RICHARDSON, Texas - In their first season in the American Southwestern Conference, the Southwestern University Pirates earned a third place finish and landed 13 student-athletes in 14 spots on the ASC All-Conference football team on Friday afternoon.
Sophomore quarterback Frederick Hover, along with senior defensive backs Nik Kelly and DeeJay Johnson all got a spot on the first team. Junior tight end AJ Daniels, junior guard James Smat, sophomore tackle TJ Vela, and freshman running back Elijah Smith all earned second team honors while freshman running back David Brandenburg, sophomore kicker Luke Fierst, senior defensive lineman Kyle Perlowski, freshman linebacker Ben Brockman, senior punter Grayson Beck, and Kelly, as a kick returner, were honorable mention nominees. Junior running back Markell Henderson was named to the All-ASC Sportsman Team.
Hover, a sophomore quarterback from McAllen, Texas, had an outstanding season, finishing second in the ASC in rushing with 1100 yards on 215 carried and 14 touchdowns to go with 1865 yards passing, 16 tocuhdowns, and only four interceptions. Hover even caught a touchdown to bring his touchdown total to 31. He led the Southwestern offense to ninth ranked rushing offense in the nation at 287.8 yards/game and the 11th ranked total offense in the nation at 492.6 yards/game.
Hover was named ASC Player of the Week on three separate occasions and was a big part in numerous offensive team records in two games this season. He had six 3 touchdown or more games including a seven touchdown game against Belhaven where he threw for four, rushed for two, and caught one while also finishing with over 200 yards in both passing and rushing. Hover rushed for 100+ yards in six games including two 200+ yard games.
Kelly, a senior defensive back from League City, Texas, wraps up an illustrious career as one of the top pass defenders in the entire nation among all divisions. Kelly finished his career with 58 passes defended, good for first in all divisions in a four year career, and 17 interceptions, good for second. Kelly was second in the ASC in passes defended with 14 and interceptions with four. Kelly finished with 41 tackles including four tackles for loss. Kelly finished 12th in the nation in passes defended per game at 1.8 as he finished with a total of 18 pass breakups. Kelly had two or more breakups in five games this season including two separate games with three.
Kelly was also a danger in returning kicks where he also earned honorable mention honors. He had 33 kick returns averaging 22.6 yards/return and a long of 55 yards. He also had 11 punt returns for 80 yards.
On the other side of Kelly was Johnson, a senior from Humble, Texas, who was third in the ASC with 15 pass breakups on the season. In a league that featured some of the best offenses in the nation, Kelly and Johnson were a huge reason that Southwestern finished fourth in the ASC in total defense. Johnson finished with 28 tackles on the second including a pair of interceptions. Johnson had two or more breakups in four different contests this season.
Daniels, a junior from Benbrook, Texas, did a little bit of everything for the Pirates this season. Daniels was one of the premier blocking tight ends in the ASC and also caught 15 passes for 299 yards and four scores. Daniels averaged an incredible 19.9 yards/catch which showed in his big play ability, hauling in numerous long passing plays for long gains. Daniels also rushed for a touchdown and even passed for a touchdown, showing his ability to hurt you from anywhere on the field.
Smat, a junior guard from Benbrook, Texas, and Vela, a sophomore tackle from Odem, Texas, were each menaces on a great offensive line. Smat and Vela led the Pirates offensive line to 287.8 yards on the ground, good for first in the ASC and ninth in the nation, 492.6 yards of total offense, good for third in the ASC and 11th in the nation, and 36.1 points/game, good for fifth in the ASC. The Pirates offensive line were first in the ASC in sacks against, allowing only 10 sacks all season.
Smith, a freshman running back from Wylie, Texas, had an incredible rookie campaign, rushing 107 times for 594 yards and four scores. He also caught 13 passes out of the backfield for 201 yards and a touchdown. The rookie averaged 5.6 yards/carry and had three games with 100 or more yards rushing. Smith averaged 5.0 yards/carry in five contests this season including two contests where his average was above 8.0 yards/carry. Smith had 13 carries for 135 yards and two scores early in the season against McMurry.
Brandenburg, another freshman running back from Spring, Texas, rushing 36 times for 317 yards and a touchdown, averaging an amazing 8.8 yards/carry. Brandenburg also caught 22 passes, second on the team, for 156 yards and a score. Brandenburg was typically a big playmaker when he touched the ball whether in the backfield or as a receiver.
Fierst, a sophomore kicker from Kerrville, Texas, was 8 of 13 on the season in field goals and 39 of 41 in PATs for a total of 63 points. His longest field goal came from 43 yards against UMHB. Fierst kicked two game winning field goals including the game winner with under 45 seconds to play against Louisiana College and the game winner as time expired against Sul Ross State.
Perlowski, a senior defensive lineman from Lorena, Texas, finished with 22 tackles on the season including five tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and an interception. Perlowski even had a pass breakup as he did a little bit of everything. Perlowski came away with an INT against UMHB and had a four tackle game, including two tackles for loss, against McMurry.
Brockman, a freshman linebacker from Midland, Texas, was impressive in his rookie season, finishing second on the team with 59 tackles including second on the Pirates with 8.5 tackles for loss, two sackes, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups, and a blocked kick. Brockman saved one of his best contests for last with a 14 tackle game including a sack against TLU.
Beck, a senior punter from Houston, Texas, finished with 33 punts fo 1275 yards, averaging 38.6 yards/punt with his longest coming from 54 yards. Beck placed eight inside the 20 and forced 11 fair catches throughout the year.
Henderson, a junior from San Antonio, Texas, rushed 26 times for 148 yards and a touchdown while catching six passes for 126 yards and a score.
The Pirates football team finished 6-4 on the season including a 6-3 record in the ASC.