ASU at North Texas in-depth preview
ASU (5-3, 3-1) at North Texas (3-5, 2-2)
4 p.m. Saturday, Apogee Stadium, Denton, Texas
ON TAP: One victory away from reaching bowl eligibility, Arkansas State has won its last three games and carries a six-game road winning streak against conference opponents into its game Saturday against North Texas. Every A-State game can be heard live on 107.9 FM (Jonesboro), 93.3 FM (Little Rock) and AstateRedWolves.com.
THE PRINCIPALS: Winners in four of its past five games, A-State moved its overall record to 5-3 and Sun Belt Conference mark to 3-1 with a 50-27 road victory over Louisiana-Lafayette its last time out. The Red Wolves' three-game winning streak is their longest since ending the 2011 regular season on a nine-game winning streak. ASU is one victory from achieving bowl eligibility for the fifth time over the past eight seasons. Following a 38-21 setback at Middle Tennessee, North Texas is 3-5 overall and 2-2 in Sun Belt play. The Mean Green has split its last four games and is 2-1 at home, its only setback a 14-7 loss to Troy. North Texas will host ASU in its 2012 Homecoming contest.
AN A-STATE VICTORY WOULD . . . : Make it bowl eligible for the second straight year and fifth time over the last eight seasons . . . Extend its winning streak in road conference games to seven . . . Give it eight consecutive victories against North Texas . . . Give it 12 wins over its last 13 conference games . . . Extend its winning streak against teams from the state of Texas to nine.
THE ASU-NORTH TEXAS SERIES: Arkansas State is 13-8 all-time against North Texas and has won the last seven meetings, including a 31-24 victory at Fouts Field in 2005 that secured its spot in the New Orleans Bowl. While A-State claimed a 37-14 victory over the Mean Green last year in Jonesboro, five of the last seven meetings between the two teams have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Red Wolves' seven-game winning streak against the Mean Green is their longest against any Sun Belt Conference opponent. The all-time series dates back to the 1983 season, when NT defeated ASU 17-0 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
OLD TIES: While Arkansas State and North Texas have met the past 11 seasons as Sun Belt Conference opponents, it is not the first time the two teams have shared a league. Both the Red Wolves and the Mean Green were members of the Big West Conference at the same time from 1999-2000 and the Southland Conference from 1983-1986.
BY THE NUMBERS . . .
· 0 sacks allowed by the offensive line in four of ASU's first eight games.
· 1 ASU's 2012 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the Sun Belt by Rivals, ESPN.com, Scout and 247Sports.com.
· 1 ASU's rank in the Sun Belt Conference in rushing offense and pass defense.
· 2 ASU players named an SBC Defensive Player of the Week, including LB's Nathan Herrold and Qushaun Lee.
· 2 A-State players (David Oku and Rod Smith) with a 100-yard rushing game this season.
· 2 touchdown receptions needed by Taylor Stockemer to become ASU's career leader in the stat.
· 3 conferences shared by ASU and NT all-time, including the Sun Belt, Big West and Southland.
· 3 rushing yards needed by Ryan Aplin to become the Sun Belt's third all-time leader in the stat among QB's.
· 3 receptions needed by Josh Jarboe to tie the 10th most in school history for a career.
· 4 games this season with over 200 yards rushing by the ASU offense.
· 4 field goals needed by Brian Davis to become ASU's second all-time leader in the stat.
· 4 of the last seven seasons have seen Arkansas State achieve bowl eligibility with at least six victories.
· 4 or more receptions by J.D. McKissic in every game this season.
· 5 games this season in which Brian Davis has made multiple field goals.
· 5 games this season the ASU defense hasn't allowed 200 yards passing.
· 5.1 yards per rush by A-State, matching the single-season school record set in 1989.
· 6 consecutive road victories by A-State against conference opponents, the most since 1973-75.
· 6.1 yards per play by the ASU offense, which would be the highest in school history for a single season.
· 7.0 tackles for loss recorded by Tim Starson, tied for the sixth most in the Sun Belt Conference.
· 7 straight victory by ASU against North Texas, dating back to the 2005 season.
· 7 consecutive winning seasons at Liberty Bank Stadium, including a 6-0 mark in 2011.
· 8 A-State games scheduled to be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3.com in 2012.
· 8 consecutive games won by A-State against teams from the state of Texas.
· 9 of the last 10 years the football team has won the Sun Belt Conference Team Academic Award.
· 9.5 tackles per game by Nathan Herrold, tied for the 2nd highest avg. in the SBC and 32nd highest in the nation.
· 11 A-State victories in its last 12 conference games played, dating back to the 2011 season.
· 13 receptions by Josh Jarboe against Oregon, tying the most in ASU history.
· 14 Brian Davis' national rank in field goals made (1.6 per game).
· 15 first-time starters for A-State this season, tied for the 9th most in the nation.
· 19 statistical categories in which ASU ranks among the top half of the league, including total offense and defense.
· 20 A-State's national rank in rushing offense (220.4 yards per game).
· 21 combined single game, season and career school records held by Ryan Aplin.
· 22 ASU's national rank in pass defense (195.5 yards per game).
· 22 consecutive games with at least one sack recorded by the A-State defense.
· 27 ASU's national rank in total offense (458.4 yards per game).
· 34 J.D. McKissic's national rankin in receptions per game (6.3 pg).
· 37 consecutive games with a reception by Taylor Stockemer, the second most in the nation.
· 39 Ryan Aplin's national rank in pass efficiency (141.23).
· 50 receptions by J.D. McKissic, the most ever by an Arkansas State freshman.
· 68 yards needed by Taylor Stockemer to take over third place at ASU for career receiving yards.
· 93 consecutive passes by Ryan Aplin without an interception, dating back to the WKU game.
· 112 career receptions by Taylor Stockemer, making him one of 7 players in ASU history with 100+ catches.
· 300 yards or more of total offense recorded by ASU in 31 of its last 33 games.
· 400+ yards of total offense recorded by A-State in five of its first eight games.
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 won the 2010 Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate assistant coach.
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 421-457-37 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.
LONE STAR SUCCESS: Dating back to the 2007 season, Arkansas State has won its last eight games against teams from the Lone Star state. The Red Wolves fell to Texas in their 2007 season opener, but came back to sweep their games over SMU and North Texas that year. A-State knocked off Texas A&M, Texas Southern and North Texas in 2008 and also defeated the Mean Green in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
A-STATE vs. THE SUN BELT: A-State is 74-64-1 all-time against current members of the Sun Belt Conference. Since the league's inaugural football season in 2001, the Red Wolves hold a 45-37 on-field record against all opponents that have been a member of the league. Against current members of the conference, ASU is 40-33 since 2001. The Red Wolves hold their most all-time victories against Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette with 19 against both. 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.
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. Davis' five field goals, just two shy of matching the NCAA record for a single game, were the most by a Sun Belt Conference player this year and tied the third most in the nation this season. His 20 points scored by kick were just three shy of his own Sun Belt Conference record and the third most in the nation this year. Both his points scored by kick and field goals made tie the second most in Sun Belt and Arkansas State history. Davis' first field goal covered 47 yards to tie the longest of his career, while his other makes came from 45, 29, 22 and 21 yards out.
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 . . . The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in September. Nationwide fan voting is underway to help select the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through December 3. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2012-13 bowl season.
ROAD WARRIORS: Arkansas State has won six 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 is 2-0 in those outings this year.
IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Arkansas State is one of 39 teams in the nation to play at least eight true freshman this season. A-State's eight true freshmen played ranks tied for the 36th 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, the 30th 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 ninth most in the nation with 10 other teams (including North Texas). Hawai'i leads the nation with 26 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 6.1 yards per play, 458.4 yards per game and 5.1 yards per rush, all of which would break or tie the school record for a single season. The current school records for a season are 6.0 yards per play (2008), 447.8 yards per game (2011) and 5.1 yards per rush (1989).
300-PLUS: Dating back to the 2010 season, Arkansas State has posted at least 300 yards of total offense 31 of its past 33 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.
LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: After scoring 33 or more points in six games this year, A-State has posted at least 30 points in 14 of its last 19 regular-season games dating back to last season. The Red Wolves 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 seven picks over the last five games. The Red Wolves have recorded at least one interception in four of the last five games, including a season-high three against Louisiana-Lafayette last week. Senior cornerback Chaz Scales is the only ASU player with multiple interceptions this season (2).
ALL-PURPOSE THREAT: While junior running back David Oku has recorded only one 100-yard rushing game, his rushing and receiving total combined has exceeded 100 yards in four 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) and UL Lafayette (83 rush, 24 receiving, 107 total). He has caught at least one pass in all but one game and is ranked tied for fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in all-purpose yards at 99.2 per game.
BEST TOTALS SINCE 2009: Just eight games into the season, senior running back David Oku's 627 rushing yards and eight touchdowns are both already the most by an ASU running back since Reggie Arnold recorded 723 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2009. Oku leads the team in rushing yards and is ranked third in the Sun Belt Conference.
TOPPING THE TOTAL OFFENSE CHARTS: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin broke the Sun Belt Conference record for total offense career yards during the FIU game, finishing the game with 273 yards to give him 10,365 for his career at the time. Aplin passed ULM's Steve Jyles (10,234 yards from 2002-05) for the record. Additionally, he is ranked second all-time in the league in passing yards (9,276), third in touchdown passes (55) and completions (790) and fourth in rushing yards by a quarterback (1,566).
QB Ryan Aplin
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT: Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin has tossed at least one touchdown in 32 of his last 36 games dating back to his freshman season. Aplin has also thrown for at least 200 yards 28 times in his career and all 28 have come over ASU's last 35 games. Additionally, he has 15 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:
4th, career total offense yards (10,842)
5th, career passing yards (9,276)
6th, career TD responsible for (84)
6th, career completions (790)
12th, career touchdown passes (55)
T19th, career rushing touchdowns (28)
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 37 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 44 straight games. Stockemer had his best games of the year the last two times out, recording season highs of four receptions against both USA and ULL and a combined 128 yards and a touchdown.
AT LEAST FOUR: Redshirt freshman receiver J.D. McKissic has recorded at least four receptions in every game this season, including a career-high eight against Memphis, Nebraska and Western Kentucky. He now has a team-high 50 catches to place him third in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 34th in the nation in receptions. McKissic also has a team-best 513 receiving yards, which ranks fourth in the SBC.
CAREER YEAR: Just eight games into the season, nine of ASU's top 14 tacklers that aren't newcomers have posted the most stops of their career for a single season. ASU's top six leaders in tackles also includes three players with career-best numbers, including sophomore linebacker Qushaun Lee (55 this year, 49 in 2011), junior defensive line Ryan Carrethers (45 this year, 35 combined for 2010-11) and senior defensive end Tim Starson (40 this year, 39 combined for 2009-11).
PLAYING IN THE BACKFIELD: Senior defensive end Tim Starson has a team-high 7.0 tackles for loss, but senior linebacker Nathan Herrold and junior defensive end Eddie Porter aren't far behind with 4.5 and 5.0, respectively. Herrold has recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in six of the last seven games and Porter at least one in four straight outings. Starson has at least a partial TFL in five games this year as well.
CONTROLLING THE INTERIOR: Junior Ryan Carrethers recorded a career-high 10 tackles for the second time this season two games ago against South Alabama from his interior defensive lineman position. Not only is Carrethers ranked fourth on the team and 33rd in the Sun Belt in tackles among all players, he easily leads the league in tackles by all defensive linemen with 45 (6.4 per game) to his credit.
HERALDED PEFORMANCE: Senior linebacker Nathan Herrold recorded a career-high 17 tackles against South Alabama two games ago, 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 76 tackles, placing him second in the Sun Belt Conference and tied for 32nd in the nation in tackles per game (9.5). Herrold has also recorded at least a partial tackle for loss in six of ASU's last seven games.
KICK IT INTO GEAR: Junior kicker Brian Davis has made multiple field goals in five of ASU's eight games this season and 10 times during his career. He needs three field goals 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 four of its first eight games and 400 or more in five 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.
REACHING THE CENTURY MARK: Sophomore running back Rod Smith broke 100 yards rushing for the first time of his career against Alcorn State with a career-high 104 yards. He was the second ASU player to rush for 100 yards in a game this season, joining David Oku (111 yards vs. Memphis). A-State had a running back record over 100 yards in a rushing in a game only once all of last season.
HOME SWEET HOME: With a 6-0 home record last season, Arkansas State secured its seventh consecutive winning record at Liberty Bank Stadium dating back to 2005. ASU is now 34-8 at ASU Stadium since the 2005 season. The Red Wolves actual on-field record all-time at Liberty Bank Stadium is 126-71-1 since it opened in 1974. ASU's six home wins last season were its most since 1985.
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 9-3 record in all midweek games. ASU has won its last four midweek games, including a 34-20 victory over FIU on a Thursday night and a 50-27 win over UL Lafayette on a Tuesday night this year.
ATTENDANCE FIGURES: The Liberty Bank crowd of 25,160 for the ASU-WKU game made it the largest to ever watch A-State play a conference game in Jonesboro. The next largest was 24,256 when ASU hosted Middle Tennessee in 2008 . . . ASU's first four home games all drew a crowd of over 20,000, marking the first time in school history the Red Wolves played four consecutive home games with 20,000-plus in attendance. Not only that, this is the first time ASU has had crowds of over 20,000 in four games over the course of an entire 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.
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.
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.