SWAC revises pre-season honors

Alabama A&M picked to win the conference.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 3:24 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2021 3:31 PM

With Alcorn State opting out of the Spring 2021 season, the SWAC has revised its pre-season honors.

Now, Alabama A&M has been picked as this year's favorite with senior quarterback Aqeel Glass (St. Louis, Mo.) being named the new Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

The Bulldogs led the original tally with nine Preseason All-SWAC selections and added to that total with the addition of Second-Team honorees junior running back Gary Quarles (Cottondale, Ala.) and sophomore offensive lineman Jonathan Williams (Mobile, Ala.). On top of that, Glass' star continues to rise as he moved from Second-Team up to the First-Team.

In terms of the preseason poll, Alabama A&M takes over the top spot with 83 points and a whopping 13 first place votes. That places them well ahead of Jackson State (63) in the East Division as the Tigers collected three first place votes with Alabama State behind them with 61 and two, respectively, and Mississippi Valley State at 40 points.

Headlining the class are First-Team choices senior quarterback Aqeel Glass (St. Louis, Mo.), sophomore wide receiver Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim (Miramar, Fla.), senior tight end Kendric Johnson (New Market, Ala.), junior linebacker Marcus Cushnie (Broward County, Fla.), redshirt-senior cornerback Amari Holloway (Pinson, Ala.) and senior kicker/punter Spencer Corey (New Palestine, Ind.).

A Second-Team choice a year ago, Glass played all 12 games while anchoring the top passing attack in the SWAC. He threw for exactly 3,600 yards to lead the league by more than 600 yards over the next closest player and his 32 touchdowns was second -- by one - for the SWAC lead. That performance, and the expectation of much more of the same this year, has earned him the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year recognition and a berth on the First-Team.

In 11 games last year Ibrahim caught 59 balls and racked up 1,004 yards, second most on the team, while leading the club with 11 receiving touchdowns. Additionally, he placed in the top five in the league in receiving yards and TDs, receptions per game (5.4) and receiving yards per game (91.3) and was one of just three wideouts to surpass 1,000 yards. That performance netted him SWAC Freshman of the Year honors.

Johnson earned his spot on the team following a Second-Team selection a year ago that saw him record 24 catches for 275 yards. While playing in all 12 games he snagged four touchdowns and averaged better than 11 yards a grab.

On the defensive side of the ball, Cushnie is set to build off of a 2019 First-Team honor after coming away with 39 tackles -- 27 solo -- and a team-high seven sacks. He also recorded eight quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, a recovery and a blocked kick over the course of 12 games.

A Second-Team choice following last season, Holloway earns the Preseason First-Team nod following 114 total tackles, 62 of them on his own, and three QB hurries. No stranger to the backfield, he also registered four sacks and a team-high 14.5 tackles for loss.

Spencer continues to be one of the best specialists in the league as he comes off of a First-Team performance in 2019. That season he notched 57 punts and placed 14 of them inside the 20-yard line. He forced 18 fair catches and boomed seven punts 50 yards or more, including a long of 63.

Earning spots on the Second-Team are sophomore and junior offensive linemen Dexter Fuqua II (Tanner, Ala.) and Williams, respectively, senior wide receiver Zabrian Moore (Tuscaloosa, Ala.), Quarles and redshirt-linebacker Quantravis Kelly (Montgomery, Ala.).

While Glass had the passing and touchdown numbers all last year, that doesn't necessarily happen without the efforts of Fuqua and Williams. The pair of 6-2 road graders were a staple on an offensive line that allowed for not only all of those lofty passing numbers but also the league's leading rusher and First-Team choice in Jordan Bentley. Fuqua helped Bentley to a SWAC best 1,417 total yards on the ground and a league best average of 118.1.

They also paved the way for Quarles to earn a spot on this year's team following a strong 2019 campaign. A key contributor to last season's prolific offense, he recorded 281 yards on the ground, finding the endzone once, while snagging eight balls for 80 yards in 12 games. A versatile back, Quarles was also the team's primary kick returner, running back 26 on the season for 573 yards. That included a long of 54 against Morehouse (9/1) in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic and a season average of 22.04, the latter ranking sixth in the league.

Rounding out the offensive honorees was another recipient of a number of those touchdowns in Moore. Seeing action in all 12 games, he was not only one of three wideouts to surpass 1,000 yards receiving but led the SWAC with 1,057 yards. On top of that he caught nine touchdowns to finish second on the team behind Ibrahim and sixth in the league.

The lone Second-Team defensive selection for the Spring 2021 season is an integral part of last year's unit in Kelly. In 12 games he recorded 80 tackles -- 40 solo and 40 assisted - and had eight of those for loss. Additionally he produced three sacks, a pair of interceptions, a forced fumble and had two recoveries.

Alabama A&M is set to embark upon the most unique season in program history next month as they compete in the spring for the first time in program history. Necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Bulldogs regularly scheduled 2020 season will begin on Saturday, March 27 when they host Grambling at Louis Crews Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year - Aqeel Glass, QB, Alabama A&M
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year - Keonte Hampton, LB, Jackson State

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