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Missouri’s Sam voted top defensive player in conference this season

Missouri's Michael Sam was selected the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year in voting by the Associated Press.

Missouri's Michael Sam was selected the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year in voting by the Associated Press. Photo by The Associated Press.

The Missouri Tigers’ run to the Southeastern Conference championship game has reaped some individual awards.

A total of seven Tigers made the Associated Press’ All-SEC team released Monday. Four of the Tigers were first-team picks, while two were on the second team and the other was honorable mention.

Michael Sam, a senior defensive end, led the Missouri contingent by being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Sam led the conference in sacks with 10.5 and tackles for loss with 18, ranking in the top 10 nationally in both categories in the NCAA. He is the second Missouri player to earn conference defensive player of the year honors from the Associated Press. Jeff Gaylord won the award from the Big Eight Conference in 1981.

Two of Sam’s teammates on the defensive side were also first-team selections — E.J. Gaines, a senior cornerback, and junior defensive end Kony Ealy.

It is the second first-team all-conference honor for Gaines, who was named to the Big 12 squad as a sophomore in 2011. He played 11 games this season, finishing third on the team with 65 total tackles, with four for loss. Gaines also led Missouri with four interceptions.

Ealy finished with 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss for the Tigers.

Justin Britt, a senior lineman, was the lone first-team Tiger on the offensive side. Britt, the starting left tackle, helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 39 points and nearly 500 yards per game.

Making the second team for the Tigers were senior linebacker Andrew Wilson and sophomore wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

Wilson led the Tigers in total tackles with 98 this season, the third straight season he’s topped the team in stops.

Green-Beckham finished with 55 receptions for 830 yards and 12 touchdowns, which tied him for the most scores in the conference.

Markus Golden is a third Missouri defensive end to be recognized, making the honorable mention squad. Despite not getting a start, Golden finished with 6.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and was seventh on the team in tackles with 51.

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