|A-State Football Game Notes: at Troy|
ON TAP: Arkansas State will carry a five-game winning streak and the Sun Belt Conference's best record into its final road game of the regular season, facing Troy on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Every ASU game can be heard live on 107.9 FM in the Jonesboro area with the live radio broadcast accessible through the Arkansas State athletics Web site (AStateRedWolves.com).
THE PRINCIPALS: Winners in six of its last seven games, including the last five in a row, A-State moved its overall record to 7-3 and Sun Belt Conference mark to 5-1 with a 45-23 home victory over Louisiana-Monroe its last time out. The Red Wolves also own a seven-game road winning streak against conference opponents, its longest since 1973-75. Troy snapped a two-game skid with a 41-31 victory over Navy last weekend, bringing it within one victory of reaching bowl eligibility. The Trojans evened their overall record to 5-5 with the non-conference win and will bring a 3-3 league record into Saturday's game.
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
HEAD COACH GUS MALZAHN: Gus Malzahn was named the Red Wolves' 28th head football coach at Dec. 14, 2011, press conference, bringing him back to his home state after most recently enjoying highly successful stints as a top assistant coach at three NCAA FBS universities that garnered him national acclaim. A name highly recognized throughout Arkansas and the nation, Malzahn comes to Arkansas State after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn for the past three seasons. A native of Fort Smith, Malzahn was named the winner of the 2010 Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate assistant coach.
FAST START: Gus Malzahn has recorded the second most victories ever by a head coach in his first season at Arkansas State with seven. Out of 28 all-time head coaches at A-State, Malzahn is one of just five to win at least six games in his first season, joining Hugh Freeze (2011), Steve Roberts (2002), Gene Harlow (1955) and Jack Dale (1931). Malzahn and Freeze are the only two head coaches in ASU history to win seven or more games in their first season at the school.
COACHING RECOGNITION: First-year Arkansas State Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn was recognized as one of the top hires in the nation this offseason, named as the No. 4 best hire and No. 2 most intriguing hire in the nation by CBSSports.com. He was also one of two head coaches in the nation to receive a grade of A+ among new hires for the 2012 season by the Sporting News. Bleacher Report's "Over/Under Victories" for every new head coach places A-State at nine victories, one of the tops listed in the report.
HALL OF HONOR: A-State head coach Gus Malzahn was one of seven inductees into Henderson State University's Reddie Hall of Honor on Saturday (Oct. 6). The event took place at the Garrison Center Day Gym on the Henderson campus. A two-year letterman, Malzahn averaged 35.3 yards per punt his first year at Henderson and 37.7 yards his senior year, including a long of 64 yards. He also caught 24 passes for 288 yards for an average of 12.0 yards per catch. He earned All-AIC Honorable Mention honors in 1989.
ASU ANNOUNCES FOOTBALL FACILITY PROJECT: Arkansas State University announced a $22 million football facility project, including a two-level football operations building and 76,000 square-foot indoor practice facility in ASU Stadium's north end zone, at an 11 a.m. press conference held Sept. 6 at the current ASU Football Facility . . . The new football operations building's first floor will house A-State's locker room, state-of-the-art strength and conditioning and sports medicine centers, a players lounge and equipment room. The second floor will feature coaching and administrative offices, team meeting rooms, a history and heritage showroom and a team film room with theatre seating. The indoor practice facility will run east and west and be connected to the north side of the operations building . . . The facility will have a brick exterior and feature an outdoor plaza facing the field on the building's second level. The interior will have a strong Red Wolves' theme with black and red dominating the esthetic appearance.
IT'S ALL IN THE NAME: In recognition of a $5 million contribution by Liberty Bank, the ASU Board of Trustees announced Sept. 8 that Liberty Bank Stadium is the new name of the football stadium at Arkansas State University. The naming rights to the stadium are for the next 15 years, as announced at the newly-named facility just prior to kickoff of the Red Wolves' home football game against the Memphis Tigers.
A-STATE NAMES NEW AD: Arkansas State University Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson announced Sept. 19 that Terry Mohajir, a 20-year veteran leader in collegiate athletics with a diverse background as an administrator, coach, student-athlete and city government participant, has been named A-State's 11th Director of Athletics. An Arkansas State University alumnus, Mohajir's (pronounced MO-HA-JUR) career path went through three other NCAA Division I institutions, including the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Florida Atlantic and Kansas, before leading him back to his alma mater. The Overland Park, Kansas native has been involved with major fundraising campaigns at multiple universities, while also overseeing corporate sales, marketing promotions and ticket sales. He most recently served the last 13 months as Kansas' Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to his time with the Jayhawks, he spent a seven-year stint as Florida Atlantic's Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Relations from 2004-11 after working at UMKC from 1997-2004 as its Assistant Director of Athletics for External Relations.
98th SEASON UNDER WAY: Arkansas State kicked off its 98th season of football Sept. 1 at Oregon. ASU now holds a 423-457-37 record since the inaugural 1911 season and has played in eight bowl games. A-State did not field a football team from 1942-44 due to World War II. ASU also didn't have a team in 1918 as World War I was ending.
THE ASU-TROY SERIES: Arkansas State leads the all-time series 6-5. The Red Wolves and Trojans first met in 1951 when ASU picked up a 39-0 road victory. The two teams split a pair of games in 1991 and 1992 in Jonesboro, but have played the last eight games as Sun Belt Conference foes. The Red Wolves won the first three games as SBC opponents, but the Trojans won the next four meetings through the 2010 season before A-State claimed a 45-14 victory in Jonesboro last year. ASU has dropped its last two road games against the Trojans with its last road victory at Troy coming 33-26 in 2006.
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: A-State is 76-64-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 47-37 on-field record against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 42-33 since 2001. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe with 20. The Red Wolves have defeated every team in the SBC since the football league was formed.
SUN BELT CHAMPIONS: Arkansas State claimed its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference championship in 2011. Including last season, ASU has won eight conference championships all-time. ASU won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968). ASU also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference title, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
BACK-TO-BACK WINNING SEASONS: Arkansas State has secured back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1986-87. ASU won 10 games last season and its 17 combined regular-season victories since 2011 are its most over a two-year span since also winning 17 in 1985 and 1986. The last time ASU claimed 18 regular-season wins over a two-year span was 1974-75.
WINNING LEAGUE RECORD: With a 5-1 league record this year, A-State has secured a winning Sun Belt Conference record for the fifth time since the league's inaugural season in 2011. ASU has put together two straight on-field winning records against Sun Belt Conference opponents for the first time since 2005-06.
SECOND MOST: Arkansas State's seven victories through its first 10 games are its second most ever since joining the FBS in 1992, behind only its 10 total wins recorded in 2011. With seven victories, ASU has secured its third winning season since 1992 as well, joining the 2011 squad that went 10-3 and the 1995 team that posted a 6-5 record.
13 OF 14: Arkansas State has won 13 of its last 14 conference games dating back to the 2011 season, including its last five in a row. The Red Wolves' current five-game conference winning streak ties the 12th longest in the nation.
BOWL ELIGIBLE: Arkansas State is bowl eligible for the fifth time over the last eight seasons, including the last two in a row. Since joining the FBS in 1992, the only year ASU has become bowl eligible faster was the 2011 campaign when it reached six victories in eight games.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . : Extend ASU's conference road winning streak to eight games, its longest ever as a member of any league . . . Extend ASU's overall and Sun Belt Conference winning streak to six games . . . Give it 18 victories since 2011 for its most over a two-year span since 1974-75 . . . Give ASU eight or more victories for the 12th time in school history . . . Give it six Sun Belt wins for the second time ever (8 in 2011).
APLIN NAMED SUN BELT CONFERENCE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after helping lead ASU to a 45-23 victory over ULM. Aplin accounted for three touchdowns and 378 yards total offense, including a season-high 334 passing yards. Aplin completed 26-of-34 attempts for a .765 percentage and threw two touchdown passes covering 35 and 70 yards.
HERROLD EARNS ACADEMIC HONOR: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold, the Red Wolves leading tackler with a career-best 89 stops this season, has been named a First Team Capital One Academic All-District VI football selection. Herrold has started every game this season for the Red Wolves while also holding down a 3.69 cumulative GPA in Exercise Science. Herrold is also an ASU Athletic Director's Honor Roll and Sun Belt Conference Commissioner's List member.
LOU GROZA AWARD SEMIFINALIST: The Palm Beach County Sports Commission announced Nov. 5 that Arkansas State placekicker Brian Davis has been named one of 20 semifinalists for the 2012 Lou Groza Award presented by the Orange Bowl Committee. A junior from Brentwood, Tenn., Davis has made 15-of-18 field goal attempts for an .833 percentage and scored a team-high 85 points this season. He is currently ranked tied for 17th in the nation in field goals made (1.5 per game) and tied for 33rd in the nation in scoring.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 4-1 home mark this season, Arkansas State has secured its eighth consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 35-8 at Liberty Bank Stadium since the 2005 season and has won 10 of its last 11 home games. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 127-71-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU's six home wins last season were its most since 1985.
ATTENDANCE FIGURES: The Liberty Bank Stadium crowd of 30,243 for the ASU-ULM game was not only the largest ever to watch A-State play a conference game in Jonesboro, it was the second largest in school history. ASU's first five home games all drew a crowd of at least 20,000 for the first time in school history. The 2012 campaign also marks the first time A-State has ever had more than three games in the same season draw over 20,000. ASU's current average attendance is 25,429, topping the school record of 21,256 in 2011.
ROAD WARRIORS: Arkansas State has won seven consecutive road conference games, its longest streak ever in the Sun Belt Conference and longest as a member of any league since it won seven straight road contests against Southland foes from 1973-75. The Red Wolves went 4-0 in Sun Belt road games last season and are 3-0 in those outings this year. A-State has never won eight consecutive road games against conference opponents as a member of any league.
IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Arkansas State is one of 40 teams in the nation to play at least eight true freshman this season. A-State's eight true freshmen played ranks tied for the 37th most in the nation with Auburn, Clemson and Hawai'i. Three true freshmen have started at least one game for ASU, including Rocky Hayes, Bryce Giddens and Chris Humes. Additionally, A-State has played 17 combined true and redshirt freshmen this year, tied the 31st most in the nation.
A NEW START: Arkansas State has 15 players who have started their first career game at the school this season, which ranks tied for the 17th most in the nation with six other teams. Hawai'i leads the nation with 29 first-time starters this year. Players with their first career start at ASU this season include David Oku (RB), Rocky Hayes (RB/WR), J.D. McKissic (WR), Aaron Williams (OL), Steven Haunga (OL), Bryce Giddens (OL), Alan Wright (OL), Ronnell Wright (DL), Shervarius Jackson (DE), Chris Stone (DE), Eddie Porter (LB/DE), Andrew Tryon (CB), Artez Brown (CB), Chris Humes (S) and Cole Lorigan (S).
ABOVE AVERAGE: The A-State offense is averaging 6.4 yards per play and 467.5 yards per game, both of which would break the school record for a single season. The current school records for a season are 6.0 yards per play (2008) and 447.8 yards per game (2011).
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 33 of its last 35 games. ASU's 12-game streak with over 300 yards total offense came to an end just two games shy of the school record against Nebraska earlier this season.
RUSH THE FIELD: With at least two games remaining, Arkansas State has already recorded its most rushing yards in a season (2,109) since 2008 when it posted 2,440. The Red Wolves have rushed for at least 200 yards in five games this season and are ranked 23rd in the nation in rushing offense. A-State also has 25 rushing touchdowns, matching its total for all of the 2011 campaign.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: Led by junior running back David Oku with 12 scores, Arkansas State has seen 15 different players score at least one touchdown this season. ASU's 15 players with a touchdown is tied for the fifth most in the nation with Georgia Tech, Florida State, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech, Texas, UCF, Cincinnati and South Carolina, while Colorado State has the most in the nation with 18.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: After scoring 33 or more points in eight games this year, A-State has now posted at least 30 points in 16 of its last 21 regular-season games dating back to last season. The Red Wolves also scored 30 or more points in eight games during the 2011 season, the most since 1951 when it hit the total 10 times.
"PICKING" IT UP: While the A-State defense recorded only one interception over its first three games, it has now posted nine picks over the last seven games. The Red Wolves have recorded at least one interception in six of the last seven games, including a season-high three against Louisiana-Lafayette. Senior cornerback Chaz Scales, sophomore safety Sterling Young and senior linebacker Nathan Herrold all have a team-best two interceptions each. ASU's 10 interceptions matches its total for all of last season.
ALL-PURPOSE THREAT: While junior running back David Oku has recorded just two 100-yard rushing game, his rushing and receiving total combined has exceeded 100 yards in five games. Those games include Oregon (81 rush, 21 receiving, 102 total), Memphis (111 rush, 8 receiving, 119 total), WKU (79 rush, 27 receiving, 106 total), UL Lafayette (83 rush, 24 receiving, 107 total) and ULM (131 rush, 6 receiving, 137 total). He has caught at least one pass in all but one game and is ranked fifth in the Sun Belt Conference in all-purpose yards at 100.6 per game.
BEST TOTALS SINCE 2009: Ten games into the season, senior running back David Oku's 829 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns are the most by an ASU running back since Reggie Arnold recorded 1,074 yards in 2008 and 12 touchdowns in 2009. Oku leads the team in rushing yards and is ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference. He needs 171 more yards to become the 13th player in ASU history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. His 12 rushing touchdowns are tied for the sixth most in school history.
ATTACKING THE SUN BELT RECORD BOOKS: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin broke the Sun Belt Conference record for total offense career yards during the FIU game, and now he nears the league's all-time record for passing yards in a career. With 9,938 career yards to his credit, Aplin needs just 175 move past FAU's Rusty Smith (10,112 from 2005-09) as the Sun Belt's all-time leader in passing yards. Additionally, he is ranked second all-time in the league in completions (841) and touchdown passes (59) and third in rushing yards by a quarterback (1,612).
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has tossed at least one touchdown in 34 of his last 38 games dating back to his freshman season. Aplin has also thrown for at least 200 yards 30 times in his career and all 30 have come over ASU's last 37 games. Additionally, he has 17 career games with over 300 yards total offense.
ACTIVE APLIN: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin is ranked among the top active players in the NCAA in several career statistics, including:
FIVE MORE SCHOOL RECORDS: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has set five new school records this year, giving him 21 combined game, season and career records at ASU . . . His single-game records include most plays, total offense, most average yards per game, passes attempted, completion percentage and completions . . . His single-season records include most plays, total offense, passes attempted, completions, touchdown passes, highest completion percentage and most passing yards per game . . . His career records include total offense, total plays, most average yards per game, completions, pass attempts, highest completion percentage, touchdown passes and most passing yards per game.
ON A ROLL: Senior wide receiver Taylor Stockemer has recorded at least one reception in his last 39 games played, ranking tied for the second most in the NCAA among all players along with Baylor's Lanear Sampson and Central Michigan's Cody Wilson. Duke's Conner Vernon leads the nation with a catch in 46 straight games.
AT LEAST FOUR: Redshirt freshman receiver J.D. McKissic has recorded at least four receptions in every game this season, including a career-high 12 against ULM. He now has a team-high 72 catches to place him second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 14th in the nation in receptions. McKissic also has a team-best 711 receiving yards, which ranks fourth in the SBC.
CAREER YEAR: Ten games into the season, all of ASU's top 14 tacklers that aren't newcomers have already posted the most stops of their career for a single season. Among the 14 players with over 50 tackles are senior linebacker Nathan Herrold (89 this year, 78 in 2010), sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee (71 this year, 49 in 2011), senior defensive back Don Jones (66 this year, 54 in 2011), sophomore safety Sterling Young (61 this year, 51 in 2011), junior defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers (55 this year, 35 combined for 2010-11) and senior defensive end Tim Starson (54 this year, 39 combined for 2009-11).
PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD: Senior defensive end Tim Starson has a team-high 11.0 tackles for loss, but senior linebacker Nathan Herrold isn't far behind with 7.0. Herrold has recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in eight of the last nine games, while Starson has at least a partial TFL in seven games.
CONTROLLING THE INTERIOR: Junior Ryan Carrethers recorded a career-high 10 tackles twice this year from his interior defensive lineman position. Not only is Carrethers ranked fifth on the team and tied for 33rd in the Sun Belt in tackles among all players, he easily leads the league in tackles by all defensive linemen with 55 (5.5 per game) to his credit.
HERROLDED PEFORMANCE: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold recorded a career-high 17 tackles against South Alabama, giving him three games this year (11 at both Oregon and Nebraska) and six for his career with double-figure stops. He now has a team-high 89 tackles, placing him tied for fourth in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 50th in the nation in tackles per game (8.9). Herrold has also recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in eight of ASU's last nine games.
KICK IT INTO GEAR: Junior kicker Brian Davis has made multiple field goals in five of ASU's 10 games this season and 11 times during his career. He needs one field goal to tie the second most in school history for a career.
THAT'S OFFENSIVE: A-State's 634 yards of total offense against Alcorn State was the seventh most in school history and marked the second time this year the Red Wolves recorded over 600 yards. They also piled up 619 yards against Memphis, which were the most against an FBS opponent since recording a school-record 681 against Louisiana-Lafayette in 2007. ASU has now posted at least 500 yards total offense in five of its first 10 games and 400 or more in seven games.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: With its 56-0 win over Alcorn State, ASU recorded its first shutout since defeating Mississippi Valley State 61-0 in its 2009 season opener. ASU limited Alcorn State to just 2.2 yards per play, which tied the fifth lowest average for a game in Sun Belt Conference history. ASU's defense allowed just 130 yards, which is the fewest since giving up 69 to Mississippi Valley State in 2009 as well. The Red Wolves also held Memphis under 300 yards total offense, limiting the Tigers to 293 yards for the fewest by an ASU opponent since FAU recorded 281 last season.
HOMECOMING HISTORY: Arkansas State improved to 57-27-1 all-time in Homecoming contests with its victory over South Alabama. The Red Wolves have now won nine of their last 10 Homecoming games dating back to the 2003 season.
MIDWEEK MONSTERS: Historically, A-State has performed well in midweek games since joining the Sun Belt Conference. Since the 2001 campaign, the Red Wolves hold a 10-3 record in all midweek games. ASU has won its last five midweek games.
KNOCKING OFF THE FAVORITE: Arkansas State's 34-20 victory over FIU earlier this year marked the third consecutive year the Red Wolves defeated the top pick in the Sun Belt Conference preseason coaches poll. ASU also defeated preseason favorite FIU last season and Middle Tennessee in 2010.
APLIN NAMED A FINALIST FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named as one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award on Oct. 18 . . . Aplin was one of 30 original candidates from across the nation for the award, which annually recognizes an NCAA FBS senior with notable achievements in areas of community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the prestigious Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
COLLECTING HONORS: Junior kicker Brian Davis picked up several honors after connecting on 5-of-5 field goals and scoring 20 points against Louisiana-Lafayette, including Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week, Lou Groza Award Star of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Placekicker of the Week.
HERROLD NAMED SBC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week following the Red Wolves' 36-29 victory over South Alabama. Herrold registered a career-high 17 tackles and posted his first career pass interception. Herrold's 17 stops in the contest were the most by a Sun Belt Conference player and tied for the 13th most tackles in a game nationally this season. His tackles output against South Alabama represented the most by an A-State player since 2005 when Tyrell Johnson racked up a SBC record 25 stops against North Texas. Herrold's recognition represented the second time this season an A-State defensive player has claimed a league weekly honor. Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee earned the league's weekly distinction the week prior (Oct. 8).
LEE NAMED SBC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 8. Lee recorded a game-high 12 tackles, an interception and a pass break-up during Arkansas State's 34-20 victory at Florida International. Lee's 12 tackles were the second most of his career, just three short of his 15 recorded against Nebraska earlier this season.
McKISSIC HONORED: Freshman WR J.D. McKissic was named College Sports Madness' Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his stellar performance against FIU. He recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game, picking up 124 yards and a TD on five receptions. McKissic's 124 receiving yards are the most by an ASU player this season.
FCS WINNING STREAK EXTENDED: Arkansas State extended its winning streak against FCS opponents to eight games with a 56-0 win over Alcorn State earlier this season. The Red Wolves have won those eight games by a combined 426-60 score. ASU improved to 19-4 against FCS opponents since moving to the FBS in 1992.
CFPA RECOGNIZES APLIN: The College Football Performance Awards recognized senior Ryan Aplin as an Honorable Mention National Quarterback of the Week following A-State's victory over Alcorn State. Aplin only played in the first half, leading ASU to 42-0 lead at the break with 198 yards passing, another 24 rushing and three touchdown passes. Aplin completed 12-of-13 pass attempts for a school-record .923 completion percentage. His three touchdown tosses gave him 50 for his career, making him ASU's all-time leader in the stat and one of just four players in Sun Belt history to record at least 50 touchdown passes. Aplin ended the game with 222 yards of total offense.
SULLIVENT HONORED: Senior punter Neely Sullivent was announced as a College Football Performance Awards national honorable mention punter of the week following the Nebraska game. Sullivent averaged 48 yards per punt against the Huskers, almost a full 10 yards more than his season average of 38.4 entering the game. He recorded his second punt of the season to travel over 50 yards and also posted his first punt inside the 20. Sullivent raised has season average to 41.8 yards per punt to rank him third in the Sun Belt Conference.
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin was named Sun Belt Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and one of four A-State players named to the all-conference team at the league's Media Day in New Orleans. Aplin, senior wideout Josh Jarboe, senior offensive lineman Zack McKnight and senior defensive back Don Jones were all named to the Preseason All-SBC Team.
RED WOLVES TABBED SECOND IN PRESEASON SBC POLL: The Red Wolves were picked second in the preseason coaches poll announced as part of the league's annual Media Day. Arkansas State received 85 points and two first place votes, just behind Florida International, which received five first place votes and 92 points to earn the nod as the preseason favorite in the league race. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt Conference Championship a year ago after posting a perfect 8-0 record in league play during the 2011 season. Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Kentucky and Troy rounded out the top five in the poll, and FIU defensive lineman Tourek Williams was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
HIGHLY TOUTED RECRUITING CLASS: With a Parade All-American, Under Armour All-American, NJCAA All-American, 23 players that earned either junior college all-conference or high school all-state recognition and 18 players rated at least three stars by one or more of the major recruiting sources, the 2012 ASU signing class could be considered one of the best in the history of the ASU football program. Arkansas State had the top-rated class in the Sun Belt Conference by Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN.com and 247Sports.com.
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS: A-State returns five 2011 All-Sun Belt Conference players this season, including the league's Player of the Year in senior quarterback Ryan Aplin. Aplin was a first-team selection and was joined by second-team choices Josh Jarboe (Sr., WR) and Nathan Herrold (Sr., LB). Returning as honorable mention choices are senior wideout Taylor Stockemer and senior punter Neely Sullivent.
GODADDY.COM BOWL: Arkansas State accepted an official invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl last season following its victory over Middle Tennessee on Nov. 19, placing the Red Wolves in a bowl game for the first time since 2005 when they played Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl in Lafayette, La. ASU was bowl eligible for the first time since 2008, but for the fourth time over the last seven seasons. ASU reached bowl eligibility after just eight games, making last year the earliest ASU had ever been bowl eligible as an FBS member (since 1992).
SUN BELT CHAMPIONS: Arkansas State claimed its first ever outright Sun Belt Conference championship last season. Including 2011, Arkansas State has won eight conference championships all-time. ASU won the Southland Conference seven times (1986, 1985, 1978, 1975, 1970, 1969, 1968). ASU also won the 2005 Sun Belt Conference championship, but it was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions.
IN THE POLLS: Arkansas State received as many as 18 votes in the AP Top 25 Poll and 13 votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, while also ranking as high as No. 35 in the BCS and reaching No. 30 in the CBSSports.com 120 rankings during the season.
SENIOR BOWL WATCHLIST: ASU has two players on the inaugural Senior Bowl Watch list. Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin and senior wide out Josh Jarboe were added to the watch list on August 24.
APLIN ON NUMEROUS WATCH LISTS: An All-America and Heisman candidate, senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has garnered a significant amount of national attention this preseason as he is listed on the Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch List, Davey O'Brien Award Watch List, Johnny Unitas Award Watch List and the Manning Award Watch List. Video, action photos and biographical information for Aplin are all available on a Facebook Page, maintained by the ASU Sports Information Department, called "Ryan Aplin All-America and Heisman Campaign." Fans and media will be able to follow Aplin's 2012 season on the page, where updates will be posted throughout fall camp and the upcoming season.
ATHLON'S PRESEASON HONORS: The Red Wolves had six players named to Athlon's preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team, including senior quarterback Ryan Aplin (first team), senior wide receiver Josh Jarboe (first team), senior offensive lineman Zack McKnight (first team), senior linebacker Nathan Herrold (first team), junior defensive lineman Ryan Carrethers (second team) and senior safety Don Jones (second team).
PHIL STEELE'S PRESEASON HONORS: Phil Steele's preseason All-Sun Belt team featured 12 A-State players, including first team selections Ryan Aplin (Sr., QB) and Josh Jarboe (Sr., WR). ASU's 12 selections tied the fourth most in the league with Troy. Earning a spot on the second team were Taylor Stockemer (Sr., WR), Zack McKnight (Sr., OL), Nathan Herrold (Sr., LB), Chaz Scales (Sr., DB) and Andrew Tryon (So., DB), who made the team as a kick returner. The Red Wolves' third-team choices were Frankie Jackson (So., RB), Ryan Carrethers (Jr., DL) and Brian Davis (Jr., K), while Ishamail Hayes (Jr., DE) and Qushaun Lee (So., LB) were fourth-team selections.
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS PRESEASON HONORS: CollegeSportsMadness.com has announced its preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team, which includes Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Aplin (Sr., QB). Along with Aplin, Zack McKnight (Sr., OL) was named a first team choi