BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Gulf South Conference announced the 42nd edition of its All-Conference Football Teams Thursday, Nov. 15 and the Statesmen (3-7) of Delta State University placed a total of eight players on either the First (6) or Second (2) Teams. DSU placed Lavon Downs (WR/RS) and Rondreaus Truesdale (AP) on the First Team Offense, while Rory Island (LB), Diego Lubin (MLB) and Kenny Barnes (DB) were named to the First Team Defense. Montavius Hill (DB) and Andrew Jones (P) garnered Second Team honors. The complete teams are available at the link above.
Valdosta State led the way on this year’s squad, landing 16 total players led by 13 First Team members. GSC Champion West Alabama followed closely with 15 overall honorees and seven First Team standouts. North Alabama was third overall, placing 10 led by five First Teamers, while Delta State (six First Team) and West Georgia (four First Team) each added eight overall.
VSU’S FORD IS GSC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
The GSC Offensive Player of the Year was awarded to a wide receiver for just the third time in history and the first time since 1975. Valdosta State’s Gerald Ford completed his impressive comeback campaign in grand fashion, becoming the first VSU winner since running back Aaron Jenkins in 2002. His victory snapped a nine-year quarterback streak. The junior follows North Alabama’s Roger Ralph (1975) and Troy State’s Perry Griggs (1974) as the only wide receivers to capture the accolade and he is also the Blazers’ sixth all-time winner.
The New Orleans, FL native enters the NCAA Playoffs No. 1 in the GSC in receiving (92.9), receptions (5.8) and touchdown catches (12). He was named GSC Player of the Week twice and set personal bests in single-game and single-season action this year. Ford returns to the individual honors list after notching the GSC Offensive Freshman of the Year award in 2009.
UWA’S WILSON CHOSEN AS GSC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
West Alabama provided the GSC Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season when defensive end Ridge Wilson collected this year’s honor. The senior was a unanimous choice and he follows current teammate, linebacker Deon Lacey, who claimed the award in 2011. Wilson’s selection marks the first by a defensive lineman since Delta State’s Anthony Maddox in 2003, snapping the seven-year streak by linebackers. The Louisville, KY native is tops in the Conference in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (18.0) and he is a two-time GSC Defensive Player of the Week.
VSU’S O’NEIL, UNA’S JONES CLAIM GSC FRESHMAN HONORS
Valdosta State provided the GSC Offensive Freshman of the Year for the first time since 2009. Running back Cedric O’Neil was a key cog in the league’s top offense, guiding VSU to the No. 1 seed in the Super Regional Two field. The Dublin, GA native enters the post-season at No. 1 in the Conference in rushing (90.1), second in rushing touchdowns (seven) and ninth in total offense (90.1).
North Alabama defensive back Floyd Jones became North Alabama’s first-ever GSC Defensive Freshman of the Year. The Town Creek, AL native started in all 10 games for the Lions, ranking seventh in the league in tackles (6.2) and third on the team in total stops (62). Jones did not stop there, also nabbing two interceptions.
UWA’S HALL IS GSC COACH OF THE YEAR
West Alabama’s Will Hall was tabbed GSC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row after sharing accolades in 2011. Hall guided UWA to its first-ever outright Conference Championship, finishing a perfect 5-0 in league play and guiding the Tigers to their second consecutive NCAA Playoff appearance. UWA posted its fourth straight winning seasons for the first time since 1972-1975.
2012 ALL-GSC TEAM
The 2012 All-GSC Football Team is headlined by eight returning First Team members from 2011. Two schools provided the list of returning First Teamers. Valdosta State led the way five, including guard Edmund Kugbila, offensive tackles Ryan Schraeder and Mesh Wokomaty, linebacker Chris Pope and defensive back Matt Pierce. VSU became the first school in All-GSC history to advance four offensive lineman to the First Team. West Alabama added running back Matt Willis, linebacker Deon Lacey and placekicker Ryan Smith.
Four players made the jump from Second Team laurels. VSU wide receiver Seantavious Jones, UWA guard Andy Nations and West Alabama defensive back Otha Foster climbed up from last year’s Second Team, while Valdosta State wide out Gerald Ford moves up from the 2009 Second Team.