— By Bill Cornwell
The Sun Belt Conference has announced its postseason football honors and 12 Marshall players have made the league’s All-Conference teams.
Senior defensive end Owen Porter, senior defensive back Micah Abraham and redshirt junior return specialist-receiver Jayden Harrison are first team All-Conference picks.
Porter led the Herd with 15 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles while adding five sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. His 57 tackles were fourth most on the team.
Abraham leads the Sun Belt and is currently No. 3 in FBS in passes defended with 16. His three interceptions is No. 1 on Marshall and his 13 pass breakups are No. 4 in FBS. The 16 passes defended mark Abraham’s third straight season with 15 or more passes defended.
Harrison leads FBS with an average of 31.86 yards per kickoff return. Harrison has two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season — a 94-yarder against James Madison and a 98-yard return to open the Herd’s win over Georgia Southern. For the season, Harrison has 669 kickoff return yards on 21 returns.
Junior running back Rasheen Ali is a second team All-Sun Belt Conference selection after running for 1,043 yards and 14 touchdowns. His 14 rushing touchdowns and 15 total TDs are top 15 in FBS, while Ali scored multiple touchdowns in six of 11 appearances this season.
Four Marshall players made the All-Sun Belt Conference Third team — punter John McConnell, offensive lineman Ethan Driskell, defensive lineman Elijah Alston and linebacker Eli Neal.
McConnell averaged 42.8 yards on 61 punts. The Morgantown native has 15 punts inside the 20-yard line and his long of 74 yards was the longest by any Sun Belt punter this season.
Driskell started all 12 games and has now started in 25 consecutive games in his Marshall career.
Alston led Marshall’s defense with 16 quarterback hurries and finished with 41 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown against Old Dominion.
Neal leads the Herd with 85 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also has an interception and a fumble recovery.
Marshall also has four players on the All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention list — offensive linemen Dalton Tucker and Logan Osburn, defensive back J.J. Roberts and defensive lineman Sam Burton.
James Madison quarterback Jordan McCloud is the Sun Belt’s Player of the Year, Troy running back Kimani Vidal is Offensive Player of the Year and James Madison lineman Jalen Green is Defensive Player of the Year.
Appalachian State quarterback Joey Aguilar is the Newcomer of the Year, Arkansas State quarterback Jaylen Raynor the Freshman of the Year, while James Madison’s Curt Cignetti is the league’s Coach of the Year.
Reports surfaced Thursday that Cignetti is set to become the next head coach at Indiana.