SUWANEE, Ga. – In a season where the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) may have been more balanced – top to bottom – than ever before, it seems fitting that six of the league's seven football-playing institutions were represented with at least one major award in today's announcement of the 2011 All-SCAC Football team. Complete Release
Shawn Morris of Birmingham-Southern College was selected as the league's Offensive Player-of-the-Year while Ben Robinson of Trinity University was voted the league's Defensive Player-of-the-Year in exclusive voting by the head coaches of the conference.
In the same balloting, Jordan Gay of Centre College was selected as Special Teams Player-of-the-Year while Tommy Laurendine of The University of the South-Sewanee and Steve Mohr of Trinity were voted SCAC Co-Coaches-of-the-Year.
Additionally, Jeff Milner of Millsaps College and Justin Toliver of Rhodes College were named SCAC Co-Newcomers-of-the-Year.
In what will be the last season of SCAC football with the currently configured group, four different teams – Birmingham-Southern College, Centre College, Millsaps College and Trinity University – were ranked or received votes over the course of the season in the D3football.com Top 25 poll, all of which culminated in the conference sending two teams (Trinity and Centre) to the NCAA Football Playoffs for the first time ever.
Shawn Morris, a 5-8, 192-pound junior running back from Pensacola, Fla., had one of the most prolific seasons by a SCAC running back in league history. In just nine games, Morris finished with 1,449 yards rushing – the third most in the 50-year history of the conference – and 17 touchdowns in leading the Panthers to a 7-2 record, the most wins for the program since reinstating football in 2007. A two-time selection to the D3football.com Team-of-the-Week, he also had a team-high 17 receptions for 131 yards. Morris had a record-setting game in Birmingham-Southern's season-finale against Millsaps, rushing for a program- and league-record 332 yards in the 35-21 win. The performance marks just the third 300+ yard rushing game by a SCAC back in league history and shatters the former single-game mark of 305 posted by Jeremy Boyce of Trinity in a 2001 contest against Sewanee.
Morris received five votes in the Offensive POTY voting while senior left tackle Ben Hume of Centre College received the remaining two votes.
Ben Robinson, a 5-11, 193-point senior linebacker from Coppell, Tex., led the SCAC in tackles for loss this season, and was fourth in the league in tackles per game. The two-time SCAC Defensive Player of the Week had double-digit tackles four times in the past six weeks – including a season-best 14 tackles in Saturday's NCAA Playoff game against McMurry. His 15.0 tackles for loss are the most by a Tiger player since the 2005 season. Robinson has been selected to play with a group of Division III All-Stars in the Tazon de Estrellas in December, and was selected for the D3football.com Team-of-the- Week earlier this month. Robinson is a three-time All-SCAC honoree, who was also in the top 10 in the SCAC in passes defended this season.
Robinson received six votes in the Defensive POTY balloting while senior defensive end Bryan Jackson of Birmingham-Southern received the remaining first-place vote.
Jordan Gay, a 6-1, 216-pound junior punter/placekicker from Danville, Ky., is averaging 41.5 yards per punt (second in the SCAC / seventh in the nation) and has killed 12 of his attempts inside the 20. As a placekicker, Gay has hit on 44 of 45 PAT attempts and 10 of 14 field goal attempts for 74 points, which is tops among SCAC kickers and fourth overall. He has a long field goal of 51 yards this season, and his 144 career points in just two seasons in Danville is already the 12th-most points by a kicker in league history. The 2010 SCAC Newcomer-of-the-Year, Gay was a three-time SCAC Special Teams Player-of-the-Week selection during the 2011 season.
Gay garnered five votes in the Special Teams Player-of-the-Year balloting while junior punter Kyle Trella of Trinity received the remaining two first-place votes.
Jeff Milner, a 6-0, 225-pound freshman defensive end from Birminghan, Ala., finished the 2011 campaign with 15 total tackles (eight solo), five tackles for loss and four sacks, which tied for third in the SCAC and was tops among all first-year players. He also had two quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. Milner had arguably his best game of the season against SCAC champion Trinity. The first-year lineman finished with three tackles, which included two sacks for a total loss of 13 yards, and one forced fumble as the Majors dropped a narrow 10-3 decision to the Tigers.
Justin Toliver, a 6-1, 170-pound freshman cornerback from Canton, Ga., had 59 total tackles (38 solo) for the Lynx, which ranked in the top 20 in the conference and second among all first-year players. He also had three tackles for loss and one interception. Toliver, who started every game and played virtually every defensive snap for Rhodes, was also the Lynx's primary return man. He finished second in the SCAC with 582 kickoff return yards on 35 attempts (16.6 yards per return), and also had 61 yards in punt returns on nine attempts.
Milner and Toliver each received two votes in the NOTY balloting, followed by first-year offensive lineman Conner Cox of Trinity, first-year cornerback De'Nard Ford of The University of the South-Sewanee, and first-year defensive tackle Paul Megilligan of Centre with one vote each.
After guiding Sewanee to its best season since 2005 and more overall wins than it had accumulated in its last four seasons combined, first-year head coach Tommy Laurendine was well-deserving of SCAC Co-Coach-of-the-Year recognition. An Oak Ridge, Tennessee native, Laurendine came to Sewanee from The Citadel, where he served as the offensive coordinator in 2010. In his first year on the Mountain, Laurendine turned around a program that had averaged just 10.4 points while giving up 33.7 points per game over the last two seasons. In 2011, the Tigers finished fourth in the SCAC in scoring (23.5 ppg) and third in scoring defense (19.5 ppg) and picked up its first win over arch-rival Rhodes since 2005.
Equally deserving of Coach-of-the-Year honors, Trinity head coach Steve Mohr made sure that last year's 4-6 season – the Tigers' first losing mark since 1992 – was a mere blip on the screen for what has otherwise been almost 20 years of SCAC football dominance. Trinity won its 15th conference championship this season and produced its first undefeated regular season since going 9-0 in 2005. The Tigers reached 10 wins for the first time since the 2002 season in which the team advanced all the way to the Stagg Bowl. Trinity, which dropped a first-round contest last Saturday to McMurry, advanced to the NCAA playoffs for the 12th time since 1994. Among the winningest Division III coaches of all-time, Mohr completed his 22nd year at the helm of the Tigers with an overall record of 174-66 and a winning percentage of .725.
Laurendine and Mohr received two votes each from their peers in what proved to be very close balloting for SCAC Coach-of-the-Year. Andy Frye of Centre, Eddie Garfinkle of Birmingham-Southern and Aaron Pelch of Millsaps received one vote each.
To read the complete 2011 All-SCAC Football release, click here.