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Five Blue Raiders honored by Blue Ribbon

Nickson tabbed Defensive Player of Year

June 7, 2007 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook recently picked its Sun Belt Conference preseason team and Middle Tennessee placed five players on the first unit, including the Defensive Player of the Year.

The five players matched Louisiana-Monroe for the most players recognized on the team.

Damon Nickson, a second team All-American last year as a kick returner, was picked as the Defensive Player of the Year. The senior is coming off a career season with 61 tackles, three tackles for loss, and five interceptions, and earned first team all-league honors as a defensive back and kick returner.

Also making the list on defense were seniors Erik Walden and Tavares Jones. Walden, the school's all-time sacks leader from his defensive end spot, enjoyed a 2006 campaign worthy of player of the year honors with 48 tackles, a school-record 11.5 sacks, and 14.5 tackles for loss.

Jones, a defensive end, also put up career numbers last season with 38 stops, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. The Swainsboro, Ga., native was playing the end position last year for the first time.

The lone representative for the Blue Raiders on offense was tackle Franklin Dunbar. A second team all-conference selection in 2006, Dunbar was the only lineman to start all 13 games last season.

Sophomore Desmond Gee, who opened eyes with a stellar freshman campaign, made the team as a punt returner. The cat-quick Gee was a first team all-conference member his first year as the all-purpose player. Gee rushed for 277 yards, added 27 receptions for 351 yards, and scored eight touchdowns in 2006.

The Blue Raiders will report to preseason camp on August 3 in preparation for the 2007 season opener at Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
OFFENSE
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Cl.
WR Gary Banks Troy 6-1 197 Jr.
WR LaGregory Sapp UL-Monroe 6-3 200 Jr.
OL Matt Mandrich Arkansas St. 6-3 282 Jr.
OL Franklin Dunbar MTSU 6-5 320 So.
OL Kyle Cunningham UL-Monroe 6-4 295 Sr.
OL Jesse Newman UL-Lafayette 6-4 301 Sr.
OL Adam Hill UL-Monroe 6-1 325 Sr.
QB Omar Haugabook Troy 6-2 220 Sr.
RB Tyrell Fenroy UL-Lafayette 5-10 190 Jr.
RB Calvin Dawson UL-Monroe 5-10 207 Sr.
TE Zeek Zacherie UL-Monroe 6-3 230 Jr.

DEFENSE
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Cl.
DL Josh Pinnick FAU 6-5 240 Sr.
DL Jervonte Jackson FAU 6-3 280 Jr.
DL Erik Walden MTSU 6-2 238 Sr.
DL Tavares Jones MTSU 6-2 242 Sr.
LB Koby McKinnon Arkansas St. 6-3 215 Jr.
LB Brent Burkhalter UL-Lafayette 6-0 221 Jr.
LB Cergile Sincere FAU 6-0 215 Sr.
DB Tyrell Johnson Arkansas St. 6-1 197 Sr.
DB Damon Nickson MTSU 6-0 177 Sr.
DB Khayyam Burns Arkansas St. 6-0 184 Sr.
DB Lionell Singleton FIU 5-10 173 Sr.

SPECIALISTS
Pos. Player School Ht. Wt. Cl.
K Drew Edminston UL-Lafayette 6-4 195 Jr.
KR Lionell Singleton FIU 5-10 173 Sr.
P Truman Spencer North Texas 6-3 206 Jr.
PR Desmond Gee MTSU 5-8 163 So.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Omar Haugabook, QB, Troy

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Damon Nickson, DB, Middle Tennessee

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Cam Montgomery, RB, North Texas

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