NEW ORLEANS – For the second consecutive season, Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, as a total of 16 Chanticleers picked up All-Sun Belt honors, the league office announced on Thursday.

The 16 All-Sun Belt selections match a program high for the Chants since moving to the Sun Belt Conference as a full-time member in 2017, as Coastal also had 16 honorees in 2020.

With his second-straight Conference Player of the Year honor, McCall becomes one of just four student-athletes in the history of the Sun Belt Conference to pick up multiple Player of the Year honors and do it in back-to-back years – (Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State – 2016 and 2017; Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State – 2011 and 2012; and Brandon Kennedy, North Texas – 2002 and 2003).

Joining McCall on the All-Sun Belt first team was Shermari JonesJaivon HeilighIsaiah LikelyJosaiah StewartD’Jordan StrongC.J. Brewer, and Silas Kelly,while Willie Lampkin and Jeffrey Gunter earned a spot on the second team.

Veteran offensive lineman Trey Carter and safety Alex Spillum were joined on the third team by Heiligh (return specialist) while picking up honorable mention All-Sun Belt honors were Teddy GallagherKameron BrownEnock Makonzo, and Brayden Bennett.

With his third-team honor this season, Carter joins Shamarious Gilmore of Georgia State as the first-ever five-time All-Sun Belt honorees in the conference’s history.

All-Sun Belt First Team

McCall, who was the 2020 Sun Belt Player and Freshman of the Year, was once again named to the All-Sun Belt first team this season, as the redshirt sophomore quarterback was 9-1 on the season as a starter while missing two games due to an upper-body injury. A Davey O’Brien and Maxwell Award semifinalist, as well as a two-time Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week honoree, McCall leads all of NCAA FBS in passing efficiency (207.9) which would shatter the NCAA single-season record of 203.1 set by Mac Jones of Alabama last season. He also leads all of FBS in yards per pass attempt (12.12 yards) and ranks second nationally in passing yards per completion (16.61 yards). Despite missing two games and playing only the first half in two other games due to blowout wins, McCall’s numbers in quality statistics are outstanding. He leads the Sun Belt in completion percentage (73.0), passing efficiency (207.9), passing touchdowns (23), passing yards per game (255.8), passing yards per completion (16.61), points responsible for (168), points responsible per game (16.8), total offense per game (280.8), and yards per pass attempt (12.12). He is also the signal-caller for a Coastal offense that leads the Sun Belt in scoring, rushing, and efficiency.

Jones picks up his first All-Sun Belt honor, as he leads the team and the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game at 98.8 this season. He finished the regular season with a team-high 988 yards on the ground over 10 games, which ranks second in the Sun Belt, while his 13 rushing scores on the year are tied for the Sun Belt lead. Jones has registered four 100-yard games on the ground this season, including running for a career-high 211 yards in the win at South Alabama (Nov. 26) in the regular-season finale. His 211 rushing yards in the game were the second-most in a single game in CCU history behind only Mike Tolbert’s 244 rushing yards in 2007 at VMI. His 211 rushing yards were the third-most this season in the Sun Belt and the most against any team outside of Arkansas State. He has had two touchdowns or more in four games on the year, including a career-high three scores on the ground against Georgia State (Nov. 13). However, in Sun Belt play he stepped up his game, as he averaged 100 rushing yards per game and ran for 700 yards on the ground, both of which led all Sun Belt running backs. He also ran for 10 touchdowns in Sun Belt play, which was also a conference-best.

Now a four-time All-Sun Belt honoree with first-team honors as a wide receiver and third-team accolades as a punt returner, Heiligh leads the team with 59 catches for 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns this season. With his 1,034 receiving yards to date, he became just the second Chanticleer in program history to have a 1,000-receiving yard season (Jerome Simpson – 2006). His 1,034 yards rank second in the Sun Belt and 27th nationally, while his 86.2 receiving yards per game are second in the SBC and 26th nationally. His seven receiving touchdowns are fourth in the Sun Belt on the year, while his 17.53 yards per catch on the year ranks third overall in the Sun Belt.  In Sun Belt Conference play, Heiligh’s 38 catches tied him with teammate Likely for the fourth-most in the SBC, while his 570 receiving yards and 75.13 yards per game were both third overall. His average of 94.17 all-purpose yards per game ranked fifth in the Sun Belt on the season. In the final regular-season game of the year, Heiligh etched his name in the CCU record books, as he became the all-time leading receiver in Coastal Carolina program history with 2,731 yards and the CCU career leader in pass receptions with 184.

A three-time all-conference honoree, Likely finished the regular season with 52 catches for 816 yards and 10 touchdowns, which lead all tight ends nationally. His 10 receiving touchdowns lead the Sun Belt, rank 15th nationally overall, and are the most by a tight end in all of FBS. His 816 receiving yards rank fifth in the Sun Belt, most by a tight end, while his 68.0 yards per game also rank fifth in the Sun Belt. A John Mackey Award semifinalist, Likely’s 630 receiving yards in conference play were second while his eight touchdowns led the league. His 78.8 yards per game in conference play was second as well, again tops among all tight ends. He received national player of the week and Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week honors following his career game at Arkansas State (Oct. 7) in which he hauled in a career-high eight receptions for a career-high 232 yards and a CCU single-game record four touchdowns. He set a new Sun Belt record by becoming the first-ever tight end to have four touchdowns in a single game. He also became the first-ever Chant to catch four TD passes in a game. His four touchdown catches in the win were tied for the second-most in a single game in Sun Belt history by any player, while his 232 receiving yards were the third most in SBC single-game history. His 232 yards were also the second-most in a single game in CCU’s 19-year history, the most ever by a tight end.

Grossing his first All-Sun Belt postseason honor, Stewart made an immediate impact for the Chants’ defense this season, as he shattered the CCU single-season sacks record of 10.5 sacks set by consensus All-American and current Philadelphia Eagle Tarron Jackson in 2019 with 12.5 sacks in his first collegiate season this year. Named to the 2021 Ted Hendricks Award Final Watch List last week, which honors the top defensive end in college football, Stewart finished the regular season with 15.5 tackles-for-loss which is the second-most in a single season in CCU history. His 12.5 sacks lead the Sun Belt, rank fourth nationally, and are the most by a true freshman in all of FBS. His 12.5 sacks are also just one shy of the Sun Belt single-season record of 13.5 sacks. His 15.5 tackles-for-loss are the most by a true freshman nationally this year, rank fourth in the Sun Belt on the season, and is just 1.0 shy of the school single-season record of 16.0. In only his second game as a Chant, Stewart registered 3.5 sacks in a win over Kansas (Sept. 10) to set CCU’s single-game sacks record. He topped that with 4.0 sacks in the road win at Georgia Southern (Nov. 6) and also set a new CCU single-game tackles-for-loss record with 5.0 versus the Eagles. While splitting time at defensive end this season, he has 42 total tackles, including a career-high eight stops twice. He has also forced three fumbles, which is tied for second in the conference. In Sun Belt play, his 12.0 tackles-for-loss and 9.0 sacks both led the league.

Picking up first-team honors for the second-straight season, Strong has once again been the top corner for the Chants this season, as he leads the team and ranks fourth in the Sun Belt with 10 passes defended. With most teams staying away from him this season after recording five interceptions last year, Strong has still tallied 10 pass breakups and 22 tackles, including 18 solo stops. He also had seven pass breakups in conference play which ranked sixth in the Sun Belt. The “Black Swarm” defense this season leads the Sun Belt in fewest first downs allowed (203), fewest passing yards allowed (191.1), and has the second-best defense in the league in terms of points allowed per game (20.0), total offensive yards allowed per contest (324.8 ypg), and fewest rushing yards allowed per game (133.8).

Earning first-team honors for the second consecutive year after picking up third-team recognition in 2019, Brewer was once again a leader up front for the Chants’ defensive unit, as the two-time team captain finished the regular season with 47 tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, and 4.5 sacks. He also had one fumble recovery, one interception, six quarterback hurries, and ran a fake punt for a first down in the fourth quarter in the win over Troy (Oct. 28). His 9.5 tackles-for-loss on the season rank 12th overall in the Sun Belt, which included 6.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks in conference play.

Earning his first All-Sun Belt first-team honor and fourth all-conference accolade overall, Kelly leads the Chants and ranks third in the Sun Belt with 96 total tackles and an average of 8.0 per game. He finished the regular season with 8.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks, and a SportsCenter Top-10 (No. 3) interception at South Alabama (Nov. 26). His 69 tackles in conference play were second, while his 2.5 sacks were the most among the top-eight tacklers in Sun Belt play this season. The super senior has recorded six tackles or more in six different games, including registering a career-high 12 tackles versus Georgia State (Nov. 13). He also became just the third Chant in program history to total 300 career tackles and enters the bowl game with 326 total stops as a Chant.

All-Sun Belt Second Team

Lampkin picked up All-Sun Belt second-team recognition for the second-straight season this year. He has made 12 starts at the left guard position for the Chants this season, and has played and started all 24 games since stepping foot on campus two years ago. The lone underclassman on the offensive line, the 2020 Freshman All-American again had a strong season in 2021. Lampkin is part of the offensive line unit that leads the way for an offense that leads the nation in third-down conversion percentage (54.1) and team passing efficiency (190.63). The Chants lead the Sun Belt in third-down conversion percentage (54.1), fourth-down conversion percentage (75.0), completion percentage (70.2), first downs gained (287), fewest interceptions thrown (4), passing yards per completion (15.33), rushing offense (231.2), scoring offense (40.4), and total offense (493.1). The offensive line has allowed just 21 sacks on the season and just 61 tackles-for-loss, averages of 1.75 and 5.08 per game which both rank at the top of the Sun Belt. The offensive line was also named to the Joe Moore Award midseason watch list for the second-straight season.

A three-time All-Sun Belt selection having picked up first-team honors in both 2018 and 2020, Gunter earned second-team accolades this season in which he was a do-it-all bandit end for the Chants defense. The redshirt senior finished the regular season with 41 tackles, 10.0 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, five quarterback hurries, and one blocked kick. His 10.0 tackles-for-loss are second on the team and ninth in the Sun Belt, while his 6.5 sacks are second on the team and eighth in the Sun Belt. Gunter has tallied five tackles or more three times and a tackle-for-loss in seven games on the year.

All-Sun Belt Third Team

One of just two players in Sun Belt history to be a five-time All-Sun Belt honoree, Carter received third-team accolades this season after being named to the first team in 2020, the third team in 2019, and an honorable mention in both 2017 and 2018. Carter has played in and started 60-straight games, every game since redshirting as a true freshman in 2016. He has been the leader up front all season long for an offensive line team that has been named to the Joe Moore Award list each of the last two years. The two-time team captain is part of the offensive line unit that leads the way for an offense that leads the nation in third-down conversion percentage (54.1) and team passing efficiency (190.63). The Chants lead the Sun Belt in third-down conversion percentage (54.1), fourth-down conversion percentage (75.0), completion percentage (70.2), first downs gained (287), fewest interceptions thrown (4), passing yards per completion (15.33), rushing offense (231.2), scoring offense (40.4), and total offense (493.1). The offensive line group has allowed just 21 sacks on the season and just 61 tackles-for-loss, averages 1.75 and 5.08 per game which both rank at the top of the Sun Belt.

An All-Sun Belt third-team pick last year as well, Spillum had another all-conference season in 2021, as he finished the regular season with 52.0 tackles, 0.5 tackles-for-loss, five pass breakups, and a team-high two interceptions. He also leads the Sun Belt and is second in all of FBS with two blocked kicks, one of which he recovered for a touchdown in the win over Kansas (Sept. 10). The Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week after the win over Georgia Southern (Nov. 6), Spillum had 37 total tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups, and one blocked kick which was returned for a touchdown in Sun Belt Conference play.

On top of earning first-team recognition as a wide receiver, Heiligh picked up third-team accolades as a return specialist. As a punt returner this season, Heiligh returned 13 punts for 77 yards, an average of 5.9 per return. Most importantly, he has no fumbles or muffed punts and has been excellent in setting up the Chants’ offense in favorable spots on the field throughout the season. When he does return the kick, he has returned four punts for 12 yards or more on the season.

Honorable Mention

A two-time co-captain and leader of the “Black Swarm” defense, Gallagher has picked up all-conference recognition for the third-straight season after receiving third-team honors in both 2019 and 2020. The super senior finished the regular season second on the team with 77 tackles to go along with 8.0 tackles-for-loss, 2.0 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup, and five quarterback hurries. His 77 tackles on the season ranks 10th in the Sun Belt, while his 54 total tackles in Sun Belt Conference play ranked 11th overall. He has registered five tackles or more in nine games on the year, including posting a season-high 11 stops at Appalachian State (Oct. 20) and 10 stops in the regular-season finale at South Alabama (Nov. 26). In his four years at CCU, he has totaled 294 career tackles and is just six stops shy of becoming just the fourth Chanticleer in program history to reach 300 career tackles.

Makonzo, who garnered his second All-Sun Belt honorable mention honor this year, was all over the field this season for the Chants. The redshirt senior is third on the team in total tackles with 60.0, fourth in tackles-for-loss with 9.0, and is tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles. The spur linebacker/defensive back, finished conference play with 35 tackles, 4.0 tackles-for-loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. He had a career-high 11 tackles in the win over Troy (Oct. 28) and has tallied five tackles or more in seven games on the year.

A three-time Big South All-Conference selection (2016, 2017, and 2019) while at Charleston Southern, Brown emerged as the third option for the Chants’ offense in 2021 to earn All-Sun Belt honorable mention accolades. Brown is third on the team with 33 catches, 567 yards, and five touchdowns. He has averaged 47.25 yards per game as well, which is also third on the team behind two of the top three pass catchers in all of the Sun Belt Conference in Heiligh and Likely. Brown’s 567 receiving yards are 12th on the season while his 17.2 yards per catch average ranks fifth in the Sun Belt on the season. In Sun Belt play only, his 422 receiving yards ranked 10th while his 16.2 yards per catch average was ninth in all of SBC. He hauled in a season-high five catches versus both ULM (Oct. 2) and Georgia State (Nov. 13) and had a season-high 98 receiving yards at Appalachian State (Oct. 20). He also had two touchdown catches in the win over Texas State (Nov. 20) and has caught at least one pass in 10 games on the season.

Also picking up honorable mention accolades was Bennett, a key part of the leading rushing attack in the Sun Belt this season. The redshirt freshman has shown his versatility all season long with 68 carries for 528 yards and five touchdowns on the ground and 20 receptions for 248 yards and a touchdown in the passing game. He is averaging 12.4 yards per catch and a team-high 7.8 yards per rush on the season out of the backfield. His 7.8 yards per carry on the season leads the Sun Belt and would be among the nation’s leaders if he met the minimum requirements for the number of carries per game, while his 528 yards on the ground rank 12th overall. His average of 7.5 yards per rush in conference play also led the Sun Belt, while his 330 yards on the ground were 17th overall.

2021 SUN BELT CONFERENCE FOOTBALL POSTSEASON AWARDS

Player of the Year

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Offensive Player of the Year

Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama

Defensive Player of the Year

D’Marco Jackson, App State

Newcomer of the Year

Chase Brice, App State

Freshman of the Year

Montrell Johnson, Louisiana

Coach of the Year

Billy Napier, Louisiana

All-Sun Belt First Team Offense

QB – Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
RB – Nate Noel, App State

RB – Shermari Jones, Coastal Carolina

OL – Max Mitchell, Louisiana

OL – Cooper Hodges, App State

OL – O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana

OL – Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State

OL – Baer Hunter, App State

TE – Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina

WR – Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama

WR – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina

WR – Corey Sutton, App State

All-Sun Belt First Team Defense
DL – Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina

DL – Demetrius Taylor, App State

DL – Javon Salomon, Troy

DL – C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina

LB – D’Marco Jackson, App State

LB – Carlton Martial, Troy

LB – Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina

DB – Steven Jones Jr., App State

DB – Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama

DB – Shaun Jolly, App State

DB – Antavious Lane, Georgia State

DB – D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina

All-Sun Belt First Team Special Teams

K – Chandler Staton, App State

P – Rhys Burns, Louisiana

RS – Alan Lamar, Arkansas State

AP – Chris Smith, Louisiana

All-Sun Belt Second Team Offense

QB – Levi Lewis, Louisiana
RB – Camerun Peoples, App State

RB – Montrell Johnson, Louisiana

OL – Malik Sumter, Georgia State

OL – Shane Vallot. Louisiana

OL – Austin Stidham, Troy

OL – Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina

OL – Dylan Bradshaw, Troy

TE – Roger Carter, Georgia State

WR – Malik Williams, App State

WR – Thomas Hennigan, App State

WR – Corey Rucker, Arkansas State

All-Sun Belt Second Team Defense
DL – Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina

DL – Kivon Bennett, Arkansas State

DL – Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana

DL – CJ Wright, Georgia Southern

DL – Will Choloh, Troy

LB – Chauncey Manac

LB – Trey Cobb, App State

LB – Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana

DB – Keith Gallmon Jr., South Alabama

DB – Percy Butler, Louisiana

DB – Kaiden Smith, App State

DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana

All-Sun Belt Second Team Special Teams

K – Blake Grupe, Arkansas State

P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern

RS – Jalen Virgil, App State

AP – Alan Lamar, Arkansas State

All-Sun Belt Third Team Offense

QB – Chase Brice, App State
RB – Chris Smith, Louisiana

RB – Tucker Gregg, Georgia State

OL – Anderson Hardy, App State

OL – Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina

OL – Dalton Cooper, Texas State

OL – Pat Bartlett, Georgia State

OL – Khalil Crowder, Georgia Southern

TE – Lincoln Sefcik, South Alabama

WR – Tez Johnson, Troy

WR – TeVailance Hunt, Arkansas State

WR – Boogie Knight, ULM

All-Sun Belt Third Team Defense
DL – Richard Jibunor, Troy

DL – Tayland Humphrey, Louisiana

DL – Dontae Wilson, Georgia State

DL – Andre Jones, Louisiana

LB – Nick Hampton, App State

LB – Eldrick Robinson II, Georgia Southern

LB – Blake Carroll, Georgia State

DB – Quavian White, Georgia State

DB – Anthony Wilson, Georgia Southern

DB – Alex Spillum, Coastal Carolina

DB – Mekhi Garner, Louisiana

DB – TJ Harris, Troy

All-Sun Belt Third Team Special Teams

K – Calum Sutherland, ULM

P – Ryan Hanson, Arkansas State

RS – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina

AP – Caleb Spurlin, App State

All-Sun Belt Honorable Mentions


App State
TE – Henry Pearson

DL – Jordon Earle

LB – T.D. Roof

DB – Ryan Huff

Arkansas State

OL – Andre Harris Jr.

TE – Emmanual Stevenson

DL – Joe Ozougwu

DB – Elery Alexander

Coastal Carolina

RB – Braydon Bennett

WR – Kameron Brown

LB – Teddy Gallagher

SPUR – Enock Makonzo

Georgia Southern

RB – Logan Wright

OL – Aaron Dowdell

WR – Khaleb Hood

DL – Justin Ellis

Georgia State

RB – Jamyest Williams

TE – Aubry Payne

DL – Thomas Gore

LB – Jordan Veneziale

Louisiana

TE – Johnny Lumpkin

WR – Michael Jefferson

LB – Ferrod Gardner

DB – Bralen Trahan

ULM

DL – Ty Shelby

DL – Caleb Thomas

LB – Traveion Webster

LB – Zack Woodard

South Alabama

QB – Jake Bentley

WR – Jalen Wayne

DL – Wy’Kevious Thomas

P – Jack Brooks

Texas State

OL – Kyle Hergel

DL – Jordan Revels

DL – Caeveon Patton

K – Seth Keller

Troy

RB – Kimani Vidal

LB – KJ Robertson

DB – Reddy Steward

LS – Cameron Kaye

Courtesy – Coastal Carolina Athletics, Sun Belt