Littlejohn named SBC Defensive Player of the YearDecember 6, 2005 · MT Media Relations
The league's coaches and selected media members honored junior Germayle Franklin, junior Eugene Gross, junior Willie Hall, Littlejohn, junior J.K. Sabb, senior Cleannord Saintil, junior Colby Smith, and senior Quinton Staton as all-league picks while sophomore Bradley Robinson and junior Clint Marks earned honorable mention honors.
Littlejohn and Saintil made first team, while Franklin, Gross, Hall, Sabb, Smith, and Staton were voted to the second team.
The eight players selected to the first and second teams are the most by the Blue Raiders since 11 were honored in 2001.
Littlejohn, who led a Blue Raider defense that turned in its best year in the I-A era, finished with 34 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception, and a blocked field goal. However, what he did all year in clogging up the middle could not be displayed on the stat sheet. The Gaffney, S.C., native consistently faced double teams and made it extremely hard for the opposition to run on the Blue Raiders.
"This is a great honor and I am very appreciative of how the coaches and media viewed me as a player this year," Littlejohn said. "But this is a team game and I could not have received this award without the support and high level play of my teammates. Our entire defense stepped it up this year and I will always remember playing with this bunch. It was special."
Littlejohn becomes the first player of the year since Dwone Hicks and Wes Counts in 2001 and is the first defensive player of the year since Mike Caldwell in 1992.
"It all starts up front and Jeff Littlejohn was the anchor all year, along with Quinton (Staton)," said Head Coach Andy McCollum. "He disrupted offenses all year long just the way Brandon Kennedy did for North Texas a few years back. Jeff is a quality person and no one deserves this honor more."
The Blue Raiders' other first team pick was Saintil. The Naples, Fla., native enjoyed his best year as a Blue Raider by leading the league with 66 receptions for 884 yards and three touchdowns. Saintil, who ended his career with an eight-catch, 133-yard effort at FIU, goes down as the most productive two-year receiver in school history.
Franklin and Hall both were honored for the first time after enjoying a solid 2005 campaign. Both players led the team in snaps played and knockdowns.
Gross, the first running back honored at MT since Dwone Hicks in 2002, enjoyed his best all-around season by leading the Blue Raiders in rushing for the third straight season and pacing the league in scoring with 84 points. The Statesboro, Ga., native rushed for 724 yards and a career-best 13 touchdowns while leading all Sun Belt backs with 33 receptions.
Sabb, a junior college transfer, led the Blue Raider defense with 71 tackles including a team-best 13 tackles for loss. Sabb also added two sacks, an interception, and five pass breakups. Against North Texas, Sabb set a school record with five tackles for loss while collecting a career-high 10 stops at Troy including a key one on fourth down at the goal line late in the game.
Staton pulled off a rare feat by being honored for the second year in a row and on opposite sides of the ball. In 2004, Staton earned second team honors as an offensive lineman and this year he was picked as a defensive lineman. The Chattannooga native led all Blue Raider linemen and was second on the team with 53 tackles.
"This just shows you the versatility of Quinton," said McCollum. "He is a warrior on the football field and has one of the best motors I have ever coached. He will have a chance at the next level."
Smith, who earned second team honors in 2004 as a placekicker, was selected to the second team this year as a punter. The Franklin, Tenn., native enjoyed a career year by averaging 42.1 yards a punt and placing a personal-best 19 inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Marks and Robinson were put on the honorable mention list and both had strong cases for all-league honors. Marks, who led the SBC in passing efficiency, became the first quarterback in school history to throw for more than 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons while Robinson may have been the biggest surprise of players not being recognized. The sophomore shared the league lead with five interceptions and was second in the league in passes defended with 12. His five picks were the most by a Blue Raider since Cedric Stegall collected five in 1998.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Steven Jyles (Sr., QB, Louisiana-Monroe)
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Steven Jyles (Sr., QB, Louisiana-Monroe)
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jeff Littlejohn (Sr., DL, Middle Tennessee)
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Aaron Weathers (So., Safety, North Texas)
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Tyrell Fenroy (Fr., RB, Louisiana-Lafayette)
COACH OF THE YEAR: Steve Roberts, Arkansas State
QB Steven Jyles Sr. Louisiana-Monroe
RB Patrick Cobbs Sr. North Texas
RB Antonio Warren Sr. Arkansas State
WR Drouzon Quillen Jr. Louisiana-Monroe
WR Cleannord Saintil Sr. Middle Tennessee
TE Joey Trappey Sr. Louisiana-Monroe
OL Victor Cernius Jr. Florida International
OL Brandon Cox Jr. Louisiana-Lafayette
OL Greg Hodges Sr. Louisiana-Lafayette
OL Tanner Jenkins Jr. Arkansas State
OL Dylan Lineberry Jr. North Texas
DL Myron Anderson Sr. Arkansas State
DL Antwan Barnes Jr. Florida International
DL Brandon Guillory Sr. Louisiana-Monroe
DL Jeff Littlejohn Sr. Middle Tennessee
LB Keyonvis Bouie Jr. Florida International
LB Bernard Davis Sr. Troy
LB Shomari Earls Sr. Florida Atlantic
DB Johnny Faulk Sr. Troy
DB Willie Hughley Sr. Florida Atlantic
DB Tyrell Johnson So. Arkansas State
DB Chaz Williams So. Louisiana-Monroe
PK Eric Neihouse Sr. Arkansas State
P Joel Stelly Sr. Louisiana-Monroe
Rt. Sp.Leodis McKelvin So. Troy
A. Prp.Michael Desormeaux Fr. Louisiana-Lafayette
QB Josh Padrick Jr. Florida International
RB Tyrell Fenroy Fr. Louisiana-Lafayette
RB Eugene Gross Jr. Middle Tennessee
WR Johnny Quinn Sr. North Texas
WR Chandler Williams Jr. Florida International
TE Samuel Smith Jr. Florida International
OL Kyle Cunningham So. Louisiana-Monroe
OL Willie Hall Jr. Middle Tennessee
OL Germayle Franklin Jr. Middle Tennessee
OL Matt Mandich Fr. Arkansas State
OL Jesse Newman So. Louisiana-Lafayette
DL Jeremiah Chapman So. North Texas
DL Torre Lankford Sr. Troy
DL Eugene Kwarteng Sr. Louisiana-Lafayette
DL Quinton Staton Sr. Middle Tennessee
LB Phillip Graves Jr. North Texas
LB J.K. Sabb Jr. Middle Tennessee
LB Devrett Wade Jr. Arkansas State
DB James Johnson Sr. Arkansas State
DB Kevin Payne Jr. Louisiana-Monroe
DB Nick Turnbull Sr. Florida International
DB Aaron Weathers So. North Texas
PK Adam Moss Sr. Florida International
P Colby Smith Jr. Middle Tennessee
Rt. Sp.James Johnson Sr. Arkansas State
A. Prp.Gary Banks So. Troy
QB Nick Noce Sr. Arkansas State
QB Danny Embick Sr. Florida Atlantic
QB Clint Marks Jr. Middle Tennessee
WR Cory McKinney Sr. Florida International
OL Jarrid Smith So. Florida Atlantic
OL Adam Hill So. Louisiana-Monroe
DE Anthony Hills Jr. Louisiana-Lafayette
LB Jason Schule Sr. Louisiana-Monroe
LB Maurice Holman So. North Texas
LB Leverne Johnson Sr. Troy
DB Khayyam Burns So. Arkansas State
DB Michael Adams Jr. Louisiana-Lafayette
DB Bradley Robinson So. Middle Tennessee
PK Nick Bazaldua Sr. North Texas
P Thomas Olmsted Sr. Troy
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