Kimani Vidal captures SBC Offensive Player of the Year

Published 10:24 am Thursday, November 30, 2023

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On Thursday, the Sun Belt Conference announced its annual postseason awards and Troy running back Kimani Vidal was named SBC Offensive Player of the Year. Troy also landed 16 players on the All-Sun Belt Team.

Vidal is heading into the Sun Belt Championship ranked second in the conference in rushing and seventh in the entire country with 1,349 yards and nine touchdowns. The Marietta, Ga., native has set the single game, single season and career rushing records at Troy this season. He’s the first Trojan to capture the SBC Offensive Player of the Year since Levi Brown accomplished the feat in 2009. This also makes back-to-back seasons where a Trojan was named SBC Player of the Year after Carlton Martial earned Defensive Player of the Year last season.

Vidal was also named to the All-Sun Belt First-Team alongside defensive end Javon Solomon, bandit Richard Jibunor and cornerback Reddy Steward.

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Solomon is ranked second in the SBC with 14 sacks this season. He also has tallied 44 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, five quarterback hurries, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. He tied the school record for sacks in a game earlier this year, as well.

Jibunor has tallied 53 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, nine sacks, four quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. Steward’s four interceptions are tied for first in the SBC and he’s also recorded 39 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one sack, eight pass breakups and a defensive touchdown.

Joining them on the All-Sun Belt Second-Team is offensive linemen Grant Betts and Daniel King, defensive lineman TJ Jackson and safety Dell Pettus.

Betts and King have paved the way for an offense that is averaging 4.2 yards per carry on the ground and has given up the fifth least amount of sacks in the conference. Jackson, despite missing two games this season, has recorded 22 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Pettus is second on the team in tackles with 62 along with two tackles-for-loss and four pass breakups as he also is currently one of the leaders in the entire country in career snaps taken.

On the All Sun-Belt Third-Team representing Troy are quarterback Gunnar Watson, receivers Jabre Barber and Chris Lewis and safety Irshaad Davis.

Barber is ranked No. 7 in the conference in receiving with 60 catches for 855 yards and five touchdowns, while Lewis has grabbed 29 catches for 637 yards and nine touchdowns. His touchdowns rank second in the conference, while his 22 yards per catch is by far the most in the conference. It also ranks him in the Top 3 in school history in a season.

Watson is fifth in the SBC in passing with 3,147 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. Davis, in his first year at Troy, has recorded 57 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups.

Defensive tackle Buddha Jones, cornerback O’Shai Fletcher, spear Caleb Ransaw and long snapper Quentin Skinner also earned All-Sun Belt honorable mention.

Jones has 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble this season, while Fletcher has 44 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, one sack, one interception and five pass breakups. Ransaw has also earned 45 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, one interception and two pass breakups.

James Madison quarterback Jordan McCloud earned SBC Player of the Year, JMU defensive lineman Jalen Green was named Defensive Player of the Year and Appalachian State quarterback Joey Aguilar earned SBC Newcomer of the Year. Arkansas State quarterback Jaylen Raynor earned Freshman of the Year and JMU coach Curt Cignetti was named SBC Coach of the Year.