15 Lions garner football honors
The Lone Star Conference released its 2013 postseason football honors with 15 Lions recognized for their performances on the field. Texas A&M University-Commerce was headlined by junior Charles Tuaau being named both the J.V. Sikes Defensive Player of the Year and the Defensive Lineman of the Year with junior Vernon Johnson being honored as the Receiver of the Year.
Both Tuaau and Johnson were named first team All-Lone Star Conference honorees with senior defensive end Tevin Moore joining Tuaau on the first team defensive unit. It marks the first All-LSC honors for both Tuaau and Johnson while Moore earns his second all-conference honor after being named an honorable mention selection in 2010.
Johnson was also named a second team All-LSC selection as a kick returner and was joined on the All-LSC second team by tight end Jordon Jenkins, wide receiver Seth Smith, linebacker Cole Pitts, cornerback Ronald Fields, safety Marcus Fore and punter Cameron Frosch.
An additional six Lions picked up honorable mention honors, including offensive linemen Trevor Goodale and Andrew Weidel, running back Ki-Janaven Garrett and kicker Saul Martinez being among the offensive players recognized. Defensively, linebackers Stephen Ford and Cameron Rogers rounded out the A&M-Commerce all-conference selections.
In addition, Ford and Fore were also named to the Lone Star Conference Football All-Academic team, marking the second distinction for Fore with Ford picking up his first All-Academic honor.
The 15 selections for A&M-Commerce marks the most all-conference performers since having 16 players recognized following the 2007 season. To date, A&M-Commerce has now had 300 first team All-LSC selections, 211 second team honors and 225 honorable mention selections in the program's history, a combined 736 All-Lone Star Conference honors.
Tuaau proved to be one of the biggest headaches for offensive linemen throughout the season. The junior from Wahiawa, Hawaii led the Lone Star Conference in both tackles for loss (22.0) and sacks (12.5), ranking among the top-five nationally in both categories. Tuaau finished the regular season with 51 tackles, including 27 solo stops, with a pair of forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, and fittingly picks up the award named after the Lion Hall of Fame coach.
Johnson rewrote the A&M-Commerce record book, setting single-season program records for catches (69), receiving yards (1,345), receiving yards per game (134.5) and receiving touchdowns (13). He also emerged as one of the conference's most dangerous returners, averaging 35.2 yards per kick return while leading the LSC in both receiving yards and all-purpose yards (183.8).
Moore teamed up with Tuaau to form arguably the most feared duo in the Lone Star Conference. The senior from Dallas led A&M-Commerce in tackles (70), while ranking second in the LSC in tackles for loss (21.0) and tying Tuaau for the conference lead in sacks (12.5). Moore also had three forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries, capping his most productive season in a Lion uniform.
Among the A&M-Commerce second team selections, Jenkins ranked fifth on the team in receiving yards (223), pulling in three touchdowns. He also contributed key blocks and protection for the Lion offense. Smith had a breakout year as well, ranking second on the team in receptions (61), receiving yards (685) and touchdowns (8) as his 61 catches ranks second all-time in program history.
Pitts emerged as one of the biggest surprises for A&M-Commerce as after playing primarily on special teams as a freshman, he ranked second on the team in tackles with 62 as he earned his spot in the starting lineup. Fields finished with 52 tackles for the Lions while leading the LSC in pass breakups (14), and Fore wrapped up his final season as a Lion with a career-best 57 tackles, including four tackles for loss and six pass breakups.
Frosch was another Lion that etched his name in the A&M-Commerce record books as he finished his career as the Lions' all-time leading punter. He surpassed Dan Roberson's career punting yardage mark of 9,332 in the victory at A&M-Kingsville, then surpassed 10,000 career punting yards against Angelo State, sitting at 10,398 yards for his career.
Among the honorable mention selections, both Goodale and Weidel have been two-year starters for the Lions on the offensive line and played a key role in helping the Lions set a new program record in passing yards in 2013. They also opened up holes for Garrett who rushed for 665 yards and three touchdowns in his freshman debut.
Martinez provided some much-needed consistency to the A&M-Commerce kicking game, hitting 11 of his 15 field goal attempts while going a perfect 52-of-52 in extra points, recording 85 points on the year to break the program's single-season record for kicking points, surpassing David Dell's 84 in 1995.
The linebacking duo of Ford and Rogers also played a vital role in A&M-Commerce's success in 2013. Ford ranked third on the team with a career-high 60 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Rogers made an immediate impact in his freshman campaign, notching 34 tackles on the year with 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack while also recording a pair of interceptions in the victory over McMurry.
But for A&M-Commerce, the season isn't over quite yet. The Lions accepted an invitation to play in the Live United Texarkana Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 7 in Texarkana, Arkansas. A&M-Commerce will go head-to-head against Harding University of the Great American Conference with kickoff set for 12 p.m. Stay tuned to LionAthletics.com for all the latest information leading up to the Lions' first bowl appearance since 1958.
2013 A&M-Commerce All-Lone Star Conference Honors