LSC Champion Texans claim league-leading 21 all-conference awards, 7 individual awards


STEPHENVILLE – The back-to-back Lone Star Conference Champion Tarleton Texan football team was well-represented on the postseason awards released by the league Friday afternoon. Tarleton racked up an LSC-leading 21 total all-conference awards, including a school-record seven individual awards.

Ben Holmes, Daniel McCants, Zimari Manning, B.J. Jefferson, Jordan Wells, Prince Robinson and coach Todd Whitten took home the LSC’s top honors for the best at their positions.

The Texan Offense that ranks No. 2 in the nation was recognized across the conference by sweeping the LSC offensive awards. Holmes was named the Offensive Player of the Year with the J.W. Rollins Award, Daniel McCants was named the Offensive Back of the Year and Zimari Manning was named the Receiver of the Year.

The Texan Defense that ranks No. 12 nationally had a trio of award winners as well. Defensive end B.J. Jefferson was named the Defensive Player of the Year (J.V. Sikes award), while Jordan Wells was named the Defensive Lineman of the Year and Prince Robinson claimed the Defensive Back of the Year honor.

After guiding the Texans to back-to-back undefeated Lone Star Conference Championships and 21 straight regular season wins, head coach Todd Whitten was named the LSC Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career.

Holmes becomes the first player in school history to take home the LSC’s top offensive honor as the senior quarterback led the LSC with 3,064 passing yards and 33 touchdowns with only three interceptions. His 33 touchdowns set a new school record for TD passes in a season and his 185.2 passing efficiency ranks No. 2 in the nation. Holmes has led the Texans to a 23-1 record as a starter and the Texans are No. 2 in yards per game at 550 and No. 4 in scoring at 47.6 with Holmes running the offense.

McCants becomes the second straight Texan and fifth player in school history to earn the Offensive Back of the Year honor. McCants ran for 1,457 yards on just 164 carries and 15 touchdowns. McCants ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards and leads the nation with 8.9 yards per carry while becoming the second player in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, joining Tarleton Hall of Famer Derrick Ross.

Manning is the third player in school history to win Receiver of the Year and the first since Le’Nard Meyers in 2015. Manning is having the best season by a wide-out in the country as the senior leads all of college football at any level with 1,375 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 63 receptions. Manning has set the Tarleton record for single-season yards and touchdowns and has tied the LSC record for TDs in a season.

Jefferson is the first Texan in school history to win the LSC Defensive Player of the Year award. The three-time LSC Defensive Player of the Week ranks No. 3 in the nation in tackles for loss with 24. Jefferson has also posted a team-leading 87 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries, one interception, one forced fumble and one recovery this season. Jefferson and the Texan defense rank No. 12 nationally in yards allowed and No. 13 in points allowed.

Wells is now the fourth Texan and first since Rufus Johnson in 2012 to win the LSC Defensive Lineman of the Year award. Wells ranks in the top 5 in the LSC and top 15 in nation in tackles for loss with 18.5. The junior is the team leader in QB hurries (15) to go with 46 tackles, 18.5 TFL, and 6.0 sacks along with two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Robinson becomes the seventh Texan and second straight to win the LSC Defensive Back of the Year award. The senior from Houston leads the nation with three interception returns for scores and has four total interceptions this season. Robinson leads the LSC with 17 passes defended and 13 pass breakups and added 51 total tackles for a pass defense that ranks No. 3 nationally in team passing efficiency on defense at 90.2.

The Texans had 12 players named first team all-conference (7 offense, 5 defense). In addition to their LSC individual awards, Holmes, McCants and Manning were each named first team All-LSC. It’s the second straight first team selection for Manning and first for Holmes and McCants. J.F. Thomas (712 yards; 6 TD) was also named first team all-LSC for the first time in his career.

The Texan offense isn’t made without its offensive line and three Texans were first team selections: J.P. Pierre, Cody Hayes and Noah Perez – all first-time award winners for the senior trio. It’s the first time since 2006 that three Texan OL have been named first team all-LSC in a season. The Texan OL ranks eighth in the nation in fewest sacks allowed.

Joining Jefferson, Wells and Robinson on the first team all-LSC defense is Ronnell Wilson and Jai Edwards. It’s the first time Wilson (73 tackles, 6.5 TFL) has been first team and the second straight year Edwards has been a first team safety with 63 tackles and 5.0 TFL.

On the second team offense is Offensive Guard Kendall Dearth, who becomes all-conference in his first year as a starter on the offensive line as a sophomore.

The Texans had three players on second team defense: DT Jordan Phillips, OLB Tank Morgan, DB Benjie Franklin. Phillips posted 37 tackles, 6.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks while Morgan was fifth on the team with 47 tackles, 4.0 TFL and 1.5 sacks. Franklin tied for the team lead with four interceptions and added 36 tackles with seven pass breakups.

Rounding out the awards were five Texans on the honorable mention all-conference list, including the fifth member of the offensive line, Zach Perry, to give the Texans’ entire O-Line all-conference honors. TE Brant Bailey (154 yards; 2 TD), RB Khalil Banks (598 yards; 9 TD), DT Tavaris Owens (30 tackles; 8 TFL; 3 sacks), and DB Tre Johnson (41 tackles; 6.0 TFL) were all named honorable mention All-LSC.

Bailey also was recognized for his work in the classroom as the senior from Eastland was named LSC All-Academic for the second straight season.

Tarleton finished the regular season undefeated at 11-0 and won the outright LSC Championship for the second straight season.

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