19 Mountaineers headline All-Sun Belt awards


Hiatt Ellis

Senior linebacker D’Marco Jackson sprints to the ball against ULM Oct. 30. Jackson is the third Mountaineer to win Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year.

Connor Davidson, Senior Reporter

App State players received ample recognition for their efforts this year when the 2021 Sun Belt postseason awards were announced Dec. 2.

Headlining the awards was senior linebacker D’Marco Jackson, who took home this year’s Defensive Player of the Year honor. Jackson finished the regular season with 103 tackles, five sacks and one interception. Graduate transfer quarterback Chase Brice earned the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year award in his first year with the Mountaineers.

App State had 19 total All-Sun Belt selections, including nine on the first team, which was more than any other school. The Mountaineers also had six players on the second team and four on the third team. 

Sophomore running back Nate Noel headlined App State’s offensive first team selections after leading the Sun Belt in rushing yards with 1,034 in the regular season. Other offensive first team selections include junior offensive lineman Cooper Hodges, super senior offensive lineman Baer Hunter and super senior wide receiver Corey Sutton.

Joining Jackson on the defensive first team is super senior defensive lineman Demetrius Taylor and senior defensive back Shaun Jolly, who both earned first team honors for the third consecutive year. Senior defensive back Steven Jones Jr. rounds out the defensive first team selections. 

Super senior kicker Chandler Staton was named to the first team special teams after going 18 of 19 on field goal attempts, including game-winning field goals against Marshall and Coastal Carolina.

Junior running back Cam Peoples leads App State’s All-Sun Belt second team selections after recording 764 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season. Super senior wide receivers Malik Williams and Thomas Hennigan join Peoples on the second team after totaling more than 700 receiving yards each and combining for 11 touchdowns. 

The defensive second team includes senior linebacker Trey Cobb and super senior defensive back Kaiden Smith. Smith earns All-Sun Belt honors after suffering an Achilles tear in April. Super senior Jalen Virgil makes the second team as a return specialist after recording 546 kickoff return yards and two touchdowns.

Brice makes the All-Sun Belt offensive third team after accumulating 2,901 passing yards and 22 touchdowns. Joining Brice on the third team is junior offensive lineman Anderson Hardy and junior linebacker Nick Hampton. Super senior Caleb Spurlin earns third team honors as an all-purpose special teams player.

Honorable mentions include senior tight end Henry Pearson, junior defensive lineman Jordon Earle, senior linebacker T.D. Roof and senior defensive back Ryan Huff. 

This is the third straight year App State has had 15 or more All-Sun Belt players after having 15 in 2020, 21 in 2019 and 20 in 2018.