EKU football stars earn ASUN, Phil Steele All-American honors

Among others, Jackson named ASUN Defensive Player of Year

RICHMOND, Ky. (EKU Athletics) – Postseason accolades continued to pour in for Eastern Kentucky as Phil Steele’s 2021 All-American and All-ASUN teams were announced Tuesday.

Defensive back Davion Ross added his third All-American honor of the postseason by being named a fourth-team All-American. Offensive lineman Payton Collins earned his second All-American accolade after being named a second-team Freshman All-American. Linebacker Matthew Jackson was tabbed as the ASUN Defensive Player of the Year.

Ross led the nation with three interception returns for touchdowns and was chosen by coaches as the ASUN Defensive Player of the Year. He tied for sixth nationally with 13 pass breakups and also recorded 46 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. The Perry, Ga., native was also a threat on special teams, ranking 13th in the nation with a 27.5 yard kickoff return average, highlighted by a 98-yard touchdown against Sam Houston.

Collins, a native of Columbus, Ohio, started all 11 games at left tackle for the Colonels. He helped EKU rank fourth in the nation in red-zone scoring (93.9 percent) and was an integral part of an offensive line that ranked 19th nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.27). An ASUN-All Conference selection, Collins helped the Colonels accumulate over 400 yards of offense in five of the final seven games of the season.

Jackson, a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, led the league with 102 tackles and ranked second in the conference with 10 tackles for loss. He also notched 3.5 sacks, eight pass breakups, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Jackson started all 11 games and was named to the coaches’ All-ASUN team.

In all, 28 Colonels were selected to the All-ASUN team. Ross was named a first-team defensive back and kick returner and was joined on the defensive side of the ball by Jackson, Ubong Udom, and Kyle BaileyDakota Allen was EKU’s lone first-team selection on offense and Patrick Nations was chosen first-team kicker.

Offensive second-team honors went to Collins, Parker McKinneyDa’Joun Hewitt, Matt Wilcox Jr., Brad Davis, Drew Hart, and Tucker Schroeder. On defense, Quinten Floyd, Roland Walder, Kelton DawsonEli HairstonJoseph Sayles, and Roy Baker earned second-team accolades. Ross was chosen as the second-team all-purpose player.

EKU’s third-team honorees on offense were Kyeandre MagloireJaden SmithJayden Higgins, and Howard Watkins Jr. Je’Vari Anderson, Jaden Woods, and John Blunt Jr. were named third-team defensive performers, while Phillip Richards earned third-team punter honors and Jonathan Duff was named third-team long snapper.

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