BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southwestern Athletic Conference released its 2018 SWAC Preseason Teams Friday with two-time defending SWAC Champion and Celebration Bowl representative Grambling State being tabbed for the most individual honors with 15 overall selections including 10 first-team choices.
The Tigers have built a reputation of success under head coach Broderick Fobbs, who has led the team to a 39-11 mark in four seasons at the helm.
The teams, that were selected by the league's head coaches and sports information directors, were announced during SWAC Football Media Day in Birmingham.
Senior P.J. Simmons was the voters’ choice for the SWAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year award. In 2017, the running back made the most of his split work with teammate and All-SWAC First Team selection De’Lance Turner as Simmons averaged 8.6 yards per carry to total 80 carries for 687 yards and seven touchdowns.
Grambling State De’Arius Christmas was tabbed as the SWAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after ranking among the best in the conference in several categories including tackles (88), tackles for a loss (17.5), sacks (4.5) and forced fumbles (two).
Alcorn State had the second most selections with 11 including four first teamers followed by Prairie View A&M with seven (two first team selections), Alabama State with six (all on second team). Arkansas-Pine Bluff garnered four, including three first teamers, while Alabama A&M three and Southern and Mississippi Valley State each had two representatives.
Joining Simmons on the preseason first-team offense were: Alcorn State quarterback Noah Johnson, Arkansas-Pine Bluff running back KeShawn Williams, offensive linemen Mustaffa Ibrahim (Alcorn State), Jeremiah Abby (Southern), William Waddell and Kyle Davis (both of Grambling State) and Corbin Finlayson (Prairie View A&M), wide receivers Quinn McElfresh (Mississippi Valley State) and Darrell Clark (Grambling State) and tight end Jordan Jones (Grambling State).
Joining Christmas on the preseason first-team defense were: a trio of defensive linemen from Grambling State in Linwood Banks, La’Allan Clark and Brandon Varner as well as Alabama A&M DL Vernon Moland, linebackers Patrick Harbin (Mississippi Valley State) and Trae Ferrell (Alcorn State), and defensive backs Dylan Hamilton (Alabama A&M), Andre Augustine (Southern), Ju’Anthony Parker (Prairie View A&M) and Percy Cargo (Grambling State).
Four-time defending East Division champion Alcorn State was named the preseason favorite to win the East again with 95 points. Alabama State was selected to finish in second with 72 points, Jackson State received 55 points, followed by Alabama A&M (51) and Mississippi Valley State (27).
In the West Division, reigning two-time SWAC champion Grambling State was chosen as the overall favorite, receiving a conference-best 96 points. Southern was second with 78 points, Prairie View A&M third with 65 points, while Texas Southern (31) and Arkansas Pine Bluff (30) rounded out the order of finish.