NATCHITOCHES – Defensive lineman Deon Simon, cornerback Imoan Claiborne and cornerback Fred Thomas headlined eight picks for the Demons when the Southland Conference unveiled its preseason all-conference football team Wednesday.
Simon, Claiborne and Thomas were all named first team selections to the league’s defensive team, and defensive end JeMarcus Marshall, defensive back Adam Jones and punt returner Ed Eagan were voted second team. Offensive lineman Austin Douglas and all-purpose back Daniel Taylor were picked on the offense’s second team.
Simon (6-4, 315) is a senior native of Baton Rouge (Glen Oaks HS), and has 67 career tackles and 6.5 career sacks as a Demon. The three-year letterman started all 12 games in 2013, and recorded 42 tackles with seven for loss.
Claiborne is a 5-11, 187 senior from Alexandria (Alexandria Senior HS). He was added to the 2014 College Football Performance Awards Watch List as one of the top 38 defensive backs at the Division I FCS level in June.
He was not thrown at often last season, but made 37 tackles, snagged two interceptions and broke up four passes. He ran back one pickoff 48 yards for a touchdown to get the Demons on the scoreboard early in a season-ending 40-27 win over rival Stephen F. Austin.
Thomas (5-10, 160), a senior from Covent (Lutcher HS), has 70 career tackles in two seasons as a Demon. Last season, he led the team with three interceptions and seven pass breakups.
He had a pivotal interception against Central Arkansas that helped lock up a 31-28 win over the Bears.
The College Sports Journal named Marshall, a 6-3, 245 sophomore from Monroe, as a first-team Freshman All-American after the 2013 season. He had 25 tackles and 8.5 sacks, the team’s leader.
He broke through with a season high five tackles, 3.5 for loss, against Langston.
Jones (6-2, 196) is a sophomore from Katy, Texas, and finished second on the team in total tackles (73) and assisted tackles (34). He led the Demon in tackles for loss with 14 for a loss of 38 yards.
Eagan, a 5-10, 181 junior out of New Orleans (Holy Cross HS), was the Demon’s second-leading receiver and top return specialist from 2013. He returned 13 punts for 124 yards, and 34 kickoffs for 798 yards. Both his kickoff returns and return yardage were Northwestern State records.
Douglas, who was named as the 2014 Joe Delaney Bowl Most Valuable Player, is a 6-1, 304 Batesville, Miss., native. He appeared in every game in 2013, and started 10.
He finished with 80 percent grades against Nicholls (58 snaps) and Lamar (71 snaps).
Daniel Taylor (5-7, 160) is a native of Covent (Lutcher HS), and has 144 career rushes and receptions, ad has found the end zone every 13 times he’s touched the ball. Last season he was second on the team in rushing with 395 yards, and fourth on the team in all-purpose yards 523.
Returning student-athletes who earned all-conference honors at the conclusion of the 2013 season (Claiborne) were automatically named to the preseason teams. Head coaches from the 11 schools that play football in the Southland Conference voted for the remaining 38 positions, which included five on the first-team offense, four on the first-team defense, 14 positions on the second-team offense and 15 on the second-team defense. Coaches could not vote for their own players.
The conference’s two preseason polls – coaches and sports information directors – will be announced July 23 at media day.
Preseason camp begins Aug. 2 for the Demons, who will stage their first practice on Aug. 5. Fall Sports Media Days is Aug. 6.
The regular season begins Thursday, Aug. 28 against Missouri State in Turpin Stadium.
2014 Preseason All-Southland Conference Football Teams