Denmark concludes historical career with third Southland honor


ABILENE, Texas - ACU senior middle linebacker Sam Denmark capped his record-setting career Tuesday when he earned the third All-Southland Conference honor of his career when the league announced the all-conference team.

Denmark - a two-time first team all-conference selection - was voted second team All-Southland Conference in 2017 after he finished third on the team with 70 tackles. Denmark finished his career with 396 tackles, breaking the all-time ACU record of 388 set by Ryan Boozer from 1998-2001.

Denmark had 11 tackles in a 44-35 loss to playoff-bound Sam Houston State in his final home game as a Wildcats on Nov. 11 to give him 390 tackles, breaking the record. He had six more in the final game of his career last Saturday at Central Arkansas to finish with 396 tackles.

The only other Wildcats to earn all-conference honors were senior tight end / h-back Trevor Crain, senior wide receiver Troy Grant and junior safety Brandon Richmond, each of whom were voted honorable mention all-conference.

Central Arkansas senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand was voted the 2017 Southland Conference Football Player of the Year after leading the league champion Bears to an undefeated conference record and NCAA playoff bid.

Hildebrand is one of five individual superlative honorees from this season's UCA team. Head coach Steve Campbell was named Coach of the Year, senior defensive back George Odum was named Defensive Player of the Year, running back Kierre Crossley earned Freshman of the Year honors and junior John Cook was voted Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Hildebrand led the nation in passing efficiency (181.3) and tossed 27 touchdowns to marshal the UCA offense in the regular season. He also ranked second in the FCS with 15.38 passing yards per completion.

In his fourth year with the program, head coach Campbell led the Bears to their first outright Southland championship with an undefeated 9-0 conference season - also a program-first.

Offensive Player of the Year was awarded to Davion Davis of Sam Houston State, who was also named a first team wide receiver, offensive all-purpose player and punt returner. The junior out of Hutto was top five nationally in four different categories: First in punt return touchdowns (two), second in receiving touchdowns (14), second in total touchdowns (17) and fifth in scoring (9.3 points per game). His 102 total points scored is third in the FCS, one point behind fellow Bearkat, placekicker Tre Honshtein.

Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, a sophomore transfer from South Carolina, was tabbed Newcomer of the Year. In his debut year for the Lions, he threw for 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns.

-Information provided by ACU Athletics