LSC Champion Texans garner league-best 24 all-conference award winners

STEPHENVILLE – The Lone Star Conference Champions were well-represented on the postseason awards list released by the league Friday afternoon. Tarleton racked up 24 total awards, including three of the league’s top honors.

Xavier Turner, Deon Sheppard, and Devin Hafford took home three of the league’s biggest awards as Turner was named the Offensive Back of the Year, Sheppard was named the Offensive Lineman of the Year, and Hafford the Defensive Back of the Year.

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Turner became Tarleton’s 6th 1,000-yard rusher this year and finished the regular season with 18 rushing touchdowns while Sheppard anchored the offensive line of one of the nation’s top rushing attacks. With Turner and Sheppard at the forefront, Tarleton set a school record with over 3,000 rushing yards this season and 66 touchdowns.

Turner is the first player since Michael Sampson in 2006 to win the LSC Offensive Back of the Year award. Sheppard is the first Texan since Sam Skidmore to claim the league’s top offensive line award.

Hafford shined in his third season as the starting corner back for Tarleton. The junior defender defended 14 passes and made four interceptions for a defense that saw an improvement of nearly half its points allowed from 2017. Hafford is the sixth player in Tarleton history to earn the LSC Defensive Back of the Year award and the first since Dashaun Phillips in 2011.

Led by Turner and Sheppard, Tarleton landed five players on the first-team offense. WR Zimari Manning (32 rec; 643 yds; 9 TDs), TE Brant Bailey, and OL Jovan Pruitt, as well as Turner and Sheppard, earned their first career All-LSC First Team honors. For Turner, it’s the second award after earning a second-team nod last year.

Joining Hafford on the league’s first-team defense was DL Tyrell Thompson, who earned his second straight top team award from the Lone Star Conference, CB Prince Robinson and FS Jai Edwards. Thompson had 32 tackles, including 7.5 for a loss, this season while Robinson was a two-time LSC Player of the Week and had 46 tackles and a league-leading 17 passes defended. Edwards made 66 tackles and broke up seven passes, including three interceptions.

Daniel McCants highlighted the second-team offense as the junior earned honors as a running back and a return specialist. McCants rushed for 869 yards and six touchdowns while returning 10 kickoffs for 306 yards and a touchdown. He was joined on the second-team offense by QB Ben Holmes (132-219; 2,031 yds; 23 TDs) and WR J.F. Thomas (17 rec; 422 yds; 5 TDs).

A trio of linebackers joined DL Chris Radford on the league’s second-team defense. LB Ronnell Wilson (64 tkls; 3.5 TFLs; 2 PBUs) and LB E.J. Speed (73 tkls; 10.0 TFLs; 4.0 sacks) combined for 137 tackles from the inside linebacker spots this season while LB Gary Moore made 34 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks, from the edge rush. Chris Radford earned his first league honor after a breakout season of 23 tackles, 8.0 for a loss, and 4.0 sacks.

Rounded out the awards were seven Texans on the honorable mention all-conference list, including all three of the remaining starting offensive line – Israel Lorenzo, Wesley Hooks and Noah Perez. CB Tre Johnson (50 tkls; 6 PBUs), DL Jordan Phillips (29 tkls; 6.5 TFLs), DL David Fangupo (15 tkls; 4.5 TFLs) and SS Ed Hayes (45 tkls; 2 FR; 1 INT) were named honorable mention from the defense.

Brant Bailey also took home Academic All-LSC recognition for his efforts in the classroom.

Tarleton finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in the school’s NCAA history and won the outright LSC Championship for the first time. The Texans are the No. 2 seed in Super Region 4 and will host Azusa Pacific Saturday at 1 p.m. in the school’s first-ever home NCAA playoff game.

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