Junior wide receiver Aaron Sanders and junior return specialist Dane Forlines were both tabbed to the 2015 First Team All-Southern Conference Coaches and Media teams. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Ryan Francis and redshirt junior defensive lineman Joe Nelson were voted Second Team All-SoCon by the media, and freshman wide receiver Dontae Mauck was voted All-Freshman Offensive Team by the league coaches.
“The VMI Football family is honored to have these five cadet-athletes recognized on All Southern Conference Football teams,” said VMI head football coach Scott Wachenheim. “Football is the ultimate team sport and these awards recognize the accomplishments of every football team member and the VMI Corps of Cadets this season.”
A capsule of each player’s 2015 season highlights follows.
Aaron Sanders – Wide Receiver – Junior – Stafford, Virginia
Led the Southern Conference in receiving yards per game (81.1) and receptions per game (7.6)…caught a school season record 84 passes for 892 yards…the new school season mark established surpassed Mark Stock’s 73 catches in 1988…set a new single game record for receptions in a game when he hauled in 16 catches for 218 yards against Mercer Oct. 24…the receiving 218 yards against Mercer was the third highest total in VMI history and earned him SoCon Offensive Player of the Week honors…started the season with 13 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown against Ball State Sept. 2…had 10 catches for 164 yards against Wofford Oct. 31…caught at least five passes in all but one game and extended his consecutive games reception streak to 27 games dating back to the 2013 season.
Dane Forlines – Return Specialist/Wide Receiver – Junior – Richmond, Virginia
Ranked second in the Southern Conference in all-purpose running with 112.2 yards per game…led the SoCon in punt returns averaging 12.9 yards per return with a long of 49 yards against Samford…accounted for 266 all-purpose yards against Samford when he returned three punts for 83 yards, four kickoffs for 84 yards and caught seven passes for 106 yards…was second on the team in receptions (53) and receiving yards (690)…complied three 100-yard receiving games on the year (9-101-Morehead State), (7-106-Samford), (9-140-Western Carolina)…made clutch reception to set up the game winning 34-yard field goal against Morehead State September 12.
Ryan Francis – Inside Linebacker – Redshirt Sophomore – Knoxville, Tennessee
Led the team in tackles with 115 total stops including 54 solo hits which also topped the team…ranked third in the Southern Conference in tackles per game with 10.5 per contest…ranked second on the team in tackles for loss with 9.5…broke up passes in Morehead State, Bucknell, and Mercer games…finished the season with career-high back-to-back 15-tackle efforts against The Citadel (10 solo hits) and Western Carolina…forced two fumbles against The Citadel…had double-digit tackles in eight of 11 games…posted three tackles-for-loss for 8 yards against Furman…logged 12-tackle games against Ball State and Samford.
Joe Nelson – Defensive Lineman – Redshirt Junior – Hampton, Virginia
Saw time at both defensive tackle and defensive end during his redshirt junior season…led all Keydet linemen with 52 total tackles…also posted 4.5 tackles for loss (TFL), which led all VMI linemen as well…tied season-high with eight tackles and set a 2015 best with 1.5 TFL against #6 Chattanooga…also had eight stops in season opening game at FBS Ball State…forced a fumble in season finale against Western Carolina…credited with three pass break-ups in first four games of season…had key QB hurry on opponent’s final drive to help preserve win at Mercer, a win that broke a five-year road losing streak for the Keydets.
Dontae Mauck –Wide Receiver-Freshman-Winchester, Virginia
Averaged a team leading 28.5 yards per catch…caught 15 passes for 427 yards and was second on the team in TD receptions with three…also rushed 14 times for 87 yards and a touchdown…started his career with an 80-yard TD reception against Ball State in the season opener…Caught touchdown passes against Samford (27 yards) and Chattanooga (69 yards)…rushed for a 42-yard touchdown against Bucknell…caught a pass in all but one game on the season.