From SFA Athletics
For the second consecutive season recently graduated Stephen F. Austin football safety Marlon Walls has been named as the Southland Conference's Football Student-Athlete of the Year. Walls highlights a total of four Lumberjacks who appear on the 2017 Southland All-Academic Team, which was announced by the league office during the lunch hour Tuesday.
Senior defensive end John Franklin, sophomore wide receiver Cody Williams and senior cornerback Trent Perriman each claimed a spot on the All-Academic team, along with Walls. For both Walls and Franklin, it is the third-straight year the duo has been named Southland All-Academic. SFA is one of just three institutions with four All-Academic selections as Central Arkansas and Northwestern State also placed four on the Southland team.
The Student-Athlete of the Year recognition comes on the heels of a long list of academic accomplishments for Walls this postseason. Last week, Walls named to the 20th annual Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA) Academic All-Star Team for a second consecutive time and is one of nine finalists for the FCS ADA's annual $5,000 postgraduate scholarships. He became the first ever Lumberjack and just the third student-athlete in Southland history to earn College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America® of the Year honors back in December and was tabbed an Academic All-American® First Team selection for a second time.
SFA's first William V. Campbell Trophy® finalist and National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete, Walls' accomplishments were highlighted in front of one of the most powerful audiences in all of sports in early December at the 2017 NFF & College Hall of Fame Annual Awards Dinner in downtown New York City. The prestigious Campbell Trophy® is regarded as the highest scholar-athlete honor in all of college football and the academic equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. With SFA already having a Walter Payton Award winner in former quarterback Jeremy Moses (2010), the 'Jacks became just the sixth football program in the nation to have both a Walter Payton Award winner and a NFF National Scholar-Athlete. Of those, only five schools have had both a Walter Payton Award winner and a Campbell Trophy® finalist since the Campbell Trophy® began in 1990.
In December, Walls attained his bachelor's degree after posting an unblemished 4.00 grade point average while majoring in engineering physics and minoring in mathematics. He is joined by Abilene Christian sophomore quarterback Luke Anthony as the only two football players with a perfect GPA on the All-Academic team. Walls completed his undergraduate degree in just three and a half years of study in Nacogdoches.
A native of Pearland, Texas (Pearland H.S.), Walls was the Southland's pick as a 2017 STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award finalist. The safety is also a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team selection and was a nominee for both the 2016 and 2017 Allstate/American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team. Last summer Walls completed an internship at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. While there, he joined other students from institutions such as MIT, Stanford and Yale to assist with the Europa Propulsion Module, a NASA space probe joint project. Walls will return to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory later this month to gain more work experience before pursuing a graduate degree in mechanical engineering this fall.
On the gridiron, Walls recorded 60 tackles, including 31 solo stops and two tackles for loss, while playing in all 11 games and making 10 starts this season. He registered a career-high 11 total tackles versus 17th-ranked Nicholls on Nov. 11 and posted nine tackles in two other outings. Walls also claimed three pass breakups, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery throughout the year. No Lumberjack on SFA's current roster played in (46) or started (24) more games than Walls did throughout his four-year career in the purple and white.
Franklin, a native of Greenville, Texas (Greenville H.S.), owns a 3.20 GPA as a kinesiology major and has appeared on the Southland Commissioner's Honor Roll each year as a student-athlete. Claiming All-Southland Second Team honors this fall for his third all-conference selection, Franklin completed his Lumberjack career as one of SFA's top performers on the defensive line all-time. Franklin posted a team-best 13.5 tackles for loss for negative 46 yards this season, including dishing out 3.5 sacks for a loss of 24 yards. In league play, his 11.5 tackles for loss were fifth-most in the conference as he tied for sixth in tackles for loss per game (1.28). Ranked 42nd nationally in tackles for loss per game (1.2) for the entire season, Franklin finished with the fifth-most tackles on the team with 55 total, including 27 solo stops.
Franklin completed his Lumberjack career fifth on SFA's all-time career tackles for loss list with 37.5 over the past four seasons, while finishing ninth in program history in all-time career sacks (17.5). On Saturday, Jan. 20, Franklin will compete in the seventh annual National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) Collegiate Bowl at the legendary Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
Williams has posted a 3.50 cumulative GPA as a biology major and was named to both the fall 2016 Southland Commissioner's Honor Roll and the fall 2016 SFA Dean's List. A native of Pearland, Texas (Pearland H.S.), Williams appeared in eight games and made three starts, hauling in 15 catches for 162 yards. He averaged 10.8 yards per catch and 20.2 receiving yards per game. Williams recorded a season-best four catches against No. 25 McNeese and at No. 6 Central Arkansas, while grabbing a career-long 31-yard reception in the 37-31 victory over Incarnate Word.
A native of Miami, Florida (Northwestern H.S.), Perriman was placed on the fall 2016 Southland Commissioner's Honor Roll and achieved the SFA Dean's List last spring. Owning a 3.27 GPA while majoring in criminal justice law enforcement, Perriman finished the season with the fourth-most tackles of any Lumberjack this fall. Starting every game of the season in SFA's secondary unit, Perriman claimed 56 total tackles and broke up a team-high 11 passes to tie for ninth in the Southland in passes defended. His 36 solo stops were the third-most among the 'Jacks as he tallied 3.5 tackles for loss for negative 12 yards and forced a fumble against Southern Utah. Perriman registered a career-high 10 total tackles, including eight unassisted, versus No. 9 Sam Houston State in the 92nd Battle of the Piney Woods.
2017 Southland Football All-Academic Team