Friday, July 17, 2015

Gibbs, Berry Named SWAC Preseason Top Players; Alcorn State and Grambling Picked By Coaches to Top SWAC East and West

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The Southwestern Athletic Conference's reigning preseason offensive and defensive players of the year were tabbed again as the league's best during today's SWAC Football Media Day.

Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs Jr. and Alabama State linebacker Koutney Berry were named the SWAC's top players after both were named to both slots last season.

Last season, Gibbs led the league's top offense and threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also did it on the ground, rushing for 1,006 yards and another 12 TDs

Berry continued his stellar ASU career last season by the leading the SWAC with 128 tackles as a sophomore, along with recovering three fumbles.

Alcorn State, which was also picked by league coaches to win the SWAC East this season, had nine players picked on the All-SWAC' Preseason first or second team.

Don't put too much stock in those predictions, said Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson.

"This league, I say it every year, there's a lot of parity," Hopson said Friday, according to The News Star.  "People know me know I speak what I feel.  Two years ago, we were ranked last.  I think the preseason rankings, they dont really  mean anything.  You take it with a grain of salt.  It's a competitive league."

Last year's surprise squad, Grambling, won't sneak up on SWAC foes this season as the Tigers were predicted by coaches to finish first in the SWAC West.

Grambling Quarterback Jonathan Williams, who came on mid-season last year to lead the SWAC with 272 yards passing a game, was named All Conference second team quarterback.  He was joined by Grambling defenders Javonte Williams, Jamison Goins and Henry Taylor as All-SWAC preseason second team picks.

"We're pleased with our program. We're please with how far we've come. We're pleased with the mindset of our student athletes," Grambling head coach Broaderick Fobbs said Friday, according to The News Star.  "We still live by the motto of the "WIN' philosophy -- what's important now.  For us, it's about taking the first step.

"[His players} understand what's at stake," he said. "Any time you lace up and play against these teams in this league, you gotta be prepared, you gotta be ready to perform.  There's a lot of great minds, and there's a lot of great players.  For us, I wouldn't have it any other way. For us, it's just seeing about who's the best."

Here is the complete list of All-SWAC first and second team picks, along with the league's predicted order of finish:

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: John Gibbs Jr. (QB) – Alcorn State
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kourtney Berry (LB) - Alabama State
2015 Preseason All SWAC Football Team
First Team All SWAC Offense
QB – John Gibbs JrAlcorn State
RB – Lenard TillerySouthern
RB – Johnta’ HebertPrairie View
OL – Marcus CookJackson State
OL -  Damian LoveAlabama State
OL – Glen HaisleyPrairie View
OL -  Anthony MosleySouthern
OL – Jylan WareAlabama State
WR – Daniel WilliamsJackson State
WR – Willie QuinnSouthern
TE – Jordan PayneAlcorn State

First Team All SWAC Defense
DL - Anthony LanierAlabama A&M
DL – Darien MoodyAlcorn State
DL – Demarcus BerryArkansas Pine Bluff
DL – Devohn ReedPrairie View
LB – Damon WatkinsAlcorn State
LB – Willie DuncanArkansas Pine Bluff
LB – Kourtney BerryAlabama State
DB – Danny JohnsonSouthern
DB – Damond JacksonPrairie View
DB - Warren GatewoodAlcorn State
DB- Kevin RuckerArkansas Pine Bluff

Kicker Ryan Deising –Jackson State
Punter Corey Carter – Texas Southern
Return Specialist Johnta’ Hebert -Prairie View

Second Team All SWAC Offense
QB – Johnathan WilliamsGrambling State
QB – La Montiez IvyJackson State
RB – Brian HandleyArkansas Pine Bluff
RB – Arron BakerAlcorn State
OL – Sean BrownMississippi Valley State
OL- Terrell LeeSouthern
OL – Jordan JohnsonPrairie View
OL – Glenn JacksonTexas Southern
OL -  Courtney BrownAlabama A&M
WR – DeMario BellAlabama State
WR – Willie YoungArkansas Pine Bluff
TE – Natron BrooksMississippi Valley State

Second Team All SWAC Defense
DL – Javonte WilliamsGrambling State
DL – Jamison GoinsGrambling State
DL – Amir BloomTexas Southern
DL – Gabe EcholsSouthern
LB – Daerius WashingtonAlabama State
LB – Henry TaylorGrambling State
LB – Javancy JonesJackson State
DB – Anthony Williams Jr.Alcorn State
DB – Robert PorterJackson State
DB – Dionte McDuffySouthern
DB –  Charles MooreMississippi Valley State

Kicker – Haiden McCraney – Alcorn State
Punter - Haiden McCraney – Alcorn State
Return Specialist Willie Quinn – Southern

2015 Predicted Order of Finish

Alcorn State 95
Jackson State 83
Alabama A&M 66
Alabama State 50
Mississippi Valley State 31

Grambling State 93
Southern 91 
Prairie View 72
Texas Southern 40
Arkansas Pine Bluff 34