App State senior linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither has been named an All-American.
The All-America honor comes from Phil Steele, which made Davis-Gaither a fourth-team selection. Of the 16 linebackers on Phil Steele’s four All-America teams, he was one of only two from a Group of Five program.
Davis-Gaither was recognized as the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year while helping lead No. 20 App State (13-1) to its fourth straight league title and a fifth consecutive bowl win. As a fifth-year senior, he’s part of just the fifth class in college football history to win five bowl games and four conference championships, joining five-year classes from Nebraska (1969-73), Alabama (1975-79), Florida State (1991-95) and Marshall (1988-2002).
An outside linebacker, the versatile Davis-Gaither completed his senior season with 104 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks, eight PBUs, six quarterback hurries, a game-ending block of a field goal (in the 34-31 win at North Carolina) and one interception (also in the second half at UNC).
Davis-Gaither has been chosen to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and The Athletic considers him a Top 100 draft prospect. He ranks fourth nationally among non-DBs this season with his eight PBUs, and he was eighth among non-DBs last year with seven PBUs, giving him 15 over his final two seasons.
In App State’s four closest regular-season games, Davis-Gaither totaled 44 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three PBUs, one interception and one field goal block. He then recorded 19 tackles in the Mountaineers’ two postseason victories.
In addition to his 10 tackles, second-half interception and game-ending block at UNC, Davis-Gaither posted 2.5 tackles for loss with one sack, two PBUs and a forced holding penalty on the game’s final play in the 20-15 victory at South Carolina.
He’s the second App State defender to receive All-America recognition this year, as sophomore cornerback Shaun Jolly (five interceptions) was named a second-team All-American by PFF College. Phil Steele’s All-Sun Belt first team included Davis-Gaither, Jolly, Demetrius Taylor (defensive lineman), Darrynton Evans (running back), Victor Johnson (offensive lineman) and Noah Hannon (offensive lineman).