BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern football team closed out its 2017 season with 13 Southern Athletic Association All-Conference honors, the most since 2012. Jamal Watkins (Hampton, Ga./Dodge City CC) earned his third straight special teams player of the year award. He is the first in SAA history to win player of the year honors in three consecutive seasons.
Watkins ranks nationally in nine categories, including third in punt return touchdowns and seventh in kickoff return touchdowns. He was top 40 nationally in all-purpose yards, combined kick returns, kickoff returns, and punt returns. Heavily impacting opponents kicking game strategy, Watkins led the league in all-purpose yards and is the only player in the conference with both a kickoff and punt returned for a touchdown.
Ryder Andrews (Homewood, Ala./Homewood HS) was named to second team at the kicker position and was an honorable mention punter. The Fred Mitchell Award finalist was nationally ranked in three categories, including fourth in field goals per game. He led the league in made field goals and was second in net punting and punts inside the 20 with 13. Andrews broke a program record by hitting a 51 yard field goal, the longest in the league, and sixth longest in the country this season.
Joining him on second team are Sy Butler (Childersburg, Ala./Childersburg HS) and Cedric Campbell (McDonough, Ga./Dutchtown HS). The pair are part of a defense that is nationally ranked in several categories, including total defense and turnovers gained. Butler ranked nationally in solo and total tackles. Playing out of the linebacker position, he was fourth in the league in solo tackles, and finished 10th in total tackles. Campbell was ninth in the conference in interceptions.
Earning spots on the honorable mention offense were Watkins, Austin Lewter (Tanner, Ala./Tanner HS), Chandler Hood (Suwanne, Ga./North Gwinnett HS), Chris Farrell (Douglasville, Ga./Alexander HS), and Kerrigan Pennington (Wagerville, Ala./Washington County HS). Watkins ranked top 40 nationally in receptions per game and all-purpose yards. Lewter played every offensive snap at left guard this season and Hood started all 10 games at right tackle as a true freshman. Farrell also started as a true freshman, but at the tight end position. And Pennington moved from quarterback to wide receiver where he finished top 20 in the league in all-purpose yards. He played all three skill positions on offense and also started on multiple special teams.
Defensively, Mitchell Milovich (Snellville, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian School), Hunter McEntire (Newton, Ala./Houston Academy), and Matthew Byers (Pelham, Ala./John Carroll Catholic HS) earned honorable mention. Milovich started all 10 games, playing 212 snaps at defensive tackle. He led the team in tackles for loss. McEntire ranked nationally in solo and total tackles. The linebacker set a school record for tackles in a season and finished second in the league in solo tackles. Byers adds this all-conference nod to his ever growing awards list. The cornerback ranked nationally in three categories, including eight in passes defended and 18th in interceptions. He led the league in interceptions (6) and pass breakups (13). His blocked kick resulted in a touchdown and he was second among defensive backs in the conference for total tackles.
BSC SAA All-Conference Awards
Special Teams Player of the Year