13 Panthers Reel In All-Gulf South Conference Honors
By Florida Tech // November 18, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Fresh off an extremely successful 2015 campaign, it was clear all year that Florida Tech boasted a number of outstanding players. The Panthers received confirmation of this on Wednesday, when 13 players and head coach Steve Englehart were all honored as All-Gulf South Conference.
For the second-consecutive year, Steve Englehart was recognized by his peers as the GSC Coach of the Year. The Panther coach led his team to a 7-4 record and a pair of wins over top-five ranked opponents in then No. 5 Delta State and then No. 1 West Georgia.
A pair of Panther players also landed end-of-year awards, giving FIT three of the five total honors.
For the past few years FIT linebacker J.J. Sanders has been a menace to opposing offenses. Sanders received due recognition following his senior campaign, bringing home the GSC Defensive Player of the Year award.
While Sanders has established himself as a top player over several seasons, running back Antwuan Haynes burst on the scene as one of the conference’s most electric players both on offense and in special teams situations. The Panther speedster was selected as the top freshman on offense in the GSC this past season, receiving the Offensive Freshman of the Year award.
Haynes is the second Panther to be named offensive freshman of the year in as many seasons, joining 2014 honoree Mark Cato.
The Panthers landed five players on the first team, three on offense and a pair on defense.
Tight end Gabe Hughes headlined the group as FIT’s lone unanimous selection. Hughes ranked seventh in the GSC in receiving yards with 566, gathering three touchdown passes along the way.
Fellow receiving threat Kenny Johnston was also named to the first team after his breakout season. After catching just three total passes in 2014, Johnston reeled in 43 for 787 yards, third most in the conference.
The Jacksonville, Florida native was no stranger to the end zone, catching a GSC-best 10 touchdown passes.
Guard Kevin Delgado represents the FIT offensive line as a First Team All-GSC selection. It is the first time in his career that the Miami, Florida product has been named to the all-conference squad.
On defense, J.J. Sanders returns to the first team after receiving the same laurel in 2014. Sanders led the conference in tackles for loss with 18.0 and tied for third in sacks with 6.5. The former Kent State Golden Flash tallied 59 total tackles, second most on the team.
After two-straight second team selections, defensive back Manny Abad got over the hump and garnered first team laurels. Abad tied for second in the conference with 11 passes defensed, including 10 breakups. The Cuban native also intercepted one pass and registered 39 total tackles.
Florida Tech tied West Georgia for the most second team selections with eight.
Receiver T.J. Lowder was named all-conference in his lone season in Crimson and Gray. Lowder caught 46 passes, third most in the GSC, for 616 yards and five scores. The FIU transfer’s receiving yards were fifth most in the conference.
Center Blake Stone and tackle Matt Garcia round out the Panther offensive linemen who were recognized as all-conference. Stone completed his first season at FIT after transferring from Charleston Southern, while Garcia ended his Panther career with two second team selections.
After making the second team in 2013 and being omitted in 2014, Skylar Sheffield returns to the All-GSC team after recording 47 tackles, including 26 solo stops. Sheffield also tallied 4.0 tackles for loss.
Captain Chris Stapleton makes his third-consecutive second team all-conference appearance after garnering the same honor in each of his first two seasons. Stapleton was second in the conference with 89 total tackles and 55 solo stops. The linebacker’s 8.0 TFLs were good for 10th in the GSC.
Defensive back Leo Alba II capped his senior campaign with his first All-GSC laurel. The Pembroke Pines, Florida native was third in the conference with nine pass breakups.
Space Coast native Trai Cadore locked up his first all-conference selection. The Titusville, Florida native piled up 47 tackles, 31 of which were of the solo variety. Cadore was one of 15 GSC players with multiple interceptions, registering a pair.
Haynes rounds out the list for FIT, adding a second team return specialist honor to his offensive freshman of the year award.
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida product led the GSC with 641 kick return yards. Haynes also stakes claim to FIT’s first-ever punt return for a touchdown, housing his first career attempt against Fort Valley State.
The Panthers’ 13 selections is tied for second in the conference, matching the output of North Alabama. West Georgia led the GSC with 17 all-conference players.