Billy Napier named Sun Belt coach of the year as all-conference teams are announced

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Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall

NEW ORLEANS – Coastal Carolina redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year to headline the 2021 Sun Belt Football Postseason Awards and All-Conference Teams announced Thursday. The honors were voted upon by the conference’s 10 head coaches and select media representatives.

South Alabama junior wide receiver Jalen Tolbert was named the Offensive Player of the Year; App State senior linebacker D’Marco Jackson was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year; App State graduate student quarterback Chase Brice was dubbed the Newcomer of the Year; Louisiana freshman running back was picked as the Freshman of the Year and Louisiana head coach Billy Napier was honored as the Coach of the Year.

Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship Game participants App State and Louisiana were the only programs to earn multiple “of the Year” accolades.

McCall became just the fourth repeat Sun Belt Player of the Year honoree after pacing the nation with a 207.95 passing efficiency and leading the Chanticleers to back-to-back 10-win seasons for just the second time in program history. The Indian Trail, N.C., native threw for 2,558 yards and 23 touchdowns and added 250 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. McCall led the Sun Belt with 255.80 passing yards and 280.80 yards of total offense per game.

Tolbert averaged 17.98 yards per catch and 122.83 yards per game, while compiling a 1,474-yard, eight-touchdown campaign. The Mobile, Ala., product became just the fourth player in Sun Belt history to record 3,000 career receiving yards, finishing third on the conference’s all-time list with 3,140. Tolbert’s 6.83 receptions and 122.83 yards per game each paced the Sun Belt by a significant margin.

Jackson tallied 103 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and five sacks—each of which ranked among the top 12 in the Sun Belt. The Spartanburg, S.C., native also added eight quarterback hurries, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and an interception.

Brice averaged 252.00 yards of total offense per game, trailing only McCall. The Grayson, Ga., product threw for a conference-best 2,901 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for another 123 yards and three scores.

Johnson rushed for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 64.67 yards per game while splitting time in the Louisiana backfield. The New Orleans, La., native ranked among the top 10 in the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game and points per game.

Napier led Louisiana on a program-record 11-game winning streak, earning its fourth-straight Sun Belt West Division title and completed an unblemished conference campaign in the process. The Ragin’ Cajuns also earned the right to host the Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship Game for the first time in program history in 2021.

Sun Belt East Division champion App State and Sun Belt West Division champion Louisiana paced all Sun Belt programs with 19 and 16 All-Sun Belt honorees, respectively. Coastal Carolina (13) also produced double-digit honorees. The Mountaineers (9), Chanticleers (8) and Ragin’ Cajuns (4) were the only programs to claim more than two All-Sun Belt First Team selections.

Georgia State redshirt senior offensive lineman Shamarious Gilmore (First Team) and Coastal Carolina super senior offensive lineman Trey Carter (Third Team) became the first-ever five-time All-Sun Belt picks with this year’s selections.

The Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship Game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 4, at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT in Lafayette, La., and will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Player of the Year
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS So., QB – Indian Trail, N.C.)

Offensive Player of the Year
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (Jr., WR – Mobile, Ala.)

Defensive Player of the Year
D’Marco Jackson, App State (Sr., LB – Spartanburg, S.C.)

Newcomer of the Year
Chase Brice, App State (Gr., QB – Grayson, Ga.)

Freshman of the Year
Montrell Johnson, Louisiana (Fr., RB – New Orleans, La.)

Coach of the Year
Billy Napier, Louisiana

All-Sun Belt First Team Offense
QB – Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS So., QB – Indian Trail, N.C.)
RB – Nate Noel, App State (So., RB – Miami, Fla.)
RB – Shermari Jones, Coastal Carolina (Sr., RB – Pensacola, Fla.)
OL – Max Mitchell, Louisiana (Jr., OL – Monroe, La.)
OL – Cooper Hodges, App State (Jr., OL – Glen St. Mary, Fla.)
OL – O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana (So., OL – Greensburg, La.)
OL – Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State (RS Sr., OL – Riverdale, Ga.)
OL – Baer Hunter, App State (Super Sr., OL – Clemmons, N.C.)
TE – Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (Sr., TE – Cambridge, Mass.)
WR – Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (Jr., WR – Mobile, Ala.)
WR – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (Sr., WR – Venice, Fla.)
WR – Corey Sutton, App State (Super Sr., WR – Charlotte, N.C.)

All-Sun Belt First Team Defense
DL – Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina (Fr., DL – Everett, Mass.)
DL – Demetrius Taylor, App State (Super Sr., DL – Miami, Fla.)
DL – Javon Solomon, Troy (RS Fr., DL – Tallahassee, Fla.)
DL – C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., DL – Bowdon, Ga.)
LB – D’Marco Jackson, App State (Sr., LB – Spartanburg, S.C.)
LB – Carlton Martial, Troy (Jr., LB – Mobile, Ala.)
LB – Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., LB – Mount Airy, Md.)
DB – Steven Jones Jr., App State (Sr., DB – Rockingham, N.C.)
DB – Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama (Jr., DB – Hattiesburg, Miss.)
DB – Shaun Jolly, App State (Sr., DB – Stone Mountain, Ga.)
DB – Antavious Lane, Georgia State (RS So., DB – West Palm Beach, Fla.)
DB – D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina (Sr., DB – Batesville, Miss.)

All-Sun Belt First Team Special Teams
K – Chandler Staton, App State (Super Sr., K – Gainesville, Ga.)
P – Rhys Byrns, Louisiana (Jr., P – Rye, Victoria, Australia)
RS – Alan Lamar, Arkansas State (Sr., RS – Olive Branch, Miss.)
AP – Chris Smith, Louisiana (RS So., AP – Louisville, Miss.)

All-Sun Belt Second Team Offense
QB – Levi Lewis, Louisiana (Sr., QB – Baton Rouge, La.)
RB – Camerun Peoples, App State (Jr., RB – Lineville, Ala.)
RB – Montrell Johnson, Louisiana (Fr., RB – New Orleans, La.)
OL – Malik Sumter, Georgia State (RS Sr., OL – Irmo, S.C.)
OL – Shane Vallot. Louisiana (RS Jr., OL – Lafayette, La.)
OL – Austin Stidham, Troy (Jr., OL – Russellville, Ala.)
OL – Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina (So., OL – Lakeland, Fla.)
OL – Dylan Bradshaw, Troy (Sr., OL – Enterprise, Ala.)
TE – Roger Carter, Georgia State (Sr., TE – Columbia, S.C.)
WR – Malik Williams, App State (Super Sr., WR – Chester, S.C.)
WR – Thomas Hennigan, App State (Super Sr., WR – Greensboro, N.C.)
WR – Corey Rucker, Arkansas State (Fr., WR – Bentonia, Miss.)

All-Sun Belt Second Team Defense
DL – Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., DL – Durham, N.C.)
DL – Kivon Bennett, Arkansas State (RS Jr., DL – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
DL – Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana (RS Jr., DL – New Iberia, La.)
DL – CJ Wright, Georgia Southern (Sr., DL – Sylvania, Ga.)
DL – Will Choloh, Troy (Jr., DL – Lawrenceville, Ga.)
LB – Chauncey Manac, Louisiana (RS Sr., LB – Homerville, Ga.)
LB – Trey Cobb, App State (Sr., LB – Waycross, Ga.)
LB – Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana (RS Jr., LB – Detroit, Mich.)
DB – Keith Gallmon Jr., South Alabama (Jr., DB – Mobile, Ala.)
DB – Percy Butler, Louisiana (Jr., DB – Plaquemine, La.)
DB – Kaiden Smith, App State (Super Sr., DB – Lawrenceville, Ga.)
DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana (Jr., DB – Mobile, Ala.)

All-Sun Belt Second Team Special Teams
K – Blake Grupe, Arkansas State (RS Jr., K – Sedalia, Mo.)
P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern (RS Jr., P – Guyton, Ga.)
RS – Jalen Virgil, App State (Super Sr., RS – Lawrenceville, Ga.)
AP – Alan Lamar, Arkansas State (Sr., AP – Olive Branch, Miss.)

All-Sun Belt Third Team Offense
QB – Chase Brice, App State (Gr., QB – Grayson, Ga.)
RB – Chris Smith, Louisiana (RS So., RB – Louisville, Miss.)
RB – Tucker Gregg, Georgia State (Sr., RB – Chatsworth, Ga.)
OL – Anderson Hardy, App State (Jr., OL – Raleigh, N.C.)
OL – Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., OL – Monroeville, Ala.)
OL – Dalton Cooper, Texas State (Fr., OL – Prague, Okla.)
OL – Pat Bartlett, Georgia State (RS Sr., OL – Newtown, Pa.)
OL – Khalil Crowder, Georgia Southern (RS Jr., OL – Carrollton, Ga.)
TE – Lincoln Sefcik, South Alabama (So., TE – Enid, Okla.)
WR – Tez Johnson, Troy (Fr., WR – Pinson, Ala.)
WR – TeVailance Hunt, Arkansas State (Jr., WR – Texarkana, Texas)
WR – Boogie Knight, ULM (Jr., WR – Jefferson, Ohio)

All-Sun Belt Third Team Defense
DL – Richard Jibunor, Troy (So., DL – Delta State, Nigeria)
DL – Tayland Humphrey, Louisiana (RS Sr., DL – Houston, Texas)
DL – Dontae Wilson, Georgia State (Sr., DL – Jefferson, Ga.)
DL – Andre Jones, Louisiana (RS Jr., DL – Varnado, La.)
LB – Nick Hampton, App State (Jr., LB – Anderson, S.C.)
LB – Eldrick Robinson II, Georgia Southern (Fr., LB – Pensacola, Fla.)
LB – Blake Carroll, Georgia State (Sr., LB – Lawrenceville, Ga.)
DB – Quavian White, Georgia State (Sr., DB – Greer, S.C.)
DB – Anthony Wilson, Georgia Southern (RS So., DB – Columbia, S.C.)
DB – Alex Spillum, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., DB – Chanhassen, Minn.)
DB – Mekhi Garner, Louisiana (RS So., DB – Mesquite, Texas)
DB – TJ Harris, Troy (Jr., DB – Leesburg, Ga.)

All-Sun Belt Third Team Special Teams
K – Calum Sutherland, ULM (Sr., K – Keller, Texas)
P – Ryan Hanson, Arkansas State (RS Fr., P – Taylor, Texas)
RS – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (Sr., RS – Venice, Fla.)
AP – Caleb Spurlin, App State (Super Sr., AP – Galax, Va.)

All-Sun Belt Honorable Mentions
App State
TE – Henry Pearson (Sr., TE – Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.)
DL – Jordon Earle (Jr., DL – West Palm Beach, Fla.)
LB – T.D. Roof (Sr., LB – Buford, Ga.)
DB – Ryan Huff (Sr., DB – Athens, Ga.)

Arkansas State
OL – Andre Harris Jr. (RS Jr., OL – Oklahoma City, Okla.)
TE – Emmanual Stevenson (Fr., TE – Eufala, Ala.)
DL – Joe Ozougwu (RS Sr., DL – Alief, Texas)
DB – Elery Alexander (Sr., DB – Van Vleck, Texas)

Coastal Carolina
RB – Braydon Bennett (RS Fr., RB – Greenville, S.C.)
WR – Kameron Brown (Super Sr., WR – Graniteville, S.C.)
LB – Teddy Gallagher (Super Sr., LB – Los Angeles, Calif.)
SPUR – Enock Makonzo (RS Sr., SPUR – Lachine, Quebec, Canada)

Georgia Southern
RB – Logan Wright (RS Sr., RB – Jacksonville, Fla.)
OL – Aaron Dowdell (Super Sr., OL – Fairburn, Ga.)
WR – Khaleb Hood (Jr., WR – McDonough, Ga.)
DL – Justin Ellis (RS Sr., DL – Roswell, Ga.)

Georgia State
RB – Jamyest Williams (RS Sr., RB – Athens, Ga.)
TE – Aubry Payne (RS Sr., TE – Locust Grove, Ga.)
DL – Thomas Gore (RS So., DL – Nashville, Tenn.)
LB – Jordan Veneziale (Jr., LB – Dallas, Ga.)

TE – Johnny Lumpkin (RS Jr., TE – Atlanta, Ga.)
WR – Michael Jefferson (Jr., WR – Mobile, Ala.)
LB – Ferrod Gardner (RS Sr., LB – Dayton, Ohio)
DB – Bralen Trahan (RS Jr., DB – Lafayette, La.)

DL – Ty Shelby (Gr., DL – Houston, Texas)
DL – Caleb Thomas (Jr., DL – Mansfield, Texas)
LB – Traveion Webster (Sr., LB – Longview, Texas)
LB – Zack Woodard (Jr., LB – Thomasville, Ala.)

South Alabama
QB – Jake Bentley (Sr., QB – Opelika, Ala.)
WR – Jalen Wayne (Jr., WR – Spanish Fort, Ala.)
DL – Wy’Kevious Thomas (RS Fr., DL – Riverdale, Ga.)
P – Jack Brooks (So., P – Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia)

Texas State
OL – Kyle Hergel (So., OL – Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
DL – Jordan Revels (So., DL – Houston, Texas)
DL – Caeveon Patton (Sr., DL – Cuero, Texas)
K – Seth Keller (So., K – Colleyville, Texas)

RB – Kimani Vidal (Fr., RB – Marietta, Ga.)
LB – KJ Robertson (Jr., LB – Alabaster, Ala.)
DB – Reddy Steward (So., DB – Decatur, Ala.)
LS – Cameron Kaye (Sr., LS – Naples, Fla.)

For exclusive Sun Belt football content on game days and throughout the 2021 season, follow @SunBeltFB on Twitter.

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