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Troy Football: Sumrall’s Trojans are Ranked in Final AP & Coaches Polls For The First Time Ever

The first-year head coach set the standard in the Sun Belt in 2022

NCAA Football: Cure Bowl-Troy at Texas at San Antonio Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022-2023 college football season officially concluded this week. One of the more impressive turnarounds in FBS this year belonged to the Troy Trojans, who improved upon a 5-7 record in 2021 under Chip Lindsey to a 12-2 record under Jon Sumrall.

While the Trojans grabbed a Sun Belt Conference championship and a Cure Bowl victory along the way, their final rewards of the season will be a #19 ranking in the AP Top 25 and a #20 ranking in the AP Poll.

“This was a special season for our program, and it starts and ends with our players,” Sumrall said in a statement release by Troy this week. “They believed in our vision for what we wanted this program to be, and each of them bought in on a personal level and committed themselves to excellence. The 2022 Troy Football team will be remembered as one of the best teams in this program’s long and proud history for what our players and our staff accomplished together as a team. I could not be more proud of these young men and this team.”

The Take

We’re going to be talking about what the Trojans accomplished this year for a long time.

Sumrall’s win total of 12 is not only a higher total than Neal Brown hit in a single season, it’s the highest that a Troy coach has ever achieved in a season. His only two losses were against Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss and against Appalachian State on a last second Hail Mary. Not bad for the first year on the job.

Something Sumrall said after the Cure Bowl stuck with me. When asked about the quick turnaround by a reporter in attendance, he gave all the credit to the leadership displayed by his veteran players.

“I knew when I accepted the job roughly a year ago, I was fortunate because I knew a lot of the guys. K.J. [Robertson] and Carlton [Martial] were two of the last guys I recruited before I left as an assistant coach [in 2017],” Sumrall stated. “So getting those guys to return, getting Austin Stidham to return, getting D.K. Billingsley back, getting a lot of veteran guys that I had helped recruit as an assistant, that I knew that they would understand the vision of what we were trying to project and that they would help reinforce the buy-in. So I knew that those guys would help us get this turnaround done faster.”

As the Trojans move forward, so will many of those veteran players as they graduate and pursue professional opportunities. Troy fans can hope that the spirit of those players rubs off on the younger talent to replicate that buy-in that Sumrall mentions in future seasons.

“This is a very proud and storied program. I’m grateful for that,” Sumrall said at the Cure Bowl. “I love that. I wouldn’t want to coach somewhere that was not passionate and successful in football. Football really matters at Troy. And I think that the young men on our team have a great appreciation for the support that they’ve been given. Our leadership and our university...they’ve done a tremendous job of supporting us at every turn and making sure that we have the resources. But to do it this fast, it’s a testament to the buy-in of our guys.”