UAPB Football Lands Five On All-SWAC Honors, Including Four First-Team Selection

The preseason accolades for the Southwestern Athletic Conference football teams were released on Thursday morning during media day, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff football team had five student-athletes named to the All-SWAC Team.

The Golden Lions had two student-athletes earned the honors on defense and special teams and one on the offensive side of the ball. Offensive lineman Mark Evans II, punter Josh Sanchez, long snapper Thomas Reny, and linebacker Monroe Beard III were all named to the first team, while defensive lineman Athen Smith was named to the second team.

Evans, who was recently named to the East-West Shrine Bowl 1,000 list is a three-time First Team (SWAC) All-Conference, three-time Boxtorow All-American, Boxtorow All-American Honoree, HBCU Classic All-American, and Rated top-10 HBCU player by Pro Football Network. Evans started in all 11 games and was tagged on several NFL scouts’ draft boards as players to watch. He played a significant role in helping UAPB finish in the top 6th (SWAC) in total yards per game (1,383), ranked in the top in the conference in knockdowns, and gave up only one sack for the Golden Lions.

Sanchez, who was recently named to the Boxtorow All-American team, started in all 11 games for the Golden Lions and ranked one of the top punters in the conference, averaging (40.2) yards per punt, ranking 6th in the conference. Sanchez tied for first in the conference (SWAC) with punts landed inside the 20 with (21), ranks 5th in the conference with punts over 50+ (8).
Sanchez had a season-long of 68 yards earlier this year against Southern U.

Beard was labeled as one of the top hard hitting linebackers in the SWAC Conference. Beard ranked in the top-10 in several categories in the conference, 5th in total tackles (78), 5th tackles average per game (7.1), 6th in the conference in solo tackles (44), 9th in the conference in sacks (5).

Beard also played a major part on the special team defense for the Golden Lions. UAPB finished the season ranked tied for third in the FCS with (4) block punts, with Beard contributing to one block punt.
Beard finished with a season-high 12 tackles against Prairie View A&M.

Reny making his first appearance on the all conference team for UAPB, is a two-year letterman who was the key piece of the Golden Lion’s success in the special team position on the punt and PAT long snapper. Reny started in all 11 games and played a big part in Josh Sanchez being ranked one of the top punters in the conference in the fall of 2021, averaging (40.2) yards per punt. Sanchez also tied for first in the conference (SWAC) with punts landed inside the 20 with (21), ranks 5th in the conference with punts over 50+ (8). During the season, Reny went the whole season without a botched fumble during the snap.

Athen Smith, a physical pass rusher, started in nine of 11 games as a true freshman for the Golden Lions. Smith finished the season ranked 23rd in the SWAC conference with 3.5 sacks for a total of 20 yards. Smith finished the season with (20) tackles and (6.5) tackles for loss. Smith had his season best against Texas Southern with five tackles and one sack.