16 Sun Belt football student athletes to compete in NFLPA Collegiate East-West Shrine and Senior Bowls

Published 3:24 pm Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Sixteen Sun Belt student-athletes, representing 6-of-10 Sun Belt football programs, will compete in prestigious collegiate all-star games over the next week.

The group includes 14 All-Sun Belt honorees from 2021, headlined by the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year South Alabama junior wide receiver Jalen Tolbert and Defensive Player of the Year App State senior linebacker D’Marco Jackson.

Six alums will compete in the 10th-annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at historic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif., at 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 29. The game will be broadcast nationwide on NFL Network. Paramount among the participants are All-Sun Belt First Team running back Shermari Jones out of Coastal Carolina, All-Sun Belt First Team wide receiver Corey Sutton out of App State and All-Sun Belt Second Team linebacker Chauncey Manac out of Louisiana.

Six others will appear in the 97th-annual East-West Shrine Bowl at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev., at 7 p.m. CT on Thursday, Feb. 3. The game will be broadcast nationwide on NFL Network. The game will showcase five All-Sun Belt honorees in Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh (First Team), App State defensive back Shaun Jolly (First Team), Louisiana defensive back Percy Butler (Second Team), Coastal Carolina defensive lineman Jeffrey Gunter (Second Team) and Louisiana defensive lineman Tayland Humphrey (Third Team).

Four Sun Belt alumni will showcase their talents in the 73rd-annual Senior Bowl at South Alabama’s Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Ala., at 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 5. The game will be broadcast nationwide on NFL Network. Each of the four participants—Jackson, Tolbert, Louisiana offensive lineman Max Mitchell and Coastal Carolina tight end Isaiah Likely—were All-Sun Belt First Team selections in 2021.

Sixteen Sun Belt standouts also featured in the 76th-annual Hula Bowl and the sixth-annual Tropical Bowl, held on Saturday, Jan. 15. All 10 Sun Belt football programs were represented among the five collegiate all-star games.

The Sun Belt has produced at least one selection in 14-straight NFL Drafts and has claimed multiple picks in 13 of the past 14. The Sun Belt tied a conference record with seven NFL Draft picks in 2020 and had four players selected in 2021.

Each of last year’s four draft picks appeared in multiple NFL games during the 2021-22 regular season, including Louisiana alumnus Elijah Mitchell, who established a new San Francisco 49ers franchise record for rookie rushing yards with 963 in 11 regular-season appearances and currently paces all rushers with 149 rushing yards this postseason.

National Team
Ja’Chai Baker, South Alabama (Sr., OL – Omaha, Neb.)
Ferrod Gardner, Louisiana (RS Sr., LB – Dayton, Ohio)
Shermari Jones, Coastal Carolina (Sr., RB – Pensacola, Fla.)
Corey Sutton, App State (Super Sr., WR – Charlotte, N.C.)

American Team
Cameron Kaye, Troy (Sr., LS – Naples, Fla.)
Chauncey Manac, Louisiana (RS Sr., LB – Homerville, Ga.)

East Team
Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (Sr., WR – Venice, Fla.)
Percy Butler, Louisiana (Jr., DB – Plaquemine, La.)
Shaun Jolly, App State (Sr., DB – Stone Mountain, Ga.)
Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., DL – Durham, N.C.)
Tayland Humphrey, Louisiana (RS Sr., DL – Houston, Texas)

West Team
Darrell Baker Jr., Georgia Southern (Super Sr., DB – Hephzibah, Ga.)

American Team
D’Marco Jackson, App State (Sr., LB – Spartanburg, S.C.)
Max Mitchell, Louisiana (Jr., OL – Monroe, La.)
Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (Sr., TE – Cambridge, Mass.)
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (Jr., WR – Mobile, Ala.)

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