Dukes claim dozens of honors from all Athlon Sports preseason conferences
Football 25/05/2023 12:30:00
HARRISONBURG, Va. — Athlon Sports recognized 11 James Madison student-athletes with 12 preseason honors as the organization this week rolled out its preseason All-Sun Belt conference team for the 2023 season.
Headlining the JMU roster were a quartet of first-team All-Sun Belt winners in defensive lineman James Carpenter, offensive lineman Nick Kidwell, punter Ryan Hanson and linebacker Taurus. Jones.
Receiver Reggie Brown, offensive lineman Tyler Stephens and linebacker Jailin Walker were on the second team. Third-team accolades went to running back Kaelon Black as an all-around player, tight end Zach Horton and offensive lineman Tanner Morris, while Josh Sarratt earned fourth-team accolades both in safety and punt return.
Carpenter started all 11 games at the nose guard last season, earning Second-Team All-Sun Belt and VaSID First Team All-State honors. He had 52 tackles including 11.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Stephens and Morris started all 11 games in play, while Kidwell made nine starts at right tackle. Kidwell was a second-team All-Sun Belt winner and won first-team All-State laurels. The group helped JMU rank 13th nationally and first in the Sun Belt in scoring, at 37.0 points per game. The Dukes ranked 29th in the FBS and third in the SBC in total offense (452.5). JMU also led the conference and ranked seventh nationally in yards per completion (14.52), while its passing average (265.7) was third in the Sun Belt and its rushing average (186, 7) was fourth.
Hanson joined the program in the spring after spending the previous three at SBC foe Arkansas State. Previously a third-team All-Sun Belt punter in 2021, Hanson played in 35 career games, averaging 43.1 yards per punt. Last season he had 48 punts with an average of 43.7 per attempt.
Jones was a third-team All-Sun Belt linebacker in his first season as a starter in 2022. Also named a second-team All-State, he led the Dukes with 82 tackles with 10.5 for a loss , a bag and a pair of forced. escapes and recoveries. Jones also had five passes defended, including his first career interception.
Brown is JMU’s leading returner in the wide receiver room and just completed his first season as a primary starter. In eight games with five starts last fall, Brown had 24 receptions for 401 receiving yards and four touchdowns. That included a career-high 136 yards at Georgia Southern.
Walker, a 2022 All-Sun Belt honorable mention pick, had a strong freshman year starting at linebacker. He produced 63 tackles including three for a loss and a sack. He also led the team with three steals and two pick-sixes while adding five pass breakups. Walker was also a Pro Football Network Midseason All-American Honorable Mention.
Black returned from a season-ending injury last year, appearing in nine games starting at running back. Named Offensive Rookie of the Year in the VaSID College Division, Black rushed 69 times for 333 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.8 per carry. He also added 17 catches and 177 receiving yards with a pair of scores. His season was highlighted by a season-high 108 all-purpose yards at App State, where he rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Horton is JMU’s top tight returner in 2023 after appearing in all 11 games with five starts a season ago. In JMU’s first FBS campaign, he had 13 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Sarratt played in all 11 games with 10 safe starts while serving as JMU’s leading punt returner in 2022. He had 40 tackles with 4.5 for a loss and a sack. On the return side, Sarratt averaged 5.9 per return on 19 attempts, with four of 10 or more yards.
The official team for all of the league’s preseason conferences will be announced ahead of the Sun Belt conference media days, which take place July 25-26 in New Orleans.