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2019 Southern Conference Superlatives: VMI

By Matthew Golden
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With the 2019 season behind us, we take a step back to reflect on the individual superlatives for each team within the Southern Conference.

Offensive MVP: Alex Ramsey, RB, R-Jr

Arguably the most productive offensive player in the conference, Ramsey finished the 2019 campaign rushing for just over the 1300-yard mark,  averaging an impressive 110 yards on the ground per outing.  The Salem native led the SoCon in rushing yards, total scoring, and total touchdowns during his junior season, also placing third in all-purpose yards. The Keydets’ lead back’s totals stack up well against the FCS, finishing as the seventh leading rusher in the nation. Following the season, Ramsey was named to the 2019 STATS FCS All-America Second Team, joining five other members of the SoCon to be honored. I’d look for Ramsey to be an early candidate for the SoCon Offensive Player of the Year in 2020.

Defensive MVP: A.J. Smith, DB, Junior

A.J. Smith was all over the field this season, making a case as one of the most complete defensive players in the conference. The junior not only performed at a high level on the gridiron, but excelled in the classroom, being known in the program as one of the top student athletes. Smith’s versatility played a large role in his success this season, proving the ability to contribute in defending the rushing attack and patrolling the secondary on pass attempts. The Virginia Beach native would be honored to the All SoCon First Team after tallying three interceptions, seven pass breakups, and 67 total tackles in 2019. With Smith returning for his senior year, the Keydets are in good shape in terms of defensive leadership.

Intriguing returner:  Reece Udinski, QB, Junior

If it wasn’t for Ramsey’s historic production, Udinski would’ve easily been the Keydets’ offensive MVP. After becoming the first quarterback in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards in 2018, the two-year lettermen picked up right where he left off, throwing for 3,276 yards and 19 touchdowns during his 2019 campaign. Udinski completed 306 passes on the season, being the only quarterback in the conference to complete more than 200. In terms of passing, no offense in the SoCon was on the same level as VMI, as the Keydets’ attempted over 450 passes on the season , being the only program in the conference to do so. The most impressive part about Udinski’s season….his pocket awareness and ability to take care of the ball. VMI’s signal caller only threw five interceptions on the season, completing 64 percent of all passes. With the conference’s leading passer, rusher, and receiver all returning to the Keydets in 2020, VMI has high hopes that the direction of the program will continue to build towards success.

Top Target: Jakob Herres, WR, Sophomore

Herres continues to grow into one of the more dangerous threats in the conference, benefiting from an offense that is loaded with potential. After being named to the All SoCon Freshman team in 2018, the speedy wideout took the conference by storm, leading all pass catchers in receiving yards, touchdowns, and receptions. The Easton, Pennsylvania native was the only receiver to total over 1000 receiving yards, and the only wideout to catch more then 60 passes (72). With Herres, freshman Leroy Thomas, Ramsey, and Udinski all returning in 2020, I’d expect VMI to put out on the most octane offenses in all of the FCS next season.