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Sun Belt player of the year Omar Bayless among 16 A-State All-Conference selections

Arkansas State senior wide receiver Omar Bayless was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and quarterback Layne Hatcher the league’s Freshman of the Year

JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas State senior wide receiver Omar Bayless was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and quarterback Layne Hatcher the league’s Freshman of the Year on Wednesday as 16 Red Wolves were tabbed to the All-Sun Belt Team.

Including six first team, two second team, four third team and four honorable mention choices, A-State’s 16 different players finding a spot on the all-conference squad were the second most in the league behind Appalachian State’s 18.  The Red Wolves tied the Mountaineers for the most first-team choices in the league.

Arkansas State’s 16 different All-Sun Belt players also tied the program’s third most ever behind its 18 in 2017 and 17 a year ago.  The Red Wolves have now had at least 10 selections 10 consecutive years and 13 times since the Sun Belt’s inaugural 2001 season.  Additionally, they have 95 all-conference picks since 2014 under head coach Blake Anderson for the most in the league during that span.

With the addition of Bayless, an Arkansas State player has now won the league’s highest individual football honor four consecutive years and six times overall – both Sun Belt records.  Outside of A-State, no other all-time Sun Belt program has seen more than three players take home the honor.

Bayless becomes the fourth all-time Arkansas State player to garner the recognition, joining former quarterbacks Justice Hansen (2018) and Ryan Aplin (2011-12) and defensive end Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (2016-17).  Along with Florida International’s T.Y. Hilton, he is the only other Sun Belt Conference wide receiver to earn the award.

Bayless completed the regular season as the national leader in receiving yards with a school and Sun Belt Conference-record 1,473 yards to his credit.  He also posted the most receiving touchdowns in school and Sun Belt history with 16, a total that ranks second nationally.  The Laurel, Miss., native also piled up 84 receptions, which currently stands as the third most ever by an A-State player.

Hatcher, a redshirt freshman, is the fourth all-time A-State player to be selected as the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, joining current running back Marcel Murray (2018) and former wide receiver J.D. McKissic (2012) and running back Reggie Arnold (2006).

Following a season-ending injury to quarterback Logan Bonner, Hatcher stepped into a starting role in the fifth game of the season and quarterbacked the squad to a 5-3 Sun Belt record.  The Little Rock, Ark., native threw for at least 300 yards in five of his eight starts and completed multiple touchdown passes in each of those games.  He ended the regular season by completing 177-of-259 passes for a 68.3 percentage that ranks as the second highest in school history.

Representing the Red Wolves’ as first-team selections this year were Bayless, senior wide receiver Kirk Merritt, junior defensive end William Bradley-King, senior defensive back Darreon Jackson, sophomore kicker Blake Grupe and senior punter Cody Grace.

A-State’s second-team choices included senior defensive lineman Kevin Thurmon and senior safety BJ Edmonds.  The Red Wolves’ third-team players included junior wide receiver Jonathan Adams, sophomore offensive lineman Jarrett Horst, junior center Jacob Still and junior linebacker Tajhea Chambers.

Honorable mention selections for Arkansas State included junior linebacker Caleb Bonner, sophomore offensive lineman Andre Harris Jr., sophomore running back Marcel Murray and junior offensive lineman Ivory Scott.

The Red Wolves completed the season with a 7-5 overall record to make it bowl eligible for the ninth consecutive season.  The program has also posted at least seven wins each of the last nine years and has piled up 74 wins since 2011 for the 25th most in the nation.

2019 Sun Belt All-Conference Football Teams

Player of the Year: Omar Bayless, Arkansas State (Senior, WR, Laurel, Miss.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Junior, RB, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Defensive Player of the Year: Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State (Senior, LB, Thomasville, N.C.)

Newcomer of the Year: Kaylon Geiger, Troy (Junior, WR, Fort Worth, Texas)

Freshman of the Year: Layne Hatcher, Arkansas State (Freshman, QB, Little Rock, Ark.)

Coach of the Year: Billy Napier, Louisiana

First Team Offense

Kaleb Barker, Troy (Senior, QB, Decatur, Ala.)

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Junior, RB, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Tra Barnett, Georgia State (Senior, RB, Elberton, Ga.)

Omar Bayless, Arkansas State (Senior, WR, Laurel, Miss.)

Kirk Merritt, Arkansas State (Senior, WR, Destrehan, La.)

Kaylon Geiger, Troy (Junior, WR, Fort Worth, Texas)

Josh Pederson, ULM (Junior, TE, Morristown, N.J.)

Noah Hannon, Appalachian State (Junior, OL, Greer, S.C.)

Victor Johnson, Appalachian State (Senior, OL, North Augusta, S.C.)

Hunter Atkinson, Georgia State (Senior, OL, Flowery Branch, Ga.)

Kevin Dotson, Louisiana (Senior, OL, Plaquemine, La.)

Robert Hunt, Louisiana (Senior, OL, Burkeville, Texas)

First Team Defense

Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State (Junior, DL, Miami, Fla.)

William Bradley-King, Arkansas State (Junior, DL, Kansas City, Mo.)

Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina (Junior, DL, Aiken, S.C.)

Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southern (Junior, DL, Sumter, S.C.)

Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State (Senior, LB, Thomasville, N.C.)

Bryan London II, Texas State (Senior, LB, Converse, Texas)

Carlton Martial, Troy (Sophomore, LB, Mobile, Ala.)

Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State (Sophomore, DB, Stone Mountain, Ga.)

Darreon Jackson, Arkansas State (Senior, DB, Derby, Kan.)

Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern (Senior, DB, College Park, Ga.)

Corey Straughter, ULM (Junior, DB, Monroe, La.)

Will Sunderland, Troy (Senior, DB, Midwest City, Okla.)

First Team Special Teams

Blake Grupe, Arkansas State (Sophomore, K, Sedalia, Mo.)

Cody Grace, Arkansas State (Senior, P, Perth, Western Australia)

Raymond Calais, Louisiana (Senior, RS, Breaux Bridge, La.)

Tra Minter, South Alabama (Senior, AP, Ellaville, Ga.)

Second Team Offense

Dan Ellington, Georgia State (Senior, QB, Olive Branch, Miss.)

Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana (Junior, RB, Erath, La.)

Josh Johnson, ULM (Junior, RB, Opelika, Ala.)

Thomas Hennigan, Appalachian State (Junior, WR, Greensboro, N.C.)

Corey Sutton, Appalachian State (Junior, WR, Cornelius, N.C.)

Ja’Marcus Bradley, Louisiana (Senior, WR, Ackerman, Miss.)

Aubry Payne, Georgia State (Junior, TE, Locust Grove, Ga.)

Cooper Hodges, Appalachian State (Freshman, OL, Glen St. Mary, Fla.)

Baer Hunter, Appalachian State (Junior, OL, Clemmons, N.C.)

Bobby Reynolds, ULM (Senior, OL, Keller, Texas)

Aaron Brewer, Texas State (Senior, OT, Dallas, Texas)

J.l. Gaston, Troy (Senior, OL, Monroeville, Ala.)

Second Team Defense

Kevin Thurmon, Arkansas State (Senior, DL, Chicago, Ill.)

Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana (Sophomore, DL, New Iberia, La.)

Jeffery Whatley, South Alabama (Senior, DL, Midland City, Ala.)

Will Choloh, Troy (Sophomore, DL, Lawrenceville, Ga.)

Jordan Fehr, Appalachian State (Senior, LB, Charlotte, N.C.)

Rashad Byrd, Georgia Southern (Junior, LB, North Augusta, S.C.)

Joe Dillon, Louisiana (Junior, LB, Tylertown, Miss.)

Cortez Sisco, ULM (Senior, LB, Memphis, Tenn.)

Josh Thomas, Appalachian State (Senior, DB, Montgomery, Ala.)

B.J. Edmonds, Arkansas State (Senior, DB, Mobile, Ala.)

Chandler Kryst, Coastal Carolina (Senior, DB, Tega Cay, S.C.)

Michael Jacquet III, Louisiana (Senior, DB, Beaumont, Texas)

Second Team Special Teams

Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern (Senior, K, Irmo, S.C.)

Rhys Byrns, Louisiana (Sophomore, P, Melbourne, Australia)

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Junior, AP, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Junior, RS, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Third Team Offense

Zac Thomas, Appalachian State (Junior, QB, Trussville, Ala.)

Raymond Calais, Louisiana (Senior, RB, Breaux Bridge, La.)

Trey Ragas, Louisiana (Junior, RB, New Orleans, La.)

Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State (Junior, WR, Jonesboro, Ark.)

Cornelius McCoy, Georgia State (Sophomore, WR, Deerfield Beach, Fla.)

Reggie Todd, Troy (Junior, WR, Mobile, Ala.)

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (Sophomore, TE, Maiden, Mass.)

Jarrett Horst, Arkansas State (Sophomore, OL, Middleton, Wis.)

Jacob Still, Arkansas State (Junior, OL, Collierville, Tenn.)

Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina (Junior, OL, Monroeville, Ala.)

Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State (Junior, OL, Riverdale, Ga.)

Kirk Kelley, Troy (Senior, OL, Marrero, La.)

Third Team Defense

E.J. Scott, Appalachian State (Senior, DL, Farmville, N.C.)

C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina (Junior, DL, Bowdon, Ga.)

Sterling Johnson, Coastal Carolina (Senior, DL, Clayton, N.C.)

Donald Louis, ULM (Senior, DL, Monroe, La.)

Marcus Webb, Troy (Senior, DL, Decatur, Ala.)

Tajhea Chambers, Arkansas State (Junior, LB, Gordon, Ga.)

Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina (Junior, LB, Los Angeles, Calif.)

Nikolas Daniels, Texas State (Senior, LB, League City, Texas)

Desmond Franklin, Appalachian State (Senior, DB, Inverness, Fla.)

Monquavion Brinson, Georgia Southern (Senior, DB, Atlanta, Ga.)

Kenderick Duncan Jr., Georgia Southern (Sophomore, DB, Stockbridge, Ga.)

Travis Reed, South Alabama (Senior, DB, Meridian, Miss.)

Third Team Special Teams

Stevie Artigue, Louisiana (Senior, K, Lafayette, La.)

Tyler Sumpter, Troy (Junior, P, Hoover, Ala.)

Reggie Todd, Troy (Junior, RS, Mobile, Ala.)

Raymond Calais, Louisiana (Senior, AP, Breaux Bridge, La.)

Arkansas State All-Sun Belt Conference Honorable Mention

Caleb Bonner, Arkansas State (Junior, LB, Reform, Ala.)

Andre Harris Jr., Arkansas State (Sophomore, OL, Oklahoma City, Okla.)

Marcel Murray, Arkansas State (Sophomore, RB, Hiram, Ga.)

Ivory Scott, Arkansas State (Junior, OL, Kenner, La.)