Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
For the second straight year, a Missouri defensive end has been named the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year.
Junior Shane Ray, who set a school record with 14.0 sacks this season, was named the top defensive player in the conference Monday by the Associated Press.
Michael Sam, who tied the former school record with 11.5 sacks in 2013, won the previous award.
Ray’s 14 sacks are tied for the third-most in the country. His 21.0 tackles for loss are also third-most in the nation. Ray has been projected as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, should he choose to forgo his senior season at Missouri.
Three Tigers were named first-team all-SEC: Ray, Bud Sasser (wide receiver) and Marcus Murphy (all-purpose). Linebacker Kentrell Brothers and safety Braylon Webb were named second-team all-conference, and defensive tackle Harold Brantley and defensive end Markus Golden were named honorable mention.
Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, who set an SEC championship game record with 12 catches Saturday against Missouri, received the offensive player of the year award.
Missouri had seven players named all-conference last season as well: first-teamers Sam, Justin Britt (offensive tackle), Kony Ealy (defensive end) and E.J. Gaines (cornerback); second-teamers Dorial Green-Beckham (wide receiver) and Andrew Wilson (linebacker); and one honorable mention, Golden.
In 2012, Missouri’s first season in the SEC, just one Tiger was named all-conference by the Associated Press. Sheldon Richardson was named a first-team defensive tackle.
Missouri’s seven AP all-conference defensive linemen outnumber all other SEC teams in the past three years.