SEGUIN — Texas Lutheran senior offensive guard Garrett Garza and junior safety James Bell received All-America honors from D3football.com and became the 92nd and 93rd football All-Americans in school history.
Garza and Bell picked up the program’s ninth and 10th All-America selections from D3football.com.
Garza’s First Team selection is just the third First Team honor from D3football.com in school football history. Garza joins kicker Allen Cain, who was a First Team All-American in 2011 and 2012, as the only Bulldogs named to D3football.com’s top All-America team.
Garza is the second TLU football player to earn All-America honors in two sports. He joins Alan Wells, who was an All-American in football and in baseball.
Garza is a two-time All-American as a track & field standout in shot put. After an eighth-place finish in the shot put at the 2019 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships, Garza was the national runner-up in the shot put at the 2019 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Garza, TLU’s starting left guard, advanced to the All-America ballot after being named to the All-South Region Team for the first time.
Bell was on the All-America ballot for a third consecutive year after three straight All-Region selections.
The All-America honors are the first such honors for Bell and Garza.
Bell and Garza join senior defensive end Manny Longoria (Geronimo/Navarro) as 2019 All-Americans. On Dec. 4, the American Football Coaches Association named Longoria a Second Team All-American.
In the 2019 season, TLU went 8-2 overall and 8-1 in the American Southwest Conference. The Bulldogs finished as the ASC runner-up for the first time in school history.
The Bulldogs were ranked in the Top 25 and in the regional rankings at times during the 2019 season, and TLU played for the conference championship on Nov. 9 at defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor.
TLU’s eight wins in the ASC were the most by a Bulldog squad in the university’s 18 seasons in the ASC (1998-2012, 2017-present).
The eight overall wins marked just the eighth time in TLU’s 85 football seasons that the Bulldogs have won that many games in a single season.
The Bulldogs were picked fourth in the 2019 ASC Preseason Football Poll. TLU was picked behind UMHB, Hardin-Simmons, and East Texas Baptist.
TLU defeated ETBU on the road on Sept. 21 and then defeated then-No. 6 HSU on the road on Oct. 5. The win over HSU was the second win for TLU all-time at the Cowboys’ Shelton Stadium.
The wins over ETBU and HSU were part of the Bulldogs’ seven-game win streak entering the UMHB game.
Garza, an All-ASC First Team selection, led a Bulldog offensive line that paved the way for a top-15 rushing attack and a top-50 total offense. TLU finished the year ranked 13th (out of 247 teams in NCAA Division III) with a rushing offense that averaged 252.9 yards per game and 5.06 yards per carry.
For total offense, TLU ranked 49th with a unit that averaged 420.3 yards per game and 5.85 yards per play. TLU scored 41 offensive touchdowns.
The Bulldogs had three ball carriers - running backs Chris Monroe (College Station/College Station) and Austin Mathews (Houston/Clear Creek) and quarterback Wade Freeman (Richmond/Bush) — ranked in the NCAA Division III top-65 for yards per carry. Monroe was 33rd at 6.09. Mathews was 54th at 5.58, and Freeman was 63rd at 5.36.
Bell, a three-time All-ASC First Team selection, finished the year with 48 total tackles, a half-tackle for loss, and one interception (in the road win over Hardin-Simmons).
Bell has started 28 career games for the Bulldogs and collected 156 total tackles and 11 interceptions.
Bell and the TLU defense combined with the TLU offense to produce a team turnover margin per game of plus-1.5. The Bulldogs’ turnover margin ranked sixth in NCAA Division III.
The TLU defense also ranked 12th nationally in defensive touchdowns, with four, and ranked 23rd in fumbles recovered, with 12.
The Bulldog defense this year ranked 24th in sacks, at 3.2 per contest, and 30th in team tackles for loss, at 8.0 per game.
Sports information directors at the various schools nominated players for D3football.com All-America and All-Region awards. In total 1,065 players were nominated.