BIRMINGHAM, Ala. | Ryan Nettles was selected as the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Freshman of the Year, and six others were chosen all-conference on a vote of the league’s head coaches sports information directors announced by the conference office Thursday morning.
Ryan Nettles, who was recently named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award which is presented to the national freshman of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision, was named the SWAC Newcomer of the Week four times and the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week once. He also finished the season with 917 yards through the air on 85-for-144 passing and eight touchdowns, with a 59.0 completion percentage and was one of the top five quarterbacks in every statistical category. Ryan Nettles is also listed 26th overall in the nation in passing touchdowns and 39th in passing yards, while also finishing in the top 50 in passing efficiency, passing yards per game, points responsible for, points responsible for per game.
Meanwhile, the Hornets had a trio of student-athletes named to the First Team including Ezra Gray as the First Team running back. Gray led the team, and conference, in rushing this season with 436 yards on 84 carries in five games. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns, and he rushed for a career-high 195 yards against Jackson State and added another 100-yard game against Alabama A&M. The senior finished 15th nationally in all-purpose yards and 35th in the nation in rushing yards, while he also finished 19th in rushing yards per game on the season.
Gray was also named Second Team return specialist after he returned 10 kicks and averaged 18.50 yards per return. He finished 48th in the nation in combined kick returns and also 48th in kickoff returns.
A pair of players were named First Team on defense including defensive back Irshaad Davis who led Alabama State in tackles with 41 on the season including 31 solo stops. He recorded a pair of tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks on the season, while he also finished with one interception, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry from his safety position. Davis finished fourth in the conference in tackles and 20th in passes defended on the season, while he also finished 14th in the nation in solo tackles and 58th in total tackles.
He was joined on the First Team defense by Christian Clark who finished with 15 tackles including nine solo stops. Clark recorded 2.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup, while he also had one forced fumble and part of a defense that held opponents to just over 800 yards rushing in five games from his nose guard position.
A pair of players were named to the Second Team defense including Naytron Culpepper who finished the year with 15 tackles, including nine solo stops. He also finished the year with a pair of tackles for loss from his cornerback position and finished the year with four pass breakups. Culpepper also finished 19th in the conference in pass breakups this spring. He was joined on the second team by Andrew Ogletree who finished with 15 tackles this spring, including nine solo stops. He finished with five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, while he also recorded five quarterback hurries. Ogletree finished 15th in the conference in tackles for loss, while he also finished 79th in the nation in sacks and 86th in tackles for loss.
Freshman punter Aubrey Grace rounds out the all-conference selections, earning Second Team honors as a punter. He finished the year with 28 punts for 1,150 total yards and averaged 41.7 yards per punt and booted a long of 57. He forced three fair catches and had seven land inside the 20, while he also finished the year with nine punts of 50 yards or more. The freshman finished second in the conference in punting average and first in punts of 50 yards or more, and he finished 20th in the nation in punting.