JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – The GoDaddy Bowl-bound Arkansas State football team has placed 11 players, including three first-team selections, on the 2014 All-Sun Belt Conference Team, announced Wednesday by the league office.
The Red Wolves saw at least 10 players named all-conference for the fifth consecutive year and eighth time overall since the league's inaugural football season in 2001. Made up of three seniors, four juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen, A-State's 11 players earning the recognition tied its third most ever as a Sun Belt member.
Arkansas State's total players selected matched the second most in the league along with Georgia Southern, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas State, Appalachian State and South Alabama. Only Louisiana-Lafayette had more players honored with 12.
Six defensive, four offensive and one special teams players represented A-State on the all-conference team. A-State, which will face Toledo in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl on Jan. 4, was among the top two conference teams in total players selected for the fifth straight year.
Earning first team recognition for the Red Wolves was junior quarterback Fredi Knighten (Little Rock, Ark.), senior linebacker Qushaun Lee (Prattville, Ala.) and senior cornerback Artez Brown (Newport, Ark.). Knighten finished the regular-season ranked first in the conference and 14th in the nation in total offense (304.1 ypg), while Lee was among the league's top-10 leaders in both tackles and interceptions. Brown ranked third in the conference in interceptions and fifth in passes defended.
A-State's second-team choices included junior running back Michael Gordon (Camden, Miss.), redshirt freshman defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones (Mesquite, Texas) and redshirt freshman cornerbackBlaise Taylor (Auburn, Ala.), who made the squad as a return specialist.
Receiving honorable mention honors for the Red Wolves were junior wide receiver Tres Houston (College Park, Ga.), junior defensive end Chris Stone (Daleville, Ala.), senior defensive back Andrew Tryon (Little Rock, Ark.) and sophomore linebacker Xavier Woodson (Eufala, Ala.).
As part of its all-conference team, the Sun Belt also announced a Newcomer Team comprised of one player from each school. Representing the Red Wolves on the Newcomer Team was redshirt freshman wide receiver Dijon Paschal (Tallassee, Ala).
Louisiana-Lafayette sophomore running back Elijah McGuire was named both the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, while Texas State senior linebacker David Mayo was the league's Defensive Player of the Year. Quarterback Taylor Lamb of Appalachian State was recognized as the conference's Freshman of the Year. Georgia Southern's Willie Fritz was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.
A-State and Toldeo will kickoff the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl at 8 p.m. on Jan. 4 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Bowl tickets are only $45 per ticket when purchased through the A-State Ticket Office. The A-State Ticket Office, located at the Convocation Center's lower red entrance, is also taking walk-up or telephone (870-972-2781) orders, and tickets can be purchased online at tickets.astate.edu.
ARKANSAS STATE ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE SELECTIONS
#34 Michael Gordon (Arkansas State, Jr. RB)
Preseason Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference . . . Doak Walker Award Watch List . . . Three-time College Football Performance Awards national Honorable Mention Running Back of the Week . . . Became the 15th player in school history to record 1,000-plus rushing yards in a season despite missing two games with an injury . . . Ran for over 100 yards in five of 10 games played and recorded at least 68 yards in all but one outing . . . Ranked No. 4 in the Sun Belt (No. 3 in SBC games only) and No. 27 in the nation in rushing yards (106.4 ypg) . . . Averaged 7.14 yards per rush, which ranked No. 2 in the Sun Belt and No. 6 in the nation . . . Ranked No. 3 in the Sun Belt and No. 35 in the nation in scoring (8.4 ppg) . . . 13 rushing touchdowns, including a career-high five in one game that ranked as the most by a Sun Belt player this year, were the sixth most in school history and ranked No. 19 in the nation this season . . . Ranked No. 5 in the Sun Belt and No. 44 in the nation in all-purpose yards (124.4) . . . Rushed for a career-high 188 yards in one game and had at least 134 in four contests . . . Posted a career-best six receptions in two different games and ended the year with a career-high 23 receptions.
#15 Tres Houston (Arkansas State, Jr., WR)
Started 11 games and played in all 12, recording a team-high 51 receptions for 607 yards and three touchdowns . . . His 51 receptions are the 11th most in Arkansas State history and his 4.2 receptions per game is the 10th highest average in the Sun Belt Conference . . .607 receiving yards were the second most on the team . . . In Sun Belt Conference games only, he ranked ninth in the league in receptions (35 total/4.4 per game) and 10th in receiving yards (443 total/55.4 ypg) . . . Recorded at least one catch in every game and four or more in eight games, including a career-high eight in the Red Wolves' season opener . . . Posted a career-high 102 receiving yards in the regular-season finale and his longest catch of the year covered 67 yards . . . All three of his receiving touchdowns came in different games . . . Posted at least 50 receiving yards in five contests . . . Also completed 2-of-3 passes on the year with one touchdown and a long of 45 yards.
#9 Fredi Knighten (Arkansas State, Jr., QB)
Two-time Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week . . . Athlon Sports Sun Belt Player of the Week . . . College Sports Madness Sun Belt Player of the Week . . . Manning Award Star of the Week . . . USA Today 1st Team Preseason All-Sun Belt . . . Ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt and No. 14 in the nation in total offense (304.1 ypg), which is 29.7 ypg higher than the next closest SBC player . . . Only player in the SBC ranked among the top-10 leaders in both passing (3rd) and rushing (9th) . . . 3,649 yards total offense are the fourth most in Sun Belt history and the third most ever by an A-State player . . . Ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt and No. 14 in the nation in points responsible for (188), and his 31 touchdowns responsible for are the fifth most in Sun Belt history . . . Also ranked among the top 37 players in the nation in completions per game (No. 28), passing yards (No. 34), completion percentage (No. 37) and rushing touchdowns (No. 37) . . . Posted over 400 yards total offense in three games, including a career-high 449 in the regular-season finale that was the most in a game by a Sun Belt player this season and the second most in school history . . . Recorded at least 300 yards total offense in seven contests.
#84 Dijon Paschal (Arkansas State, Fr.-RS, WR)
Started nine games and played in all 12 as a redshirt freshman, recording a team-high 642 receiving yards on 37 receptions . . . 642 receiving yards were the most in the Sun Belt Conference and ninth most in the nation among freshmen . . . Additionally, his 37 receptions were the most among all Sun Belt freshmen . . . Finished the regular-season with a team-best four receiving touchdowns and his 37 catches were the second most on the team . . . Ranked No. 10 in the Sun Belt Conference in receiving yards and his 17.4 yards per catch were the highest in the league among the top-10 leading receivers . . . Ranked No. 6 in receiving yards in the Sun Belt in league games only, posting 564 total yards for a 70.5 average per game . . . Caught at least one pass in every game and five or more in four contests, including eight for 141 yards and two touchdowns (all career highs) against Louisiana-Lafayette . . . Had a long reception of 87 yards.
#10 Artez Brown (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)
2014 Preseason 2nd Team All-Sun Belt Conference . . . 2014 Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week . . . Started all 12 games at cornerback, ranking third in the Sun Belt Conference in interceptions (4) and fifth in passes defended (9) . . . Also recorded 24 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups and one blocked kick . . . Ranked No. 35 in the nation in interceptions and had one interception return for a touchdown this season . . . Blocked a field goal attempt against Utah State, forcing overtime in a game won in overtime by Arkansas State . . . Recorded multiple tackles in seven contests, including the Utah State game when he registered a season-high six stops . . . Tallied a career-high two interceptions against Idaho and a career-long 58 yard interception return for a touchdown against South Alabama.
#48 Qushaun Lee (Arkansas State, Sr., LB)
2014 Preseason Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year . . . Preseason 1st Team All-Sun Belt . . . 2014 Lombardi Award, Walter Camp Award, Senior Bowl, College Football Performance Awards Linebacker Trophy watch lists . . . 2014 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week . . . Two-time College Sports Madness Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week . . . Phil Steele's Midseason 1st Team All-Sun Belt Conference . . . CFPA national Honorable Mention Linebacker of the Week . . . 2013 1st Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection . . . Both the Sun Belt Conference and Arkansas State's fourth all-time leading tackler (379 career tackles) . . . Ranked No. 2 in the Sun Belt and No. 12 in the nation in solo tackles (70) . . . Leads the team and ranks eighth in the Sun Belt in total tackles (96/8.0 tpg) . . . Ranks third in the Sun Belt and No. 35 in the nation in interceptions, recording a career-high four this season . . . Also posted seven tackles for loss, one sack, two pass break-ups, one fumble recovery and two forced fumbles . . . Including his four interceptions, two FF and one FR, was involved in seven takeaways this season for an A-State team that ranks 12th in the nation in turnovers gained . . . Posted double-figure tackles in four contests, including the final three regular-season games . . . Recorded a season-high 13 stops in a win over Utah State.
Started seven games and played in 10 as a redshirt freshman before suffering a season-ending injury that kept him out of the last two regular-season games of the year . . . Ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 19 in the nation in sacks (0.80 pg) . . . Eight sacks were the most ever by an Arkansas State freshman, the most by a Sun Belt Conference freshman this year and the second most in the nation among all freshmen this season . . . Ranked fifth in the Sun Belt and No. 42 in the nation in tackles for loss (1.20 per game) . . . 12 total tackles for loss were the most by a Sun Belt freshman and the fourth most in the nation among all freshmen this season . . . Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week . . . College Sports Madness SBC Defensive Player of the Week . . . CFPA national Honorable Mention Defensive Lineman of the Week . . . Despite missing two games with an injury, still finished the regular season ranked eighth on the team and second among A-State defensive linemen in tackles with 30 (21 solo/9assist) . . . Also posted one pass break-up, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles . . . Broke the Arkansas State record for sacks in a game, tied the Sun Belt Conference record and matched the most in the nation for a single game . . . Posted at least one tackle for loss in five of 10 games . . . Responsible for at least a half-sack in four contests . . . Tallied a career-high eight tackles in one game.
#42 Chris Stone (Arkansas State, Jr., DE)
2014 Preseason First Team All-Sun Belt Conference . . . Phil Steele's Midseason First Team All-Sun Belt Conference . . . 2013 Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt Conference choice . . . Posted a career-high 7.5 sacks to rank sixth in the Sun Belt Conference and No. 44 in the nation (0.63 pg) . . . Tallied a career-high 9.5 tackles for loss to rank 12th in the Sun Belt (0.79 pg) . . . Started all but one game at defensive end, helping lead a defense ranked No. 14 in the nation in sacks and No. 26 in tackles for loss . . . Led all A-State defensive linemen in tackles with 42 stops, which also ranked sixth on the team . . . Also responsible for two pass break-ups and one fumble recovery . . . Posted multiple tackles in every game and four or more in four games, including a season-high seven against Texas State . . . Posted at least a half-sack in eight games and was responsible for at least a half-tackle for loss in nine outings.
#21 Andrew Tryon (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)
Phil Steele's Midseason 1st Team All-Sun Belt Conference . . . Used at corner, nickel and safety during the season, started all 12 games and finished the regular-season with career-best numbers for tackles (62), tackles for loss (4), sacks (1), interceptions (2), pass break-ups (9) and fumble recoveries (1) . . . Ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference in passes defended (11) and 40th in tackles . . . nine pass break-ups and 11 passes defended both led the team, while his 62 tackles were the fourth most on the squad . . . Posted a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown in the regular-season finale against New Mexico State . . . Posted multiple tackles in all but one game and five or more in eight contests, including the Utah State and South Alabama games when he registered a career-best eight stops in each . . . Had at least one pass break-up in seven games, including two against both Tennessee and New Mexico State.
#55 Xavier Woodson (Arkansas State, So., LB)
2014 College Sports Madness Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards national Honorable Mention Linebacker of the Week . . . Started all 12 games at linebacker . . . One of just two players in the Sun Belt Conference ranked among the league's top 17 players in tackles for loss (15), sacks (16) and tackles (17) . . . Recorded a career-high numbers for tackles (86), tackles for loss (9.0), sacks (4.0) and pass break-ups (3) while also posting a forced fumble and fumble recovery . . . Recorded at least five tackles in 10 games and double-figure stops in three contests, including a career-high 14 against Louisiana-Lafayette . . . Tallied at least one tackle for loss in six games, including a career-high three against ULM . . . All four of his sacks came in a different game.
#1 Blaise Taylor (Arkansas State, Fr., DB/RS)
2014 Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week . . . College Football Performance Awards national Punt Returner of the Week . . . Ranked No. 2 in the Sun Belt and No. 39 in the nation in punt return average (8.0 per attempt) . . . 225 punt return yards were the most by a Sun Belt player this season and fifth most in school history . . . He recorded a career-high 104 punt return yards in one game, which were the most by a Sun Belt player and 10th most in the nation this season while also ranking fourth all-time at Arkansas State . . . He was one of just four players in the league to return a punt for a touchdown . . . Had a season-best 61-yard return that was the longest by a Sun Belt player this season . . . Despite returning just eight kicks, he posted 232 yards that were the second most on the team . . . Average 29.0 yards per return, which would rank No. 1 in the Sun Belt and fourth in the nation if he met the minimum number of returns required . . . Had a long kick return of 54 yards, which was the best on the team . . . Recorded over 100 punt and kickoff return yards combined the last three games of the regular season.