ATLANTA (Nov. 25, 2019) - The Southern Athletic Association (SAA) has announced the 2019 All-SAA Football awards. The award winners were selected exclusively by the league's head football coaches and the conference office.
Robert Shufford of Birmingham-Southern won the league's Offensive Player of the Year honor. Liam Vinifora, of Millsaps, was named the SAA Defensive Player of the Year while Berry freshman Gavin Gray captured the league's SAA Newcomer of the Year award. Finally, Michael Edmonson, of Trinity, was named SAA Special Teams Player of the Year while Trinity Head Coach Jerheme Urban was named SAA Coach of the Year.
One of the nation's leading offensive players, Shufford had an outstanding season for the Panthers. Shufford broke the SAA single-season record for rushing yard average at 183.4 yards per game. He also broke the league mark for total rushing yards with 1,834. He also led the league in rushing touchdowns with 15 and total rushes at 212 attempts.
At the national level, Shufford led all NCAA Division III players with his 1,834 yards and ranked fourth in rushing yards per carry.
Vincifora was a force inside for Millsaps. The Major defensive lineman led the league in sacks with 14. He also had 32 solo tackles and 59 total stops. His 5.9 tackles per game ranked 16th and while his 21 tackles for a loss led the league.
In his first season as a collegiate quarterback, Gray was great for the Vikings. Along with leading Berry to its fourth straight SAA Championship, the freshman signal-caller finished 87-for-155 for 1,349 passing yards. He also tossed 15 touchdowns, which ranked third. Additionally, Gray had a passing efficiency rating of 153.4 while throwing only six interceptions.
Part of the league's best return team, Edmonson led the league with an average of 31.4 yards per kickoff return. His long of 70 yards also led the league. On punts, Edmonson averaged 15.0 yards per punt return while he tied for the league lead in return touchdowns.
Finally, Urban led Trinity to its first-ever SAA title. Trinity finished tied with Berry with a 7-1 league record. The Tigers finished 8-2 overall. Under Urban's leadership, TU led the league in passing touchdowns while ranking second in defensive interceptions. The Tigers also ranked in the top half of the SAA in sacks, rushing defense, passing defense.
Trinity's defense also ranked first in allowing the fewest total points and fewest total yards.