Last Updated on July 20, 2021 1:28 pm
NEW ORLEANS — App State Football has been voted an East Division co-favorite in the Sun Belt Conference's preseason polls and awards that were released by the league Tuesday, two days before Media Day in New Orleans.
In a vote by Sun Belt coaches, the Mountaineers and Coastal Carolina both finished with 44 points to lead the way in their five-team division, while Louisiana was voted the West Division favorite.
In receiving four of a possible 10 first-place votes for the East, App State also had six players selected for the preseason All-Sun Belt first team and nine picks among the two teams.
The six first-team picks — giving App State the second-highest total in the league — are defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor, linebacker D'Marco Jackson, defensive back Shaun Jolly, running back Camerun Peoples, offensive lineman Baer Hunter and offensive lineman Cooper Hodges.
App State's second-team picks are receiver Thomas Hennigan, running back Daetrich Harrington and linebacker Brendan Harrington.
The Mountaineers return 10 defensive starters, seven offensive starters and 85 percent of their lettermen from a team that went 9-3 in Shawn Clark's first season as head coach. Clark was the only first-year FBS head coach in 2020 to win at least nine games.
Hunter and Hodges were key parts of an offensive line that helped Peoples rank 10th nationally in rushing with 1,124 yards and propelled App State to a ninth straight season with a 1,000-yard rusher — the next-longest active FBS streaks are three straight seasons apiece from Minnesota and Buffalo. Hennigan, meanwhile, ranks No. 3 among active FBS players with 182 career receptions, and Daetrich Harrington was leading the Sun Belt in rushing before suffering a season-ending injury in the sixth game of 2020.
Defensively, Taylor and Jolly are both two-time All-Sun Belt first-team picks as well as preseason candidates for the Bednarik Award that is presented to the top defensive player in college football. Taylor's 19.5 career sacks rank No. 4 among active FBS players entering 2021, and Jolly has recorded 19 passes defended in his two years as a starter.
At linebacker, Jackson was the only FBS defender with at least 90 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and eight passes defended in 2020, leading him to be called one of the nation's most versatile players by ESPN. PFF College ranked Brendan Harrington as the fifth-most valuable defender at the FBS level in 2020 based on his Wins Above Average grade.
Football season tickets for new customers and tickets for App State's Sept. 2 Queen City Takeover game against East Carolina in Charlotte went on sale earlier this summer. More info is available by clicking HERE.
Single-game tickets for 2021 home games at Kidd Brewer Stadium will go on sale at a later date, if they become available.
2021 Sun Belt Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll
T1. Coastal Carolina (6) – 44
T1. App State (4) – 44
3. Georgia State – 24
4. Georgia Southern – 20
5. Troy – 18
1. Louisiana (9) – 49
2. Arkansas State (1) – 38
3. South Alabama – 27
4. Texas State – 25
5. ULM – 11
2021 Sun Belt Conference Football Preseason Awards
Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Offense
QB – Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS So. – Indian Trail, N.C.)
RB – Camerun Peoples, App State (Jr. – Lineville, Ala.)
RB – Destin Coates, Georgia State (Sr. – Tallahassee, Fla.)
OL – Baer Hunter, App State (Super Sr. – Clemmons, N.C.)
OL – Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State (RS Sr. – Riverdale, Ga.)
OL – Cooper Hodges, App State (Jr. – Glen St. Mary, Fla.)
OL – Austin Stidham, Troy (Jr. – Russellville, Ala.)
OL – O'Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana (So. – Greensburg, La.)
TE – Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Cambridge, Mass.)
WR – Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)
WR – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Venice, Fla.)
WR – Sam Pinckney, Georgia State (RS Jr. – Greenwood, S.C.)
Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Defense
DL – Jeffery Gunter, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr. – Durham, N.C.)
DL – CJ Brewer, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Bowdon, Ga.)
DL – Demetrius Taylor, App State (Super Sr. – Miami, Fla.)
DL – Will Choloh, Troy (Jr. – Lawrenceville, Ga.)
LB – Carlton Martial, Troy (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)
LB – D'Marco Jackson, App State (Sr. – Spartanburg, S.C.)
LB – Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Mount Airy, Md.)
DB – Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern (RS So. – Evans, Ga.)
DB – Shaun Jolly, App State (Sr. – Stone Mountain, Ga.)
DB – D'Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Batesville, Miss.)
DB – Bralen Trahan, Louisiana (RS Jr. – Lafayette, La.)
Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Special Teams
K – Noel Ruiz, Georgia State (Sr. – Wilson, N.C.)
P – Rhys Byrns, Louisiana (Jr. – Melbourne, Australia)
RS – Chris Smith, Louisiana (RS So. – Louisville, Miss.)
Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Offense
QB – Levi Lewis, Louisiana (Sr. – Baton Rouge, La.)
RB – JD King, Georgia Southern (Fifth-Year Sr. – Fitzgerald, Ga.)
RB – Daetrich Harrington, App State (Sr. – Douglasville, Ga.)
OL – Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Monroeville, Ala.)
OL – Max Mitchell, Louisiana (Jr. – Monroe, La.)
OL – Dylan Bradshaw, Troy (Sr. – Enterprise, Ala.)
OL – Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina (So. – Lakeland, Fla.)
OL – Aaron Dowdell, Georgia Southern (Sixth-Year Sr. – Fairburn, Ga.)
TE – Roger Carter, Georgia State (Sr. – Columbia, S.C.)
WR – Thomas Hennigan, App State (Super Sr. – Greensboro, N.C.)
WR – Marcell Barbee, Texas State (Jr. – Pueblo, Colo.)
WR – Cornelius McCoy, Georgia State (Sr. – Deerfield Beach, Fla.)
Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Defense
DL – Zi'Yon Hill, Louisiana (RS Jr. – New Iberia, La.)
DL – Hardrick Willis, Georgia State (RS Sr. – Jonesboro, Ga.)
DL – Dontae Wilson, Georgia State (Sr. – Jefferson, Ga.)
DL – Nico Ezidore, Texas State (Jr. – Garland, Texas)
LB – Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana (RS Jr. – Detroit, Mich.)
LB – Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Los Angeles, Calif.)
LB – Brendan Harrington, App State (Jr. – Pittsboro, N.C.)
DB – Antavious Lane, Georgia State (RS So. – West Palm Beach, Fla.)
DB – Quavian White, Georgia State (Sr. – Greer, S.C.)
DB – Keith Gallmon, South Alabama (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)
DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)
Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Special Teams
K – Massimo Biscardi, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Downingtown, Pa.)
P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern (RS Jr. – Guyton, Ga.)
RS – Khaleb Hood, Georgia Southern (Jr. – McDonough, Ga.)
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS So., QB – Indian Trail, N.C.)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Carlton Martial, Troy (Jr., LB – Mobile, Ala.)