BIRMINGHAM — North Alabama had ten members of its football team selected for the 2012 All-Gulf South Conference team, with Floyd Jones winning GSC Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
UNA had five players selected for first-team All-GSC honors and five named to the second-team.
The Lions’ first-team selections include senior defensive lineman Richie Mata’afa of Temecula, Calif., junior linebacker Tavarius Wilson of Jackson, Miss., junior defensive back Caleb Massey of Sulligent, junior punter Michael Schuster of Decatur and senior long-snapper Josh Roberts of Wetumpka.
UNA’s list of second-team All-GSC selections includes freshman running back Lamonte Thompson of Florence, junior offensive guard David Lundberg of Winfield, senior offensive tackle Will Furlong of DeLand, Fla., junior linebacker Brion James of Hahnville, La., and Jones, of Town Creek.
Mata’afa, a two-year starter for the Lions, finished the season with 36 tackles and led UNA with 9.5 tackles for loss and four quarterback sacks.
Wilson was GSC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in UNA’s season-opener against Miles and went on to lead the team and the GSC in tackles for the season with 112. He is just the fourth UNA player since 1999 to record more than 100 tackles in a season. He had 41 solo tackles and 71 assists and added 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery.
Massey set a school-record in 2012 with a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown against Texas A&M-Kingsville that helped UNA record a 21-16 win. He earned HSC Defensive Player of the Week honors for that performance and finished the season as the Lions’ second-leading tackler with 87 total stops. He was also second in the GSC in tackles. He intercepted five passes and returned them for 142 yards and two TDs. He also broke-up four passes, forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Schuster averaged 41.9 yards per punt in 2012 and had just 11 of his 41 punts returned. He had 12 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and opponents had to fair catch another 15.
Roberts has served as UNA’s starting long-snapper for four straight seasons (2009-12) and has been a model of consistency for the Lions.
Thompson was UNA’s leading rusher with 130 catches for 690 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman. Lundberg is a three-year letterman and two-year starter on the UNA offensive line. Furlong is a four-year member of the UNA football program and three-year starter. James finished fifth on the UNA team in tackles with 56 and added six tackles for loss and forced one fumble.
Jones started all 10
games at safety for the Lions as a true freshman and finished third on the team in tackles with 62. He also picked off two passes that he returned 17 yards and recovered a fumble. He is the seventh UNA player to receive a GSC Freshman of the Year award but the first since DeMarcus Blount in 2002. UNA’s other previous GSC Freshmen of the Year recipients are O.J. Patrick (199), Marcus Hunter (1991), Ronald McKinnon (1992), Gerald Smith (1993), Reginald Ruffin (1994) and Blount (2002).