SWAC Announces 2018 Preseason Football Honors

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference released its 2018 SWAC Preseason Teams on Friday, July 13th with two-time defending SWAC Champion and Celebration Bowl representative Grambling State being tabbed for the most individual honors with 15 overall selections including 10 First Team nods.

The Tigers have built a reputation of success under head coach Broderick Fobbs, who has led the team to a 39-11 mark in four seasons at the helm.

The teams were announced during SWAC Football Media Day at the recently refurbished Birmingham Marriott after ballots were cast by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.

49 players were named to this year’s preseason teams, with several returning players that earned SWAC All-Conference honors based upon carryover from the 2017 season. Should a player that was named to the first team in the postseason awards not return, the second-team player for that position was elevated to the first team. Players were ranked in their position based upon the number of votes received.  Ballots required voters to rank their selections in order.

After providing one of the most efficient work rates in the nation and aiding Alcorn State to a fourth straight SWAC East Division title, senior P.J. Simmons was the voters’ choice for the SWAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year award.  In 2017, the running back made the most of his split work with teammate and All-SWAC First Team selection De’Lance Turner as Simmons averaged 8.6 yards per carry to total 80 carries for 687 yards and seven touchdowns.

Grambling State De’Arius Christmas was tabbed as the SWAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after ranking among the best in the conference in several categories including tackles (88), tackles for a loss (17.5), sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (two).  The senior linebacker was a two-time SWAC Defensive Player of the Week in 2017 and realized a breakout performance during the 2016 SWAC Football Championship when he was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player in the Tigers’ 27-20 SWAC Championship victory against Alcorn State after recording 12 tackles and a sack.

Alcorn State had the second most selections with 11 including four first-teamers.  Prairie View A&M received the third most amount of selections with seven (two first-team selections) Alabama State followed with six selections (all on the second team) while Arkansas-Pine Bluff garnered four selections including three first-teamers.  Alabama A&M secured three spots, Southern and Mississippi Valley State each had two representatives while Texas Southern had one selection.  Jackson State did not receive any selections.

Joining Simmons on the preseason first-team offense were: Alcorn State quarterback Noah Johnson, Arkansas-Pine Bluff running back KeShawn Williams, offensive linemen Mustaffa Ibrahim (Alcorn State), Jeremiah Abby (Southern), William Waddell and Kyle Davis (both of Grambling State) and Corbin Finlayson (Prairie View A&M), wide receivers Quinn McElfresh (Mississippi Valley State) and Darrell Clark (Grambling State) and tight end Jordan Jones (Grambling State).

Joining Christmas on the preseason first-team defense were: a trio of defensive linemen from Grambling State in Linwood Banks, La’Allan Clark and Brandon Varner as well as Alabama A&M DL Vernon Moland, linebackers Patrick Harbin (Mississippi Valley State) and Trae Ferrell (Alcorn State), and defensive backs Dylan Hamilton (Alabama A&M), Andre Augustine (Southern), Ju’Anthony Parker (Prairie View A&M) and Percy Cargo (Grambling State).

Kicker Marc Orozco (Grambling State), punter Jamie Gillan (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and return specialist Williams (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) were each tabbed as first-team selections for special teams.  Williams was the lone player in the conference to double as a first-team selection for two positions; running back and return specialist.

The standings order of finish remained the same from the previous season.

East Division four-time defending champion Alcorn State totaled 95 points as it was named the preseason favorite to win the East once again. Alabama State was selected to finish in second with 72 points, Jackson State received 55 points, followed by Alabama A&M (51) and Mississippi Valley State (27).

In the West Division, reigning two-time SWAC champion Grambling State was chosen as the overall favorite after amassing a conference-best 96 points in the voting.  Southern was selected second after it received 78 points. Prairie View A&M followed in third place with 65 points while Texas Southern (31) and Arkansas Pine Bluff (30) rounded out the order of predicted finish.

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year:  P.J. Simmons (RB) – Alcorn State

 

 

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: De’Arius Christmas (LB) – Grambling State

 

 
2018 Preseason All-SWAC Football Team

FIRST TEAM
OFFENSE
QB Noah Johnson Alcorn State
RB P.J. Simmons Alcorn State
RB KeShawn Williams Arkansas-Pine Bluff
OL Mustaffa Ibrahim Alcorn State
OL Jeremiah Abby Southern
OL William Waddell Grambling State
OL Kyle Davis Grambling State
OL Corbin Finlayson Prairie View A&M
WR Quinn McElfresh Mississippi Valley State
WR Darrell Clark Grambling State
TE Jordan Jones Grambling State

 

DEFENSE
DL Linwood Banks Grambling State
DL La’Allan Clark Grambling State
DL Brandon Varner Grambling State
DL Vernon Moland Alabama A&M
LB Patrick Harbin Mississippi Valley State
LB Trae Ferrell Alcorn State
LB De’Arius Christmas Grambling State
DB Dylan Hamilton Alabama A&M
DB Andre Augustine Southern
DB Ju’Anthony Parker Prairie View A&M
DB Percy Cargo Grambling State

 

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Marc Orozco Grambling State
P Jamie Gillan Arkansas-Pine Bluff
RS KeShawn Williams Arkansas-Pine Bluff

 

SECOND TEAM
OFFENSE
QB Darryl Pearson Jr. Alabama State
RB Jordan Bentley Alabama A&M
RB Dawonya Tucker Prairie View A&M
OL Deonte Brooks Alcorn State
OL Kevin Hall Alcorn State
OL Roderick Smith Prairie View A&M
OL Jimmy White Texas Southern
OL Tytus Howard Alabama State
WR Quintin Guice Grambling State
WR Markcus Hardy Prairie View A&M
TE Zarrian Holcombe Prairie View A&M

 

DEFENSE
 DL Anfernee Mullins Grambling State
 DL Sterling Shippy Alcorn State
 DL Kevin Agee Arkansas-Pine Bluff
 DL Christian Clark Alabama State
 LB De’Andre Hogues Grambling State
 LB Malcolm Williams Grambling State
 LB Solomon Muhammad (tie)
Darron Johnson
Alcorn State
Alabama State
 DB Reggie Stubblefield Prairie View A&M
 DB Jeffrey Hill Alabama State
 DB Brady Smith Alcorn State
 DB Dedrick Shy Grambling State

 

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Corey McCullough Alcorn State
P Corey McCullough Alcorn State
RS George Golden Alabama State

2018 Eastern Division Predicted Order of Finish

 

 

School

Points
Alcorn State 95
Alabama State 72
Jackson State 55
Alabama A&M 51
Mississippi Valley State 27

2018 Western Division Predicted Order of Finish

School Points
Grambling State 96
Southern 78
Prairie View A&M 65
Texas Southern 31
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 30

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