Five Redbirds Named To MVFC All-Newcomer Squad
Nov. 29, 2011
ST. LOUIS - A quintet of Illinois State newcomers were recognized for their standout seasons in 2011, when they were named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference All-Newcomer Team, Tuesday, after results were tallied from a vote conducted by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media members.
Junior linebacker Evan Frierson and junior defensive end Nate Palmer earned accolades for the second day in a row, after the duo was named to the MVFC All-Conference First and Second Team, respectively, on Monday. Redshirt freshmen Lechein Neblett and James O'Shaughnessy were also named to the list and true freshman Mike Banks rounded out the group of Redbird honorees.
True freshmen, redshirt freshmen and first-year transfers are eligible to be named to the MVFC All-Newcomer Team. Over the past three seasons under head coach Brock Spack, the Redbirds have placed 14 players on the list including starters Matt Brown (Freshman of the Year, 2009), Austin Davis (2009), Tyrone Walker (2009), Mike Zimmer (2009) and Shelby Harris (2010). ISU's five selections in 2011 were the most for any league school.
After transferring to Illinois State from Illinois, Frierson made an immediate impact on the Redbird defense and helped turn it into one of the best in the country. The Washington, D.C., native led the team and was second in the Valley with 15 tackles-for-loss and ranked second on the team with 66 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He was named MVFC Newcomer of the Week, after recording eight tackles, three sacks and four tackles-for-loss in a win over nationally-ranked South Dakota.
Palmer, along with Frierson, transferred to ISU from Illinois and led the team and the MVFC with 9.5 sacks in 2011. The Chicago native tied for 18th in the country in sacks per game (.91) and recorded 43 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, forced two fumbles and returned a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown against Morehead State.
Neblett moved into the starting lineup at wide receiver mid-way through the season after an injury to Marvon Sanders and contributed heavily in several facets of the game. The Madison, Wis., native tied for second on the team with 39 catches for 358 yards (9.2 avg.) and also rushed for 21 yards on three carries. Neblett, who was a member of the ISU track and field team as a hurdler during the indoor season, was also a key contributor on special teams, with three punt returns for 23 yards and 10 kickoff returns for 207 yards (20.7 avg.).
O'Shaughnessy, who was recruited to Illinois State as a receiver, settled in at tight end and caught five passes for 76 yards (15.2 avg.) and two touchdowns in his first season in a Redbird uniform. The Naperville, Ill., native was also instrumental in blocking for the Redbird running game that averaged183.4 yards per game and was a standout on special teams with 14 tackles.
Banks started all 11 games at cornerback as a true freshman for the Redbirds, who led the conference in total defense (294.8 ypg). The University Park, Ill., product ranked fourth on the team with 54 tackles, including 42 solo stops, and added a half tackle-for-loss, three pass breakups and recovered a fumble. Banks recorded seven tackles and recovered a fumble in a win over South Dakota State, which earned him MVFC Newcomer of the Week honors, and recorded his first career interception in a win on the road at Missouri State.
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