Sun Belt Media Day
TROY, Ala. – Troy linebacker Carlton Martial has been named the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and four total Trojans were selected to the SBC Preseason All-Conference Team, the league announced Tuesday in advance of Sun Belt Media Day later this week.
It’s been a busy offseason already for Martial, who was named the No. 41 player in the country and a second team All-American by Pro Football Focus. Additionally, he was selected to the Bednarik Award Watch List on Monday, the first of many for Martial the next two weeks. Offensive lineman Austin Stidham, defensive tackle Will Choloh and Martial were all first team selections, while offensive lineman Dylan Bradshaw was tabbed to the second team.
Troy and the rest of the Sun Belt Conference will converge on New Orleans Thursday for the league’s annual Media Day. The full schedule has not been released yet; however, the Trojans will take to the main podium at 2:30 p.m. Head coach Chip Lindsey will be joined by Martial and Bradshaw at the event.
Bradshaw ranked 15th nationally among centers with a 98.8 pass block efficiency rating per Pro Football Focus. He allowed just one sack, no hits, 10 hurries and 11 pressures in 513 pass blocking situations. An Enterprise, Ala., native, Bradshaw started all 11 games for the Trojans at center and did not allow a sack in the final nine games of the season.
A two-time All-Sun Belt selection, Bradshaw was called for just one penalty all season and his overall PFF pass blocking grade was ninth-best among all centers nationally.
Choloh ranked third nationally among interior defensive linemen with a 90.3 pass rushing grade from Pro Football Focus while his 31 pressures were the fourth most nationally – he finished with 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss from his defensive tackle position. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native was credited with seven quarterback hits and 19 hurries.
He led all Sun Belt interior defensive linemen with his 19 hurries and 17.7-win percentage at the point of attack. A second team selection following last season, Choloh was a key member of a Troy defense that improved 63 spots nationally in scoring defense from 2019 to 2020 and 38 spots in total defense. He was also a menace on special teams with a pair of blocked kicks.
A native of Mobile, Ala., Martial, who checks in at 5-foot-9, recorded 113 tackles in 2020 and has 239 tackles since the start of the 2019 season. He finished 2020 with 10.0 tackles for loss and was one of just nine players nationally to rank in the top 50 in both tackles and tackles for loss following the regular season. Martial broke up a trio of passes and intercepted Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall (one of just two on the year) to set up a late go-ahead score for the Trojans in the season finale.
In 2019, he was named to the PFF All-America Second Team and became just the 12th player and first underclassman in the last 20 years at the FBS level to finish a season with at least 100 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and three interceptions. He closed the year with 126 tackles, the most by a Troy player since 2000, and 18.5 tackles for loss, the fifth most in a season in Troy history, and three picks. Martial was the only player in the country to rank in the top eight nationally in tackles (10.5) and tackles for loss per game (1.54).
Martial has twice been named to the All-Sun Belt First Team and was a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy in 2020, which is presented to the nation’s top player who began his career as a walk-on. Earlier this summer he was selected to the PFF Preseason All-America Second Team.
Stidham earned All-Sun Belt First Team honors last season after he ranked fifth nationally according to PFF with an 85.6 pass blocking grade. The Russellville, Ala., native was fourth among all offensive tackles (400 passing situations) with a 98.6 efficiency rating from PFF after he allowed just two sacks, one hit and eight hurries in 451 opportunities.
A leader on the offensive line, Stidham was called for just one penalty all season in his 742 total snaps played. This past month, he became the first player in program history to earn CoSIDA Academic All-America honors after he was named to the second team. He played his best football down the stretch allowing just two pressures in the final five games of the season.