FRISCO, Texas - Stephen F. Austin reeled in three of the Southland Conference's major awards and had 13 players earn All-SLC honors, including three first team selections, announced today by the league office.
Senior running back Gus Johnson was voted the 2014 Southland Conference Player of the Year, capping his record-setting season. Sophomore quarterback Zach Conque was tabbed the conference's Newcomer of the Year with head coach Clint Conque being recognized as the SLC's Coach of the Year.
Johnson was one of three Lumberjacks named first team All-SLC, being joined by junior offensive lineman Byron Williams and senior linebacker Collin Garrett. It is Johnson's third all-conference honor (and second first team honor) with Williams and Garrett each picking up their first career first team honors.
In addition, 10 Lumberjacks were named honorable mention selections, comprised of Conque, senior wide receiver Tyler Boyd, junior offensive lineman Terran Vaughn and sophomore offensive lineman Anthony Pullins offensively.
Defensively, senior defensive end Ishmiah Miles, senior cornerback Keavon Madison, junior defensive linemen Donald Bryant and Lance Skyler and sophomore defensive back Patrick Martin. Junior Aaron Thomas also picked up honorable mention honors for punt returners.
Gus Johnson • Player of the Year
Johnson becomes the first SLC Player of the Year from SFA since Jeremy Moses in 2010 as the Walter Payton Award finalist looks to follow in his footsteps. Johnson had a breakthrough year, setting the SFA single-season record with 1,601 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns, sitting third all-time in conference history for rushing yards in a season, needing just 44 to set the conference's single-season record.
The Gilmer native helped solidify his case for the Payton award as he leads the Southland in every rushing category in 2014. In addition, Johnson ranks among the top-10 nationally in five different categories, leading the nation in touchdowns (22), sitting third in yards per carry (6.78) and scoring (11.0), fourth in rushing yards (1,601) and seventh in rushing yards per game (133.4).
A three-time All-SLC selection, Johnson became the Lumberjacks' all-time rushing leader in the win over Northwestern State, sitting at 3,825 career yards with 50 career rushing touchdowns. He now holds five SFA rushing records and ranks fifth all-time in SLC history for career rushing yards.
Zach Conque • Newcomer of the Year
After transferring to SFA from UT-San Antonio, Zach Conque made his presence felt immediately, settling into his role as the Lumberjacks' signal caller. Conque has racked up 3,285 yards of total offense, throwing for 2,650 yards, rushing for 628 and hauling in a seven yard pass as well. He has been responsible for 29 SFA touchdowns in 2014, throwing for 15 and rushing for 13 while hauling in a touchdown pass as well.
Conque has already broken into the SFA record book in five different categories, including sitting all alone as the Lumberjacks' all-time rushing touchdown leader for quarterbacks (13). He ranks among the top-20 nationally in five different categories, sitting 13th in completion percentage (65.2%), 14th in points responsible for (176), 18th in both total offense (273.2 ypg) and rushing touchdowns (13) and 19th in passing yards (2,650).
Clint Conque • Coach of the Year
Head coach Clint Conque picked up his fourth conference coach of the year award as he led one of the most dramatic improvements in all of FCS. Taking over a team that went 3-9 in 2013, Conque guided SFA to an 8-4 record, doing so with a majority of the same players from the previous year, as the Lumberjacks cracked the top-25 national rankings for the first time since 2011.
Conque guided SFA to a pair of victories over top-10 opponents, defeating eighth-ranked Southeastern Louisiana 27-17 on Oct. 25 before toppling sixth-ranked McNeese State 31-16 in Lake Charles, La., on Nov. 8. Taking over a program that hadn't won a road game in nearly three seasons, the `Jacks went 3-1 in road games in 2014 with that one loss coming at 12th-ranked Kansas State to open the season.
First Team All-SLC Selections
Johnson was joined on the first team by a pair of teammates, including offensive lineman Byron Williams. A preseason All-SLC selection, Williams helped pave the way for both Johnson and Conque to put up their record-breaking seasons as the Lumberjacks rank 13th in total offense. In addition, Williams didn't allow a sack all season, starting all 12 games at left guard for SFA.
Linebacker Collin Garrett posted his best season in a Lumberjack uniform, posting 91 tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss despite missing the majority of the last three games with an injury. Garrett had four games of double-digit tackle totals, including a career-high 16 against Weber State, notching a pair of interceptions and sitting at 275 career tackles while ranking sixth in program history in career assisted tackles (157).
Honorable Mention All-SLC Selections
On the offensive side of the ball, Conque was joined by wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who has hauled in 67 catches for 726 yards and four touchdowns on the year. A preseason All-SLC selection, Boyd went over 2,000 yards for his career in the win against Northwestern State, ranking eighth in program history in career receptions (158) and ninth in career receiving yards (2,114).
Offensive linemen Terran Vaughn and Anthony Pullins helped pave the way for the Lumberjacks' offensive success in 2014. Vaughn has started 10 games at the right guard position with Pullins starting all 12 games at center, helping SFA rank among the national leaders in both total offense (13th - 480.6 ypg) and rushing offense (19th - 217.2 ypg).
SFA had five defensive players pick up honorable mention honors, signifying the vast improvement the Lumberjacks experienced defensively. Defensive end Ishmiah Miles ranked among the SLC leaders in both tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (5.5) as the Sachse native ranks fifth all-time in career tackles for loss (32.0) and is tied for eighth all-time in career sacks (15.5).
Defensive tackles Lance Skyler and Donald Bryant proved to be a formidable duo all season, helping the Lumberjack defensive line rank 13th nationally in sacks (2.83 spg). Skyler has posted 40 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-best 6.0 sacks while Bryant added 41 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks for SFA.
SFA's defensive secondary picked up a pair of All-SLC honorable mention selections as cornerback Keavon Madison and safety Patrick Martin were among those honored. Madison led the conference and ranked 13th nationally in passes defended (14) with 38 tackles while Martin posted 49 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss, recording a pair of key interceptions that helped turn the tempo in the wins against Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State.
SFA's final All-SLC selection was junior Aaron Thomas who was recognized for his punt return efforts. Thomas ranked second in the SLC with a 9.7 punt return average, recording a pair of 50-yard returns at key points in the season.
After an historic season which saw SFA make a five-game improvement from 3-9 in 2013 to 8-4 in 2014, the Lumberjacks' season isn't quite over yet. SFA was one of the 24 teams selected to play in the 2014 FCS Football Championships and face Northern Iowa Saturday in the opening round. Kickoff against the Panthers is set for 7 p.m. at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
2014 SFA All-Southland Conference Selections Player of the Year: Gus Johnson Newcomer of the Year: Zach Conquer of the Year: Clint Conquerors Team Selections: RB Gus Johnson, OL Byron Williams, LB Collin Garrett Honorable Mention Selections: QB Zach Conque, WR Tyler Boyd, OL Anthony Pullins, OL Terran Vaughn, DE Ishmiah Miles, DT Donald Bryant, DT Lance Skyler, CB Keavon Madison, SS Patrick Martin, PR Aaron Thomas.