Tulane foursome earn All-American Athletic Conference honors
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Four Tulane football standouts earned 2017 All-American Athletic Conference honors as redshirt senior cornerback Parry Nickerson was named to the first team, senior running back Dontrell Hilliard and senior linebacker Rae Juan Marbley were named to the second team and redshirt junior cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. received honorable mention accolades, in a vote of the conference’s head coaches.
Nickerson earned All-American Athletic Conference recognition for the third time in his career, garnering honorable mention recognition as a freshman and second-team selection last season, while Hilliard, Marbley and Lewis were tabbed with their first all-conference honors by The American.
Nickerson led the conference in interceptions with six, which ranked tied for third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision at 0.5 per game. Nickerson and Lewis closed the regular season tied for fourth in The American and 38th in the country in passes defended (pass breakups plus interceptions) at 1.2 per game.
In his final season wearing the Olive and Blue, Nickerson recorded 55 tackles (46 solo) and 2.0 tackles for loss to go along with his six picks. He set a career high with nine tackles at FIU, eclipsing his previous best of eight at East Carolina on Nov. 22, 2014. The Paycom Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist was also a nominee for Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, Wuerffel Trophy and Senior CLASS Award.
The Algiers, La., native finished his career as one of the best defensive backs to ever play at Tulane with 16 career interceptions, which rank second in school history, and 31 career pass breakups, which rank third in school history. He totaled 188 tackles, with 152 of those as solo stops, 8.0 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one block.
Hilliard also left his mark on the Tulane football records book, recording the school’s first 1,000-yard season for a running back in nine years. His 1,091 rushing yards ranked third and his 90.9 rush yards per game ranked fourth in The American this season. On the school’s single-season charts, he finished sixth in rushing yards, tied for third in rushing touchdowns (12) and tied for sixth in carries (210).
The Baton Rouge, La., native was twice named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Offensive Player of the Week and received a helmet sticker on ESPN’s College Football Final show after rushing for a career-high 175 yards and a career-high four touchdowns vs. Tulsa. Five games later at ECU, he set his career high again with 189 rushing yards on a career-high 28 carries.
For his career, Hilliard closed his time Uptown in the school’s career top five in five categories – fifth in rushing yards (2,948), tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (30), fifth in carries (557), third in yards per carry (5.29) and tied for fifth in 100-rushing yard game performances (9).
Marbley made his impact in his final season with a team-high 96 tackles and a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss, starting all 12 games. He manned the middle of the Green Wave defense, making key stops all season long. None were more impressive than his performance at ECU when he totaled 12 tackles in the game and came up big when the Green Wave needed it most. He was credited with three tackles on ECU’s overtime drive that was stopped short of the goal line. For his efforts against the Pirates, Marbley was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week by the conference office and College Sports Madness.
Marbley ended his Tulane career with 177 tackles (116 solo), 10.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks, playing in 47 career games with 15 starts.
Lewis had breakout season for the Green Wave with 36 tackles (27 solo) 3.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions and a team-high 11 pass breakups. He was all over the field in the Wave’s overtime win at ECU with a career-high six pass breakups to go along with four tackles and 1.0 tackle for loss. The Baton Rouge, La., native grabbed the first fumble recovery of his career vs. Houston.
Lewis enters the 2018 season already in the school’s top 10 in career pass breakups with 23, which rank tied for ninth with Sean Lucas (2002-05) and Rod McDowell (1989-92).
Tulane’s four all-conference selections ties for the most since joining The American. In the Green Wave’s first season in the conference in 2014, Lorenzo Doss and Sam Scofield were named second team and Nickerson and Nico Marley were named honorable mention.
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