Payer recognized as AFCA All-America First Team; Williams named to second team

By  | 

WACO, Texas (December 6, 2017) - The American Football Coaches Association announced its annual NCAA Division II All-American honors Wednesday and in the process recognized Colorado State University-Pueblo football juniors Brandon Payer (ILB, Pine, Colo.) and Darius Williams (CB, Gilbert, Ariz.).
Payer was recognized as AFCA All-American First Team, while Williams gathered second team honors. Both awards are the first of its kind for the student-athletes. In the last five years, four members of the ThunderWolves have earned all five AFCA All-American awards in the program's history. Defensive end Morgan Fox was a first team member in 2015, while defensive end Darius Allen was recognized on the first team in both 2013 and 2014.
Of the 50 selections, only 12 were juniors or sophomores. CSU-Pueblo was one of five teams with more than one recipient.
AFCA All-America First Team ... D2CCA All-Region First Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... Started all 12 games at inside linebacker and finished the season with 110 tackles with 71 solo ... Was 2nd in the RMAC in both tackles and solo tackles ... Ranks 22nd nationally in solo tackles ... The 71 solo tackles is a new modern era program record ... Led the RMAC with 14.0 tackles for loss (-50 yards) and added 4.5 sacks to tie for 5th ... Forced three fumbles (T-3rd in RMAC, T-58th nationally) with one recovery ... Compiled six games with double-digit tackle totals with a season high 14 at West Texas A&M (Sept. 9) ... The ThunderWolves defense finished the regular season 10th nationally in both total defense (273.5 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and 11th in turnovers gained (27) ... Academic All-District and Academic All-RMAC First Team.
AFCA All-America Second Team ... D2CCA All-Region First Team ... All-RMAC First Team ... Williams finished the regular season T-2nd in NCAA Division II for interceptions with eight, which is also a CSU-Pueblo program record ... Returned those eight interceptions for 176 yards (5th in Division II) and three touchdowns (T-1st in Division II) ... Added nine pass break-ups to finish 2nd in the RMAC in passes defended (17), which also ranks T-23rd nationally ... Compiled 46 tackles (34 solo) with 4.5 tackles for loss (-13 yards) and a sack (-6 yards) ... Forced a fumble in the playoff game at Minnesota State (Nov. 18) ... Named RMAC Player of the Week once in 2017 ... CSU-Pueblo finished the regular season 4th nationally in both interceptions (21) and team passing efficiency defense (88.95) and were 10th in scoring defense (14.3 ppg) and total defense (273.5 ypg).
The Pack finished the season with a 9-3 overall record, while their 9-1 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference mark was good for a share of the league title. CSU-Pueblo advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs as a seven seed. The ThunderWolves fell 16-13 in overtime to No. 1 overall and No. 2 seed Minnesota State University, Mankato.
The defense closed the regular season top 20 nationally in nine categories, red zone defense (3rd, 57.7%), interceptions (4th, 21), team passing efficiency defense (4th, 88.95), defensive touchdowns (7th, 5), scoring defense (10th, 14.3), total defense (10th, 273.5), turnovers gained (11th, 27), turnover margin (17th, 1.0) and passing yards allowed (18th, 164.6).
Team Background: The five teams now chosen for each AFCA division evolved from a single 11-player squad in 1945. From 1945 until 1967, only one team was chosen. From 1967 through 1971, two teams – University Division and College Division – were selected. In 1972, the College Division was split into College I and College II. In 1979, the University Division was split into two teams — FBS and FCS. In 1996, the College I and College II teams were renamed Division II and Division III, respectively. In 2006, the AFCA started selecting an NAIA-only team.
From 1965-81, a 22-player (11 offensive, 11 defensive) team was chosen. In 1982, a punter and placekicker were added to the team. In 1997, a return specialist was added, giving us the current 25-player team. The return specialist position was replaced by an all-purpose player in 2006.
Selection Process: The AFCA's Division II All-America Selection Committee is made up of three head coaches from each of the AFCA's seven districts, one of whom serves as a district chairman, along with another head coach who serves as the chairman of the selection committee. The coaches in each district are responsible for ranking the top players in their respective districts prior to a conference call between the district chairmen and the committee chairman on which the teams are chosen.