Five upperclassmen from the University of South Alabama football team received second-team all-Sun Belt Conference recognition when the league released its annual postseason honors on Thursday.
That group included seniors Bull Barge, Nigel Lawrence and Jamarius Way, as well as juniors Tra Minter and Tyree Turner. A total of nine Jaguars earned accolades as Darian Mills, Ryan Alexander, Jordon Beaton and Kawaan Baker were named honorable mention all-conference as well.
Way was also a second-team all-league selection in 2017, while Barge and Lawrence garnered honorable mention accolades last fall.
This season, Barge ranks second on the team with a career-best 79 total stops — which includes five behind the line of scrimmage, also a career-high figure — to go along with an interception, a pass broken up and three quarterback hurries. He posted four contests with 10 or more tackles, with all of those coming in league play as he ranks among the top 10 in conference games with an average of more than eight stops per outing. The linebacker led the Jaguars in tackles four times, recording a career high 13 at Arkansas State.
Lawrence paced South with a career-high 88 tackles this year despite missing 2½ games due to injury, ranking third in the Sun Belt in the category while adding a pair of passes defensed. The safety had five games with 10-plus stops and led the Jaguars in tackles on six occasions — both best on the team — highlighted by a performance in which he was credited with 17 stops at A-State, the most in the league this year. Lawrence also led USA in tackles in matchups with Appalachian State, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and Louisiana, all qualifiers for a postseason bowl berth.
Way set one school record with 61 receptions and tied another with eight touchdown catches this season, while his 855 receiving yards were the second-highest total posted by a Jag since the program's inception in 2009. In addition to standing among the top three in the Sun Belt in all three categories, the wide receiver's three touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Coastal Carolina on Senior Day were tied for the most in the conference this year. The league's Offensive Player of the Week following a defeat of Texas State in September, Way led South in catches nine times and recorded three 100-yard games in 2018.
Minter was honored both as a return specialist and all-purpose player, as he paces the league and is among the top 10 in the country in all-purpose yards per game after setting a school season record with 1,803 this fall. The running back was voted the conference's Special Teams Player of the Week following an October victory over Alabama State and was the final Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for a school game record 203 yards against the Chanticleers. Minter posted nine games with 100 or more all-purpose yards on the year — surpassing 200 in each of the Jaguars' last two outings — and is also among the top kick returners nationally with an average of 24.5 yards per return.
Among the league leaders in both tackles for loss and sacks with career-high totals of 10 and four, respectively, Turner also ended the year with a career-best 51 stops, the most among the team's defensive linemen. He led South in stops behind the line of scrimmage with a figure that was among the top 10 on the school's season record list, finishing second in sacks , and he was also credited with three quarterback hurries. Turner posted at least five stops on six occasions this fall, and made at least one tackle behind the line in nine outings.
In his final season at the collegiate level, Mills broke up a team-leading 10 passes and intercepted two others, adding 22 stops and a fumble recovery. The defensive back is one of three players in the Sun Belt averaging better than one pass defensed per outing, and he also ranks among the top 10 in picks after posting one in each of the last two games of the season.
Alexander started all but one contest on the offensive line this year, leading the team with 46 knockdown blocks while posting an 84 percent assignment grade. The junior had a season-best seven pancakes against both Louisiana and Louisiana Tech, adding six in matchups with Troy and Georgia Southern as well.
A junior-college transfer, Beaton collected 30 tackles — including six behind the line — two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in his first year with the program. The defensive lineman recorded career highs with six total stops and 1½ tackles for loss in the Jags' victory over Texas State.
Baker tied the school season record first set in 2009 with a total of 13 touchdowns this fall, reaching the end zone nine times on runs and with four scoring receptions. In his first season as a starter, he was second on the team with 33 catches for 494 yards as well as 251 yards rushing, posting 839 all-purpose yards in all.