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Gill and Hagen Receive Top State Honors from VaSID

January 13, 2015  Harrisonburg, Va.  RSS
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Jacob Hagen (left) and Head Coach Turner Gill (right) received two of the top awards handed out today, when the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) named their 2014 VaSID All-State Football teams.

Jacob Hagen (left) and Head Coach Turner Gill (right) received two of the top awards handed out today, when the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) named their 2014 VaSID All-State Football teams.

Liberty Head Football Coach Turner Gill and All-America safety Jacob Hagen received two of the top awards handed out today, when the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) named their 2014 VaSID All-State Football teams.

Gill was named the VaSID Coach of the Year, while Hagen shared Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors with Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller.

The awards for Gill and Hagen are the first in program history. Prior to this year, Liberty had received two VaSID Offensive Rookie of the Year selections (Zach Terrell in 2005 and Josh Woodrum in 2012).

James Madison quarterback Vad Lee was named the VaSID Offensive Player of the Year. VaSID Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors went to Old Dominion running back Ray Lawry and Virginia safety Quin Blanding.

Liberty led the Commonwealth with 11 total all-state honorees (seven first-team and four second-team).

Virginia placed nine players on the all-state teams, followed by seven all-state selections for William & Mary and six for James Madison. Old Dominion, Richmond and Virginia Tech had five all-state honorees, followed by three by Norfolk State and one from Hampton.

Liberty's first-team selections included: D.J. Abnar (RB), Jonathan Burgess (OL), Jacob Hagen (S), Mitch Hanson (OL), John Lunsford (K), Darrin Peterson (WR) and Trey Turner (P).

The Flames' second-team honorees included: Dexter Herman (TE), Greg Ray (OL), Nick Sigmon (LB) and Chima Uzowihe (DL).

In 2014, Gill led the Flames to their third-straight Big South Conference title and the program's first-ever NCAA FCS Playoffs appearance. Liberty upended No. 15 James Madison in the first round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs, advancing to the second round where they faced No. 5 Villanova.

Liberty finished the year ranked No. 17 in the final Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls, its highest year-end ranking since 2008. The Flames defeated three top 25 teams in 2014, including No. 1 Coastal Carolina during the final week of the regular season.

Hagen, an All-Big South first-team honoree the last two years, was named to the Associated Press, FCS ADA, Sports Network and Walter Camp Foundation FCS All-America teams following the 2014 season. He was named the FCS ADA Top Collegiate Defensive Back and finished seventh in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award (top FCS defensive player in the country).

Hagen led the Flames in 2014 with 108 tackles, including a team-best 69 solo tackles. The senior also paced Liberty with four forced fumbles and had a 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown during Liberty's season opener at North Carolina.

The native of Orange Park, Fla., finished the year with eight interceptions, topping all FCS players in the country. One of his eight interceptions came in overtime at Appalachian State, sealing Liberty's third victory over an FBS program in program history.

Hagen finished his Liberty career with 245 tackles (158 solo, 87 assisted), the most by a Flames' defender since the 2008 season.

2014 VaSID All-State Teams

VaSID All-State First Team
Quarterback

Vad Lee, James Madison

Running Backs
D.J. Abnar, Liberty

Mikal Abdul-Saboor, William & Mary

Wide Receivers
Darrin Peterson, Liberty

Antonio Vaughan, Old Dominion

Tight End
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech

Offensive Linemen
Jonathan Burgess, Liberty

Austin Gund, Richmond
Mitch Hanson, Liberty
Andrew Jones, William & Mary
Josh Mann, Old Dominion

Defensive Linemen
Sage Harold, James Madison
Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech
Mike Reilly, William & Mary
Eli Harold, Virginia

Linebackers
Lynden Trail, Norfolk State
Henry Coley, Virginia
Luke Rhodes, William & Mary

Cornerbacks
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
Maurice Canady, Virginia

Safeties
Jacob Hagen, Liberty

Dean Marlowe, James Madison

Place Kicker
John Lunsford, Liberty

Punter
Trey Turner, Liberty

Return Specialist
Darius Jennings, Virginia

All-State Second Team

Quarterback
Taylor Heinicke, Old Dominion

Running Backs
Seth Fisher, Richmond
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion

Wide Receivers
Reggie Diggs, Richmond
Tre McBride, William & Mary

Tight End
Dexter Herman, Liberty

Deane Cheatham, James Madison

Offensive Linemen
Mitchell Kirsch, James Madison
Greg Ray, Liberty
Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech
Ross Burbank, University of Virginia
Jacob Ruby, University of Richmond

Defensive Linemen
Deon King, Norfolk State
Chima Uzowihe, Liberty
Evan Kelly, Richmond
Corey Marshall, Virginia Tech

Linebackers
Airek Green, William & Mary
Max Valles, Virginia
Nick Sigmon, Liberty

Cornerbacks
DeAndre Houston-Carson, William & Mary
Taylor Reynolds, James Madison

Safeties
Quin Blanding, Virginia
Keenan Lambert, Norfolk State
Anthony Harris, Virginia                                            

Place Kicker
Ian Frye, Virginia

Punter
Christian Faber-Kinney, Hampton

Return Specialist
Antonio Vaughan, Old Dominion

Offensive Player of the Year
Vad Lee, James Madison

Defensive Player of the Year
Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
Jacob Hagen, Liberty

Offensive Rookie of the Year 
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion

Defensive Rookie of the Year
Quin Blanding, Virginia

Coach of the Year
Turner Gill, Liberty

Supporting Information for Liberty's VaSID All-State Honorees:

D.J. Abnar (RB)
2014 Big South first-team all-conference selection … led the Big South in rushing attempts … second in the BSC in rushing yards (1,289) and rushing touchdowns (15) … finished the regular season with six 100-yard games … 10th player in program history with a 1,000-yard rushing season.

Darrin Peterson (WR)
2014 Sports Network second-team All-American … two-time Big South all-conference first-team selection (2013 and 2014) … led the Big South in receiving yards (1,379), receptions (85), receiving touchdowns (12) and yards per reception (16.2) … set single season program records in receptions and receiving yards … ranks No. 4 in the country in receiving yards and No. 10 in receiving TDs … posted eight 100-yard receiving games … game-winning TD reception in Liberty's FBS victory over Appalachian State.

Jonathan Burgess (OL)
Two-time Big South all-conference selection (second team in 2013 and first team in 2014) … started all 14 games at left guard … Liberty's top offensive lineman … 2014 team captain … led the team in knockdowns … tied for second on the team in overall team performance grade … allowed only one sack … helped Liberty rank second in the Big South in fewest sacks allowed (16) … Liberty led the Big South and ranked No. 10 in the country in red zone offense (89.7 percent).

Mitch Hanson (OL)
Two-time Big South all-conference selection (second team in 2013 and first team in 2014) … started all 14 games at right guard … led the team with 37 consecutive career starts … three-year letterwinner … two-time Capital One Academic All-District honoree … ranked third on the team in overall team performance grade … tied for second on the team in knockdowns … allowed only one sack … helped Liberty rank second in the Big South in fewest sacks allowed (16) … Liberty led the Big South and ranked No. 10 in the country in red zone offense (89.7 percent).

Jacob Hagen (S)
Associated Press, FCS ADA, Sports Network and Walter Camp Foundation FCS All-America first team … 2014 Buck Buchanan Award Finalist (finished seventh in the final voting) … 2014 FCS ADA Top Collegiate Defensive Back … led the Flames in 2014 with 108 tackles, including a team-best 69 solo tackles … paced Liberty with four forced fumbles and had a 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown during Liberty's season opener at North Carolina … led the country with eight interceptions … one of his eight interceptions came in overtime at Appalachian State, sealing Liberty's third victory over an FBS program in program history … five 10-tackle games in 2014.

John Lunsford (K)
Sports Network FCS All-America first team … 2014 Big South Special Teams Player of the Year … two-time Big South all-conference selection (second team in 2012 and first team in 2014) … led the Big South in field goal percentage (79.2) and field goals made (19) … ranked second in the Big South in total points scored (100) … No. 5 nationally in field goals made per game (1.58) … set a school record with 94 consecutive extra points … two-time BSC Special Teams Player of the Week … kicked a BSC record 60-yard FG against Richmond … kicked the game-winning FG at No. 1 Coastal Carolina … had the three longest FCS field goals in the country in 2014 (60, 57 and 56 yards).

Trey Turner (P)
Big South first-team all-conference … led the Big South in punting as a redshirt freshman (41.5 yards per punt) … top punting average in the country by a FCS freshman punter in 2014 … averaged 40 or more yards per punt in nine of 14 games, including both NCAA FCS Playoffs game … named Big South Freshman of the Week after Liberty's win at Presbyterian … 15 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Dexter Herman (TE)
Big South second-team all-conference … posted career-high numbers in 2014 in receptions (30) and receiving yards (442) … ranks third on the team in receptions and fourth in receiving yards … came into the year with six career receptions for 84 yards … finished six games with three receptions ... had a career high four receptions for 73 yards in Liberty's NCAA FCS Playoffs win over No. 15 James Madison … helped Liberty post an FBS win over Appalachian State with a 61 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Greg Ray (OL)
Two-time Big South all-conference second-team selection (2013 and 2014) … started 13 games at center … ranks second on the team with 30 career starts … three-year letterwinner … led the team in fewest missed assignments … tied for second on the team in knockdowns … allowed only one sack … helped Liberty rank second in the Big South in fewest sacks allowed (16) … Liberty led the Big South and ranked No. 10 in the country in red zone offense (89.7 percent).

Chima Uzowihe (DL)
Two-time Big South all-conference first-team selection (2013 and 2014) … started all 14 games at right end … Capital One Academic All-District … Big South Player of the Week following Liberty's win over Gardner-Webb … second in the Big South in sacks (8.0) … led the Big South in tackles for a loss (14.0) … third in the league in forced fumbles (3) … two blocked kicks, including a blocked field goal to seal Liberty's upset win over No. 1 Coastal Carolina.

Nick Sigmon
Four-time Big South all-conference selection, including first-team honors in 2012 and 2013 … 2012 and 2014 VaSID second-team all-state selection … missed two games due to an injury … Liberty's most experienced linebacker with 43 career starts … one of two active Liberty players with 200-plus career tackles (216) … posted six or more stops in four games … six stops, including four solo tackles to lead Liberty to a road win at Presbyterian.