SWAC Media Day
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. | The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) released the 2021 Preseason All-Conference teams at Media Days Tuesday morning, and Alabama State is well-represented with eight slots on the two teams.
Ezra Gray was named First Team running back after he led the team, and conference, in rushing this season with 436 yards on 84 carries in five games. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns, and he rushed for a career-high 195 yards against Jackson State and added another 100-yard game against Alabama A&M. The senior finished 15th nationally in all-purpose yards and 35th in the nation in rushing yards, while he also finished 19th in rushing yards per game on the season. He also earned the nod for return specialist on the Second Team after he returned 10 kicks and averaged 18.50 yards per return. He finished 48th in the nation in combined kick returns and also 48th in kickoff returns.
Gray was joined on the first team on the defensive side by three players including Irshaad Davis who led Alabama State in tackles with 41 on the season including 31 solo stops. He recorded a pair of tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks on the season, while he also finished with one interception, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry from his safety position. Davis finished fourth in the conference in tackles and 20th in passes defended on the season, while he also finished 14th in the nation in solo tackles and 58th in total tackles.
He was joined by a pair of defensive linemen including Christian Clark who finished with 15 tackles including nine solo stops. Clark recorded 2.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup, while he also had one forced fumble and part of a defense that held opponents to just over 800 yards rushing in five games from his nose guard position. Andrew Ogletree also earned a spot on the first team after he finished with 15 tackles this spring, including nine solo stops. He finished with five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, while he also recorded five quarterback hurries. Ogletree finished 15th in the conference in tackles for loss, while he also finished 79th in the nation in sacks and 86th in tackles for loss.
Freshman Aubrey Grace earned a First Team selection as the punter after he finished the year with 28 punts for 1,150 total yards and averaged 41.7 yards per punt and booted a long of 57. He forced three fair catches and had seven land inside the 20, while he also finished the year with nine punts of 50 yards or more. The freshman finished second in the conference in punting average and first in punts of 50 yards or more, and he finished 20th in the nation in punting.
A pair of players joined Gray on the Second Team including defensive back Naytron Culpepper who finished the year with 15 tackles, including nine solo stops. He also finished the year with a pair of tackles for loss from his cornerback position and finished the year with four pass breakups. Culpepper also finished 19th in the conference in pass breakups this spring. Rounding out the preseason selections for Alabama State was tight end Terrance Ellis who started all five games at tight end and recorded a career-high 12 receptions for 77 yards, averaging 6.42 yards per reception.
Alabama State was picked to finish fourth in the SWAC East Division behind Alabama A&M (122), Florida A&M (109), and Jackson State (80) after picking up 78 total votes in the preseason poll on a vote by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.