The phone rang Wednesday morning, and Ja'Von Rolland-Jones held out his cellphone to see a student services director was calling.
Perhaps it involved academics -- it was finals week, after all.
Instead, Arkansas State University's senior defensive end learned he had been named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Rolland-Jones, who finished the regular season ranked second in the nation with 1.18 sacks per game, became the third player to win the Sun Belt honor in consecutive seasons, the first since ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin won in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
"It's a wonderful feeling," said Rolland-Jones, who is also seventh in the nation with 1.7 tackles for loss per game. "It's a blessing. I'm just thankful God put me in this position."
Last season, he became the first defensive player to win player of the year since North Texas defensive lineman Brandon Kennedy, who also won it twice in 2002 and 2003.
Rolland-Jones' 43½ sacks are one shy of the all-time NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision career sack record that was set by former Arizona State linebacker Terrell Suggs. Rolland-Jones' final collegiate game is when the Red Wolves play Middle Tennessee State in the Camellia Bowl on Dec. 16 in Montgomery, Ala.
"It's been a great career here," the Mesquite, Texas, native said. "The support from my family, my teammates. Glad I had a chance to do it here with a school that loves their football team."
Shortly after Rolland-Jones received the phone call, he ran into redshirt junior quarterback Justice Hansen. Rolland-Jones had heard Hansen was awarded the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.
Rolland-Jones held out his cellphone and gave Hansen a shoutout on his Snapchat story.
"Aww, thank you buddy," Hansen said.
"He's just cool, calm and relaxed," Rolland-Jones said. "It was great what he did this season. You never seen him push the panic button."
Hansen's 34 touchdown passes have broken the Sun Belt single-season record of 32 set by Florida Atlantic's Rusty Smith in 2007, and Hansen's 40 total touchdowns have broken the Sun Belt single-season record (36) that was held by both Dwight Dasher (Middle Tennessee State, 2009) and Kolton Browning (Louisiana-Monroe, 2012).
Hansen also set single-game school records for passes completed (46, Nebraska), passing yards (520, Louisiana-Monroe) and total yards (550, Louisiana-Monroe). He finished the regular season ranked sixth in the nation with 330 passing yards per game.
Both Rolland-Jones and Hansen were named to the 2017 All-Sun Belt Conference Team, along with 16 other ASU players.
"We get back to work here on Friday," Rolland-Jones said. "Get the plan together. Get out and finish this with a win."
Sports on 12/07/2017
Sun Belt Player of the Year
Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State
Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year
Justice Hansen, Arkansas State
All-Sun Belt First-Team Offense
QB;Justice Hansen;R-Jr.;Arkansas State
RB;Jalin Moore;Jr.;Appalachian State
WR;Ike Lewis;Sr.;Appalachian State
WR;Penny Hart;R-So.;Georgia State
WR;Jaleel Scott;R-Sr.;New Mexico State
TE;Blake Mack;Sr.;Arkansas State
OL;Colby Gossett;Sr.;Appalachian State
OL;Beau Nunn;Sr.;Appalachian State
OL;Victor Johnson;So.;Appalachian State
OL;Lanard Bonner;R-Jr.;Arkansas State
All-Sun Belt First-Team Defense
DL;Tee Sims;Sr.;Appalachian State
DL;Ja’Von Rolland-Jones;R-Sr.;Arkansas State
DL;Cedric Wilcots II;R-So.;New Mexico State
LB;Eric Boggs;Sr.;Appalachian State
LB;Dalton Herrington;Sr.;New Mexico State
DB;Clifton Duck;So.;Appalachian State
DB;Blaise Taylor;Sr.;Arkansas State
DB;Jeremy Reaves;Sr.;South Alabama
All-Sun Belt First-Team Special Teams
PK;Gavin Patterson;Jr.;South Alabama
P;Corliss Waitman;Jr.;South Alabama
Return Specialist;Marcus Green;Jr.;Louisiana-Monroe
All-Sun Belt Second-Team Offense
QB;Taylor Lamb;Sr.;Appalachian State
RB;Larry Rose III;Sr.;New Mexico State
WR;Chris Murray;Sr.;Arkansas State
WR;Jamarius Way;Jr.;South Alabama
TE;Gabe Schrade;Sr.;Texas State
OL;Noah Fisher;Jr.;South Alabama
All-Sun Belt Second-Team Defense
DL;Ronheen Bingham;Jr.;Arkansas State
DL;Logan Hunt;Jr.;Georgia Southern
LB;Kyle Wilson;Sr.;Arkansas State
LB;Shane Johnson;Sr.;Coastal Carolina
DB;Tae Hayes;Jr.;Appalachian State
DB;Justin Clifton;Jr.;Arkansas State
DB;Monquavion Brinson;So.;Georgia Southern
DB;Ron LaForce;Jr.;New Mexico State
All-Sun Belt Second-Team Special Teams
PK;Tyler Bass;R-So.;Georgia Southern
Return Specialist;Marcus Jones;Fr.;Troy
All-Sun Belt Third-Team Offense
QB;Tyler Rogers;R-Sr.;New Mexico State
RB;Osharmar Abercrombie;Sr.;Coastal Carolina
WR;Justin McInnis;Jr.;Arkansas State
WR;Malcolm Williams;Jr.;Coastal Carolina
OL;Jaypee Philbert;Sr.;Arkansas State
OL;Aaron Brewer;So.;Texas State
All-Sun Belt Third-Team Defense
DL;Caleb Fuller;Sr.;Appalachian State
DL;Caleb Caston;Sr.;Arkansas State
DL;Marterious Allen;Jr.;Georgia State
LB;Devan Stringer;Sr.;Appalachian State
LB;Michael Shaw;R-Jr.;Georgia State
LB;Frankie Griffin;Jr.;Texas State
DB;A.J. Howard;Sr.;Appalachian State
DB; Chandon Sullivan; Sr.;Georgia State
DB;Shamad Lomax;So.;New Mexico State
All-Sun Belt Third-Team Special Teams
PK;Sawyer Williams;R-So.;Arkansas State
P;Cody Grace;R-So.;Arkansas State
Return Specialist;Blaise Taylor;Sr.;Arkansas State
All-Purpose;Glenn Smith;Sr.;Georgia State
Print Headline: Rolland-Jones named Sun Belt's best again