JONESBORO, Ark. (7/21/17) – The 2017 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team, announced Friday by the league office, featured seven Arkansas State players, including senior defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones as the Defensive Player of the Year.
The Red Wolves had eight total selections, including senior cornerback Blaise Taylor as a first-team return specialist and second-team defensive back. Joining Taylor and Rolland-Jones as first-team choices were senior tight end Blake Mack, senior linebacker Kyle Wilson and junior defensive back Justin Clifton.
Representing A-State on the second team were senior wide receiver Dijon Paschal and senior defensive lineman Dee Liner, in addition to Taylor. The Red Wolves eight total selections were the third most in the league behind Appalachian State's 12 and Troy's nine.
The three programs were the top three picks in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced July 20. A-State was tabbed third in the poll, while Appalachian State was the favorite and Troy was picked second. The Mountaineer's junior running back Jalin Moore was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
Rolland-Jones became in 2016 just the second player in the history of the Sun Belt Conference to be named the league's Player of the Year. He is on the 2017 Bednarik Award and Nagurski Award watch lists and enters his senior season needing 13.5 sacks to tie the NCAA FBS career record, currently held by Terrell Suggs (Arizona State, 2000-02).
Mack has found a place on this year's Mackey Award Watch List and has been named a Preseason First Team All-Sun Belt choice by five different football publications. Taylor, A-State's all-time leader in career punt return yards, is an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee and a member of the Hornung Award and Wuerrfel Trophy watch lists.
A member of the 2016 All-Sun Belt Conference Newcomer Team, Wilson has also been named first team preseason all-conference by Lindy's and Athlon. Clifton has been placed on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list after recording a career-high 87 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups and two interceptions as a sophomore.
The Red Wolves' second-team preseason All-Sun Belt picks, Paschal and Liner, have also earned early 2017 recognition from several publications. Paschal enters his senior season tied for eighth in school history with 10 career touchdown receptions and ninth for receiving yards with 1,491 to his credit. Liner is Phil Steele's No. 40-ranked "Top NFL Draft Eligible Defensive Tackle" in the nation.
The Sun Belt Conference will hold its annual media day Monday, July 24, at the Superdome in New Orleans. The Red Wolves will conduct their annual media day Friday, July 28, at the A-State Football Facility.
2017 PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT CONFERENCE TEAM
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Jalin Moore (Appalachian State, RB, Jr., Business)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Ja'Von Rolland-Jones (Arkansas State, DL, Sr., Sport Management)
First Team Offense
Brandon Silvers (Troy, QB, Sr., Sport & Fitness Management)
Jalin Moore (Appalachian State, RB, Jr., Business)
Larry Rose III (New Mexico State, RB, Sr., Individualized Studies)
Shaedon Meadors (Appalachian State, WR, Sr., Criminal Justice)
Penny Hart (Georgia State, WR, So., Exercise Science)
Emanuel Thompson (Troy, WR, Sr., Risk Management Insurance)
Blake Mack (Arkansas State, TE, Sr., Health Promotions)
Colby Gossett (Appalachian State, OL, Sr., Management)
Beau Nunn (Appalachian State, OL, Sr., History Education)
Jordan Rose (Idaho, OL, Sr., General Studies)
Noah Fisher (South Alabama, OL, Jr., Political Science)
Steven Rowzee (Troy, OL, Sr., Human Services)
First Team Defense
Tee Sims (Appalachian State, DL, Sr., Criminal Justice)
Ja'Von Rolland-Jones (Arkansas State, DL, Sr., Sport Management)
Aikeem Coleman (Idaho, DL, Sr., General Studies)
Joe Dillon (Louisiana, DL, So., General Studies)
Baron Poole (Troy, DL, Sr., Social Science)
Eric Boggs (Appalachian State, LB, Sr., Physical Education)
Kyle Wilson (Arkansas State, LB, Sr., Communication Studies)
Bryan London II (Texas State, LB, So., Management)
Clifton Duck (Appalachian State, DB, So., Business Management & Accounting)
Justin Clifton (Arkansas State, DB, Jr., Exercise Science)
Chandon Sullivan (Georgia State, DB, Sr., Journalism)
Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama, DB, Sr., Sports and Recreation Management)
First Team Special Teams
Stevie Artigue (Louisiana, K, Jr., Finance)
Payton Theisler (New Mexico State, P, So., Criminal Justice)
Blaise Taylor (Arkansas State, RS, Sr., Business Administration)
Second Team Offense
Taylor Lamb (Appalachian State, QB, Sr., Physical Education)
Xavier Johnson (South Alabama, RB, Sr., Interdisciplinary Studies)
Jordan Chunn (Troy, RB, Sr., Criminal Justice)
Dijon Paschal (Arkansas State, WR, Sr., Sport Management)
Keenan Barnes (Louisiana, WR, Jr., Sports Management)
Deondre Douglas (Troy, WR, Jr., Social Science)
Gabe Schrade (Texas State, TE, Sr., Finance)
Vic Johnson (Appalachian State, OL, So., Undecided)
Grant Horst (Louisiana, OL, Sr., Marketing)
Frank Sutton Jr. (ULM, OL, Sr., Kinesiology / Exercise Science)
Aaron Brewer (Texas State, OL, So., Electronic Media and Mass Communications)
Deontae Crumitie (Troy, OL, Jr., Criminal Justice)
Second Team Defense
Myquon Stout (Appalachian State, DL, Jr., Undecided)
Dee Liner (Arkansas State, DL, Sr., General Studies)
Mackendy Cheridor (Georgia State, DL, Sr., Economics)
Taboris Lee (Louisiana, DL, Sr., General Studies)
Devan Stringer (Appalachian State, LB, Sr., Business)
Tony Lashley (Idaho, LB, Jr., General Studies)
Darrell Songy (South Alabama, LB, Sr., Sociology)
Blaise Taylor (Arkansas State, DB, Sr., Business Administration)
Tracy Walker (Louisiana, DB, Sr., Sports Management)
Jaden Wright (New Mexico State, DB, Sr., Arts and Sciences)
Kamryn Melton (Troy, DB, Sr., Social Science)
Kris Weatherspoon (Troy, DB, Sr., Psychology)
Second Team Special Teams
Michael Rubino (Appalachian State, K, So., Finance)
Evan Rabon (Coastal Carolina, P, Jr., History)