PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The Southern Conference placed 15 student-athletes on the 2012 Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America Team, announced December 10. Seven SoCon performers garnered first-team accolades, while three were named to the second team. Five SoCon football players were named to the third team.
Linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (Appalachian State), offensive lineman Mike Sellers (The Citadel), wide receiver Aaron Mellette (Elon), kick returner Jerodis Williams (Furman), defensive tackle Brent Russell (Georgia Southern), defensive back Jaquiski Tartt (Samford) and running back Eric Breitenstein (Wofford) were named to the first team.
Offensive lineman Dakota Dozier (Furman), kick returner Fabiran Truss (Samford) and defensive end Davis Tull (Chattanooga) were selected to the second team.
Punter Sam Martin (Appalachian State), defensive back Demetrius McCray (Appalachian State), wide receiver Sean Price (Appalachian State), offensive lineman Garrett Frye (Georgia Southern) and linebacker Wes Dothard (Chattanooga) were named to the third team.
Eight of the nine Southern Conference schools had at least one player earn All-America honors while five schools had multiple player selected.
As a senior, Kimbrough racked up 143 tackles, good for the third-highest total in the nation and seventh in Appalachian State single-season history. He also ranks third in the Southern Conference and among the top 100 nationally with 12.5 tackles for loss (1.04 per game) and 11th in the SoCon with 4.5 sacks. He was named the SoCon's co-Defensive Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the nation's top FCS defensive player.
Sellers led the team with 75 knockdown blocks and earned the highest assignment grade of all Citadel offensive linemen. He anchored a line which enabled the Bulldogs to rank fourth in the nation with an average of 300.6 rushing yards per game while allowing only two sacks.
A year ago Sellers was the team's offensive MVP, and he has started the past 22 games at center after originally coming to The Citadel as a defensive lineman.
The last Citadel player named to The Sports Network All-America team was Andre Roberts, who was a first team wide receiver and third team punt returner in 2008. The last time a Bulldog offensive lineman was selected was in 1992 when both Carey Cash and Lance Hansen were on the first team following The Citadel's SoCon championship season.
Mellette was a first-team All-Southern Conference selection by both the league's coaches and media members and placed eighth in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Sanford, N.C., native concluded the season with a league-leading 108 points and 18 receiving touchdowns. The TD catches are tied for the second-most ever in a single season in SoCon history. In his senior year, Mellette caught 97 passes for 1,398 yards. He led the SoCon and ranked second nationally in both receptions per game (8.82) and receiving yards per game (127.09). He eclipsed 100 receiving yards in eight of Elon's 11 contests, including matching career-highs with 237 yards and three touchdowns against Appalachian State on Oct. 6. Mellette posted a six-game span in which he caught at least two touchdowns. He will participate in the upcoming Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. on Jan. 26.
Williams, a 5-foot-11, 208-pound senior from Prattville, Ala., led FCS in kickoff returns, averaging 35.9 yards per attempt, and recorded a pair of 100-yard returns against Western Carolina and Appalachian State this season.
A two-time All-Southern Conference selection as a running back and also all-league choice in 2012 as a return specialist, he recorded his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing campaign this fall, running for 1,170 yards and 11 touchdowns to complete his career with 3,097 yards, good for fifth-best in Furman history. Included in his season's work was a career high 239-yard rushing performance in a 45-24 win over Western Carolina, part of a school single game record 370 all-purpose yards.
Russell repeated as a First Team selection by the Sports Network and is now a three-year All-American. The senior defensive tackle has 39 stops, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 12 starts this season and is currently tied for the school's career sacks record.
Tartt, who is on the watch list for the Sports Network's Buck Buchanan Award for the top defensive player at the FCS level, led the team and tied for seventh in the Southern Conference in tackles with 94. He led the SoCon in passes defended with 14, and he tied for the league lead in interceptions with four.
From his safety position, Tartt scored two defensive touchdowns for the Bulldogs. He returned a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown against Georgia Southern, and he returned an interception 65 yards for a score against The Citadel.
Breitenstein, a senior from Valle Crucis, North Carolina, was named Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012. He is just the fourth player in conference history to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons. He led the Southern Conference in rushing for the second straight season with 2,035 yards, a school record and the second most in conference history.
A finalist for the Walter Payton Award, he had 19 rushing touchdowns to lead the conference and was second in scoring with 114 points. With 12 games with 100 or more rushing yards this season, Breitenstein set a new Southern Conference mark and his eleven straight games with 100 or more yards tied an NCAA record. He also holds the SoCon single game rushing mark with 321 yards.
Last season he ran for 1,474 yards and was fifth in the nation in scoring at 9.50 points per game. He was named All-American by the Associated Press, Sports Network and Phil Steele. Currently he has a school record 5,730 career rushing and is second in career rushing touchdowns. He is the NCAA FCS active career leader in rushing and rushing touchdowns.
A two-time All-Southern Conference pick, including a consensus all-first team choice this season, Dozier logged 586 plays at left tackle in 2012 but missed two games due to a knee injury. He graded out a season high 92 percent against Coastal Carolina, 90 percent in a 45-24 win over Western Carolina, and notched a season high 10 knockdowns versus Wofford.
His solid work helped pave the way for Williams, a first team All-SoCon choice who rushed for 1,170 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 en route to finishing his career with 3,097 yards, good for fifth in Furman history.
As a kick returner, Truss ranked third in the SoCon, averaging 27.1 yards per return. He returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the Bulldogs' non-conference win at Gardner-Webb.
As a running back, Truss rushed for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 96.6 yards per game. He rushed for a career-high 219 yards in a win at Elon.
Overall, Truss led the league and ranked third in the nation in all-purpose yards per game, averaging 179.8 yards per contest. Truss was named All-Conference for the SoCon in November. He was named the SoCon Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 17.
Tull, the 2012 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year, is a former walk-on from Knoxville, Tenn. He made The Sports Network's second team after leading the SoCon with a UTC single-season record 19.0 TFLs and 12.5 sacks.
Tull finished fifth on the team with 56 tackles while forcing three fumbles. He was also named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District team for his work in the classroom as a Health & Human Performance major. He is currently second on the Mocs' all-time list with 17.5 career sacks.
Martin garnered all-America recognition for the first time on the strength of a 45.9-yard punting average, which ranks third nationally and second in Appalachian State history. Twenty-five of the senior's 60 punts were downed inside the opponent's 20 yard line, which set a school record for punts downed inside the 20 and helped the Mountaineers rank second nationally with a 40.8-yard net punting average.
McCray tied for the Southern Conference lead with four interceptions in 2012, becoming the first Mountaineer cornerback to ever lead the league in interceptions twice (he paced the SoCon with five INTs in 2011). The senior also led the team with eight passes defended, ranked sixth on the squad with 55 tackles from his cornerback position and forced a fumble. Like Kimbrough, he is one of 20 finalists for the Buchanan Award.
Price is the only freshman among The Sports Network's 97 all-Americans in 2012. In just 10 games, the 6-5 wideout caught 81 passes for 1,196 yards and eight touchdowns, shattering the FCS records for receptions (71, set by Cal State Northridge's Drew Amerson in 1999) and receiving yards (1,073, set by Marshall's Randy Moss in 1996). Price's 7.1 receptions and 119.6 yards per game both rank sixth nationally this season, regardless of class, and he is one of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the nation's top FCS freshman.
Dothard, a native of Carrollton, Ga., is a third team selection after leading the Mocs with 94 tackles. He was a first team pick last season and was on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch list as one of the nation's top defensive players throughout 2012. He also had six tackles-for-loss, an interception and two forced fumbles while leading one of the top defenses in the FCS.
Dothard is the Mocs' first two-time All-American since Josh Cain in 2001 & 2002 and the sixth since Chattanooga began competing in the Southern Conference in 1977.
Helping clear the way on the offensive side of the ball, GSU offensive linemen Garrett Frye was a third team selection the Sports Network. Frye helped the Eagles' offense lead the nation in rushing offense, which ranks second all-time in school history with 409.2 yards per game.