Taliaferro, Backus & Hawthorne Take Big South Top Honors; 15 Named All-Big South

The 15 Honors ties a CCU Record


Niccolo Mastromatteo is the eight person in league history to earn All-Big South in each of his four years while becoming the second league player to earn five All-Big South honors.

Nov. 26, 2013

CONWAY - Lorenzo Taliaferro (Offensive), Quinn Backus (Defensive) and LaDarius Hawthorne (Special Teams) were voted the Big South's respective Players of the Year, as named by the league's head coaches, while a total of 15 Chanticleers were named All-Big South, the conference announced today.

Taliaferro, a Walter Payton Award Candidate, is CCU's third Big South Offensive Player of the Year, joining Patrick Hall (2004) and Tyler Thigpen (2006). Backus, a Buck Buchanan Award Candidate, earns the league's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season, becoming the third Big South player to accomplish the feat, and joins Andrae Jacobs (2010) as Chanticleers to win the honor. Hawthorne is the league's first recipient of the Special Teams Player of the Year Award.

The 15 All-Big South honors ties a CCU record, also accomplishing the feat in 2005, and includes first team picks Alex Ross (QB), Taliaferro (RB), Matt Hazel (WR), Jamey Cheatwood (LG), Chad Hamilton (LT), Drew Herring (RT), Backus (LB), Alex Catron (PK) and Devin Brown (KOR) while second team honorees include DeMario Bennett (WR), Calvin Hollenhorst (DE), Mike McClure (LB), Richie Sampson (FS), Denzel Rice (CB) and four-time selection as punt returner Niccolo Mastromatteo.

Mastromatteo becomes the second Big South student-athlete, with Charleston Southern's Gerald Stevenson, to earn a record five all-conference honors, a second team selection at wide receiver in 2012 in addition to his four honors as punt returner. Mastromatteo was additionally named to the All-Academic team for the second consecutive year.

Lorenzo Taliaferro (Yorktown, Va.), who was the Choice Hotels Big South Offensive Player of the Week a record five times this season, set every CCU single-season rushing and scoring record, while setting several Big South records as well. The senior leads the Big South with 12.5 points per game (2nd FCS), 23 rushing touchdowns (2nd FCS), 1,487 rushing yards (5th FCS), 123.9 rushing yards per game (7th FCS), 150 points responsible for (32nd FCS) and 133.3 all-purpose yards per game (26th FCS). Taliaferro put up his impressive numbers despite facing four teams among the FCS top 32 in rush defense. He had 157 yards versus #1 South Carolina State, 144 versus #18 Gardner-Webb, 174 versus #21 Eastern Kentucky and 151 yards versus #32 Liberty. On the Big South single-season lists, Taliaferro sits first in rushing TDs, most points scored, most rushing TDs and most multi-rushing TD games.

Quinn Backus (Greenwood, S.C.), who was a three-time Big South Player of the Week and three time National honoree, leads the Big South in solo tackles (14th FCS) and for the second consecutive season total tackles (42nd FCS). He is also the only player in the Big South to rank among the league's top 10 in tackles, tackles for loss (10th with 7.0), interceptions (third-tie with 3) and passes defended (seventh-tie with 0.75/game, 9 total). Backus scored two touchdowns on defense, recovering a blocked field goal and returning it 56 yards to tie the game at South Carolina State in the third quarter and returning an interception 73 yards versus Gardner-Webb for the longest pick six in CCU history.

LaDarius Hawthorne (Ware Shoals, S.C.) was rewarded for his spectacular play on special teams this season. The senior set a CCU record with three blocked field goals, while registering two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and five tackles on special teams alone. He opened the set by blocking a field goal at S.C. State, which was returned 56 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the third quarter. In week two versus Furman, he recovered a fumble on kick coverage which led to a CCU 14-0 lead and the Chants were able to keep at least a seven-point lead the rest of the game. In week three at Eastern Kentucky, Hawthorne forced a fumble on kick coverage that CCU recovered and eventually kicked a game-tying field goal as part of a 37-0 run. In week six versus Gardner-Webb, he broke open a scoreless game as he recovered a fumble on punt coverage, leading to a CCU 7-0 and the Chants never looked back. In week seven at Liberty, he made the play that ultimately proved to be the one which gave CCU the league's automatic berth to the playoffs by blocking a field goal in the second overtime at Liberty ot give CCU a 55-52 win. He closed Big South play with a blocked field goal versus Presbyterian to preserve a first-high shutout.

Alex Ross (Alpharetta, Ga,) earns first team All-Big South in his first year as the Chanticleer starting quarterback. The sophomore has led Coastal to five of its top six single-game efforts in total offense, including five this season: first with 542 yards at Elon, second 542 yards vs. Presbyterian, fourth with 631 yards at Eastern Kentucky and sixth with 621 yards vs. Charlotte. He leads the Big South in total offense (256.5 ypg, 30th FCS), passing yards per game (222.7 ypg, 30th FCS), pass efficiency (150.7, 15th FCS), completion percentage (64.8, 19th FCS) and points responsible for per game (13.8 ppg, 30th FCS). He ranks second in the league - one behind the league leader - in passing touchdowns (18, 39th FCS).

Matt Hazel (North Augusta, S.C.) earns his third All-Big South honor and second consecutive first team honor. The 2013 preseason Big South Player of the Year became the CCU all-time leader in receptions this season and ranks 16th among active FCS players in the category (168) while ranking seventh among active FCS players in career TD receptions (25) and 12th in career receiving yards (2,380). Hazel ranks second in the league in receptions (55, 56th FCS) and receiving yards (817, 53rd) while ranking fourth in receiving TDs (6, 62nd FCS). His 817 yards to date is second on the CCU single-season list. In Big South games he averaged a league-best 97.8 receiving yards per game and ranks second with 6.2 receptions per game.

Jamey Cheatwood (Boiling Springs, S.C.) earns first team All-Big South honors for this first time in his career, being a second team pick in 2010 and '11. (He was on pace for all-conference honors in 2012 before missing the final six games due to injury). He was part of a unit named Big South Offensive Player of the Week as CCU set school record with 652 yards at Elon. Cheatwood did not allow a sack in 2013 and helped Lorenzo Taliaferro set numerous records. CCU leads the Big South rushing offense and leads FCS in fewest tackles for loss allowed.

Chad Hamilton (Charleston, S.C.) was a second team pick in 2012 and adds first team honors in this his junior season. He was voted the team Offensive MVP for Presbyterian game and was part of the offensive line unit named Big South Offensive Player of the Week. Hamilton has helped CCU set Big South records for points scored in a season, first downs in a season and touchdowns scored in a season. Additionally, Coastal's is on pace to set league records in total offense yards per game, third down conversions and red zone scores.

Drew Herring (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) backed up his preseason All-Big South selection by earning first team honors, his first postseason selection. The Coastal Carolina graduate only allowed two sacks this season and graded out at 89 percent or better in nine of CCU's 12 games. He too was part of the unit named Big South Offensive Player of the Week versus Elon. Coastal's offense ranks second in the FCS in first in red zone scoring, third in scoring, third down conversions, fifth in first downs, sixth in rushing and ninth in total offense.

Alex Catron (Apopka, Fla.) earns first team All-Big South honors, marking the junior's first conference postseason recognition. He tied with John Lunsford among league kickers in scoring (6.4 ppg). His 76.9 field goal percentage is CCU season record and ranks 28th in the FCS. Also, Catron's 0.8 field goals made per game ranks 46th in the FCS. He made a career-long 50-yard field goal at Charleston Southern as well as making field goals of 48 and 35 yards at Liberty, the second proving to be game-winner in double overtime. For good measure, Catron has made seven tackles on kick coverage.

Devin Brown (Charleston, S.C.) took over as Coastal's kick returner midway through the year and the redshirt freshman took advantage of the opportunity to earn first team honors as the spot. He leads the Big South and ranks 18th nationally with his 26.9 average on kick returns. He was named Big South Special Teams Player of the Week and CFPA National Kick Returner of the Week thanks to a 95-yard kick return versus Gardner-Webb and having five returns for 169 total yards - second on the CCU single-game list.

DeMario Bennett (Douglas, Ga.) was named second team All-Big South for his first career postseason honor. He caught 38 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns to rank seventh in the league in receiving TDs and receiving yards while ranking eighth in receptions. Bennett has 95 receptions for 1,333 yards in three season at Coastal, both fourth on the CCU all-time lists, and the senior has caught 13 career touchdowns.

Mike McClure (Rock Hill, S.C.) earns second team All-Big South for the second consecutive season. He ranks second on the team and eighth in the league in tackles (76). He earned Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play versus Charlotte, collecting 11 total tackles (five solo, six assisted) and 2.5 tackles-for-loss for the Chanticleers. He had double-digit tackles a total of three times this season.

Richie Sampson (Kennett Square, Pa.) bounced back from missing the final five games of 2012 due to injury to earn second team All-Big South honors in this his sophomore season. Sampson was third on the team and 16th in the league in tackles. He tied for sixth in the league with two forced fumbles and tied for seventh in passes defended (0.75 per game). Among the league's defensive backs, Sampson was sixth in tackles. In conference games only, he ranks 12th in tackles, third-tie in passes defended and fourth-tie in tackles among defensive backs.

Denzel Rice (Winston-Salem, N.C.) entered his junior season with just 10 tackles in two years and had enjoyed a breakout 2013 in being named second team All-Big South. Rice tied for the league lead with nine pass breakups and ranks fifth in the Big South in passes defended (0.83 per game). His nine PBU is the second-best season total in CCU history. Rice had eight solo stops versus Gardner-Webb, five versus VMI and ranks fourth on the team in tackles with 50.

Niccolo Mastromatteo (Ortonville, Mich.) missed the last three-and-a-half games due to injury, but still picked up second team All-Big South honors as a punt returner. He has earned all-league honors in each of his four years at the spot, including first team honors in 2012, while adding second team All-Big south honors last season as a wide receiver. He is just the eighth Big South student-athlete to earn All-Big South honors in each of his four years. This season, Mastomatteo leads the Big South and ranks 42nd in the FCS in punt returns (6.3 avg), marking his second-straight year he has paced the league. He owns Big South career records for punt returns (74), return yards (620) and combined punt/kick returns (65). With a cumulative GPA of 3.94, Mastromatteo was named to the All-Academic Team for the second consecutive year.



QB Alex Ross, Soph., Coastal Carolina
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, Sr., Coastal Carolina
RB Christian Reyes, Jr., Charleston Southern
WR Kenny Cook, R-Jr., Gardner-Webb
WR Matt Hazel, Sr., Coastal Carolina
WR Darrin Peterson, Soph., Liberty
TE Brandon Apon, R-Sr., Liberty
OL Jamey Cheatwood, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Hunter Steward, Sr., Liberty
OL Chad Hamilton, Jr., Coastal Carolina
OL Drew Herring, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Clayton Truitt, Jr., Charleston Southern

DL Shaquille Riddick, Jr., Gardner-Webb
DL Preston Pemasa, Sr., Gardner-Webb
DL Chima Uzowihe, Soph., Liberty
DL O.J. Le'iatua Mau, Soph., Gardner-Webb
LB Quinn Backus, Jr., Coastal Carolina
LB Tanner Burch, Jr., Gardner-Webb
LB Nick Sigmon, R-Jr., Liberty
LB Calvin Bryant, Jr., Charleston Southern
DB Jacob Hagen, R-Jr., Liberty
DB Walt Aikens, R-Sr., Liberty
DB Kevin Fogg, R-Sr., Liberty
DB Keon Williams, Sr., Gardner-Webb

PK Alex Catron, Jr., Coastal Carolina
P Jordan Day, R-Sr., Gardner-Webb
LS Richard Wright, R-Sr., Liberty
KR Devin Brown, Fr., Coastal Carolina
PR Jeremiah McKie, Jr., Presbyterian College


QB Josh Woodrum, R-Soph., Liberty
RB Desmond Rice, Jr., Liberty
RB Juanne Blount, R-Jr., Gardner-Webb
WR Tobi Antigha, Jr., Presbyterian College
WR Sam Patterson, Soph., VMI
WR DeMario Bennett, Sr., Coastal Carolina
TE Mike Estes, R-Fr., Gardner-Webb
OL Jonathan Burgess, Soph., Liberty
OL Mitch Hanson, R-Jr., Liberty
OL Will Lucas, Sr., VMI
OL Greg Ray, R-Jr., Liberty
OL Tim Fowler, R-Sr., Presbyterian College

DL Cory Freeman, R-Sr., Liberty
DL James Smith, Jr., Charleston Southern
DL Dylan Black, Jr., Charleston Southern
DL Calvin Hollenhorst, Soph., Coastal Carolina
LB Mike McClure, Sr., Coastal Carolina
LB Chad Geter, Soph., Gardner-Webb
LB Weston Reber, R-Sr., VMI
LB Scott Hyland, Sr., Liberty
DB Elijah Lee, Sr., Charleston Southern
DB Demaris Freeman, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
DB Richie Sampson, Soph., Coastal Carolina
DB Denzel Rice, Jr., Coastal Carolina

PK Jordan Day, R-Sr., Gardner-Webb
P David Eberhardt, R-Sr., VMI
LS Hudson Smith, R-Sr., Gardner-Webb
KR Jeremiah McKie, Jr., Presbyterian College
PR Niccolo Mastromatteo, Sr., Coastal Carolina

Kirby Broome, Sr., TE, Charleston Southern
Niccolo Mastromatteo, Sr., WR, Coastal Carolina
Lucas Beatty, R-Jr., QB, Gardner-Webb
Scott Hyland, Sr., LB, Liberty
Stephen Doar, R-Soph., P, Presbyterian College
Ty Garvin, R-Jr., LB, VMI

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Sr., RB, Coastal Carolina

Quinn Backus, Jr., LB, Coastal Carolina

LaDarius Hawthorne, Sr., DB, Coastal Carolina

Daniel Croghan III, R-Fr., QB, Charleston Southern

Jamey Chadwell, Charleston Southern

Scott Hyland, Sr., LB, Liberty



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