NEW ORLEANS - The Sun Belt Conference announced Wednesday its Football All-Conference teams and individual awards, chosen by the 12 head coaches and select media representatives.
Highlighting the list is Arkansas State senior defensive lineman Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, who was named the league's Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Rolland-Jones' offensive teammate, junior quarterback Justice Hansen was tabbed as the Offensive Player of the Year, while South Alabama senior defensive back Jeremy Reaves was chosen as the league's Defensive Player of the Year.
Troy defensive back/returner, Marcus Jones, was selected as the Freshman of the Year and Ron LaForce, a junior defensive back from New Mexico State, was tabbed as the league's Newcomer of the Year.
Troy's Neal Brown was chosen as the Coach of the Year.
Rolland-Jones led the Sun Belt in sacks with 13 and in tackles for loss with 18.5. He needs just 0.5 sacks to become the NCAA's all-time leader in career sacks with 44, breaking Terrell Suggs' record. He already owns Sun Belt and Arkansas State all-time sack records.
His three forced fumbles are tied for the second most in the conference this year, while his 10 career forced fumbles are the third most in the nation among active players. Rolland-Jones is the third individual to win back-to-back Player of the Year awards — and the second A-State player to do so (Ryan Aplin - 2011 & 2012).
Hansen pioneered the A-State offense this season, which led the Sun Belt in scoring (38.5 points per game) and total offense (498.4 yards per game). He finished second in the league in passing yards per game at 330.0 with 34 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. Hansen has tossed three or more TDs in six of 11 contests this year. His 34 touchdowns are a new Sun Belt Conference record while his 3,630 yards passing rank just outside of the top five in the Sun Belt in a season.
In addition to his passing stats, Hansen has rushed for 380 yards this season, 343 of which came during league play. He has also scored six times on the ground with a long rush of 38 yards. Hansen has accounted for more than 4,000 yards this season and 40 touchdowns.
Reaves finished the regular season ranked fourth overall in tackles with 103, an average of 8.6 a game from his defensive backfield position. He tallied three interceptions on the season and an additional seven pass breakups while forcing three fumbles. He also added 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Jones has proved to be the definition of an all-purpose player for the Trojans starting as both a return specialist and as a cornerback. He led the Sun Belt with a 32.9-yard kick return average on 24 returns with three touchdowns, which ranked first in the league. He posted 115 yards on 14 punt returns this year for an 8.2 average. He also intercepted two passes this season, returning one for a 100-yard touchdown. Additionally, he finished fifth on the team in tackles with 44 to go along with his four pass breakups.
LaForce has been a great addition to the Aggie defense this season. The safety led all Sun Belt defensive backs with 98 tackles. He also tallied three interceptions to go along with four pass breakups. LaForce was the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week after coming down with two picks in a win over in-state rival New Mexico earlier this season.
Troy's Neal Brown earned his first Sun Belt Coach of the Year honor and the Trojans' first coaching accolade since Larry Blakeney in 2009. Brown led his Trojans to back-to-back 10-win seasons, posting a 10-2 (7-1 Sun Belt) record during the 2017 campaign and a second consecutive bowl berth. Troy enters the bowl season riding the nation's fifth-longest winning streak as the Trojans have rolled off six-consecutive victories.
This season the Trojans ranked fourth overall in scoring offense with an average of 29.9 points per game and led the league in scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. The Trojans only allow 340 yards per game. Troy will head to New Orleans to play in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against North Texas on Dec. 16.
Arkansas State placed a conference high 15 student-athletes on the All-Sun Belt teams. The Red Wolves accepted their seventh consecutive bowl bid on Sunday and will travel to Montgomery to take on Middle Tennessee in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl on Dec. 16.
Troy totaled 14 student-athletes on each of the three teams while Appalachian State had 13 total. The Mountaineers also accepted a bowl bid on Sunday, as they will travel to Mobile, Ala. for the Dollar General Bowl, which takes place on Dec. 23. The Mountaineers will face Toledo.