Newcomer of the Year Patterson, first-teamer Jones highlight Demons’ All-SLC selections

In their first season at Northwestern State, Travon Jones and Zach Patterson made an impact on Southland Conference coaches.

Patterson was named the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and Jones earned first-team All-Southland Conference acclaim as part of the league’s postseason honors that were announced Wednesday morning.

Patterson, a sophomore wide receiver from East Mississippi Community College, snared 83 passes in his first season with Northwestern State – the second-most catches in a single season in program history. His 7.5 catches per game paced the Southland and are the fifth most in the FCS entering the playoffs.

Patterson paced the Demons with 710 receiving yards and ranked second on the team with five touchdown catches en route to earning a spot on the second-team offense.

Jones was Northwestern State’s lone first-team selection, earning the tight end/H-back spot after emerging as a factor in the Demon passing game while being an adept and willing downfield blocker for the NSU running game.

A freshman who transferred from Chattanooga, Jones was the Demons’ fifth-leading receiver with 20 catches for 265 yards and a touchdown. His 13.3 yards per catch average was tops on the team among receivers with a minimum of 15 catches.

Three Demon offensive players and three Demon defenders earned second-team All-Southland Conference honors.

Quarterback Zachary Clement collected the first Southland award of his career after throwing for 2,498 yards and 19 touchdowns, ranking in NSU’s single-season top 10 in attempts (410, 2nd), completions (222, 4th), touchdowns (4th) and yards (5th).

In his eight starts, Clement averaged 312 passing yards per game. He twice accounted for four touchdowns (vs. Lamar, at Texas A&M-Commerce) and added 303 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

A Lafayette Christian product, Clement ranked second in the Southland Conference in passing yards per game (227.1), touchdown passes (19), points responsible for (128) and points responsible for per game (11.6).

Wide receiver Javon Antonio earned second-team honors after returning from a redshirt season in 2021 as he and Patterson were two of the three second-team receivers. Antonio finished second on the Demons with 64 catches and 684 yards while leading NSU with six touchdown grabs.

His 5.8 receptions per game were second in the Southland behind Patterson and ranked 25th nationally.

Antonio, a product of East St. John High School and Hinds Community College, has moved into a pair of NSU top-10 lists, sharing eighth place in single-season touchdown catches and 10th place in career touchdown grabs with 10.

Antonio’s appearance marks his second, second-team all-conference selection, having been honored in the spring 2021 season.

Defensively, the Demons picked up a trio of honors as well.

Jomard Valsin Jr. capped his Northwestern State career with his second all-conference honor.

Valsin, named as a second-team defensive lineman, tied for fourth on the team with 51 tackles and was fourth in tackles for loss (5.0) while shifting between defensive end and linebacker.

Valsin added a pair of blocked kicks, ranking 11 nationally and leading the Southland Conference.

A Port Arthur Memorial product, Valsin previously was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection in the spring 2021 season.

Like Valsin, a pair of Demon defensive backs earned their second career all-conference honors.

Safety PJ Herrington filled the stat sheet in his final season at Northwestern State, finishing third on the team with 63 tackles while adding 3.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, a sack, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Herrington, a Natchez, Mississippi, native, returned his lone interception of the season 38 yards for a touchdown in a Nov. 5 with at Texas A&M-Commerce. It was the Demons’ first interception return touchdown in nearly three years, dating to Shemar Bartholomew’s 2019 score at Sam Houston.

Herrington, a spring 2021 third-team all-conference pick, also earned second-team all-conference honors as a punt returner after averaging 11.5 yards per return on 13 attempts. Herrington had three punt returns of at least 19 yards, topped by a 31-yard burst against Lamar on Sept. 24.

Cornerback William Hooper, another senior, ranked second in the conference and 24th nationally in passes defended at 1.2 per game.

A Montgomery, Alabama, native, Hooper started all 11 games as the Demons battled injuries at cornerback. He added 29 tackles (20 solo) and blocked an extra point against Grambling – a game where the Demons blocked three extra points as a team.

Hooper’s 13 pass defended nearly equaled his career total entering his senior season as he finished his Demon tenure with 29 passes defended.