June 2, 2023 3:44 pm

5/25/2023 12:30:00 PM

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HARRISONBURG, Va. – Athlon Sports recognized 11 James Madison student-athletes with 12 preseason honors, as the organization rolled out its preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Team for the 2023 season this week.
Headlining the list for JMU were a quartet of First Team All-Sun Belt honorees in defensive lineman James Carpenter, offensive lineman Nick Kidwell, punter Ryan Hanson and linebacker Taurus Jones.
Making the Second Team were receiver Reggie Brown, offensive lineman Tyler Stephens and linebacker Jailin Walker. Third Team accolades went to running back Kaelon Black as an all-purpose player, tight end Zach Horton and offensive lineman Tanner Morris, while Josh Sarratt earned Fourth Team distinction both at safety and as a punt returner.
Carpenter started all 11 games at nose guard last season, earning Second Team All-Sun Belt and VaSID First Team All-State honors. He tallied 52 tackles with 11.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks.
Stephens and Morris started all 11 games on the line, while Kidwell made nine starts at right tackle. Kidwell was a Second Team All-Sun Belt honoree and took home First Team All-State laurels. The group aided JMU in ranking 13th nationally and first in the Sun Belt in scoring, at 37.0 points per game. The Dukes ranked 29th in the FBS and third in the SBC in total offense (452.5). JMU also led the conference and ranked seventh nationally in yards per completion (14.52), while its passing average (265.7) was third in the Sun Belt and its rushing average (186.7) was fourth.
Hanson joined the program in the spring after spending the previous three at SBC foe Arkansas State. Previously a Third Team All-Sun Belt punter in 2021, Hanson played in 35 career games, averaging 43.1 yards per punt. Last season, he had 48 punts with an average of 43.7 per attempt.
Jones was a Third-Team All-Sun Belt linebacker in his first season as a starter in 2022. Also named Second Team All-State, he led the Dukes with 82 tackles with 10.5 for a loss, one sack, and a pair of forced fumbles and recoveries. Jones also had five passes defended, which included his first career interception.
Brown is JMU’s leading returner in the wide receiver room and is coming off his first season as a primary starter. In eight games with five starts last fall, Brown made 24 receptions for 401 receiving yards and four touchdowns. That included a career-high 136 yards at Georgia Southern.
Walker, an Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt pick in 2022, had a solid year in year one starting at the linebacker position. He produced 63 tackles with three for a loss and a sack. He also led the team with three interceptions and two pick-sixes while also adding five pass breakups. Walker was also a Pro Football Network Honorable Mention Midseason All-American.
Black returned from a season-ending injury last year, appearing in nine games with a start at running back. Voted the VaSID University Division Offensive Rookie of the Year, Black had 69 carries for 333 rushing yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.8 per rush. He also added 17 catches and 177 receiving yards with a pair of scores. His season was highlighted by a season-high 108 all-purpose yards at App State, where he rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Horton is JMU’s top tight end returner in 2023 after appearing in all 11 games with five starts a season ago. In JMU’s first FBS campaign, he had 13 receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Sarratt played in all 11 games with 10 starts at safety while serving as JMU’s primary punt returner in 2022. He made 40 tackles with 4.5 for a loss and a sack. On the return side, Sarratt averaged 5.9 per return on 19 attempts, with four of 10 yards or longer.
The official preseason all-conference team from the league will be unveiled leading into Sun Belt Conference Media Days, which takes place July 25-26 in New Orleans.

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