Two of Marshall’s defensive standouts were named first-team All-Conference USA, while two of its offensive stalwarts also dotted the league’s All-Freshman team when the league released its postseason honors Tuesday.
Marshall safety Omar Brown and defensive end Vinny Curry was named to the all-league side, while center Chris Jasperse and running back Travon Van were among the youngsters chosen.
The votes from each school’s head coach or administrative designee were tabulated to comprise both teams.
Brown (Moncks Corner, S.C.), a captain, is tied for second in the league with four interceptions and is seventh with 96 tackles (65 solo, 42 assists). He registered at least 12 tackles four times, including 17 against nationally-ranked Virginia Tech and 18 at UCF. He also had 3.5 tackles for loss and fumble recoveries against Southern Mississippi, Virginia Tech and UCF to go along with three pass breakups. His most dynamic play of the season may have been his 48-yard interception return for touchdown in the 59-14 win over UAB on Oct. 29.
Curry (Neptune, N.J.), also a captain and a midseason All-American according to Phil Steele, is a candidate for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honor. He was in the running for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation’s best defensive player), the Chuck Bednarik Awards (nation’s best defensive player) and Rotary Lombardi Awards (nation’s best lineman) this season and ranks second nationally 21.5 tackles for loss, tied for second with six forced fumbles and is tied for fifth with 11.0 sacks this season. He is also the NCAA’s active leader in career tackles for loss with 48.0, is second in career sacks among active student-athletes with 26.5 and ranks seventh in career forced fumbles with nine. He earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors after the win over Rice and National Defensive Lineman honors after the win over Southern Miss. The 6-4 lineman has also been invited to the 2011 Senior Bowl.
Jasperse (Greensboro, N.C.) was a linchpin in Marshall’s offensive line this season, starting every game at center. He helped power the Herd to 100-yard rushing days in all but three games this season and more than 140 yards five times. He also initiated a Marshall running attack that put up 217 rushing yards and three scores on the ground in a victory over Rice. With him at center, the Herd offense put up 506 yards of total offense at Houston, the most for the program against an FBS opponent since Nov. 5, 2004.
Van was Marshall’s second leading rusher with 529 yards on 132 carries with three scores, while his 677 total yards from scrimmage were the second-highest among C-USA freshmen. He had a breakout game at Tulsa, notching 114 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, which included a 69-yard scoring dash down the sideline, resulting in Marshall’s longest rush in more than two years. He also posted the game-winning 19-yard score at Memphis to go with 19 catches for 148 yards out of the backfield as well this season.
Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, linebacker Tyson Gale and offensive lineman Ryan Tillman were also named honorable mention all-conference.