Troy picked to repeat in SBC West, Trojans earn preseason honors

Published 12:18 pm Monday, July 24, 2023

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Ahead of Tuesday’s Sun Belt Media Day, the conference released its preseason poll and preseason awards with the Troy Trojans being predicted to finish first in the West Division.

The Trojans are coming off a Sun Belt West and Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2022. Troy was picked to finish first by the Sun Belt coaches, earning 92 points with 10 first place votes. South Alabama was the only other West team to earn any first place votes with four. James Madison was picked to finish first in the East with both JMU and Appalachian State earning four first place votes. Troy earned the most first place votes out of any Sun Belt team.

A total of eight Trojans earned All-Sun Belt Preseason honors, as well. Defensive end TJ Jackson, bandit Richard Jibunor and cornerback Reddy Steward all earned First-Team nods, while running back Kimani Vidal, offensive lineman Daniel King, bandit Javon Solomon and safety Dell Pettus earned Second-Team honors. Vidal also earned Second-Team placement as an “All Purpose” athlete, as well.

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Vidal is coming off an All-Sun Belt 2022 season where he rushed for 1,132 yards and 10 touchdowns on 231 carries. At one point in the season, Vidal eclipsed 200 yards rushing in back-to-back games. King started all 14 games at right guard in 2022 and was Troy’s top-rated pass blocker on the season.

Steward, who will represent Troy at Sun Belt Media Day, also earned All-Sun Belt last season as the Sun Belt’s top-rated cornerback. He finished the season with 15 pass breakups and three interceptions. Jackson also earned All-Sun Belt in 2022 and was among the nation’s leaders in tackles-for-loss with 14.5 along with eight sacks.

Jibunor earned All-Sun Belt Third-Team last season after notching 11 tackles-for-loss and 7.5 sacks. Solomon also earned All-Sun Belt with 44 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks.

Pettus finished his 2022 campaign with 66 tackles and is Troy’s returning leading tackler. He also had one tackle-for-loss and two pass breakups.