VALDOSTA, Ga. - A record nine Valdosta State football players garnered All-America honors as the D2Football.com and Don Hansen Football Gazette teams were announced Thursday and Friday.
Leading the way for the Blazers was senior offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder, who earned first team honors from both organizations after receiving the same from the American Football Coaches Association and Daktronics. Schraeder, who finished as the runner-up for the Gene Upshaw Award as the nation's top lineman, started all 14 games during the Blazers' championship runa nd graded out at 95.5 percent on the season. He allowed just two quarterback hits on the year while recording a team-best 69 knockdown blocks.
Joining Schraeder on the first team Don Hansen team while also garnering second team D2 honors was fellow offensive lineman, senior guard Edmund Kugbila. Kugbila also started all 14 games on the year and graded out at 93.8 percent while reocrding 64 knockdown blocks and not allowing a sack on the year.
The remaining six players earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades, including two who received the honor from both organizations. Junior wide receiver Gerald Ford, who was the GSC Offensive Player of the Year, was recognized by both the Don Hansen team and D2Football.com after catching 69 passes for 1,026 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year. He was joined in Honorable Mentions honors on both teams by junior linebacker Chris Pope. Pope led Valdosta State with 127 tackles on the season, including 6.5 tackles for loss, and had six quarterback hurries while intercepting one pass and recovering two fumbles.
Senior cornerback Matt Pierce received Honorable Mention Honors from D2Football.com as he tallied 48 tackles, four interceptions and 11 passes broken up on the year while four additional players were lauded on the Don Hansen squad. Junior quarterback Cayden Cochran led the group after passing for 2,710 yards and 26 touchdowns while running for 350 yards and 11 more scores. A third offensive lineman, senior tackle Mesh Wokomaty, also earned Honorable Mention after leading VSU with a 95.6 grade and registering 50 knockdown blocks.
The final two Honorable Mention honorees on the Don Hansen team came from the defensive line, in senior end Tyler Josey and junior tackle Lawrence Virgil. Josey tallied 47 tackles on the season, including 13.5 for loss. His 10.0 sacks on the year tied for the eighth-highest total in school history and he also intercepted a pass, broke up three more and forced four fumbles. Meanwhile, Virgil had 52 total tackles, including 12.0 for loss. forced two fumbles while also recovering two and broke up a pass.
Blazer Head Coach David Dean also was named the Coach of the Year by both organizations after having previously earned the honor from the AFCA as well.
The nine All-America honorees in 2012 surpassed the old school record of six set during Valdosta State's 2004 national championship run.