The University of West Georgia football team landed 15 players on the All-Gulf South Conference Team this past week, highlighted by senior defensive end Dylan Donahue becoming just the third player in program history to be named the GSC Defensive Player of the Year.
Donahue tied the single-season league record with 13.5 sacks, which ranked sixth nationally, and his 20 tackles for a loss ranked No. 12 nationally this fall. The stellar senior campaign followed up his First-Team All-GSC showing last year, where he recorded 12 sacks during his junior season in Carrollton.
Alex Armah, another standout senior defensive end, was a First-Team All-GSC selection for the second straight year and joins a select group of players who have been named All-GSC in three seasons. Armah's distinction goes a step further this season, however, as he was also named Second-Team All-GSC as a tight end, becoming the first player in conference history to be named all-conference as both an offensive and defensive player.
Four of the Wolves' regular offensive linemen were also named to this year's team, with three named to the first team. Senior tackle Austin Kastl, junior center Harley Vaughan and sophomore guard Quentin Stanford were the first-team honorees, and guard Amanii Brown was a second-team selection in his first season at UWG.
Senior running back Lamarcus Franks rounds out the UWG offensive first-team members. Franks became the 11th back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season and had five 100-yard games in the final seven games of the year. The Mississippi native concluded his playing career at UWG last weekend with a 25-carry, 168-yard performance against West Florida, which gave him 1,562 career rushing yards, good for 11th on the all-time rushing list.
Joining Armah and Donahue on the first-team defensive list is senior linebacker Chris Harthone, who was the Wolves' leading tackler on the year. Harthone had 76 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Punter Jordan Ikner and safety Curtis Lindsay close out the first-team honorees for the Wolves. Ikner was third in the league in punting average at 40.4 yards per punt, but was first in forced fair catches with 19, second in the conference in punts inside the 20 with 15 and was tied for first in 50-yard punts on the year with seven. He also had the fifth-longest punt of the year, a 65-yard strike against Shorter. Lindsay received his second-straight first-team award as a utility player, collecting 24 tackles and two for a loss on the season.
For the second straight year, Devontae Jackson was named All-GSC as an all-purpose player, earning second-team honors in 2016. Jackson was fifth in all-purpose yards this year with 487 rushing yards, 110 receiving yards and 400 kick return yards. He had six total touchdowns on the year, including four on the ground, one through the air and one kickoff return for a score.
Senior linebacker Gabe Freeman joins Armah as a three-time All-GSC performer, as he was second team as a utility player in 2014, then second team as a linebacker in 2015 and 2016. Freeman had 33 tackles, including two for a loss, a sack and an interception on the year.
Senior cornerback Marcus Sayles made it two straight years as a blocking specialist, as he was sixth in the nation with three blocked kicks this season. That gives him 13 for his career at UWG, and he was also named second team as a cornerback. The Alpharetta native led the GSC in interceptions this season with five and has 12 career picks for the Wolves. Joining Sayles from the defensive backfield was sophomore corner Jakyron Young, who was fifth on the team with 55 tackles, picked off two passes, had nine pass breakups and 11 passes defended on the year.
The West Georgia contingent on the 2016 All-GSC squad largely featured seniors, a class that set a new school-record for career wins. This year's seniors will go down as the winningest class in program history with 37 total victories over the past four years.
Donahue one of 8 finalists for Lineman of Year Award
Donahue was also named a finalist for the 2016 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award, which was narrowed down from a pool of 51 candidates to eight this week.
The award is presented by the Manheim Touchdown Club and voted upon by the nation's NCAA Division II sports information directors. Two finalists advance from each of the four NCAA Division II super regions. Donahue has been named one of the two representatives from Super Region 2 for the second straight season.
The national round of voting begins on Monday, Nov. 21, and closes on Monday, Nov. 28. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 30. The award recipient has an invitation to participate in front of professional scouts and coaches at the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida. The winner will also be recognized at the Manheim Touchdown Club's annual banquet in May.