Thurmond named Boxtorow defensive player of year

Brandon Thurmond has added another defensive player of the year award — and All-American honor — to his resume.

The SWAC Defensive Player of the Year has won the Boxtorow Defensive Player of the Year honor, it was announced Monday by the national radio show “From the Press Box to Press Row.” Thurmond, a senior defensive end, also is one of three Arkansas-Pine Bluff players named to the Boxtorow All-American team, which honors black college football’s best players.

Senior offensive lineman Chris Wilson and senior linebacker Bill Ross are the other two Golden Lions selected to the Boxtorow team, voted on by media members selected by the radio show.

The honors for Thurmond come one week after he was placed on The Sports Network FCS All-America second team. Thurmond leads the NCAA across all divisions in sacks with 17.5, tying a school record and coming within three of the SWAC record. He also had 25 tackles for losses, including 22 solo, both statistics leading the country.

Ross led the SWAC with 127 tackles, returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns and took back a fumble 73 yards to put UAPB back in the SWAC championship game against Jackson State, which the Golden Lions won 24-21 in overtime on Dec. 8. He also broke up six passes and forced two fumbles.

With the 6-foot, 295-pound Wilson’s help, UAPB had the top-ranked rushing offense in the conference.

UAPB finished third in the final Boxtorow HBCU media poll, which also was released Monday. The Lions slipped one spot despite winning the SWAC title to close the season, but earned two first-place votes.

NCAA Division II runner-up Winston-Salem State topped its second straight Boxtorow final poll, with Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Bethune-Cookman coming in second. Fourth- through 10th-place teams, in order, were Tuskegee, Tennessee State, Jackson State, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, North Carolina A&T and Howard.