Enright delivered a three-run home run to right field to put the Crawdads (61-35, 20-10) on top. Josh Jung added an RBI single later in the frame to extend the lead.
Reliever Lucas Jacobsen (W, 1-2) stayed on in the ninth for Hickory and shut the door on the Suns. The lefty allowed a back-to-back two-out singles to Jackson Cluff and Justin Connell, but got the final out to close it out. Jacobsen worked 2.1 scoreless innings overall and struck out three batters.
Jackson Stoeckinger worked 5.2 strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out three. The 5.2 innings makes it the longest appearance of the season for the Suns lefty. The only run he allowed was a Jung RBI single in the third.
Jacob Howell entered after Stoeckinger and continued to cool off the Crawdads bats on a hot day in Hagerstown. The righty tossed 2.1 scoreless frames while allowing only one hit and striking out one batter. Howell has now thrown 4.2 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three appearances.
After back-to-back games with at least 14 hits, the Suns offense also cooled off a bit Sunday. Hagerstown started fast in this one, with a run in the first inning. After Cluff doubled to start the frame and got to third, Jacob Rhinesmith drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
The Crawdads tied it in the third, but the Suns struck right back in the bottom half of the inning. Connell singled with two outs, went to second on a balk and then scored on a Drew Mendoza RBI single.
One more run came across in the sixth for Hagerstown. Rhinesmith led off the frame with a double and went to third with a flyout. After Hickory starter Tyree Thompson left the game and reliever Hever Bueno entered, Tyler Cropley came through with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game. Thompson ended up allowing three runs on six hits over 5.2 innings.
Appalachian State junior Noah Hannon has been named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is given annually to the nation's best college center.
Hannon started at eventual national runner-up Georgia in his collegiate debut as a true freshman and has made 26 consecutive starts at center for the Mountaineers, who ranked in the top 25 in both rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed during each of those two seasons. Based on his grade, he was named All-Sun Belt first team by the PFF College site in 2018.
The 17-year-old Rimington Trophy is named after Dave Rimington, who was an All-America center at Nebraska from 1981-82, and the award has raised more than $4.2 million for the Boomer Esiason Foundation that is committed to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.
The Rimington Trophy committee uses the All-America teams from the Walter Camp Foundation, the Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America to determine a winner.
Hagerstown piled up 14 hits in its 9-2 victory over the Hickory Crawdads at Municipal Stadium Saturday.
Hagerstown (42-57, 12-17) used two big innings to put the Crawdads (60-35, 19-10) away. The Suns offense put up three runs in the third against Hickory starter Cole Winn (L, 1-4) and then scored three more in the fifth against reliever Jesus Linarez.
Before those big innings, the Suns got one run in the second when Cole Daily crossed home plate on a wild pitch. In the third, an Israel Pineda RBI gorundout made it a 2-0 game, and the Suns started a two-out rally. Kyle Marinconz came up with an RBI single and then Phil Caulfield's RBI double made it 4-0 and chased Winn from the game. The Hickory starter went only 2.2 innings and allowed four runs while walking four.
Linarez took over for Winn in the third and was solid until the fifth when Hagerstown got to him. After Pineda walked and Marinconz singled, Caulfied came up with another RBI double to extend the lead. Marinconz scored on a balk later in the inning, and then an Armond Upshaw sacrifice fly gave the Suns a 7-0 lead.
The final rally for the Suns came in the eighth against Hickory reliever Kelvin Gonzalez. After Drew Mendoza singled for the second time on the night, Jacob Rhinesmith drove him home with a double that gave him 50 RBI on the season. Marinconz followed with his second RBI single of the night to make it a 9-1 scoreline.
The hitters stole the show for Hagerstown, but the perfomance by the pitching staff wasn't too shabby either. Joan Adon (W, 8-3) put together five scoreless innings while allowing five hits and striking out two. The righty got himself into a few jams, but was able to work out of them.
Gabe Klobosits relieved Adon in the sixth to make his 2019 Suns debut and worked two strong innings. The right-hander struck out two and allowed only one hit. Alex Troop followed him out of the bullpen and closed out the victory. Troop did allow a solo home run to Tyreque Reed in the eighth, and a sacrifice fly to Kole Enright in the ninth, but neither run made a difference.
Tomorrow, Hagerstown concludes its four-game set against the Hickory Crawdads at 2:05 p.m. The Suns toss LHP Jackson Stoeckinger (1-2, 3.86 ERA), while Hickory will send RHP Tyree Thompson (4-5, 2.98 ERA) to the mound.
Hickory Motor Speedway Results 7/20/19 (Unofficial)
Late Model Race #1
1 #17 Taylor Gray
2 #1 Nolan Pope
3 #12 Austin McDaniel
4 #18 Connor Mosack ( r )
5 #31 Thomas Beane
6 #28H Chris Hudspeth
7 #25 Kevin Leicht
8 #25V Ryan Vargas
9 #4 Todd Gilliland
10 #18M Bradley McCaskill
11 #57 Justin Carroll
12 #2 Dan Moore
13 75 Quincy Adkins
14 #71 Curtis Pardue
Late Model Race #2
1 #17 Taylor Gray
2 #12 Austin McDaniel
3 #31 Thomas Beane
4 #28 H Chris Hudspeth
5 #1 Nolan Pope
6 #25V Ryan Vargas
7 #25 Kevin Leicht
8 #4 Todd Gilliland
9 #18 Connor Mosack ( r )
10 #22 Dan Moore
11 #18M Bradley McCaskill
12 #75 Quincy Adkins
13 #57 Justin Carroll
14 #71 Curtis Pardue
Limited Late Model
1 #12 Mason Ludwig
2 #18 Cody DeMarmels
3 #44 Josh Kossek
4 #71 Nathan Lineback
5 #21 Toni Breidinger
6 #33 Kosma Guznyakov ( r )
7 #27 Justin Austin
1 #7 Jeff Sparks
2 #64 Marshall Sutton
3 #31 Derek Fowler
4 #77 Mark Whitten
5 #5 Jesse Clark
6 #2 Ethan Johnson
7 #21 Drew Cox
8 #03 Kevin Eby
9 #69 Trey Buff
1 #6 Brian Mundy
2 #17 Curtis Pardue
3 #9 Cody Combs
4 #21 Ashton Trivette
5 #98 Robbie Lewis
6 #99 Colin Trivette
7 #11 Robert Trivette
Hickory Vintage Racing Series
1 #16 Bill Webb
2 #71P Bill Powell
3 #16 Mackie Webb
4 #6 Robert Webb
Appalachian State University has hired Doug Banks as an Associate Athletics Director for Development, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Friday.
Banks is responsible for the annual solicitation of Yosef Club donors and prospects to grow financial support for Appalachian State Athletics. He will have a primary focus of engaging Yosef Club members and prospects with face-to-face meetings, outreach, group settings and events.
"We are excited to welcome Doug to the Appalachian Family," Gillin said. "He's had a distinguished and successful career with experience at every level of college athletics. With his primary oversight of giving to the Yosef Club, he will play an important role at App State as we continue to work to fully fund scholarships for all of our sports."
Banks came to Boone from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was the Senior Director of Development. Prior to that, he was the Associate A.D. for Development at Kansas from 2011-18, an Associate Athletic Director for Development at Illinois State from 2005-11 and an Assistant Director of Development at Kansas State from 1999-2005.
"I'm excited to be at Appalachian State and look forward to meeting and working with our loyal Mountaineer supporters, near and far," Banks said. "It is exciting for me to be here in Boone after following App State from afar for over a decade. Passion, work ethic and vision are what college athletics is truly about, and it certainly exists here. The Yosef Club is our foundation, and we need to continue to grow our membership so our product continues to grow. With so many good things going on at App State, even greater heights can be reached collectively. Connecting with our people and providing a great experience for our student-athletes will always be at the forefront."
Before he began working on the development side of college athletics, Banks coached football at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he was also a Hall of Fame player. The school inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2016 thanks to a career in which he set school records for career receptions (121), receiving yards (2,190) and touchdowns (20).
After his college career ended in 1990, Banks signed with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and played professionally in Europe from 1993-95. He earned a bachelor's degree from Nebraska-Kearney and later returned to his alma mater to earn his Master's degree.
After posting a team GPA of 3.48, App State women's tennis earned the ITA All-Academic Team award. Sandra Anglesjö ((Norrköping Östergötland, Sweden/Fria Läroverken Norrköping), Jeannez Daniel (Port Charlotte, Fla./Florida Virtual) and María José Zacarias (San Luis Potosi, Mexico/La Loma Centro Deportivo) were named ITA Scholar-Athletes by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Following its most successful season on the court, the Mountaineers were also impressive in the classroom with seven of the student-athletes boasting a GPA of 3.2 or better. All-Academic honors were awarded to 940 teams and thousands of scholar-athletes.
The trio of Anglesjò, Daniel and Zacarias were a key cog this season contributing to the Mountaineers' first conference title in program history and a 15-6 mark.
Anglesjö, who is majoring in building science, is honored for the second consecutive season after an impressive 3.65 GPA. She finished 9-4 with Teodora Sevo as the No. 2 tandem in the lineup, while the nine wins were tied for second on the squad. Anglesjö landed on the All-Sun Belt First Team for doubles with Sevo after their campaign. The rising junior tallied three wins in singles action.
Daniel is earning her master's degree at App State in applied data analytics and recorded a solid 3.76 GPA. In her lone season for the Black and Gold, she didn't disappoint. Daniel posted a 10-8 mark in singles with a team-best 7-1 record in Sun Belt action. Daniel's seven conference wins were tied for fourth in the Sun Belt and won nine of her last 12 matches. She earned the Sun Belt Women's Tennis Player of the Week award after going 2-0 in singles and doubles against Coastal Carolina and Arkansas State. In doubles, she led the team with 13 overall doubles victories and a 13-4 mark. With Rebecca Morse, she went 10-1 on top of an undefeated league record of 7-0. They were the only team in the conference to go unblemished in conference action.
Zacarias is majoring in exercise science and recorded a GPA of 5.3. She joins Anglesjö as a two-time recipient of the honor. She notched eight wins as the No. 3 in the lineup in singles with half of her wins coming in league competition. Zacarias won her final two matches of the campaign. In doubles, she played as the top duo with Heidi Swope. The pair won nine matches together and finished second on the team with five conference victories. Zacarias/Swope claimed their final four matches of the season.
App State men's tennis put forth a solid year inside the classroom, as it earned the ITA All-Academic Team award for the 2018-19 season. Three Mountaineers in Alex Brea (Charlotte, N.C./Providence Day), Blake Carter (Raleigh, N.C./Wakefield), and Zion Heaven (Ewa Beach, HI/Florida Virtual) were named ITA Scholar-Athletes by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
All-Academic honors were awarded to 940 teams and thousands of scholar-athletes. As a team, the Black and Gold registered a 3.27 GPA with six student-athletes reaching at least a 3.2 GPA.
Brea is honored for the second straight season after putting forth a stellar GPA of 3.86 for the academic year. He graduated in May with a degree in finance and banking. The recent graduate led the team and won a career-high nine doubles contests, seven of which came with fellow senior, Campbell Stone. His best stretch came over six matches, as he went 5-1, while he put together a season-long three-match win streak.
Carter is recognized for his work in the classroom for a second straight season. The rising junior earned a 3.56 GPA for the year. Also, the Raleigh native was named a Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar. On the court, saw action at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 singles for the Black and Gold, while also appearing in two doubles matches during the 2018-19 campaign. He tallied three singles wins, all in straight sets.
In his first year with the Black and Gold, Heaven boasted a team-high 3.87 for '18-19. He finished second on the team in singles wins with six including a pair of victories in Sun Belt play. In doubles action, he was third on the team with six doubles wins.
Teams must earn a team GPA of 3.20 or higher, while ITA scholar-athletes must meet the following criteria: 1.) be a varsity letter winner, 2.) have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year, and 3.) have been enrolled at their present school for at least 2 semesters (including freshman through senior year).
The Hickory Crawdads fell Friday night to the Hagerstown Suns, 9-8 on the road.
The Suns' Ryan Williamson was trying to hold on to a 7-6 lead in the ninth, but the Crawdads (61-33, 20-8) but together three consecutive singles with one away. The third one off the bat of Jonathan Ornelas tied the game. The next batter was Josh Jung, and his RBI groundout scored Matt Whatley and gave Hickory an 8-7 lead.
Christian Vann (W, 2-1) came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth and retired Melvin Novoa to keep the Suns (41-57, 11-17) within one.
The Suns had a 3-1 lead heading into the fith, but the frame started with a solo home run from Pedro Gonzalez, his team-best 18th of the season. Miguel Aparicio then followed with a long ball of his own as the Crawdads went back-to-back to tie the game. A Jonathan Ornelas RBI double later in the frame gave Hickory the lead, and then a two-out bunt RBI single from Jax Biggers made it 5-3 and chased Schaller from the game.
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced its 2019 All-Academic Teams and Scholar-Athletes and Lenoir-Rhyne Men's and Women's Tennis each were awarded as All-Academic teams and 12 individual players earned Scholar-Athlete distinctions.
On the women's side, Sophia Aguilar Di Camillo, Marta Escanero Funes, Ally Garofoli, Sanne Janssen and Iulia Ponomareva were selected as Scholar-Athletes. The men had Alex Ayguavives, Hamed Gandouz, Josh Lazenby, Paul Lenz, Tales Miranda, Shane O'Dea and Lewis Scott earn Scholar-Athlete status.
All-Academic teams boast a team GPA of 3.20 or higher. ITA scholar-athletes must meet the following criteria: 1.) be a varsity letter winner, 2.) have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year, and 3.) have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters (including freshman through senior year).
The ITA is committed to serving college tennis and returning the leaders of tomorrow. As the governing body of college tennis, the ITA oversees men's and women's varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College divisions. The ITA administers a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men's and women's varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court.
The Hickory Crawdads scored four runs in the fourth inning and added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth to win on the road against the Hagerstown Suns, 6-3 to open a weekend road trip against the Hagerstown Suns.
Each team was able to muster one big inning, but the four-run fourth for Hickory (60-33, 19-8) outgunned Hagerstown's (40-57, 10-17) three-run third as the Crawdads took the series opener. Hickory is 6-2 against the Suns on the season.
The four deciding Hickory runs came in the fourth against Suns starter Jake Irvin (L, 5-7). Miguel Aparicio started the frame with his 10th home run of the season, and then the Crawdads offense followed with four-consecutive singles, with the third one off the bat of Melvin Novoa bringing home a run. A Jonathan Ornelas sacrifice fly tied the game, and then Novoa scored on a passed ball that gave the Crawdads the lead 4-3.
The four runs turned out to be enough for Hickory, but they added two more for good measure in the eighth. After a leadoff walk, Tyreque Reed hit one in the air to left field that looked to hit off the wall, but it was a called a two-run home run that extended the Crawdads advantage.
Hickory is at Hagerstown over the weekend. The Crawdads return to L.P. Frans Stadium on Tuesday.
Appalachian State men's basketball head coach Dustin Kerns has announced the non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
The non-conference slate features a total of 11 contests, including four at the Holmes Center.
"We are excited to release our non-conference schedule filled with several quality programs, coaches and teams," said Kerns. "Our goal is to enhance our profile with the App State brand regionally and nationally. It is very important to renew and play local and regional opponents for our recruiting, but also for our fans and parents."
The Mountaineers open the Kerns era on Nov. 5 with a road contest at Michigan. The Wolverines have made eight consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, including two appearances in the national championship game (2013, 2018).
"We wanted to open the season with a national power and playing Michigan certainly does that with the excitement surrounding their program," added Kerns. "I will be taking Coach Moore out to lunch in October to pick his brain."
App State will have a quick turnaround and return to Boone for its home opener on Nov. 7 against Ferrum. The Mountaineers follow with another home contest against East Carolina on Nov. 12.
The Black and Gold then play three games in four days in a tournament hosted by UNC Greensboro. The Mountaineers open play in the tournament on Nov. 15 against Tennessee Tech and then battle Montana State on Nov. 16. App State closes out play in the tournament on Nov. 18 against host UNC Greensboro.
Following the tournament, App State returns to the Holmes Center on Nov. 21 and welcomes Charlotte to the High Country for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
The Mountaineers return right back to the road to renew their rivalry with East Tennessee State on Nov. 26. The matchup between the two squads will be the first meeting since the 2011-12 season.
The Black and Gold host St. Andrews on Dec. 3 in its non-conference home finale, followed by two consecutive road games to end the non-conference season. On Dec. 14, the Mountaineers travel to Washington D.C. to face Howard and close out non-conference play on Dec. 29 at N.C. State.
"Our non-conference schedule has been reduced by two games this season with the Sun Belt moving to a 20-game schedule. We wanted to give our team a balanced schedule not only for this season, but for the future as well," remarked Kerns. "This schedule is challenging and will prepare us for play in the always tough Sun Belt."
The Mountaineers welcome back eight players from last season and will begin practices in October.
A league-best eight first-team selections from Appalachian State highlighted the preseason All-Sun Belt football teams announced by the league office Thursday.
The release comes in advance of the conference's Media Day festivities, which begin Sunday and continue Monday in New Orleans. Preseason all-conference awards were voted upon by the Sun Belt's 10 football head coaches and selected media representatives.
In tying Arkansas State for first place with 11 all-league picks overall, App State's eight first-team selections included five offensive players in quarterback Zac Thomas, running back Darrynton Evans, receiver Corey Sutton, offensive lineman Victor Johnson and offensive lineman Noah Hannon. The first-team selections on defense were linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, linebacker Jordan Fehr and defensive back Desmond Franklin.
The Mountaineers, who have been picked by the league's coaches to win another Sun Belt title during head coach Eliah Drinkwitz's first season in Boone, possess three second-team selections in defensive back Josh Thomas, tight end Collin Reed and Evans as a return specialist.
Arkansas State ranked second in the Sun Belt with five first-team choices, while the Preseason Players of the Year were Troy running back B.J. Smith (Offense) and Georgia Southern defensive back Kindle Vildor (Defense).
Zac Thomas completed his first season as an App State starter in 2018 with 2,039 passing yards, 504 rushing yards and a combined 31 touchdowns (21 through the air). Evans rushed for a league-leading 1,187 yards even though he didn't become App State's primary back until Game 5, and Sutton tied for first place in the Sun Belt with 10 touchdown catches.
Johnson, a starting tackle for the previous three years, and Hannon, the starting center during each of his first two years, helped App State rank in the top 25 nationally in both rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed for the fifth straight season. At tight end, Reed has a combined eight touchdown catches in the last two seasons.
Davis-Gaither, Fehr, Franklin and Josh Thomas were key members of a 2018 defense that ranked No. 4 nationally at 15.5 points allowed per game and set a Sun Belt record by allowing only 20 touchdowns.
Davis-Gaither amassed 105 tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries, while Fehr recorded a team-high 5.5 sacks and 86 tackles. Franklin and Thomas shared second place in the Sun Belt by intercepting four passes apiece from their safety positions in 2018, when they combined for 94 tackles.
In addition to his production at running back, Evans averaged 32.7 yards per kickoff return, a mark that ranked No. 2 nationally among players with at least 1.2 returns per game. His second career return for a touchdown covered 100 yards at Penn State last season, and he also had a 97-yard return in the Sun Belt Championship Game.
2019 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Football Teams
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: B.J. Smith (Troy, Senior)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Senior)
First Team Offense
QB - Zac Thomas (Appalachian State, Junior)
RB - Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Junior)
RB - B.J. Smith (Troy, Senior)
WR - Corey Sutton (Appalachian State, Junior)
WR - Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State, Senior)
WR - Ja'Marcus Bradley (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
TE - Javonis Isaac (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
OL - Noah Hannon (Appalachian State, Junior)
OL - Victor Johnson (Appalachian State, Senior)
OL - Kevin Dotson (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
OL - Robert Hunt (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
OL - Kirk Kelley (Troy, Senior)
First Team Defense
DL - William Bradley-King (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
DL - Forrest Merrill (Arkansas State, Junior)
DL - Raymond Johnson (Georgia Southern, Junior)
DL - Tyree Turner (South Alabama, Senior)
LB - Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB - Jordan Fehr (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB - Bryan London II (Texas State, Senior)
DB - Desmond Franklin (Appalachian State, Senior)
DB - Jerry Jacobs (Arkansas State, Junior)
DB - Monquavion Brinson (Georgia Southern, Senior)
DB - Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Senior)
First Team Special Teams
K - Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern, RS-Senior)
P - Brandon Wright (Georgia State, RS-Senior)
RS - Tra Minter (South Alabama, Senior)
Second Team Offense
QB - Caleb Evans (ULM, Senior)
RB - Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana, Junior)
RB - Trey Ragas (Louisiana, RS-Junior)
WR - Omar Bayless (Arkansas State, RS-Senior)
WR - Kawaan Baker (South Alabama, Junior)
WR - Tray Eafford (Troy, Junior)
TE - Collin Reed (Appalachian State, Senior)
OL - Jacob Still (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
OL - Hunter Atkinson (Georgia State, RS-Senior)
OL - T.J. Fiailoa (ULM, RS-Junior)
OL - Aaron Brewer (Texas State, Senior)
OL - Tristan Crowder (Troy, Senior)
Second Team Defense
DL - Kevin Thurmon (Arkansas State, RS-Senior)
DL - Tarron Jackson (Coastal Carolina, RS-Junior)
DL - Zi'Yon Hill (Louisiana, RS-Sophomore)
DL - Jarvis Hayes (Troy, Senior)
LB - Jacques Boudreaux (Louisiana, Senior)
LB - Nikolas Daniels (Texas State, Senior)
LB - Carlton Martial (Troy, Sophomore)
DB - Josh Thomas (Appalachian State, Senior)
DB - B.J. Edmonds (Arkansas State, Senior)
DB - Darreon Jackson (Arkansas State, RS-Senior)
DB - Michael Jacquet III (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
Second Team Special Teams
K - Tyler Sumpter (Troy, Junior)
P - Cody Grace (Arkansas State, RS-Senior)
RS - Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Junior)