Kirk Merritt

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Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

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Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)

Appalachian State pegged as pre-season favorite in Sun Belt

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There may be a new coach at Appalachian State but the expectations remain the same in Boone.

The Mountaineers were tabbed on Thursday as the pre-season coaches favorite to win the Sun Belt and repeat as league champs after taking home the trophy in last year’s inaugural conference title game.

AppState edged both Troy and Georgia Southern as the pick to win the East Division in Eliah Drinkwitz’s first season at the helm as well.

On the other side of the league, Louisiana was picked to win the West Division and make it back to the title game for the second time under head coach Billy Napier.

Here’s the full order of finish as predicted from the Sun Belt’s coaches (First-place votes in parentheses):

East Division

1. Appalachian State (7) – 46 pts
2. Troy (1) – 39 pts
3. Georgia Southern (2) – 35 pts
4. Coastal Carolina – 17 pts
5. Georgia State – 13 pts

West Division

1. Louisiana (6) – 46 pts
2. Arkansas State (3) – 42 pts
3. ULM – 27 pts
4. South Alabama (1) – 19 pts
5. Texas State – 16 pts

The league also announced their annual pre-season football teams. AppState and Arkansas State had the most selection across two teams, with the Mountaineers placing a league-high eight on the first team.

Sun Belt First Team Offense

QB – Zac Thomas (Appalachian State, Junior)
RB – Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Junior)
RB – B.J. Smith (Troy, Senior)
WR – Corey Sutton (Appalachian State, Junior)
WR – Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State, Senior)
WR – Ja’Marcus Bradley (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
TE – Javonis Isaac (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
OL – Noah Hannon (Appalachian State, Junior)
OL – Victor Johnson (Appalachian State, Senior)
OL – Kevin Dotson (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
OL – Robert Hunt (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
OL – Kirk Kelley (Troy, Senior)

Sun Belt First Team Defense

DL – William Bradley-King (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
DL – Forrest Merrill (Arkansas State, Junior)
DL – Raymond Johnson (Georgia Southern, Junior)
DL – Tyree Turner (South Alabama, Senior)
LB – Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB – Jordan Fehr (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB – Bryan London II (Texas State, Senior)
DB – Desmond Franklin (Appalachian State, Senior)
DB – Jerry Jacobs (Arkansas State, Junior)
DB – Monquavion Brinson (Georgia Southern, Senior)
DB – Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Senior)

Sun Belt First Team Special Teams

K – Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern, RS-Senior)
P – Brandon Wright (Georgia State, RS-Senior)
RS – Tra Minter (South Alabama, Senior)

App State, Arkansas State sweep Sun Belt individual honors

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At least when it comes to postseason honors, the Sun Belt Conference looks very much like a two-team league.

The SBC Thursday announced its individual awards, with the five honors being split between Appalachian State and Arkansas State — four for the latter, two for the former.  The award winners, voted on by the conference’s coaches as well as select coaches, appear below:

Player of the Year
Justice Hansen, Arkansas State (R-Sr., QB, Edmond, Okla.)

Offensive Player of the Year
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State (So., QB, Trussville, Ala.)

Defensive Player of the Year
Ronheen Bingham, Arkansas State (Sr., DL, Bennettsville, S.C.)

Freshman of the Year
Marcel Murray, Arkansas State (Fr., RB, Hiram, Ga.)

Newcomer of the Year
Kirk Merritt, Arkansas State (Jr., WR, Destrehan, La.)

Coach of the Year
Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State

App State will host Louisiana in this weekend’s Sun Belt Conference championship game, with the Mountaineers looking to win its third straight league title.  The Ragin’ Cajuns will try to take home their first conference crown since the 2013 season.

Arkansas State finished tied with Louisiana in the West division, but lost out on the head-to-head tiebreaker.

A&M WR Kirk Merritt facing charges for allegedly exposing himself to tutors

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Another day, another headline I’d never imagined I’d ever write.

According to the Houston Chronicle‘s Brent Zwerneman, Texas A&M wide receiver Kirk Merritt pleaded not guilty late last month to a pair of indecent exposure charges.  The charges stem from a pair of incidents from last October, and allegedly involve Merritt exposing himself to female academic tutors.

From Zwerneman’s report:

In one count, an alleged victim accused Merritt of exposing and touching himself “while sitting in arm’s reach” of her “on or about” Oct. 24. About a day later according to a court document, another alleged victim claimed Merritt pulled down his shorts and held himself also “while sitting in arm’s reach” of her. The document describes both alleged victims as “offended or alarmed by the act of exposure.”

Both of the victims were tutors at A&M, a person with knowledge of the case said.

The university has yet to comment publicly on the development.  Merritt, the Chronicle notes, has been participating in A&M’s spring practice.

Merritt had announced last June that he would be transferring from Oregon because of what he described as unspecified “family situations back home” in Louisiana.  The next month, the receiver announced he would be transferring to A&M.

To satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Merritt sat out the 2016 season.  Counting this season, he has three years of eligibility remaining.

A four-star 2015 recruit, Merritt was rated as the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Louisiana. Playing in 12 games as a true freshman, Merritt caught five passes for 61 yards. He added another 13 yards on three carries.