#CCU sweeps “POY” honors as the Sun Belt Conference unveils its preseason selections

CCU QB Grayson McCall is once again the talk of Sun Belt Conference football (SBC Media)

Following a media frenzy in Atlanta and Charlotte for SEC and ACC “Media Days” last week, the football spotlight shifts to New Orleans this week for Sun Belt Conference “talking season.” For the first time in league history, the conference will host two days of media availability, starting on Tuesday. However, before the festivities begin in “The Big Easy,” Monday was the time to release the preseason All-Sun Belt teams, individual awards and preseason poll.

Coastal Carolina redshirt junior quarterback Grayson McCall was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while his teammate, sophomore defensive lineman Josaiah Stewart, was dubbed the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.  McCall—a two-time All-Sun Belt First Team honoree—was the Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2020 and 2021, the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in 2020 and repeats as the Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year after earning the nod ahead of the 2021 season as well. Stewart was an All-Sun Belt First Team pick as a true freshman in 2021. 

Stewart shattered the CCU single-season sacks record with 12.5 sacks in his first collegiate season (CCU Athletics)

App State was picked to win the Sun Belt East Division and advance to its fourth Sun Belt Football Championship Game in the event’s five-year existence. The Mountaineers claimed 10-of-14 first-place votes, with Coastal Carolina (2), Georgia State (1), and Georgia Southern (1) also receiving nods.  Louisiana, which has competed in all four league championship games, was picked to win its fifth-straight Sun Belt West Division title. The Ragin’ Cajuns earned 12-of-14 first-place votes, with South Alabama receiving the other two.  Louisiana is the reigning Sun Belt football champion, having defeated App State, 24-16, in the 2021 Sun Belt Football Championship Game. 

The league also announced that Commissioner Keith Gill has signed a contract extension that will keep him as the league’s leader through at least June 30, 2030. Gill, who was the first black commissioner in FBS history, recently concluded his first year of a five-year term on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. He also sits on the NCAA Division I Nominating Committee and the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. 

The 2022 season will be the Sun Belt’s first as a 14-team football conference and will kick off with Sun Belt Football Media Days on Tuesday and Wednesday. The East Division head coaches and student-athletes are scheduled to appear on Tuesday, with the West Division to follow. 

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS Jr., QB – Indian Trail, N.C.)

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina (So., DL – Everett, Mass.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Offense
QB – Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS Jr., QB – Indian Trail, N.C.)
RB – Rasheen Ali, Marshall (RS So., RB – Cleveland, Ohio) 
RB – Camerun Peoples, App State (RS Jr., RB – Lineville, Ala.) 
OL – Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina (Jr., OL – Lakeland, Fla.) 
OL – Dalton Cooper, Texas State (So., OL – Prague, Okla.) 
OL – Austin Stidham, Troy (Sr., OL – Russellville, Ala.) 
OL – Malik Sumter, Georgia State (RS Sr., OL – Irmo, S.C.) 
OL – Cooper Hodges, App State (RS Jr., OL – Glen St. Mary, Fla.)
TE – Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion (RS Jr., TE – Camp Hill, Pa.) 
WR – Ali Jennings III, Old Dominion (Jr., WR – Richmond, Va.) 
WR – Kris Thornton, James Madison (RS Sr., WR – Manassas, Va.) 
WR – Tez Johnson, Troy (So., WR – Pinson, Ala.) 

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Defense
DL – Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina (So., DL – Everett, Mass.) 
DL – Javon Solomon, Troy (So., DL – Tallahassee, Fla.) 
DL – Zi’Yon Hill-Green, Louisiana (RS Sr., DL – New Iberia, La.) 
DL – Will Choloh, Troy (Sr., DL – Lawrenceville, Ga.) 
LB – Carlton Martial, Troy (Sr., LB – Mobile, Ala.0 
LB – Blake Carroll, Georgia State (Sr., LB – Lawrenceville, Ga.) 
LB – Kivon Bennett, Arkansas State (RS Sr., LB – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 
DB – Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama (Sr., DB – Hattiesburg, Miss.) 
DB – D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., DB – Batesville, Miss.) 
DB – Antavious Lane, Georgia State (RS Jr., DB – West Palm Beach, Fla.)
DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana (Sr., DB – Mobile, Ala.) 
DB – Keith Gallmon Jr., South Alabama (Sr., DB – Mobile, Ala.) 

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Special Teams
K – Seth Keller, Texas State (Jr., K – Colleyville, Texas) 
P – Rhys Byrns, Louisiana (Sr., P – Rye, Australia) 
RS – Johnnie Lang, Arkansas State (RS Sr., RS – Palmetto, Fla.) 
AP – Chris Smith, Louisiana (RS Jr., AP – Louisville, Miss.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Offense
QB – Chase Brice, App State (RS Sr., QB – Grayson, Ga.) 
RB – Nate Noel, App State (So., RB – Miami, Fla.) 
RB – Tucker Gregg, Georgia State (Sr., RB – Chatsworth, Ga.) 
OL – Travis Glover, Georgia State (RS Sr., OL – Vienna, Ga.) 
OL – Kyle Hergel, Texas State (Jr., OL – Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
OL – Damion Daley, App State (RS Jr., OL – Columbia, S.C.) 
OL – Pat Bartlett, Georgia State (RS Sr., OL – Newtown, Pa.)
OL – Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion (RS Jr., OL – Waxhaw, N.C.) 
TE – Aubry Payne, Georgia State (RS Sr., TE – Locust Grove, Ga.) 
WR – Te’Vailance Hunt, Arkansas State (Sr., WR – Texarkana, Texas) 
WR – Jalen Wayne, South Alabama (Sr., WR – Spanish Fort, Ala.)
WR – Boogie Knight, ULM (Gr., WR – Jefferson, Ohio) 

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Defense
DL – Richard Jibunor, Troy (Jr., DL – Delta State, Nigeria) 
DL – Thomas Gore, Georgia State (RS Jr., DL – Nashville, Tenn.) 
DL – Jerrod Clark, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., DL – Dorchester, Mass.) 
DL – Justin Ellis, Georgia Southern (6th Yr., DL – Roswell, Ga.) 
LB – Nick Hampton, App State (RS Jr., LB – Anderson, S.C.) 
LB – Abraham Beauplan, Marshall (RS Sr., LB – Boynton Beach, Fla.) 
LB – Andre Jones, Louisiana (RS Sr., LB – Varnado, La.) 
LB – Trey Cobb, App State (Sr., LB – Waycross, Ga.) 
DB – Steven Jones Jr., App State (RS Sr., DB – Rockingham, N.C.) 
DB – Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern (RS Jr., DB – Evans, Ga.) 
DB – Steven Gilmore, Marshall (Sr., DB – Rock Hill, S.C.) 
DB – TJ Harris, Troy (Sr., DB – Leesburg, Ga.) 

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Special Teams
K – Calum Sutherland, ULM (6th Yr., K – Keller, Texas) 
P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern (RS Sr., P – Guyton, Ga.) 
RS – Camron Harrell, Southern Miss (Sr., RS – Bradley, Ill.)
AP – Amare Jones, Georgia Southern (5th Yr., AP – Frisco, Texas) 

East Division

1. App State – 94 Points (10)
2. Coastal Carolina – 77 Points (2)
3. Georgia State – 68 Points (1)
4. Marshall – 62 Points
5. Georgia Southern – 35 Points (1)
6. James Madison – 31 Points
7. Old Dominion – 25 Points

West Division
1. Louisiana – 95 Points (12)
2. South Alabama – 79 Points (2)
3. Troy – 76 Points
4. Texas State – 41 Points
5. Southern Miss – 40 Points
6. Arkansas State – 37 Points
7. ULM – 24 Points

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