The time has come.
After unveiling Players No. 7-30 on out Top 30 list, it is time to see the top players who have climbed to the zenith of the mountain...you know, if a list had a mountain.
Drum roll please...
6. Bryan London II/LB/Texas State
As far as 2019 is concerned, just call him the Sheriff of San Marcos.
Because the sheriff always gets his man.
London registered a Sun Belt best 109 tackles in 2018 with a relentless pursuit from sideline to sideline. The Bobcats’ lack of success the last few years has shielded him from gaining more notoriety nationally, but London’s profile screams for NFL teams to pay attention and watch the senior lead a very underrated Texas State defense.
He is 106 tackles from the school record. The only doubt will be if teams intentionally run their offense away from him for most of the game.
But he’ll get ‘em.
The sheriff always does.
5. Caleb Evans/QB/UL-Monroe
Evans is the most versatile quarterback in the Sun Belt Conference.
The man makes plays and puts up numbers. Last year, those numbers looked like this: 2,869 yards on 61 percent completions and 16 touchdowns to go with 778 yards rushing and another 10 scores on the ground.
As a senior, he’ll have to cut down on the 12 INTs in 2018, but he has the poise and talent to turn it around.
Evans is a dark horse to be in the semifinal conversation for postseason awards. In fact, reduce that interception number in half, and Evans has the skill to be Sun Belt Player of the Year this season.
4. Victor Johnson/OT/Appalachian State
At 6’5”, 296 pounds and more athleticism than most tackles, Johnson is perhaps the most terrifying sight for opposing defenders when he is running downhill at you.
Johnson starts the 2019 on the Outland Trophy Watch List thanks to his reputation as a fierce blocker.
The senior is crucial to keeping his quarterback upright, his running backs finding running lanes and App State winning and winning and winning.
He’s a sure fire return to the postseason Sun Belt All-First Team.
Defenses: Bring another defender Johnson’s way.
3. Kirk Merritt/WR/Arkansas State
There is no doubting the success Justice Hansen created for stAte for the past couple of years.
But having a wideout like Merritt as a premier go-to target was a part of that success.
Since his transfer from Oregon, Merritt has torched Sun Belt secondaries. Last year, he led the conference in receptions (83) by 22 catches, yards (1,005) by 129 yards and had seven receiving touchdowns.
In a crowded offense in 2018, with several other weapons, those numbers jump off the page.
With the Red Wolves ushering in the Logan Bonner era in Jonesboro, Merritt will be essential to getting the new full-time starter going.
2. Kindle Vildor/CB/Georgia Southern
The Preseason Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year is impossible to shake.
Vildor picked off four passes last season, registered 11 pass break-ups and otherwise neutralized threats far and wide in the Eagle secondary.
He’ll have his hands full in 2019 lining up against the best wideouts the Sun Belt has to offer.
Better news for Georgia Southern fans: they have to lineup against the best corner the Sun Belt has to offer.
Preseason pick: Vildor gets a pick-six in the opener at LSU.
1. Zac Thomas/QB/Appalachian State
It would have been tempting to overthink the top overall player on our countdown.
Ultimately, this list is about the best player, and Thomas’ body of work is too stellar to start him at No. 2 or lower.
It’s not just being the quarterback on the defending champions in the conference. Thomas threw for over 2,000 yards, rushed for just under 600 yards and was responsible for 31 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
He’s also got great chemistry with the returning App State weapons.
Too much to love here. He’s your Sun Belt zenith.