JONESBORO, Ark. (12/21/20) – Arkansas State senior wide receiver Jonathan Adams Jr. was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year on Monday and was one of seven Red Wolves, including a pair of first-team selections, earning all-conference recognition.
Joining Adams as a First Team All-Sun Belt pick for A-State was senior linebacker Justin Rice, while senior defensive lineman Forrest Merrill was a second-team choice. Representing the Red Wolves as honorable-mention selections were sophomore tight end/defensive end TW Ayers, junior quarterback Logan Bonner, senior wide receiver Brandon Bowling and sophomore quarterback Layne Hatcher.
Along with former quarterback Justice Hansen (2017) and running back Danny Smith (2002), Adams becomes the third player in A-State history to be named the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Year. An Arkansas State player has now been named the league’s Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year or Defensive Player of the Year each of the last five seasons.
A 2020 Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, Adams ranks third in the nation in total receptions (79) and touchdown catches (12) and fifth in receiving yards (1,111). Both his 7.9 receptions per game and 111.1 receiving yards average rank ninth in the country.
The Jonesboro, Ark., native was twice named the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Week this season while being selected to the East-West Shrine Bowl and receiving a Hula Bowl invitation. He posted five 100-yard receiving games that are tied for the sixth most in the nation and tied for the second most in both Arkansas State and Sun Belt Conference history.
Adams’ 1,111 receiving yards are the third most ever by an A-State player, while his 79 catches rank fifth in the school record books. He was selected as the National Player of the Week by the Maxwell Award, 247Sports, Athlon Sports (offensive) and Frisco Bowl (offensive) after leading A-State to a 35-31 victory over Kansas State, when he posted eight receptions for 98 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, including the game winner.
Adams was responsible for at least five catches in every game this season and caught multiple passes in 25 consecutive games while climbing the career-records charts at A-State. He ranks second all-time at A-State for receiving touchdowns (21), third for receptions (166) and fifth for receiving yards (2,306). His 21 career touchdown grabs are also tied for the fifth most in Sun Belt Conference history.
Leading the nation in tackles for loss (18.5), Rice is a Bednarik Award semifinalist and was on the Bronko Nagurski Watch List this season. He piled up 18.5 tackles for loss to go along with 76 tackles and 7.0 sacks. His tackles total included 57 solo stops that are tied for the fourth most in the country, while he ranks tied for 17th in total sacks.
An East-West Shrine Bowl selection, Rice was named the Mountain West Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year before transferring to A-State from Fresno State. He made an immediate impact on A-State’s defense as his 76 tackles not only led the team, but also rank eighth in the Sun Belt.
Also a 2018 Second Team All-Sun Belt pick, Merrill received a Hula Bowl invitation and was a William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalist. He started every game this season, posting 42 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Making his first appearance on an All-Sun Belt Team, Ayers was a Burlsworth Trophy nominee this season. A true all-purpose players seeing action in all three phases of the game, Ayers earned at least one starting nod on both sides of the ball, including the last four games of the season at defensive end. He is one of just three players in the nation this season to record at least one receiving touchdown and one sack.
Bonner started every game at quarterback for the Red Wolves in 2020, completing 156-of-262 passes for 1,863 yards and 18 touchdowns that ranked as the 11th most in school history for a single season. He completed multiple touchdown passes in six games, including a career-high four against South Alabama. Bonner also threw for at least 200 yards in three outings and finished with a 137.4 pass efficiency rating that ranks seventh in the Sun Belt.
Bowling recorded career-best numbers while playing in all 11 A-State games, including nine as a starter. He finished the season with 39 receptions for 507 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking sixth in the Sun Belt in receiving touchdowns, 12th in total receptions and 13th in receiving yards. His seven touchdown passes tied the eighth most in school history for a single season.
The 2019 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Hatcher was a member of the 2020 College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) National Performer of the Year Watch List. A two-time Manning Award “Star of the Week” and CFPA Honorable Mention National Performer of the Week, Hatcher leads the nation in passing yards per completion (17.7 avg.) while ranking ninth in passing efficiency (179.2), 17th in passing touchdowns (19), 30th in passing yards (2,058) and 38th in points responsible for (116).
2020 SUN BELT FOOTBALL POSTSEASON HONORS
Player of the Year: Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Offensive Player of the Year: Jonathan Adams Jr., Arkansas State
Defensive Player of the Year: Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina
Freshman of the Year: Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Newcomer of the Year: D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina
Coach of the Year: Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina
All-Sun Belt First Team
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina, QB
CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina, RB
Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana, RB
Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina, TE
Jonathan Adams Jr., Arkansas State, WR
Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina, WR
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama, WR
Noah Hannon, App State, OL
Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina, OL
Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State, OL
Austin Stidham, Troy, OL
Baer Hunter, App State, OL
Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina, DL
Demetrius Taylor, App State, DL
Raymond Johnson, Georgia Southern, DL
Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina, DL
C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina, DL
Carlton Martial, Troy, LB
Justin Rice, Arkansas State, LB
Riley Cole, South Alabama, LB
D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina, DB
Shemar Jean-Charles, App State, DB
Shaun Jolly, App State, DB
Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern, DB
Noel Ruiz, Georgia State, Kicker
Jack Martin, Troy, Punter
CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina, All Purpose
Chris Smith, Louisiana, Return Specialist
All-Sun Belt Second Team
Levi Lewis, Louisiana, QB
Trey Ragas, Louisiana, RB
Camerun Peoples, App State, RB
Josh Pederson, ULM, TE
Kawaan Baker, South Alabama, WR
Kaylon Geiger, Troy, WR
Sam Pinckney, Georgia State, WR
O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana, OL
Cooper Hodges, App State, OL
Dylan Bradshaw, Troy, OL
Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina, OL
Max Mitchell, Louisiana, OL
Will Choloh, Troy, DL
Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana, DL
Forrest Merrill, Arkansas State, DL
Hardrick Willis, Georgia State, DL
Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina, LB
Rashad Byrd, Georgia Southern, LB
D’Marco Jackson, App State, LB
Bralen Trahan, Louisiana, DB
Quavian White, Georgia State, DB
Terence Dunlap, Troy, DB
Jarron Morris, Texas State, DB
Antavious Lane, Georgia State, DB
Massimo Biscardi, Coastal Carolina, Kicker
Rhys Byrns, Louisiana, Punter
Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State, All Purpose
Jeremiah Haydel, Texas State, Return Specialist
All-Sun Belt Third Team
Zac Thomas, App State, QB
Destin Coates, Georgia State, RB
Daetrich Harrington, App State, RB
Thomas Hennigan, App State, WR
Marcell Barbee, Texas State, WR
Malik Williams, App State, WR
Roger Carter, Georgia State, TE
Ken Marks, Louisiana, OL
Ryan Neuzil, App State, OL
Aaron Dowdell, Georgia Southern, OL
Sam Thompson, Coastal Carolina, OL
Shane Vallot, Louisiana, OL
Nico Ezidore, Texas State, DL
Richard Jibunor, Troy, DL
Dontae Wilson, Georgia State, DL
Jeremiah Littles, South Alabama, DL
Jordan Strachan, Georgia State, LB
Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana, LB
Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina, LB
Keith Gallmon, South Alabama, DB
Eric Garror, Louisiana, DB
Alex Spillum, Coastal Carolina, DB
Kaiden Smith, App State, DB
Dell Pettus, Troy, DB
Diego Guajardo, South Alabama, Kicker
Anthony Beck, Georgia Southern, Punter
Chris Smith, Louisiana, All Purpose
Jalen Virgil, App State, Return Specialist
Arkansas State All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention
TW Ayers, DE/TE
Logan Bonner, QB
Brandon Bowling, WR
Layne Hatcher, QB
Original article source: https://astateredwolves.com/news/2020/12/21/football-offensive-player-of-the-year-adams-jr-among-seven-a-state-players-named-all-sbc.aspx | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council