Valdosta, GA - Two Valdosta State football players have earned All-America honors, according to an announcement made by Daktronics and the College Sports Information Directors of America on Tuesday.
The duo was led by senior linebacker Larry Dean, who in addition to being named first team All-America, was also tabbed the National Defensive Player of the Year, the first Blazer to ever earn that honor. Dean enjoyed a stellar season as he registered a career-high 122 tackles en route to becoming the Valdosta State and Gulf South Conference career tackles record holder. Dean, who finished his career with 368 tackles, also registered 8.5 tackles for loss, finishing his career sixth in the VSU career record book with 33.0. Dean intercepted one pass on the year, which he returned for a touchdown, and returned a fumble recovery for a score while also breaking up three passes, forcing a fumble and blocking a kick. The National Defensive Player of the Year award gave Dean a sweep of the honor on the year as he was also named the GSC and South Region Defensive Player of the Year.
Joining Dean on the first team All-America squad was senior cornerback Stevie Harden. Harden tied an NCAA and Gulf South Conference as he returned four interceptions for touchdowns during the season. On the year, Harden tallied eight interceptions and recovered a fumble, which he also returned for a score to give him five defensive touchdowns on the season, just one shy of the unofficial NCAA record. Harden also broke up eight passes while tallying 32 tackles, forcing a fumble and blocking two kicks on the season.
The Daktronics All-America team is voted on by sports information directors at universities nationwide.