Home » College football: GSU’s Anderson named SWAC preseason Defensive Player of the Year; Tigers picked fourth in West

College football: GSU’s Anderson named SWAC preseason Defensive Player of the Year; Tigers picked fourth in West

by Russell Hedges

By Curtis Ford, Grambling State Associate AD for Athletic Communications

Sundiata Anderson led Grambling State University in preseason honors as he was named the 2023 Southwestern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday morning.

Four more G-Men were selected to the SWAC preseason teams as well. 

Anderson, Lewis Matthews and Jimmy Isles garnered first team honors, while Lyndon Rash and Kevin Thomas garnered second team recognition.

Anderson played in 10 games for the Tigers and was third on the team in tackles with 50, including 23 solo stops. He added 12.5 tackles for a loss of 64, while leading the Tigers in sacks, with seven. In addition, recorded two quarterback hurries, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and blocked one kick.

Matthews ranked 14th in the nation and tops in the conference in solo tackles, while also second in the SWAC in total tackles and 27th in the FCS. He led Grambling State defensively with 102 total tackles, including 61 solo stops. The junior linebacker had 12 tackles for a loss of 28 yards and a pair of sacks.

Iles was one of the the best punters in the SWAC last season, boasting a punting average of 41.2 yards, the third most in the SWAC. He also booted the longest punt in the conference, booming a 69 yard punt. Iles downed 17 punts inside the 20 yard line and registered 10 punts of 50 yards or more. He earned national recognition on October 10, being named FedEx Ground FCS Player of the Week Honorable Mention.

Rash is one of the leaders of the Grambling State football team and proves it through his play. Rash led GSU’s receiving corp in 2022 with 32 catches for 517 yards and five touchdowns. He had a long reception of 83 yards which was a touchdown versus Northwestern State on Sept. 10.

Thomas was a key component to GSU’s defensive backfield. The Lake Charles, La. native played in 11 games, racking up 52 total tackles. He also registered one interception with two forced fumbles. Thomas had his breakout game in GSU’s 47-21 rout of Northwestern State, racking up seven tackled with one interception.

GSU was also tabbed to come in fourth in the SWAC West Division. 

SWAC West 

  1. Southern- 122 points (13) 
  2. Alcorn State- 94 points (6) 
  3. Texas Southern- 73 points (1)
  4. Grambling State- 69 points (2)
  5. Prairie View A&M- 68 points (2) 
  6. Arkansas-Pine Bluff- 33 points


  1. Florida A&M- 116 points (16)
  2. Jackson State- 94 points (2) 
  3. Alabama State- 80 points (2) 
  4. Alabama A&M- 73 points (2) 
  5. Mississippi Valley State- 35 points (2)
  6. Bethune-Cookman- 34 points

  *First place votes listed in parenthesis ( )

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