NEW ORLEANS - Linebacker Cardia Jackson became ULM's first conference defensive player of the year in 27 years as he was named Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year. The conference also announced Wednesday morning its annual All-Sun Belt Team which featured eight ULM players.
Jackson, who shared the award with Middle Tennessee's Chris McCoy, led the league with 117 tackles, 71 solo tackles and a 9.8 tackles-per-game average. Jackson became the conference's all-time leader in total tackles in week 10 against Western Kentucky.
The native of Monroe, La., became the first ULM player since 1996-97 to record over 100 tackles in back-to-back seasons. Not only is Jackson the top defensive player in the conference, but he is also one of the best in the NCAA. He is tied for first among all active players in the NCAA with 228 solo tackles and ranks third with 381 career stops.
Bruce Daigle was ULM's last defensive player of the year as he earned the Southland Conference's award in 1982. The last Warhawk to win any player of the year award was quarterback Steven Jyles - he was named Sun Belt Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year in 2005.
Jackson, wide receiver LaGregory Sapp, defensive end Aaron Morgan and safety Greg James were all named to the All-Sun Belt First Team. Running back Frank Goodin and safety James Truxillo were tabbed to the second team, while wide receiver Luther Ambrose and linebacker Josh Thomas were honorable mention selections.
Sapp finished second in the Sun Belt with 784 receiving yards, despite playing in just 10 games. His 19.6 yards-per-catch average led the league and currently ranks 12th in the NCAA. Before his season-ending injury, Sapp ranked third in the NCAA with 12 catches of 25 yards or more. The Monroe, La., native became the first ULM player since 2002 to have 100 yards or more receiving in three consecutive games.
Morgan established himself as one of the top pass rushers in the country and finished the year first in the Sun Belt and 23rd in the NCAA with 9.0 sacks. The Amite, La., native also finished second in the Sun Belt and 16th in the NCAA with 17.0 tackles for loss. His single-season sack total ranks eighth best in ULM and Sun Belt history and he finished his collegiate career ranked second all-time in the Sun Belt with 22 career sacks.
James also became an all-time record holder in the Sun Belt Conference. He finished second in the league with four interceptions on the season to push his career total to a conference record 17 - his career mark also ranks first among all active players in the NCAA. The Monroe native earned national, state and conference honors after intercepting three Riley Dodge passes in ULM's game at North Texas. He returned the final interception of his collegiate career 78 yards against Middle Tennessee. It went down as the fifth longest interception return in ULM history and the longest that didn't result in a touchdown.
Goodin finished the season third in the Sun Belt after rushing for 1,126 yards on 219 carries - 5.1 yards per carry. His yardage total was the fifth-best tally in school history and his 13 rushing touchdowns ranked second best. The West Monroe, La., native will enter his senior season eight touchdowns and 873 yards shy of the all-time ULM records.
Ambrose, a native of St. James, La., averaged 137.2 all-purpose yards per game to rank fourth overall in the conference. The sophomore speedster averaged 8.9 yards per rush, 13.4 yards per reception, 6.1 yards per punt return and 21.9 yards per kickoff return. He jump started his season with a 75-yard touchdown reception at Texas in the season opener - it was the longest play against the Longhorns since 2003 and the longest by the Warhawks since 2004.
Thomas, a three-year starter for the Warhawks, finished second on the team with 78 tackles on the season. The native of Port Barre, La., entered the season with 10.0 career tackles for loss and nearly matched that total with 6.0 this season.
The Warhawks finished the season 6-6 overall and 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference. It marked the second time in three seasons that ULM ended the year bowl eligible.