According to a release by league officials this morning, junior defensive lineman Trace Mascorro garnered the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year honor. Mascorro, a transfer from the University of Texas at El Paso, was also named to the all-SLC first-team defense alongside senior linebacker Royce See.
Mascorro is the first Bearkat to snag the Newcomer of the Year award in 20 years and the first defensive player to win the award in the SLC since 2015. He started all 12 games for SHSU in his first season on the line, compiling 15.5 tackles for loss and five sacks to go along with a couple of forced fumbles.
Senior first-team selection See was another of the seven Kats’ defensive players that were all-conference team selections. See was the SLC’s defensive player of the week twice during the regular season and was named FCS national defensive player of the week after the Battle of the Piney Woods. He finished the year with 62 tackles including 12 for a loss, four sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
In addition to the pair of defensive standouts, three Bearkats found themselves on the SLC offensive first-team. Senior punter Matt McRobert finished the season with a conference-best 44.3 yards per punt. McRobert punted 85 times during the season, pinning opponents in the red zone 29 times and allowing only three touchbacks.
On the offensive line, junior Colby Thomas was recognized with a postseason honor for the first time in his career. He was joined by senior Woody Brandom, the athletic 6-foot, 5-inch tight end. The preseason all-SLC selection lived up to the hype, starting in all 23 games of his two-year career. Brandom opened eyes with 24 receptions, including seven for 80 yards and a touchdown in his final game of the season. He has accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Sophomore Donovan Williams was an electric player this season putting up five games of at least 100 rushing yards and earned second-team honors. Williams finished the year with 14 touchdowns and was second in the conference with 925 total yards.
SHSU had a trio of defensive players named, as well.
Junior lineman Joseph Wallace contributed 11 tackles, four sacks and forced three fumbles in his first year after transferring from Texas Tech. Senior linebacker Hunter Brown capped off his time at SHSU with 64 tackles to finish off his collegiate career with nearly 300. Despite missing the end of the season with a wrist injury, junior Zyon McCollum received his second straight postseason recognition with three interceptions and finished fifth in the conference in passes defended.
The Kats also notched a pair of defensive third-teamers that were recognized alongside senior offensive lineman Tyler Edwards, both of whom will be returning next season. Junior defensive back Jaylen Thomas was an honorable mention two years ago as a freshman and tallied eight pass breakups and three picks this year. The corner also spent time in the backfield with seven tackles for loss and a couple of sacks. Teammate Jevon Leon was one of the best freshman in the country with 38 total tackles (16 for a loss) and 8.5 sacks—all of which were top marks among freshmen in the FCS.