Jer-ryan Harris began his Arkansas-Pine Bluff football career with the 2010 SWAC Freshman of the Year award and has now closed it with another major postseason honor within the conference.
The linebacker from Memphis was voted the SWAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, the conference announced Friday morning. Harris, who at one time led the Football Championship Subdivision in tackles per game this season, finished his senior year with 107 tackles, 56 of them solo. It’s the second time in his career Harris registered 100 or more tackles in a season.
The last time he did was his Freshman of the Year season, in which he had 129. He finished the 2012 season with 98.
“We’re excited here for him,” UAPB coach Monte Coleman said. “He had kind of a rough year. He showed a lot of endurance by gaining over 100 tackles. He’s been very consistent from the start of his career here.
“I’m very happy for him, proud for him.”
Harris currently stands sixth in the FCS in tackles. The conference also announced the All-SWAC teams and Offensive, Defensive, Newcomer and Freshman Players of the Year on Friday, and surprisingly Harris was the only UAPB athlete honored. Quarterback Ben Anderson, who was named the All-SWAC Preseason Player of the Year, did not make All-SWAC this year despite leading the SWAC in total offense (2,787 passing and 824 receiving yards with 28 touchdowns accounted for).
“I thought we had some guys who should have been honored,” Coleman said. “I thought (left guard) Kenny Eagle should have been a candidate for at least second team. I thought Ben at minimum should have been second team. … He had a pretty good season rushing the ball and throwing the ball. David Watson, he didn’t have a lot of balls thrown his way, and that’s respect given to a cornerback, not throwing his way.
“I think it boils down to the season we had. I think a lot of people didn’t appreciate the season we had.”
UAPB finished 2-9 for its worst overall record since the 1986 team went 0-10 and 2-7 in the SWAC. The Golden Lions lost their first seven games to tie their longest losing streak since 2008, won the next two and closed out the year losing two straight.
Southern senior quarterback Dray Joseph and Alcorn State senior running back Arnold Walker were named Co-Offensive Players of the Year. Joseph, who has a league-leading 3,236 passing yards, has led Southern to Saturday’s conference championship game against Jackson State. He also is only the second Southern quarterback ever to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season.
Walker led the SWAC with 1,191 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He averaged 99.2 rushing yards per gameand helped Alcorn State attain its first nine-win season (9-3) since 1984 and first winning season since 2006.
Alabama State redshirt freshman Kourtney Berry was named the Newcomer of the Year. The linebacker made 107 tackles (57 solo), including seven sacks and 11.5 stops for losses.
Jackson State defensive lineman Javancy Jones earned the Freshman of the Year honor after making 48 tackles (21 solo), including five sacks.