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Eight Cajuns named preseason all-conference

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jul 18, 2019

NEW ORLEANS — The Sun Belt Conference announced its 2019 Preseason All-Sun Belt Football teams and individual awards Friday, as voted upon by the 10 head football coaches and selected media representatives.

The release comes in advance of the Conference's Media Day, which begins Monday in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Troy senior running back B.J. Smith was tabbed as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while Georgia Southern's senior cornerback Kindle Vildor was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Smith, a 2018 All-Sun Belt First Team selection, rushed for 1,186 yards last season, which led the Sun Belt during the regular season games and ranked second, by one yard, for the entire season. His 13 rushing touchdowns were the sixth most in a season in Troy Trojans history and were the most among running backs in the league.

Last season, the Millbrook, Ala., native set a school record, rushing for more than 100 yards in five straight games as he averaged 141.3 yards per game during the month of October. Smith enters the 2019 season on pace to crack Troy's top five for career rushing yards and touchdowns.

Smith has been named to both the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award preseason watch lists this season.

Vildor, also a 2018 All-Sun Belt First Team selection, played in and started all 13 games for the Eagles last season. The College Park, Ga., native registered 42 tackles on the season, 4.5 for loss, and led the Eagles with four interceptions, tying for second in the league. Vildor also had 11 pass breakups and 15 passes defended.

The senior racked up numerous honors following his junior campaign. He was named a second-team All-American and the Sun Belt Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus and is graded as the No. 2 cornerback in the country by PFF heading into the 2019 season. Vildor was also named to the Benarik Award preseason watch list earlier this week.

Appalachian State and Arkansas State led all teams with 11 total selections apiece on the Preseason All-Sun Belt First and Second Teams. The Mountaineers had eight selections on the First Team and three on the Second Team. A-State placed five on the First Team and six on the Second Team. Louisiana placed eight student-athletes between the two teams and Troy placed seven.

The honorees, comprised of 52 student-athletes, include 32 seniors and 18 juniors between the two teams. Two sophomores round out the two teams.

Sun Belt Media Day will be held in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on July 22. Live ESPN3 coverage of the event begins at 8:30 a.m. CT and will run until 5:00 p.m. CT.

The 2019 season kicks off on Thursday, August 29, with Texas State heading to College Station to take on Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. The rest of the league gets underway on Saturday, August 31, with a full slate of games starting at 11 a.m. CT. The 2019 Sun Belt Football Championship Game is scheduled for Saturday, December 7 and will be televised live at 11 a.m. CT/12 p.m. ET on ESPN or ESPN2.

2019 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Football Teams

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: B.J. Smith (Troy, Senior)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Senior)

* - named to 2018 Preseason Teams
^ - named to 2018 All-Sun Belt First Team
# - named to 2018 All-Sun Belt Second Team
$ - named to 2018 All-Sun Belt Third Team
! – named to 2018 All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention Team

First Team Offense
QB - Zac Thomas (Appalachian State, Junior) #
RB - Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Junior) ^
RB - B.J. Smith (Troy, Senior) ^
WR - Corey Sutton (Appalachian State, Junior) #
WR - Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State, Senior) ^
WR - Ja'Marcus Bradley (Louisiana, RS-Senior) $
TE - Javonis Isaac (Arkansas State, RS-Junior) #
OL - Noah Hannon (Appalachian State, Junior) #
OL - Victor Johnson (Appalachian State, Senior) *^
OL - Kevin Dotson (Louisiana, RS-Senior) *^
OL - Robert Hunt (Louisiana, RS-Senior) #
OL - Kirk Kelley (Troy, Senior) ^

First Team Defense
DL - William Bradley-King (Arkansas State, RS-Junior) #
DL - Forrest Merrill (Arkansas State, Junior) #
DL - Raymond Johnson (Georgia Southern, Junior) #
DL - Tyree Turner (South Alabama, Senior) *#
LB - Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State, Senior) #
LB - Jordan Fehr (Appalachian State, Senior) ^
LB - Bryan London II (Texas State, Senior) *^
DB - Desmond Franklin (Appalachian State, Senior) ^
DB - Jerry Jacobs (Arkansas State, Junior) #
DB - Monquavion Brinson (Georgia Southern, Senior) *#
DB - Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Senior) ^

First Team Special Teams
K - Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern, RS-Senior) *^
P - Brandon Wright (Georgia State, RS-Senior) ^
RS - Tra Minter (South Alabama, Senior) #

Second Team Offense
QB - Caleb Evans (ULM, Senior) *$
RB - Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana, Junior) #
RB - Trey Ragas (Louisiana, RS-Junior) *$
WR - Omar Bayless (Arkansas State, RS-Senior) !
WR - Kawaan Baker (South Alabama, Junior) !
WR - Tray Eafford (Troy, Junior)
TE - Collin Reed (Appalachian State, Senior) *$
OL - Jacob Still (Arkansas State, RS-Junior) *!
OL - Hunter Atkinson (Georgia State, RS-Senior) *$
OL - T.J. Fiailoa (ULM, RS-Junior) $
OL - Aaron Brewer (Texas State, Senior) *!
OL - Tristan Crowder (Troy, Senior) *$

Second Team Defense
DL - Kevin Thurmon (Arkansas State, RS-Senior) !
DL - Tarron Jackson (Coastal Carolina, RS-Junior) $
DL - Zi'Yon Hill (Louisiana, RS-Sophomore) $
DL - Jarvis Hayes (Troy, Senior) $
LB - Jacques Boudreaux (Louisiana, Senior) $
LB - Nikolas Daniels (Texas State, Senior) $
LB - Carlton Martial (Troy, Sophomore)
DB - Josh Thomas (Appalachian State, Senior) !
DB - B.J. Edmonds (Arkansas State, Senior) *
DB - Darreon Jackson (Arkansas State, RS-Senior) $
DB - Michael Jacquet III (Louisiana, RS-Senior)

Second Team Special Teams
K - Tyler Sumpter (Troy, Junior) $
P - Cody Grace (Arkansas State, RS-Senior) *#
RS - Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Junior)