Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gibbs, Cyrus, Howard Lead All-SWAC Football Team

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference released its 2014 all-conference teams Friday and saw the big winners spread across the league with two co-players of the year.  First year Grambling State University head coach Broderick Fobbs was named Coach of the Year.

Malcolm Cyrus of Alabama State University and John Gibbs, Jr. from Alcorn State University shared co-offensive player of the year honors. Texas Southern’s Darian Claibourne, and Mississippi Valley State’s Quantavius Peterson shared newcomer of the year.  Prairie View A&M University’s Jerome Howard earned the defensive player of the year award, and western division champion Southern University’s quarterback Austin Howard was named freshman of the year.

Cyrus led the SWAC and finished third in the nation with 1,662 yards rushing, scoring 12 touchdowns.  The senior also caught 28 passes for another 380 yards and a score.  After clocking an additional 34 yards in kick returns, Cyrus finished with over 2,000 all-purpose yards, fourth best in the nation.

Gibbs led the Braves to an eastern division title and the team’s first berth to the conference championship game.  He completed 169-of-294 passes for a total of 2,237 yards, 18 touchdowns and has been intercepted only six times.  His dominance in the air was only matched by his ability to leave the pocket as he grabbed a career-high 874 yards this season and another 11 touchdowns.  He ranks third in the league in passing efficiency.

Howard led all defensive players averaging 11.8 tackles per game.  He finished fifth national in total tackles with 118, second in the league.  The linebacker is also ranked top 10 in the SWAC for tackles for loss and sacks. College Football Performance Award weekly honors this season.
He earned 10-plus tackles in eight of the team’s 10 games.  The preseason All-SWAC first teamer has also earned

Claiborne stepped up in the Tigers front seven and immediately began to make an impact.  He led with a team-high 77 tackles.  He had five tackles for loss and also grabbed an interception this season.  Peterson, who has earned SWAC newcomer of the week honors, finished the year with 874 passing yards and six touchdowns.  The quarterback also rushed 297 yards and five touchdowns.
Howard led the Jaguars to their second consecutive SWAC Championship appearance as a true freshman.  He has thrown for over 2,100 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.  Howard passed for over 200 yards in five games and closed out the regular season with four rushing touchdowns.

Malcolm Cyrus (Alabama State)
John Gibbs, Jr. (Alcorn State)

Jerome Howard (Prairie View A&M)

Darian Claibourne (Texas Southern)
Quantavius Peterson (Mississippi Valley State)

Austin Howard (Southern)
QB John Gibbs, Jr. Alcorn State
RB Malcolm Cyrus Alabama State
RB Johntá Hebert  Prairie View A&M
OL DeWayne Houston Southern
OL Zach Brown Southern
OL Isaac Sampson Alcorn State
OL Tre Glover Prairie View A&M
OL Damina Love Alabama State
WR Julian Stafford Mississippi Valley State
WR Willie Quinn Southern
TE Jordan Payne Alcorn State

DL Arthur Miley Southern
DL  Deion Roberson Alcorn State
DL Demarcus Berry Arkansas-Pine Bluff
DL  Darien Moody Alcorn State
LB Jerome Howard Prairie View A&M
LB  Kourtney Berry Alabama State
LB Danny Brownell Prairie View A&M
DB Devon Francois Alcorn State
DB Najee Bright Alabama State
DB Warren Gatewood Alcorn State
 Kevin Rucker Arkansas-Pine Bluff

K Chris Barrick Prairie View A&M
P Corey Carter Texas Southern
RS Johntá Hebert Prairie View A&M

QB Johnathan Williams Grambling
QB La Montiez Ivy Jackson State
RB Lenard Tillery Southern
RB Anthony Williams III Alcorn State
OL Demechery Hickingbottom Alabama  State
OL Detonio Dade Alcorn State
OL Dillon Bonnet Prairie View A&M
OL Jonathan Smith Jackson  State
OL Marcus Cook Jackson State
WR Daniel Williams Jackson State
WR Willie Young Arkansas-Pine Bluff
TE Natron Brooks Mississippi Valley State

 DL Anthony Lanier Alabama A&M
 DL  Edward Mosley Alabama State
 DL  Devohn Reed Prairie View A&M
 DL Gabe Echols Southern
 LB Damon Watkins Alcorn State
 LB  Willie Duncan Arkansas-Pine Bluff
 LB  Ariane McCree Jackson State
 DB  Danny Johnson Southern
 DB  Avery Boykin Mississippi Valley State
 DB Damond Jackson Prairie View A&M
 DB Tray Walker Texas Southern

K Ryan Deising Jackson State
K Haiden McCraney Alcorn State
P Haiden McCraney Alcorn State
RS Willie Quinn Southern

Alcorn State and Southern Square Off in the SWAC Championship Game


Today in Houston, Alcorn State and Southern will be the final matchup of the HBCU football season as they square off in the SWAC Championship Game.

Both teams are 9-3 overall and are ranked in the Top 5 among SWAC offenses and defenses. But Alcorn State sports the conference's top overall offense and defense.
 They are led by SWAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year quarterback John Gibbs Jr. (above). Gibbs threw for 2236 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 874 yards and 11 TDs, while averaging 259 yards of offense in every game this season, putting him in the SWAC's top seven in each category. 

"He's been the leader of our offense since he got to Alcorn," Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson told the Houston Chronicle. "He does a great job as our team leader and team captain."

The Braves also sport the nation's 20th best defense, spurred by defensive ends Jamil Cooks and Darien Moody and linebacker Corey Williams, a threesome that combined for 21 of Alcorn State's 39 sacks, good for second in the SWAC.

But third in sacks (38) is Southern, a team that has won seven straight games, going without a loss since Sept. 27. But that was a lopsided 56-16 loss to Alcorn State.

But Southern head coach Dawson Odums, whose team won the SWAC title last year in overtime, told the Jackson Clarion Ledger that the Jaguars they played then will be a different group of Jags that will show up in Houston, especially as a number of players who didn't play in that Sept. 27 game because of eligibility reasons have been back since then.

"I think after that game … I said if we can stay healthy and dodge the bullets early and find ways to win, I think we'll be a different team going down the stretch," Odums said. "We didn't have that leadership in the locker room, and we played a lot of true freshmen and that's helped us down the stretch."

Junior linebacker Demetrius Carter leads the Southern defense with 94 tackles and three sacks this season while defensive end Arthur Miley added 53 tackles and seven sacks for a defense that was extremely strong against the rush, but was in the SWAC's lower tier in pass defense.

On offense, Howard Austin (above) threw for 2,182 yards and 17 touchdowns while Lenard Tillery rushed for 1,141 and nine touchdowns.  They also feature one of the nation's top wide recievers in Willie Quinn, who hauled in 56 passes for 833 yards and five touchdowns.  Reggie Travis added 30 receptions for 514 yards and five TDs.

Kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston is 3 p.m. central time.  The game will be televised live on ESPNU.