Wallace named GAC Defensive Player, Simmons Coach of the Year 

SEARCY – With an undefeated regular season and its third Great American Conference championship, the Harding football team reaped the rewards Wednesday as senior defensive end Nathaniel Wallace earned GAC Defensive Player of the Year, Paul Simmons earned GAC Coach of the Year, and Harding landed a school-record 20 players on the All-GAC teams.

Wallace, a native of Bryant, Arkansas, was a top performer for Harding’s defense that ranked No. 1 in Division II in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense. Wallace had 21 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, five quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. He is the third Harding player to earn GAC Defensive Player of the Year, joining Tre’von Biglow in 2016 and T.J. Winslow in 2018.

Simmons directed Harding to only its second undefeated regular season and earned his first Coach of the Year award. It is the seventh conference Coach of the Year award for Harding football and the first since Ronnie Huckeba was GAC Coach of the Year in 2016.

Below are Harding’s All-GAC honorees for 2023:

NameTeamPos.YearHometownKey Stats
Blake Delacruz1st TeamFBJRSpringfield, Mo.142 rushes, 917 yards, 17 TD
Braden Jay1st TeamUTLSOCabot, Ark.1,051 all-purpose yards
Hunter Willis1st TeamOLSRKimberly, Ala.11 games, 11 starts
Dre Hall1st TeamDEJRSpring, Texas16 tackles, 10.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks
Nathaniel Wallace1st TeamDESRBryant, Ark.21 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks
Wesley Coleman1st TeamDTJRLittle Rock, Ark.12 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks
Zach Strickland1st TeamILBSRPleasant Hill, Iowa51 tackles, 10.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks
Clark Griffin1st TeamOLBSOMountain Brook, Ala.69 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 1.0 sack
Ahmad Butler1st TeamCBSRPhenix City, Ala.14 tackles, 7 PBU, 1 INT
Ty Dugger1st TeamSSOSearcy, Ark.24 tackles, 4 PBU, 3 INT
Grant Ennis1st TeamKSRLavaca, Ark.7-of-8 FG, 57-of-58 PAT
Levi Pate2nd TeamCSRCommerce, Ga.8 games, 8 starts
Gage Price2nd TeamDTJRHamburg, Ark.19 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks
Kyle McDonald2nd TeamSJRCorpus Christi, Texas14 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT
Kendale Allen2nd TeamRSJRBirmingham, Ala.11 KR, 25.57 avg.; 7 PR, 7.57 avg.
Gage Price2nd TeamS/TJRHamburg, Ark.3 blocked kicks
Cole KeylonHMQBSOHarrison, Ark.477 rush yards, 11 TD; 518 pass yards, 7 TD
Jake DuggerHMOLJRSearcy, Ark.11 games, 11 starts
Landon RayHMOLSRAlcoa, Tenn.11 games, 11 starts
Ryan FoxHMPSRSearcy, Ark.18 punts, 44.28 avg.