CHARLOTTE, N.C.- The Coastal Carolina football team had 12 players named to the Big South All-Conference squads, with nine on the First Team including Offensive Player of the Year honors going to senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen (Winnsboro, S.C./Fairfield Central), as announced by the Big South Conference today (Nov. 21).
Joining Thigpen on the First Team is junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson (Reidsville, N.C./Reidsville), senior tight end Rodney Burgess (Irmo, S.C./Dutch Fork), and the senior offensive lineman duo of Brad Poston (Florence, S.C./Florence) and Brian Kepple (Clover, S.C./Clover). Senior defensive lineman Sam Harper (York, S.C./York), senior linebacker Jamar Leath (Elon, N.C./Western Alamance) and senior defensive back Quinton Teal (Bennettsville, S.C./Marlboro County) all landed spots on the Defensive First Team. Senior long snapper James Coble (Climex, N.C./Eastern Randolph (Winston-Salem State)) was also honored on the First Team.
Thigpen, who received 17 of 19 first-place votes, is currently ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision with 325.3 ypg of total offense, while being fourth nationally with 267.7 passing yards per game and leading Coastal to its third consecutive Big South title and first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships. Thigpen is also a Walter Payton Award finalist for this year, a first ever for the Big South. He set nine Conference season records in 2006 in total offense (3,578), total offense per game (325.3), passing yards (2,945), touchdown passes (26), passing yards per game (267.7), passing efficiency (169.86), 300-yard passing games (4), 300-total yard games (8) and rushing yards by a quarterback (633). He has been named Player of the Week four times this season and became the first quarterback to rush for more than 600 yards in a season, with his 633 ranking fourth overall in Big South rushing, while adding four touchdowns. He currently ranks third all-time in total offense with 7,862 yards.
Simpson, the lone Chanticleer junior to earn First Team honors, has set the school records in receptions, yards and touchdowns with 54 catches for 945 yards and 14 touchdowns. He currently ranks 11th in the nation in yards per game (85.7) and 26th in scoring (7.64) as well as setting the league record for touchdown receptions in a season (14). Simpson was named Offensive Player of the Week twice this season and has scored at least one touchdown in 10 out of 11 contests this year, including five touchdowns in Big South play and a streak of seven consecutive games. He also isCoastal's career leader in receptions (113), yards (1,891) and touchdown receptions (31).
Burgess has played in all 11 games this season and has hauled in a total of 18 receptions for 300 yards. He had four catches in the home opener against Elon for 89 yards, including a career-best 44-yard reception. He also had four key receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown in the win at Wofford and found the end zone against Savannah State, along with having three catches for 46 yards. This is Burgess' first All-Conference honor.
Poston gets his second First Team honor in as many years, starting all 11 games for the Coastal offensive line that blocked for an offense that set a new Big South record for passing yards and passing touchdowns. He has graded out at least 70 percent in all 11 games this year and has been the only player in Coastal history to start all 44 games since the program's inception in 2003.
Kepple, another familiar face on the Coastal offensive line, has also started in all 11 games this season, helping the team earn its third consecutive Big South title and the league's first-ever spot in the Division I Football Championship. He had a 70 percent or better grade in each game this season and has started all but one game in his career as a Chanticleer. Kepple was named to the Second Team All-Conference last year.
Harper has played in all 11 games on the defensive line for the Chants, starting in eight of them, including six of the last seven. He recorded a career-best 53 tackles on the year, 13 of them being solo. He also added 4.5 tackles for a loss of 21 yards, five sacks for 16 yards and four quarterback hurries. In the win against Liberty, he had a season-high nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss of five yards and one sack.
Leath has started all 11 games for the Big South champs, becoming the conference's all-time leading tackler with 356 career tackles. He posted his second consecutive 100-tackle season, tying the school record with 108 tackles and currently ranks 27th in the nation at 9.82 tackles per game. He has recorded four games with 10-plus tackles this year and had at least eight stops in 10 games. In the win against Liberty, Leath posted a career-best 15 tackles with one sack. He also posted a then career-best 14 tackles, five of them solo, along with one tackle for a loss and one forced fumble in the win over No. 3 Furman, earning him Player of the Week honors.
Teal has been a familiar face on the First Team, getting his second straight honor this season. Teal is the league's all-time interception leader with 17 and leads the conference in single-season picks, this time tying with four, which also ties him for 28th in the nation. He has led the league with 12 passes defended and had 71 tackles, ranking second for Coastal and 12th overall in the league. He posted a career-best 13 tackles in the win over Liberty, including one tackle for loss and an interception that ended an LU scoring drive. He also added seven tackles, two pass breakups and a blocked kick that led to a two-point PAT conversion that was the difference in the win over Furman.
Coble has played in all 11 games as long snapper for Coastal on the year, serving as the snapper on every field goal and point-after attempts, totaling 65 times this year. He took over last year and has been the short snapper for the last 18 games of his career after transferring to Coastal from Winston-Salem State.
Three Chanticleers were named to the Second-Team All-Big South, as senior running back Aundres Perkins (Effingham, S.C./West Florence) earned offensive honors with sophomore Ronnie Mason (Durham, N.C./Southern Durham) and senior Dewitt Myers (Summerville, S.C./Summerville) named on the defensive squad.
Perkins has played in all 11 games this season, finishing with 545 yards and eight touchdowns on 111 carries (4.9 avg). He has also added a career-best 21 receptions for 274 yards and one score while helping CCU to its third consecutive Big South title. He currently leads the league in career touchdowns with 47 (46 rushing, one receiving) and is Coastal's all-time leading rusher with 2,289 yards, which is third in the conference record books. In the win at VMI, he ran for a season-high 90 yards on just seven carries, while pulling down three catches for 49 yards. Perkins has scored in four conference games this year, inclduing a season-high three times (two rushing, one receiving) in the win at Gardner-Webb.
Myers has played in 10 games for Coastal, starting six of the last seven before an injury sidelined him for the season finale. He had a career-best 33 tackles, 17 solo, this season as well as a career-high four interceptions which tied the league lead and ranks him 21st nationally. He had a season-best six tackles on three separate occasions, at Georgia Southern, against South Carolina State and at VMI. He also posted five tackles against Elon and Liberty as well has having picks in four separate games and two pass breakups on the season.
Senior kicker Josh Hoke (Statesville, N.C./West Iredell) was named the League's Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year as well as to the Academic All-Conference team. Carrying a 3.98 grade-point-average in communications, Hoke has been a two-time First Team All-Big South kicker as well as two-time All-Region honoree in his career. He was named ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-American last year and is a two-time Academic All-District and I-AA Academic All-Star selection. He is the all-time leader in scoring in the Big South with 295 points (175 PAT's, 40 field goals). He has hit 47-of-48 point after attempts and 10-of-17 field goal attempts this year. He earned Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting all nine PAT's and one field goal in the Savannah State win for 12 points, his season high. Hoke had a streak of 85 consecutive PAT's which extended into this season.
The Chanticleers open their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Football Championships, Sat., Nov. 25 at 3:30 p.m. at No. 1 Appalachian State. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
-- CCU --