Ray Named AP’s SEC Defensive Player of Year
Three Tigers Earn 1st-Team All-SEC Status; Seven In All Honored
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Another year of Mizzou Football, another defensive player of the year honor for a Tiger. For the second-straight year, Mizzou features the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, as MU’s junior DE Shane Ray was named the league’s top defender by the Associated Press. He followed former All-American DE Michael Sam, who won the same award in 2013 for his breakout season.
The AP today released its 2014 All-Southeastern Conference football team, and seven different Tigers in all received mention, including three who landed on the first team, with two on the second team and two honorable-mention selections.
Leading the way was Shane Ray, who was named 1st-Team All-SEC in addition to his player of the year honor. Ray emerged from the shadow of 2013 standouts Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, who were both first-team All-SEC picks a year ago, and forged his own path, breaking records along the way. The first-year starter set a school record with 14.0 quarterback sacks, and he also totaled 21.0 tackles for loss, while ranking fifth on the team with his 61 tackles on the year. Ray leads the SEC and ranks 3rd nationally in sacks, while he ranks 2nd in the league, and 6th nationally in tackles for loss.
He is now the third Tiger to ever win conference defensive player of the year honors, matching former standouts Jeff Gaylord (A.P. – 1981) and Sam.
A pair of offensive teammates joined Ray on the A.P.’s first team, in senior all-purpose man Marcus Murphy and senior WR Bud Sasser. Murphy emerged as one of the nation’s most versatile players and dangerous return men, as he ranks second in the SEC in all-purpose average (131.9 yds.). He is the only player in the nation to score TDs in 2014 via all four all-purpose categories: Rushing (4), Kickoff Returns (2), Punt Returns (1) and Receiving (1), and improved from 2nd-Team All-SEC acclaim in 2013. Sasser developed into Mizzou’s top receiving threat a year after Mizzou lost 78% of its receiving production from 2013. He established career bests in every category, catching 70 passes for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns, ranking second, fourth and third, respectively, in the SEC in those categories. Sasser is the first Mizzou wide receiver to win 1st-Team all-conference honors since Danario Alexander in 2009.
Earning a spot on the A.P. second team were junior LB Kentrell Brothers and senior SS Braylon Webb. Brothers led Mizzou and ranked fifth in the SEC with a career-high 117 tackles – the most by a Tiger defender since former All-American Sean Weatherspoon tallied 155 stops in 2008. He made a career-best 14 tackles in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama on Saturday. Webb, a co-captain, was recognized for his steady play that saw him grab four interceptions, break up three passes and recover a fumble, while ranking third on the team with 69 total tackles.
Two more standouts on Mizzou’s well-renowned defensive line earned honorable mention status from the Associated Press. Included here were sophomore DT Harold Brantley and senior DE Markus Golden. Brantley made quite an impression as he was constantly disrupting opposing offenses throughout the season. He ended the regular season with 50 tackles (seventh-most on the team), with seven QB pressures, 5.0 sacks, 7.0 tackles for loss, with two blocked kicks and two pass break ups to boot. Golden earned honorable mention acclaim by the A.P. for the second-straight year, after he overcame a hamstring injury which limited his production during the middle portion of the year, to close strong with 8.5 sacks, 16.0 tackles for loss and 68 total tackles (fourth on the team), while adding a team-high nine pass break ups.
Mizzou is off from practice until this Saturday, when they begin on-field preparations for the 2015 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl against Minnesota, set for Jan. 1st in Orlando, Fla. For more information about the Citrus Bowl, please visit the official site of the Citrus Bowl, at www.buffalowildwingscitrusbowl.com.,/p>