BOONE, N.C. — Highlighted by quarterback Zac Thomas being named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, Scott Satterfield being named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and the program's 16 all-conference selections including six All-Sun Belt first-team picks, Appalachian State fared well as the league announced its 2018 awards Thursday.
The Mountaineers, who will host the Sun Belt Championship Game on Saturday after winning the East Division with a 7-1 record, put senior defensive tackle MyQuon Stout, junior defensive back Clifton Duck, junior offensive lineman Victor Johnson, junior linebacker Jordan Fehr, junior defensive back Desmond Franklin and sophomore running back Darrynton Evans on the All-Sun Belt first team. Duck received first-team recognition for the third straight year, and Johnson repeated as a first-team choice.
The All-Sun Belt second team included Thomas, senior offensive lineman Chandler Greer, junior linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither, sophomore receiver Corey Sutton and sophomore offensive lineman Noah Hannon, while the third team had senior defensive back Tae Hayes, senior linebacker Anthony Flory, junior tight end Collin Reed, Duck (return specialist), and Evans (all-purpose).
App State's 16 all-conference selections were second most behind Troy's 19.
Four other App State players were All-Sun Belt honorable mention: junior defensive back Josh Thomas, junior linebacker Noel Cook, sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Neuzil and freshman tight end Henry Pearson.
With the nation's third-youngest roster, based on underclassmen occupying three-fourths of it, Satterfield led the Mountaineers to a division title. App State pushed Penn State to overtime in its 2018 opener and suffered its only league loss with Zac Thomas sidelined after his third play at Georgia Southern. The Mountaineers will join Clemson and Oklahoma this weekend as the only FBS teams contending for a third straight conference title.
Satterfield, who is tied for sixth nationally with 39 wins since 2015, holds a 43-7 record against opponents from Group of Five conferences and a 34-6 record against Sun Belt opponents.
Thomas, a first-year starter who replaced four-year starter Taylor Lamb at quarterback, enters the Sun Belt Championship Game with 18 touchdown passes, eight rushing touchdowns and just four interceptions. He ranks among the nation's top 35 quarterbacks with league-leading totals in QBR, passing efficiency and yards per completion.
Stout, a two-year captain, is the anchor up front whose work helped App State's defense give up an average of just 9.2 points in the team's nine regular season victories. The Mountaineers allowed 10 points or less in seven of those wins and led the Sun Belt with top-10 national rankings in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, passing defense, yards allowed per pass attempt, third-down defense, fourth-down defense, three-and-outs per game and first downs allowed.
Fehr is a two-time Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week who had 75 tackles, a team-high 5.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and a key safety (at Coastal Carolina) during the regular season. Aside from missing most of App State's only league loss, he averaged 8.4 tackles in his other Sun Belt appearances, including a 15-tackle, one-sack game at Arkansas State.
Franklin is tied for the league lead with four interceptions to go along with his 43 tackles, and Duck has registered 44 tackles in addition to increasing his three-year total to 12 interceptions.
Johnson has started all 37 games of his career at left tackle for an offensive line that ranks in the top 20 nationally in rushing yards per game and fewest sacks allowed per game, while Evans averaged a league-best 112.8 rushing yards and 151.0 all-purpose yards in Sun Belt play. With five games of 100-plus rushing yards since he replaced the injured Jalin Moore as App State's primary tailback in mid-October, Evans has 968 rushing yards in 11 games this year.
Thomas was named the second-team quarterback behind first-team pick and Sun Belt Player of the Year Justice Hansen of Arkansas State, and Davis-Gaither made the second team while leading the league's top-ranked defense with 89 tackles. His 9.0 tackles per game in conference play ranked third overall and first among players from bowl-eligible teams.
Sutton has eight touchdowns and 672 receiving yards on 34 catches, allowing him to rank 11th nationally at 19.8 yards per reception, and Hannon has started all 24 of his career games at center. Greer, a fifth-year senior, emerged as a preseason option to start at right tackle and has played that position well all season for the Mountaineers.
The statistical highlights for the third-team selections include 80 tackles from Flory, two interceptions with 31 tackles from Hayes and three touchdown receptions from Reed. Evans opened the season with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Penn State, and Duck's punt return for a touchdown against Gardner-Webb has helped him rank No. 9 nationally at 13.3 yards per return.
Josh Thomas is a junior captain with two interceptions and 33 tackles as a starting safety, and Cook has a team-high 9.0 tackles for loss among his 61 tackles in just 10 games. Neuzil has graded out extremely well as App State's starting left guard, and the PFF College site ranked Pearson as the nation's fifth-best true freshman tight end. He has 13 catches for 159 yards and one touchdown.
2018 Sun Belt All-Conference Football Teams
Player of the Year: Justice Hansen (Arkansas State, QB, RS-Senior)
Offensive Player of the Year: Zac Thomas (Appalachian State, QB, Sophomore)
Defensive Player of the Year: Ronheen Bingham (Arkansas State, DE, Senior)
Newcomer of the Year: Kirk Merrit (Arkansas Sate, WR, Junior)
Freshman of the Year: Marcel Murray (Arkansas State, RB, Freshman)
Coach of the Year: Scott Satterfield (Appalachian State)
First Team Offense
QB – Justice Hansen (Arkansas State, RS-Senior)
RB – Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Sophomore)
RB – B.J. Smith (Troy, Junior)
WR – Kirk Merrit (Arkansas State, Junior)
WR – Marcus Green (ULM, Senior)
WR – Damion Willis (Troy, Senior)
TE – Keenen Brown (Texas State, Senior)
OL – Victor Johnson (Appalachian State, Junior)
OL – Lanard Bonner (Arkansas State, Senior)
OL – Curtis Rainey (Georgia Southern, Senior)
OL – Kevin Dotson (Louisiana, Junior)
OL – Kirk Kelley (Troy, Junior)
First Team Defense
DL – MyQuon Stout (Appalachian State, Senior)
DL – Ronheen Bingham (Arkansas State, Senior)
DL – Jeffrey Gunter (Coastal Carolina, Sophomore)
DL – Trevon Sanders (Troy, Senior)
LB – Jordan Fehr (Appalachian State, Junior)
LB – Bryan London II (Texas State, Junior)
LB – Hunter Reese (Troy, Senior)
DB – Clifton Duck (Appalachian State, Junior)
DB – Desmond Franklin (Appalachian State, Junior)
DB – Justin Clifton (Arkansas State, Senior)
DB – Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Junior)
DB – Cedarius Rookard (Troy, Senior)
First Team Special Teams
K – Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern, Junior)
P – Brandon Wright (Georgia State, Junior)
RS – Marcus Jones (Troy, Sophomore)
AP – Marcus Green (ULM, Senior)
Second Team Offense
QB – Zac Thomas (Appalachian State, Sophomore)
RB – Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana, Sophomore)
RB – Wesley Fields (Georgia Southern, Senior)
WR – Corey Sutton (Appalachian State, Sophomore)
WR – Justin McInnis (Arkansas State, Senior)
WR – Jamarius Way (South Alabama, Senior)
TE – Javonis Isaac (Arkansas State, Sophomore)
OL – Chandler Greer (Appalachian State, Senior)
OL – Noah Hannon (Appalachian State, Sophomore)
OL – Jeremiah Culbreth (Georgia Southern, Senior)
OL – Robert Hunt (Louisiana, Junior)
OL – Deontae Crumitie (Troy, Senior)
Second Team Defense
DL – William Bradley-King (Arkansas State, Sophomore)
DL – Forrest Merrill (Arkansas State, Junior)
DL – Raymond Johnson (Georgia Southern, Sophomore)
DL – Tyree Turner (South Alabama, Junior)
LB – Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State, Junior)
LB – David Griffith (ULM, Senior)
LB – Bull Barge (South Alabama, Senior)
LB – Tron Folsom (Troy, Junior)
DB – Jerry Jacobs (Arkansas State, Sophomore)
DB – Monquavion Brinson (Georgia Southern, Junior)
DB – Nigel Lawrence (South Alabama, Senior)
DB – Marcus Jones (Troy, Sophomore)
Second Team Special Teams
K – Tyler Sumpter (Troy, Sophomore)
P – Cody Grace (Arkansas State, Junior)
RS – Tra Minter (South Alabama, Junior)
AP – Tra Minter (South Alabama, Junior)
Third Team Offense
QB – Caleb Evans (ULM, Junior)
RB – Marcel Murray (Arkansas State, Freshman)
RB – Trey Ragas (Louisiana, Sophomore)
WR – Penny Hart (Georgia State, Junior)
WR – Ja'Marcus Bradley (Louisiana, Junior)
WR – Deondre Douglas (Troy, Senior)
TE – Collin Reed (Appalachian State, Junior)
OL – Hunter Atkinson (Georgia State, Junior)
OL – T.J. Fiailoa (ULM, Sophomore)
OL – Bobby Reynolds (ULM, Junior)
OL – Tristan Crowder (Troy, Junior)
OL – J.l. Gaston (Troy, Junior)
Third Team Defense
DL – Tarron Jackson (Coastal Carolina, Sophomore)
DL – Logan Hunt (Georgia Southern, Senior)
DL – Zi'Yon Hill (Louisiana, Freshman)
DL – Antione Barker (Troy, Junior)
DL – Jarvis Hayes (Troy, Junior)
LB – Anthony Flory (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB – Jacques Boudreaux (Louisiana, Junior)
LB – Nikolas Daniels (Texas State, Junior)
DB – Tae Hayes (Appalachian State, Senior)
DB – Darreon Jackson (Arkansas State, Junior)
DB – Blace Brown (Troy, Senior)
DB – Tyler Murray (Troy, Sophomore)
Third Team Special Teams
K – Massimo Biscardi (Coastal Carolina, Freshman)
P – Tyler Sumpter (Troy, Sophomore)
RS – Clifton Duck (Appalachian State, Junior)
AP – Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Sophomore)