Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats receive SBC preseason football honors
The Sun Belt Conference released its 2022 Preseason Football Awards and Coaches Poll on Monday.
Three Bobcats were voted to the All-Sun Belt teams. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Dalton Cooper and redshirt junior kicker Seth Keller were both named to the all-conference First Team. Cooper was graded as the top left tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus (PFF), allowing just one sack on 450 pass plays in 2021. Keller connected on 15-18 field goals last season, his longest coming from 48 yards out, and did not miss on any of his 32 PAT attempts. Junior offensive lineman Kyle Hergel also received Second Team honors, as he was rated the fourth-best O-lineman in the conference by PFF.
Cooper and Keller are Texas State’s first players to be voted to the First Team since former linebacker Bryan London earned the recognition in 2019. Cooper is also the maroon and gold’s first offensive player voted to the First Team since Adrian Bellard in 2015. The three selections are the Bobcats’ most preseason all-conference picks since 2019.
Texas State was voted to finish in fourth place in the league’s West Division, receiving 41 points in the coaches poll. Louisiana led the division with 95 points and 12 first-place votes, followed by South Alabama with 79 points and two first-place votes and Troy with 76 points. Trailing the Bobcats in the poll were Southern Miss in fifth with 40 points, Arkansas State in sixth with 37 points and Louisiana-Monroe with 24 points.
Appalachian State was picked to win the Sun Belt East Division, receiving 94 points and 10 first-place votes. The Mountaineers were followed by Coastal Carolina in second with 77 points and two first-place votes, Georgia State with 68 points and a first-place vote, Marshall with 62 points, Georgia Southern with 35 points and a first-place vote, James Madison with 31 points and Old Dominion with 25 points.
The Sun Belt also announced Monday it has extended Commissioner Keith Gill’s contract by four years, tying Gill to the league through June 30, 2030. Gill has been the commissioner of the conference since March 29, 2019, and has overseen the league’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and facilitated the additions of four new Sun Belt members in the past few years.
“Commissioner Gill has been a tremendous leader for the Sun Belt Conference, just as we expected he would be when we hired him. What we did not anticipate at the time was the impact of a global pandemic on athletics or how soon we would be dealing with realignment. In both cases, Keith provided excellent leadership to the SBC Board of Directors, our institutional leadership, and the conference staff. After convening a COVID mitigation plan, for example, the SBC was one of the first conferences to commit to playing a full slate of football games in Fall 2020, which provided our schools increased exposure through linear broadcasts,” Texas State University President Dr. Kelly Damphousse said in a statement. “During realignment, Keith kept campus leaders informed about the rapid changes taking place and ensured that the Sun Belt Conference was able to accomplish its goals of adding outstanding new partner universities that fit our strategic and geographic goals (and to complete our new conference structure in 2022). My fellow board members were very pleased when Keith agreed to extend his contract, and we are looking forward to his leading our conference forward as we face a continuously changing environment in intercollegiate athletics.”
“I am grateful to Dr. Damphousse and all of the Sun Belt presidents and chancellors for extending my opportunity to serve the conference and its 14 member institutions,” Gill stated. “I am proud of the way our membership has pulled together through the COVID-19 pandemic and realignment and look forward to the bright future that lies ahead for the Sun Belt.”
The Sun Belt Football Media Days are set to take place in New Orleans this week. Gill will begin the event by delivering his State of the Conference address on Tuesday at 10 a.m. Texas State will hold its press conference, featuring head coach Jake Spavital, outside linebacker Jordan Revels and Hergel, on Wednesday at 11 a.m.