Southland Announces 2020 All-Conference Football Teams

HBU’s Zappe tabbed fall Player of the Year; SHSU’s Schmid nabs spring Player of the Year honors
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 11:58 AM CDT
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FRISCO, Texas – Houston Baptist quarterback Bailey Zappe and Sam Houston quarterback Eric Schmid are the Southland Football Fall and Spring Players of the Year, respectively, the league announced Tuesday. Yearly awards are presented by Ready Nutrition.

Setting the college football world on fire in just four games last fall, including three against FBS competition, Zappe averaged an FCS-best 458.2 passing yards and 35.25 completions per game. In a 35-33 loss at Texas Tech, he broke Baker Mayfield’s record for passing yards against the Red Raiders, completing 30-of-49 passes for 567 yards, which ranks fourth in Southland history.

Zappe ranks among the top-10 FCS quarterbacks in passing touchdowns (6th, 15), passing yards (8th, 1,833), completion percentage (8th, 65.6) and passing efficiency (10th, 159.3). He finishes his career ranked sixth in Southland history in passing yards (10,004), passing touchdowns (78) and completions (759), and seventh in total offense (10.247).

Leading the Bearkats to their first Southland championship since 2017, Schmid paced the FCS in yards per completion (16.30) and ranked fifth in passing efficiency (163.0), passing yards (2,021) and total offense per game (383.2). He tied for fifth in the league with five rushing touchdowns and averaged 46.3 yards per game on the ground.

Schmid topped 300 yards in five of the team’s six games, including a season-high 428 in the spring opener against Southeastern Louisiana. Schmid posted back-to-back games with six total touchdowns after throwing for six in a 71-17 win over Nicholls and rushing for four with two through the air in a 62-7 win over Lamar.

The reigning Southland Freshman of the Year, Central Arkansas wide receiver Tyler Hudson adds to his trophy case with Fall Offensive Player of the Year honors. The Walter Payton Award finalist ranks second in the nation with 845 receiving yards and hauled in a team-high seven touchdown receptions last fall for the Bears. Hudson is also a first-team all-league punt returner after averaging 7.9 yards per return with a touchdown.

Another Walter Payton Award finalist, Cole Kelley garners Spring Offensive Player of the Year recognition following an electric year under center for Southeastern Louisiana in which he threw for more than 300 yards in all seven games. The FCS’ leading passer (2,662) and scorer (164) ranks fourth in completion percentage (68.9) and total offense per game (386.9), and he tied for second leaguewide with seven rushing touchdowns.

Houston Baptist linebacker Caleb Johnson and Stephen F. Austin linebacker Brevin Randle share Fall Defensive Player of the Year laurels. Johnson leads the conference and ranks fourth in the FCS with 12.2 tackles per game. He recorded at least 11 tackles in all four games. Randle led the team in total tackles (68) and solo tackles (38) and racked up 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a fumble forced.

One of the Southland’s three finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, McNeese defensive end Isaiah Chambers is also honored as the Spring Defensive Player of the Year. He led the league in both sacks (8.0) and tackles for loss (14.0) while earning a pair of Defensive Player of the Week honors. Chambers tallied a team-high 11 quarterback hurries and finished the season with 32 tackles.

A Baylor transfer, Stephen F. Austin defensive end BJ Thompson made an immediate impact in the trenches on his way to Fall Newcomer of the Year recognition. He played in all ten games for the ‘Jacks, compiling 8.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks on the season, leading SFA in both categories. Thompson recorded a total of 28 quarterback hurries or hits and generated two turnovers, an interception and a fumble recovery.

An integral part of the Sam Houston offense in his first year with the program, Howard transfer Jequez Ezzard was voted the Spring Newcomer of the Year after averaging 163.2 all-purpose yards in five full games (only played one snap against Northwestern State). He hauled in 20 passes for 608 yards, placing second among FCS wideouts with 30.40 yards per catch. The first-team all-conference punt returner averaged 17.5 yards per return with a touchdown.

The third member of Stephen F. Austin’s front-seven to garner a superlative award, Caleb Fox is the Fall Freshman of the Year after accruing 7.0 TFL and 2.5 sacks while playing at two different positions for the Lumberjacks. He tallied 3.0 TFL and 1.5 sacks against Angelo State and finished the Eastern Kentucky contest with a pair of TFL and a sack.

The Spring Freshman of the Year title goes to UIW quarterback Cameron Ward, who set program records for touchdown passes in a season (24) and a game (six) in his rookie campaign. Named Stats Perform FCS National Freshman of the Week twice, he ranks second among FCS student-athletes in points responsible for per game (26.3).

Stephen F. Austin freshman Justice Guillory is the Fall Offensive Lineman of the Year after allowing just one sack in eight games en route to team Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors.

Nicholls senior PJ Burkhalter successfully defended his Offensive Lineman of the Year title, anchoring a Colonels line that paved the way for the FCS’ No. 3 rushing offense (263.4 YPG).

Central Arkansas’ Nathan Brown is tabbed the Fall Coach of the Year following a 5-4 campaign for the Bears that included three wins over teams that finished in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 – one versus Austin Peay (No. 21) and two against Missouri State (No. 12). Though he’s an offensive-minded coach, his UCA squad recorded FCS highs in turnovers gained (23), fumbles recovered (14) and defensive touchdowns (four).

Sam Houston head man K.C. Keeler brought his Bearkats back to greatness, claiming the team’s first Southland Conference Championship since 2017 and posting the first undefeated conference slate since 2016 to grab Spring Coach of the Year honors. SHSU earned the No. 2 seed in the FCS Playoffs after establishing itself as an elite squad on both sides of the ball in a flawless regular season.

Central Arkansas leads the fall season participants with 12 all-conference selections, followed by Stephen F. Austin with nine. Houston Baptist placed five on the all-league teams, while Abilene Christian has two honorees.

Sam Houston paces the spring faction with 22 total all-conference nods, followed by Southeastern Louisiana with 17 and UIW with 16. Nicholls and Northwestern State each garnered 10 spots on the teams. McNeese accounted for five recognitions, and Lamar rounds out the group with two selections.

In total, 24 honorees are returning all-Southland selections, led by Nicholls wideout Dai’Jean Dixon and Sam Houston defensive back Zyon McCollum with their third picks.

The fall All-Southland Conference team was voted on only by head coaches and sports information directors of the four institutions that played in the fall (ACU, UCA, HBU and SFA), while the other seven members voted on the spring teams. Voting for one’s own athletes is not permitted.

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football Individual Superlative Winners

Player of the Year: Eric Schmid, Sam Houston

Offensive Player of the Year: Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana

Defensive Player of the Year: Isaiah Chambers, McNeese

Newcomer of the Year: Jequez Ezzard, Sam Houston

Freshman of the Year: Cameron Ward, UIW

Offensive Lineman of the Year: PJ Burkhalter, Nicholls

Coach of the Year: K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football First Team All-Conference Offense

QBEric SchmidSam HoustonJr.The Woodlands, Texas
RBKevin BrownUIWSr.Mount Pleasant, S.C.
RBScooter AdamsNorthwestern StateJr.Halletsville, Texas
TE/HBDavid MosleyNichollsSr.New Orleans, La.
WRJequez EzzardSam HoustonGr.College Park, Ga.
WRDai’Jean Dixon3NichollsSr.New Orleans, La.
WRCJ TurnerSoutheastern LouisianaR-Jr.LaPlace, La.
OLPJ Burkhalter2NichollsSr.Franklinton, La.
OLColby Thomas2Sam HoustonSr.Manvel, Texas
OLJair Joseph2NichollsSr.Belle Rose, La.
OLJalen BellSoutheastern LouisianaSr.Amory, Miss.
OLEvan RousselNichollsFr.Gramercy, La.
PKSeth MorganSam HoustonFr.Houston, Texas
PMatt McRobert2Sam HoustonR-Sr.Berowra, Australia

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football First Team All-Conference Defense

DLIsaiah ChambersMcNeeseGr.Houston, Texas
DLJahari KaySam HoustonSr.Berkeley, Calif.
DLJoseph Wallace2Sam HoustonSr.Dallas, Texas
DLJevon Leon2Sam HoustonSo.Houston, Texas
LBQuentin BrownSam HoustonR-Jr.Conroe, Texas
LBKelechi Anyalebechi2UIWJr.Pearland, Texas
LBJomard ValsinNorthwestern StateJr.Port Arthur, Texas
DBZyon McCollum3Sam HoustonSr.Galveston, Texas
DBFerlando Jordan2Southeastern LouisianaR-Jr.Atlanta, Ga.
DBKevin Moore III2NichollsSr.Lafayette, La.
DBJaylen Thomas2Sam HoustonSr.Houston, Texas
DBAndre SamMcNeeseJr.Iowa, La.
KRCe’Cori ToldsUIWJr.Houston, Texas
PRJequez EzzardSam HoustonGr.College Park, Ga.

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football Second Team All-Conference Offense

QBCole KelleySoutheastern LouisianaSr.Lafayette, La.
RBRamon JeffersonSam HoustonR-Jr.Bronx, N.Y.
RBJulien Gums2NichollsJr.New Orleans, La.
TE/HBIsaac SchleySam HoustonR-Sr.Littleton, Colo.
WRRobert FerrelUIWJr.Sparks, Nev.
WRIfe AdeyiSam HoustonSo.Mansfield, Texas
WRJavon AntonioNorthwestern StateJr.LaPlace, La.
OLEthan McMullanSoutheastern LouisianaSr.Decatur, Miss.
OLCaleb JohnsonUIWJr.Mount Pleasant, Texas
OLKhalil Corbett-CanadaNorthwestern StateJr.Harker Heights, Texas
OLPrince PinesSam HoustonSo.Baton Rouge, La.
OLEthan HaglerSam HoustonSo.Cove, Texas
PKMateo RengifoSoutheastern LouisianaJr.Lawrenceville, Ga.
PAustin DunlapSoutheastern LouisianaSo.Slidell, La.

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football Second Team All-Conference Defense

DLTrace Mascorro2Sam HoustonSr.Refugio, Texas
DLMason KinseyMcNeeseR-So.Mansfield, Texas
DLCameron PrestonUIWJr.Crowley, Texas
DLDarrius HarrySoutheastern LouisianaR-Fr.New Orleans, La.
LBTrevor WilliamsSam HoustonJr.College Station, Texas
LBAlexis Ramos2Southeastern LouisianaSr.Salinas, Calif.
LBMarkel PerrySam HoustonR-Jr.Beaumont, Texas
DBTristin McCollumSam HoustonSr.Galveston, Texas
DBDonnell Ward-MageeSoutheastern LouisianaJr.New Orleans, La.
DBChris JoyceMcNeeseSo.Hampton, Ga.
DBPig CageNichollsFr.Kenner, La.
DBShawn HoltonUIWSo.Fort Worth, Texas
KRDonovan DuvernayNorthwestern StateSr.Garland, Texas
PRRobert FerrelUIWJr.Sparks, Nev.

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football Third Team All-Conference Offense

QBCameron WardUIWFr.West Columbia, Texas
RBMarcus CooperSoutheastern LouisianaR-Jr.Altair, Texas
RBNoah SmithSam HoustonSo.Houston, Texas
TE/HBDamien DawsonSoutheastern LouisianaR-Sr.Franklinton, La.
WRAustin Mitchell2Southeastern LouisianaR-Sr.Plaquemine, La.
WRKJ FranklinNichollsSo.Prairieville, La.
WRJosh MatthewsMcNeeseJr.Baton Rouge, La.
OLRendon Miles-CharacterSoutheastern LouisianaSr.New Orleans, La.
OLDrew JonesSoutheastern LouisianaSr.Des Allemands, La.
OLNash JonesUIWFr.Nacogdoches, Texas
OLJakob SellNorthwestern StateJr.Dallas, Texas
OLReid FrancisUIWR-Fr.College Station, Texas
PKCarson MohrUIWSo.The Woodlands, Texas
PScotty RoblowNorthwestern StateR-Fr.Shreveport, La.

2020 Southland Conference Spring Football Third Team All-Conference Defense

DLBlaine HooverUIWR-Jr.Bedias, Texas
DLChance MainUIWJr.Cherryvale, Kan.
DLTylo PhillipsLamarJr.Collinsville, Miss.
LBIsaiah PaulUIWR-Fr.San Antonio, Texas
LBHerman ChristopheSoutheastern LouisianaSo.Plaquemine, La.
LBBlake StephensonNorthwestern StateSr.Deer Park, Texas
DBAnthony RuffinLamarSo.Houma, La.
DBJack HendersonSoutheastern LouisianaFr.Mandeville, La.
DBP.J. HerringtonNorthwestern StateJr.Natchez, Miss.
DBElliott DavisonUIWFr.Flint, Texas
DBWilliam HooperNorthwestern StateJr.Montgomery, Ala.
KRDontaze CostlyNichollsJr.Vacherie, La.

2 – Two-time all-conference selection

3 – Three-time all-conference selection