Brown, Jones land awards
After leading Troy to consecutive 10-win seasons and the school’s sixth Sun Conference championship, head coach Neal Brown has been named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, the league office announced Wednesday. Additionally, one of the most dynamic all-purpose threats in the country, true freshman Marcus Jones has been named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.
Led by a trio of first team selections, Troy players earned 18 All-Sun Belt honors as voted on by the league’s head coaches and a media representative from each school.
Offensive lineman Steven Rowzee, bandit Hunter Reese and cornerback Blace Brown were named to the All-Sun Belt First Team. Running back Jordan Chunn, offensive linemen Deontae Crumitie and Tristan Crowder, wide receiver Deondre Douglas, defensive tackle Jamal Stadom, nose guard Trevon Sanders, linebacker Tron Folsom and Jones, who earned all-league honors as a return specialist and all-purpose player, were named to the second team.
Offensive lineman Kirk Kelley and safety Cedarius Rookard represented Troy on the third team, while quarterback Brandon Silvers, wide receiver Damion Willis, defensive end Antione Barker and defensive tackle Marcus Webb were honorable mention selections.
“It is cliché to say, but this truly a team award,” Troy head coach Neal Brown said. “Our players, our staff and our administration all have a hand in this award and should take pride in it. The Sun Belt Conference is filled with high-quality coaches and for this to be an award voted on by my peers means even more.
“Each and every one of our players on the all-conference team is very deserving of their recognition for their performances this season,” Brown said. “It is unfortunate that Brandon (Silvers) wasn’t recognized on one of the three all-conference teams. While there were a number of great quarterbacks in the league this year, it is my belief that he is one of the top quarterbacks in Sun Belt history. Brandon performed at a higher level this year than last year when he was named first team All-Sun Belt.”
In three seasons under Brown, Troy has won 21 of its last 25 games, earned an Associated Press Top 25 ranking, posted back-to-back 10-win seasons and earned pair of bowl berths. He guided Troy to a thrilling upset at No. 22 LSU back in September and Troy is one of just 14 schools nationally with at least 20 wins over the last two seasons.
Jones, a native of Enterprise, Ala., was electric in his first season for the Trojans as he set NCAA, Sun Belt Conference and Troy records. Jones etched his name in the NCAA record book when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns at Coastal Carolina to become one of just 24 players in FBS history to do so. He enters Troy’s New Orleans Bowl appearance as the Sun Belt’s single-season record holder averaging 32.88 yards per kickoff return, while holding Troy’s single-season record with three kickoff returns for a touchdown.
Jones is third nationally with three all-purpose plays of 90 or more yards. In addition to two long-kickoff returns, Jones intercepted a pass and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Troy’s Sun Belt title-clinching victory at Arkansas State.