ASU, L-R lead All-Conference selections
The Appalachian State Mountaineers had 12 players selected to the Southern Conference (SoCon) All-Conference teams.
The co-champions of the SoCon also received two awards. Wide receiver Sean Price was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year by both the coaches and the media, while linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches.
Price is the first Mountaineer to win the league’s Freshman of the Year honor since Armanti Edwards in 2006. The freshman standout leads all freshmen in the nation in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. On the season, Price has caught 68 passes for 1,029 yards and eight touchdowns. All three are ASU freshman records. He needs just four receptions and 45 yards to break the NCAA Division I FCS freshman records for both.
Kimbrough is the sixth Mountaineer in the last 11 years to be named the conference’s top defensive player. and the 10th since 1989. The senior from Decatur, Ga., is also a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented to the nation’s top FCS defensive player. Kimbrough is currently sixth in the country with 128 tackles. He also ranks in the top 15 in the conference with nine tackles for a loss and a three and a half sacks. He shared the defensive award with Chattanooga defensive lineman Davis Tull, who had 12.5 sacks.
Joining Price and Kimbrough on the All-SoCon first team are quarterback Jamal Jackson, running back Steven Miller, defensive lineman Ronald Blair, defensive backs Demetrius McCray and Troy Sanders, and punter Sam Martin.
On the second team, ASU had four selections in wide receiver Andrew Peacock, linebacker Brandon Grier, return specialist Tony Washington, and Martin was a second-team selection as a placekicker.
Additionally, five Mountaineers earned a spot on the coaches’ 25-member all-freshman team — Price, offensive lineman Shaq Counts, wide receiver Malachi Jones, defensive lineman Stephen Burns and defensive lineman Davante Harris were recognized.
Wofford running back Eric Breitenstein won the Offensive Player of the Year award for a second straight season. The Valle Crucis native rushed for 1,653 total yards, averaging 150 yards per game, and 16 touchdowns, all third nationally. The senior surpassed 100 yards in all but one game on the season, including a SoCon-record 321 yards in a win at Elon on Sept. 29.
Breitenstein is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the most outstanding player at the FCS level. Entering postseason play, he is third in SoCon career history with 30 100-yard rushing games, fourth with 5,348 rushing yards and fifth with 62 touchdowns.
The Citadel’s Kevin Higgins and Samford’s Pat Sullivan shared Coach of the Year honors. Both coaches led their teams to 5-3 SoCon records and overall marks of 7-4.
Bears earn honors
The 2012 South Atlantic Conference champion Bears had a league-high 12 selections to the All-Conference team. Lenoir-Rhyne also received two of the awards as head coach Mike Houston was the named the conference’s Coach of the Year, and offensive lineman Kaleb Myrick was one of two recipients of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
Houston led the Bears to a second-straight conference championship and the program’s first playoff appearance in 50 years. L-R went 6-1 in SAC play and finished the regualr season with seven straight wins to close 8-2, the best record since the 1994 squad posted the same mark.
The Bears had seven first-team selections and five second-team selections.
On the offensive side, Myrick and sophomore running back Jarrod Spears were named to the first team. On the first team defense, senior defensive lineman Brandon Martin, sophomore linebacker Tanner Botts, senior linebacker Demetrius Green and junior defensive backs Michael green and Myron Nolan also were selected.
On the second team, redshirt senior quarterback Reuben Haynes, sophomore running back Isaiah Whitaker, junior offensive lineman Patrick Murray and senior placekicker Zach Neumann were selected on the offensive side. Defensively, Michael Green was selected for a second time, but as a return specialist.
The 2012 season also marked the first time in SAC history that voting for both of the conference’s Player of the Year awards ended in ties. Carson-Newman quarterback Brandon Haywood and Wingate wide receiver Chris Bowden were selected as co-Offensive Players of the Year, while Mars Hill defensive lineman Troy Harris and Catawba linebacker Cory Johnson were picked as the co-Defensive Players of the Year.
Rounding out the SAC’s major individual awards were Offensive Freshman of the Year Jaquan Marsh of Brevard and Defensive Freshman of the Year Jarvis Neal from Carson-Newman.
News-Topic Editor Nathan Key contributed to this story.