Dec. 11, 2014. Headlined by Freshman of the Year quarterback Taylor Lamb and first-team all-conference offensive lineman Kendall Lamm and defensive back Doug Middleton, 11 Appalachian State University football student-athletes garnered Sun Belt Conference postseason awards, the league announced on Wednesday.
In addition to Lamb, Lamm and Middleton, running back Marcus Cox, defensive lineman Ronald Blair and linebacker John Law earned second-team accolades, tight end Drew Bailey, offensive lineman Parker Collins, linebacker Kennan Gilchrist and defensive back Joel Ross received honorable-mention recognition and offensive lineman Beau Nunn was Appalachian State’s representative on the league’s all-newcomer team.
Lamb is Appalachian State’s third-straight conference Freshman of the Year, joining Cox and, who were the Southern Conference’s Freshmen of the Year in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Lamm and Cox were named all-SoCon in 2013 but the rest of Appalachian’s nine all-Sun Belt selections are first-time all-conference honorees.
The all-Sun Belt teams and postseason awards are selected by the conference’s coaches and a panel of media that cover the league. In addition to Lamb, the Sun Belt’s individual awards went to UL Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire (Player of the Year/Offensive Player of the Year), Texas State linebacker David Mayo (Defensive Player of the Year) and Georgia Southern head coach Willie Fritz (Coach of the Year).
Picked to place seventh in the Sun Belt in its first NCAA Division I FBS campaign, Appalachian State won its final six games to finish 7-5 overall and 6-2 in conference play, good for third place in the 11-team league. Appalachian returns 20 starters in 2015.
SUN BELT FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
QB Taylor Lamb (Fr., 6-2, 200, Calhoun, Ga./Calhoun)
Leads the Sun Belt in passing efficiency (142.1 passer rating) … should he finish the season as the Sun Belt’s pass-efficiency leader, he would become only the second freshman in conference history to do so (joining Troy’s Corey Robinson: 137.9 – 2010) … set new Appalachian State freshman records for passing yards (2,381) and touchdown passes (17), shattering the previous records of 2,251 yards and 15 touchdowns held by Armanti Edwards (2006) … despite not entering the starting lineup until the third game of the season, ranks sixth in the Sun Belt in total offense (2,864 yds – 238.7 ypg) and passing yardage (2,381 yds –198.4 ypg) … 397 passing yards against Liberty are an Appalachian State freshman record and rank eighth overall in school history … 415 yards of total offense against Liberty were also an Appalachian State freshman record and are tied for 10th in school history … named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week after completing 71.4 percent of his passes (25-of-35) and throwing for 276 yards and two touchdowns in win over UL Monroe (which finished the season with the Sun Belt’s No. 2-ranked defense) … accounted for 1,394 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns while throwing only two interceptions during Appalachian State’s six-game winning streak to end the season.
FIRST-TEAM ALL-SUN BELT
OL Kendall Lamm (Sr., 6-6, 305, Charlotte, N.C./Butler)
Started all 12 games at left tackle, protecting the blind side for right-handed quarterbacks Kameron Bryant and Taylor Lamb … recorded 46 knockdowns and allowed only two sacks over a team-high 817 snaps … graded out at 85 percent over 12 games … graded out at 80 percent or higher in all 12 games … three-highest knockdown totals came against three of the best defensive fronts Appalachian State faced all season – 8 at UL Lafayette, 6 at Michigan and 6 at Georgia Southern … best grade of the season (90 percent) also came at Michigan … clear-cut leader of an offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks all season (1.0 pg — tied for 12th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams) and rushed for 241.8 yards per game (19th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams) … during Appalachian State’s six-game winning streak to close the season, the Lamm-led offensive line paved the way for the Mountaineers to rush for 1,747 yards (291.2 ypg) and allowed only one sack.
DB Doug Middleton (Jr., 6-0, 205, Jr., Winston-Salem, N.C./Parkland)
Started all 12 games at free safety … tied for third in the Sun Belt in passes defended (10), tied for fourth in the conference in interceptions (4) and tied for 22nd in the league in total tackles (74) … is the only player in the Sun Belt with at least four interceptions, 10 passes defended and 70 tackles this season … scored Appalachian State’s longest defensive touchdown of the season with a 52-yard interception return vs. Campbell … had seven or more tackles four times in 12 games … helped Appalachian State finish regular season with the Sun Belt’s No. 1-ranked defense (347.5 ypg – 26 per game fewer than the conference’s No. 2-ranked defense, UL Monroe).
SECOND TEAM ALL-SUN BELT
RB Marcus Cox (So., 5-10, 200, So., Dacula, Ga./Dacula)
Ranks 17th among all NCAA Division I FBS players with 1,415 rushing yards … is tied for ninth among all NCAA Division I FBS players with a Sun Belt-best 19 rushing touchdowns … ranks 31st among all NCAA Division I FBS players with 1,595 all-purpose yards … is tied for 15th among all NCAA Division I FBS players with a Sun Belt-best 114 total points … 1,415 rushing yards ranks sixth in Appalachian State history … 19 rushing touchdowns are tied for fourth in Appalachian State history … 114 total points are tied for ninth in Appalachian State history … rushed for 100 yards eight times, including six times in the final seven games of the season … rushed for 200 yards twice (250 vs. Georgia State, 229 at Arkansas State) … was one of the primary catalysts for Appalachian State’s six-game winning streak to close the season, rushing for 969 yards (161.5 ypg) and 13 touchdowns over the final six games … totaled 78 touches over a two-game span in road wins over defending Sun Belt co-champions Arkansas State (40 rushes) and UL Lafayette (36 rushes, two receptions) … two-time Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week … Doak Walker Award candidate … played in all 12 games despite undergoing knee surgery 15 days prior to the season opener … became the first running back in Appalachian State history to rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman and a sophomore.
DL Ronald Blair (Jr., 6-4, 275, Greensboro, Ga./Greene County)
One of only seven players to rank among the Sun Belt’s top 10 in sacks and tackles for loss … seven quarterback hurries are tied for the most by an Appalachian State player in a single season since 2011 … 22 of his 43 tackles, three of his six sacks, five of his 13 tackles for loss and five of his seven quarterback hurries came over the final four games of the season (wins vs. UL Monroe, at Arkansas State, at UL Lafayette and vs. Idaho) … accounted for 10 percent of the sacks that UL Lafayette surrendered all season (2-of-20) … for the season, led Appalachian State in both sacks and tackles for loss … led all Appalachian State linemen and tied for fifth on the team overall in total tackles … was the heart and soul of the Sun Belt’s top-ranked defense (347.5 ypg – 26 per game fewer than the conference’s No. 2-ranked defense, UL Monroe) … impressive campaign came after missing the final 10 games of the 2013 season due to a thumb injury.
LB John Law (So., 6-0, 235, Atlanta, Ga./Grady)
Led Appalachian State and is tied for 10th in Sun Belt with 91 total tackles … tied for 21st in the Sun Belt with five passes defended (one INT, four PBU) from his inside linebacker position … is tied for second on squad with six tackles for loss … recorded double-digit tackles three times in eight Sun Belt games (at Georgia Southern, vs. South Alabama, vs. Idaho) … recorded at least eight tackles seven times in 12 games, including five times in eight Sun Belt contests … named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week after recording a game-high 14 tackles in win over Idaho in season finale … no other player in the Appalachian State-Idaho game had more than nine stops … as the only inside linebacker to start all 12 games for Appalachian State, serves as the “quarterback” for a unit that leads the Sun Belt in total defense (347.5 ypg – 26 per game fewer than the conference’s No. 2-ranked defense, UL Monroe).
HONORABLE MENTION ALL-SUN BELT
TE Drew Bailey (Sr., 6-4, 245, Sr., Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman)
Used primarily as a blocker, Bailey helped Appalachian State rush for 241.8 yards per game (19th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams) and allow only 11 sacks all season (1.0 pg — tied for 12th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams) … graded out at a team-high 89 percent as a blocker over the course of the season … recorded 18 knockdowns in just 323 snaps … saw his playing time increase significantly in the second half of the season when he helped Appalachian State rush for 1,987 yards (283.9 ypg) over the final seven games of the season … turned in perhaps the best performance of his career with six knockdowns and a 93-percent grade at UL Lafayette … only reception of the season was a two-yard touchdown vs. South Alabama.
OL Parker Collins (So., 6-3, 295, North Augusta, S.C./North Augusta)
Saw action in all 12 games … did not make his first start until the sixth game of the season … Appalachian State went 6-1 and rushed for 1,987 yards (283.9 ypg) in his seven starts at left guard … recorded a team-high 49 knockdowns despite only playing 561 snaps, the third-highest total on the team … surrendered only one sack all season … dominated perhaps the Sun Belt’s top defensive front – UL Lafayette – with an Appalachian State season-high 14 knockdowns … also had double-digit knockdowns at Arkansas State (10) … helped Appalachian State rush for 241.8 yards per game (19th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams), including 291.2 ypg during the Mountaineers’ six-game winning streak to close the regular season.
LB Kennan Gilchrist (So., 6-2, 210, Abbeville, S.C./Abbeville)
Started 11-of-12 games at outside linebacker … finished fourth on team with 44 total tackles … tied for second on squad with six tackles for loss … was particularly impressive down the stretch, recording 18 of his 44 tackles while helping Appalachian State to a 5-0 record in the month of November (all against Sun Belt opponents) … helped Appalachian State finish regular season with the Sun Belt’s No. 1-ranked defense (347.5 ypg – 26 per game fewer than the conference’s No. 2-ranked defense, UL Monroe).
DB Joel Ross (Sr., 5-10, 185, Damascus, Md./Damascus)
The only senior starter on an Appalachian State defense that was the top-ranked unit in the Sun Belt Conference (347.5 ypg – 26 per game fewer than the conference’s No. 2-ranked defense, UL Monroe) … tied for eighth in the Sun Belt with three interceptions … as Appalachian State’s top cornerback, played a big role in limiting the Sun Belt’s top three passing offenses (UL Monroe, Georgia State and Idaho) to a total of 506 yards (168.7 ypg) – for the season, those three teams averaged 277.7 passing ypg … limited the Sun Belt’s top receiver (Idaho Biletnikoff Award candidate Joshua McCain) to three catches for 39 yards in the regular-season finale … ranked fourth on team with 32 solo tackles.
SUN BELT ALL-NEWCOMER TEAM
OL Beau Nunn (Fr., 6-4, 290, York, S.C./York Comprehensive)
Appeared in all 12 games as a freshman with three starts at left guard and seven at right tackle … made the challenging transition from LG to RT midseason … did not allow a sack all season … had 32 knockdowns in 620 snaps … highest knockdown totals of the season came against terrific defensive fronts in back-to-back road wins at defending Sun Belt co-champions Arkansas State (5) and UL Lafayette (8) … helped Appalachian State rush for 241.8 yards per game (19th among all NCAA Division I FBS teams), including 291.2 ypg during the Mountaineers’ six-game winning streak to close the regular season.