BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Coming off a thrilling 47-31 victory for a perfect 10-0 regular season and the 2018 Gulf South Conference championship, Valdosta State had four Blazers earn specialty awards on the 2018 Gulf All-Gulf South Conference Football teams, announced Wednesday by the league office.
Sophomore quarterback Rogan Wells earned GSC Player of the Year honors, while redshirt freshman running back Jamar Thompkins was Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year. Freshman linebacker Jameon Gaskin was named Defensive Freshman of the Year and head coach Kerwin Bell was named Co-Coach of the Year with West Georgia head coach David Dean.
VSU, who has the nation's leading scoring offense at 52.2 points per game and the nation's fourth-best total offense at 536.3 yards per game, had six student-athletes named to the All-GSC First Team Offense. Wells and Thompkins also earned first team honors, while sophomore wide receiver Liu'undre Gallimore earned first team accolades, along with three offensive linemen in senior LaVonne Gauthney, junior Adonis Sealey and senior Jeremy King.
Senior Iseoluwapo Jegede was named All-GSC First Team Special Teams, while no Blazers earned first team defense honors. VSU freshman running back Seth McGill earned second team honors as an all-purpose back, while sophomore wide receiver Brian Saunds earned second team honors and junior offensive lineman Brandon Kemp also was named to the second team offense.
Jegede earned second team defense honors, along with junior Joe Mozone at defensive line and senior linebacker David Brown. VSU had two defensive backs on the second team as senior Stephen Denmark and junior Ravarius Rivers were honored. Senior kicker Andrew Gray earned second team honors round out the Blazers on the all-conference teams.
Wells, a native of Fort Mill, S.C., has started all 10 games for the Blazers this season and has thrown 28 touchdown passes this season to just four interceptions for a 153.97 passing efficiency on 148 of 272 passing. He ranks third on the team in rushing with 546 yards and leads the team with nine rushing touchdowns, while earning GSC Player of the Week honors five times this season marking the most in the league since 1990.
He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all ten games, while throwing a career-high five touchdown passes at West Alabama and Threw a season-high 364 yards and four touchdowns against Delta State. He rushed for a career-high 143 yards on 14 carries in the GSC Championship victory over No. 3 West Georgia on Saturday and has scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of the last six games.
Nationally speaking, wells ranks 21st in passing efficiency (153.97) for second in the GSC, while ranking eighth nationally in passing touchdowns (1st GSC) with 28. He is fifth nationally and first in the GSC in points responsible for (222), while ranking second in the GSC in rushing touchdowns with nine. Wells is 25th nationally and first in the GSC in total offense at 276.5 yards per game. For his career, he has 202 rushes for 1,038 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, while throwing 269 of 489 for 3,624 yards, 40 touchdowns and just seven interceptions and has played in 19 games 16 starts.
Wells is the first Blazer to be named Offensive Player of the Year since Gerald Ford (WR) in 2012. Wells is the first quarterback from VSU to win the honor since Dusty Bonner in 2001.
Thompkins has had an outstanding first season as a Blazer. He shares the honor with Delta State freshman quarterback Patrick Shegog. Thompkins leads the Blazers in rushing with 950 yards and has six rushing touchdowns on the year. He has played in all ten games with seven starts and has a 10.7 average per carry, while averaging 95 yards per game.
The Miami, Fla., native, has rushed for over 100 yards five times, including the last two games, and a career-high 180 yards at Mississippi College with two rushing touchdowns. He ranks third in the GSC in al-purpose yards at 100.5, while ranking second in the conference and 39thnationally in rushing yards (950) and second in the league/37thnationally in rushing yards per game (95.0). He has five catches for 55 yards on the year for 1005 all-purpose yards for the season.
Gaskin became the first VSU player to be named Defensive Freshman of the Year since the award began in 2008. Gaskin has played in all 10 games with nine starts this season, as he ranks third on the team in tackles with 55, while recording 25 solo stops. He has six tackles for loss for 24 yards, ranking tied for third on the team, while recording 2.5 sacks on the year for 21 yards. He has one pass breakup and three quarterback hurries.
The Douglas, Ga., native, tallied nine tackles twice this season and had one tackle for loss for 12 yards for a sack against Fort Valley State to earn GSC Freshman of the Week honors.
Bell, in his third year at VSU, is 23-7 at VSU and guided the Blazers to their first undefeated regular season since 2002, first outright conference title since 2004 and first league title since 2010 (share). This season marks the fourth time in program history VSU has gone undefeated in league play (2001, 2002, 2004). Bell now is 89-42 all-time in his 12thseason of coaching.
This is his second career Coach of the Year honor as he was named the Pioneer Football League Coach of the Year in 2008, guiding Jacksonville University to a 9-4 record and a league championship.
Bell becomes the first Blazer coach since David Dean, who he ironically shares the honor with this season, in 2010 to be named GSC Coach of the Year. Former VSU head coach Hal Mumme won the honor in 1996, while Chris Hatcher won it three consecutive years from 2000-2002 and Dean in 2010. Dean is in his second year now as head coach of West Georgia.
Click on the link at the top of the page for the complete 2018 All-GSC Football Teams.
The Blazers earned the No. 1-seed in the upcoming NCAA playoffs and will await the winner of No. 4 Bowie State (Md.) and No. 5 West Alabama for a second round game scheduled for Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Tickets are on sale for the game in the VSU Athletic Ticket Office, online at vstateblazers.com (and in the link at the top of this page), or by calling 229-333-SEAT.