ASHEVILLE, N.C. – VMI junior linebacker Stone Snyder was named 2021 SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and six Keydets earned spots on the league’s all-conference preseason squads announced Monday at the Kickoff Media Day event held at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Asheville.
VMI, which enters the fall as defending SoCon football champions after winning the trophy in the spring with 6-1 regular season mark, was picked to finish second in the preseason media poll and third in the coaches poll.
Named to the All-SoCon preseason first team were wide receiver Jakob Herres, offensive lineman Marshall Gill, Snyder at linebacker, and defensive back Ethan Caselberry. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Seth Morgan landed a spot on the preseason second team along with senior defensive lineman Warren Dabney. The teams were voted on by the conference coaches.
In helping VMI last spring win its first SoCon title since 1977, Snyder emerged as one of the top defensive players in FCS. He was named the 2020-21 Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year in both the media and coaches’ polls after leading the league in tackles per game (11.0) – 76 in seven regular season games, including a career-high 21 versus The Citadel. Snyder had 9.5 tackles for loss (64 yards), eight sacks (62 yards) and four QB hurries. He also had 12 tackles in the first round of the playoffs against #1 James Madison on April 24 and finished third in voting for the Buck Buchanan FCS defensive Player of the Year honor. Snyder was a multiple All-American after being named to Stats Perform, Athlon, and Hero Sports first teams. He was also named State Defensive Player of the Year by VASID, the Commonwealth’s sports information directors.
Herres was picked as the 2020-21 Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year in both the coaches’ and media voting, and led the Keydets in receiving during the season with 80 catches for 978 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 12.2 yards per grab and 122.2 yards per game, all of which led the Southern Conference. Herres was a consensus All-America first team selection to include Stats Perform, AFCA, and Athlon teams and was also one of 16 finalists for the Stats Perform Walter Payton Award for the national FCS Offensive Player of the Year and finished fourth in voting.
Gill was named 2020-21 All-Southern Conference first team offense by the media and coaches teams – the only Keydet offense lineman to get the first team double-honor. He also was selected second team All-State by Virginia College Sports Information Directors (VASID) and provided a solid foundation for the offensive line at left tackle.
Caselberry is one of three returning starters in the secondary and was voted 2020-21 second team All-Southern Conference on both the coaches and media squads. The veteran posted 44 tackles last spring and led the team with six pass breakups and intercepted two passes which tied for fifth on the team defensive charts. He was also fourth on the team in TFL with 5.0 for 27 yards including two sacks.
Morgan, who took over for the injured Reece Udinski at quarterback in mid-season and guided the Keydet offense to a SoCon title the rest of the way, returns to the starting signal caller role. In his first college start at Wofford March 27, he accounted for 375 yards total offense which was the second most in a single game in program history. On the season, he completed 122 of 171 passes for 1,374 yards and 10 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Morgan’s .713 completion percentage ranked second in FCS, while his 153.46 pass efficiency ranked ninth in the nation. He was named SoCon Freshman of the Year and State of Virginia Freshman of the Year.
Dabney led all defensive linemen in total tackles with 28 and had 2.5 sacks for nine yards and two sacks for nine yards and posted his top outing in the title-clinching game against The Citadel with a career-high nine tackles including three solos and six assists and a sack for one yard. He also had four games of at least four tackles and logged four stops in the FCS playoff game against JMU.
VMI’s preseason poll pick of second (media) and third (coaches) is the highest since the poll voting began in 1979. The Keydets previous high pick in the media poll was sixth in 1996, and a tied for sixth in the coaches poll in 1991.
The Keydets open the season 2021 against Davidson September 4 in Lexington. Tickets are on sale at vmitickets.com or by call 540-464-7266.