CHARLOTTE, NC After winning the Big South Conference title in just its second season, the Coastal Carolina football program earned three of the top honors in the Big South, announced by the league office, Dec. 2. Running back Patrick Hall was named Offensive Player of the Year and David Bennett received Coach of the Year honors, while Freshman of the Year honors were bestowed on Jerome Simpson. Those three joined 12 other Chanticleers in receiving postseason accolades after a league-record 10-1 season, including a 4-0 mark in the Big South.
Also named First Team All-Big South, Hall led CCU and the league in rushing with 1,107 yards this season, the only player in the league over 1,000 for the year, and averaged 7.1 yards per carry. He ranked 25th in the nation in rushing, averaging 100.6 yards per game and became the first Chanticleer to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The junior from Richmond, Va. set a new Big South record with five consecutive games with two touchdowns, ending with a team-high 13 touchdowns on the year. A three-time Offensive Player of the Week selection, he rushed for at least 100 yards in the last four games, including a season-best 195 yards and two touchdowns in the title clinching game versus Charleston Southern, Nov. 20.
Simpson, also named Second Team All-Big South, was Coastals leading receiver, posting school records with 26 receptions, 419 yards and eight touchdowns, earning Freshman of the Week honors three times. He currently ranks first in career receiving touchdowns and second in career yardage and receptions. The freshman from Reidsville, N.C. ranked eighth in the Big South in yards per game and 10th in scoring. He made a stellar first impression, with four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns in the season-opening win at Morehead State. His 108 yards receiving against Charleston are the second most in school history, while the three touchdown receptions set a new school record.
Bennett earned his first Big South Coach of the Year honor with a conference-record 10-1 record. This is the fifth time in his career that he has received the honor, having won South Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year honors four times at Catawba. In his nine years of head coaching experience, Bennett holds a 79-23 record overall, including a 16-6 record at Coastal.
Joining Hall on the first team from the offensive side of the ball was senior offensive lineman Nick Johnson, senior tight end Brandon Jeffcoat and junior offensive lineman Antwon Trice. These three anchored an offensive line that helped CCU set new league offensive records in points scored, rushing yards, rushing per game. CCUs offensive attack ranked fifth nationally in rushing yardage and eighth in scoring, while setting new school records for passing yards and touchdowns in a season. Jeffcoat also had five receptions for 62 yards, including a career-long 22-yard reception at Newberry. Johnson and Trice were Second Team All-Big South selections in 2003.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive lineman Kelvin McIver, linebacker Maurice Simpkins and defensive back Quinton Teal were named First Team All-Big South. The defense led the nation in passing efficiency defense and turnover margin and ranked sixth in scoring defense at 16.00 points per game and 23rd in pass defense at 173.55 yards per game. CCUs defense also set new league records for scoring defense, rushing defense, total defense, interceptions and turnover margin.
A transfer from Oakland, Calif., McIver made an immediate impact, starting all 11 games for CCU. He tied for the Big South lead in sacks with a school record seven sacks and was second in tackles for loss with 14 (nine solo, five assisted). He ranked fifth among defensive linemen in the league with 51 tackles, including 25 solo. He was a major factor in league play, as he posted five tackles, including two for loss and a sack, in the win over Liberty, while adding four tackles against Gardner-Webb and six against Charleston Southern.
Simpkins earned his second consecutive First Team honor after ranking 10th in the Big South overall and sixth among linebackers with 78 tackles on the season, including 43 solo. He also finished sixth in the Big South in sacks per game with 0.45 per game and seventh in tackles for loss with eight. He had 10 tackles against Liberty including a tackle for loss, along with seven versus Gardner-Webb and eight versus Charleston Southern.
Teal led the Big South Conference and ranked 11th in the nation with a new CCU record six interceptions. He also finished second in the league and 10th nationally with 18 passes defended. In the league, he ranked 11th among defensive backs with 50 tackles (32 of them solo), including a career-high 10 tackles and an interception in the season-finale win over Charleston Southern.
Sophomore Josh Hoke earned the First Team Kicker honors for his performance this season. Coming off an ACL injury in Spring 2004, he led the Big South in total points with 83 and ranked second in scoring average at 7.5 points per game. He finished 35th in the nation in field goals (0.91 per game) and scoring (7.55 ppg). He led all Big South kickers in PAT percentage, hitting on 53-of-54 extra points for a 98.1 percent rating, with both the attempts and made new league records. He was also the top field goal kicker at 71.4 percent, hitting a league-best 10 field goals. Hoke set a new league record with 16 points in the win over North Greenville, earning National and Big South Special Teams Player of the Week honors, en route to becoming the first kicker in league history to score more than 100 career points, currently with 138.
Named to the second team with Simpson were sophomore offensive lineman Brad Poston, sophomore defensive linemen Sam Harper and Adrain Grady, junior defensive back Greg Williamson and sophomore returner David Parker.
Poston started all 11 games on the offensive line for Coastal, helping lead a rushing attack that set new league records for rushing yardage and scoring, as well as new school records for passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns.
Harper started all 11 games and ranked sixth among Big South linemen with 45 tackles, including five sacks, which tied for third in the league. He led the league with four fumble recoveries, including a Big South record three fumble recoveries against Jacksonville and his first career touchdown with a 19-yard return. Harper had a season-best eight tackles in the win at VMI, including one tackle for loss.
A Second Team All-Big South selection in 2003, Grady started in six of the seven games he played in before a season-ending knee injury against Liberty. He recorded 21 tackles, including six for loss and three sacks. In his final game of the year, he had six tackles, with two for loss and one sack, in the road win at VMI and then added three with a sack in the win over Liberty, playing the end of the game with the injury. He also had seven quarterback hurries on the year.
Williamson, also selected to the second team in 2003, ranked 17th in the league among defensive backs in tackles with a career-best 45, including 22 solo. He tied for fourth in the Big South with four interceptions, good for 53rd in the country. He also was third in the league and 25th in the country with 13 passes defended. He had a career-high 11 tackles at Newberry and also had another solid game with a pair of interceptions to go with four tackles in the home win over Liberty.
Parker averaged 7.58 yards per return to rank second in the Big South and 58th nationally. He had a career-best 29 yard punt return against Newberry. He was also third in the league in kick returns with a 21.4 yard-per-return average. He had the second longest kickoff return of the year in the league with an 82-yard return to open the second half against Jacksonville, a return that sparked the Chanticleers to a come-from-behind victory at home.