LEXINGTON, Va. – Five VMI football cadet-athletes were named to 2017 Southern Conference postseason honors as announced by the league office Tuesday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Senior linebacker Allan Cratsenberg was named to both All-Conference teams as he earned a spot of the first team All-SoCon squad selected by the media and second team All-SoCon squad picked by league coaches.
Senior defensive back Greg Sanders was named second team to both the media and coaches teams, and redshirt junior linebacker Brian Lipscomb was tabbed second team All-Conference by the media.
Wide receiver Kris Thornton and defensive back A.J. Smith were voted to the SoCon All-Freshman teams as selected by the conference coaches.
Cratsenberg (Natrona, Pa./Highlands) topped the VMI tackle charts for the second straight season and led the league in tackles per game for the second straight year with 118 total -10.7/game. He posted six double-digit tackle games on the season including a season-high 18 stops against Western Carolina October 21. He completed his four-year Institute career with 419 tackles – third best on the VMI all-time list and one of only three Keydet defenders to surpass the 400-tackle mark in a career. Cratsenberg also led the 2017 VMI defense in interceptions with three including a 60-yard pick-six against Mercer September 28.
Sanders (Cordova, Tenn./Christian Brothers), also named second team All-SoCon at DB in 2016, posted 92 tackles which ranked tied for eighth in tackles per game (8.4) in the SoCon and he co-led the team in passes defended with six breakups despite playing six games with a club after sustaining a broken hand in the season opener at Air Force September 2. He posted four double-digit tackle games in 2017 including a career-high 16 stops at Furman October 14. Sanders was named 2017 Defender of the Nation Award recipient as named by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the award honors a top defensive player from the nation’s nine senior college military football playing institutions including the service academies. Sanders will receive the award at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet December 4 in Charlotte.
Lipscomb (Hampton, Va./Kecoughtan) had a breakout year at outside linebacker and led the SoCon in both tackles per loss (18.5) and sacks (8.5). In 11 starts, Lipscomb was credited with at least a half-tackle for loss in all games played and posted a season-high 10 stops with two tackles for loss and a sack against Western Carolina October 21. He capped the season with back-to-back three TFL games against ETSU and Wofford.
Thornton (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) emerged as a bright spot offensively and led the team in receptions and yardage with 33 catches for 340 yards and co-led the team in TD catches with two scores. Thornton became the first VMI true freshman to lead the team in receptions since Ed Pearson who caught 22 passes for 262 yards in 1996. He ended his freshman campaign with 12 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the season finale against Wofford November 11 at Foster Stadium becoming the first Keydet receiver to net a 100 yards in a game since Javeon Lara against Western Carolina on November 5, 2016.
Smith (Virginia Beach, Va./Cox)moved into the starting lineup at strong safety in week five against Mercer and became a fixture there the remainder of the season. He played all 11 games with seven starts and logged 48 tackles – sixth most on the team- with 31 solos and two pass break ups and two tackles for loss. Smith was credited with a season-high nine tackles at The Citadel October 28.
For a complete listing of All-Southern Conference squads, go to www.soconsports.com