This past week, three Cardinal football players earned the honor of joining the Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-American team.
Junior defensive lineman Heath Williams was named to the first-team, senior linebacker Michael Alexander to the second-team and sophomore wide receiver Chad Gailliard received an honorable mention.
“It is a great and well-deserved honor for all three players to be named to the All-American team,” head coach Jim Collins said. “They all had tremendous seasons, and what’s impressive is we all know it is against as good of competition as any in the country.”
None of these achievements came as a surprise, as each of these players earned All-GLIAC and All-Super Region #3 honors for their play in 2018.
Williams earned the highest honor of the group, as his GLIAC-leading 13 sacks, third best in SVSU’s single-season history, and 19 tackles-for-loss were a key element of SVSU’s success on the gridiron. His 17.5 career sacks were enough to put him at the No. 10 spot among all-time Cardinals with another season to play this fall.
Alexander finished his career at SVSU with a GLIAC-leading 117 tackles, 10.6 per game, also top on the season. Alexander functioned as a veteran leader on the squad, and his 291 career tackles put him at No. 13 among all
time Cardinals to end his career.
Gailliard was only recognized as an honorable mention. However, his stellar play as a young wideout on the Cardinal offense certainly deserved to be recognized.
Gailliard led the GLIAC in most major receiving categories including receptions (63), yards (1,005), yards-per-game (91.4) and touchdowns (12) in only his second season. He will look to maintain his high level of play alongside junior quarterback Ryan Conklin this fall.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into being able to perform at a high level that not many people truly know about, and it feels good to get that validation in a sense,” Gailliard said. “But the work is far from over, as this is merely the beginning.”
Gailliard is already on his way to breaking multiple receiving records at SVSU after only two years at the program.
After a successful season, losing a high-octane player like Alexander is going to be a tough task for the defense, but keeping Williams around as the anchor and a bright young star like Gailliard is confidence enough for Collins.
“I’m proud of them,” Collins said. “At the same time, it’s a testament to the fact that our program is back on the national scene, and with the return of a lot of good players, we expect to keep moving in an upward trajectory. We will miss (Alexander), but it’s great to know (Williams), (Gailliard) and a lot of really good football players are still here.”
Reported by Dylan Powell, Vanguard Sports Editor