CONWAY, S.C. Coastal Carolina football had six players named to The State's inaugural South Carolina All-Star Team, announced today (Dec. 7) by the newspaper. Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen (Winnsboro, S.C./Fairfield Central) was named the publication's Offensive Player of the Year and was joined on the First Team by junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson (Reidsville, N.C./Reidsville), senior tight end Rodney Burgess (Irmo, S.C./Dutch Fork) and senior safety Quinton Teal (Bennettsville, S.C./Marlboro County). Also honored by the publication on its second team were senior offensive lineman Brad Poston (Florence, S.C./Florence) and senior linebacker Jamar Leath (Elon, N.C./Western Alamance).
Thigpen, who was also the Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year and finished seventh in the balloting for the Walter Payton Award, is currently ranked second in the Football Championship Subdivision with 329.3 ypg of total offense, while being fourth nationally with 274.7 passing yards per game after leading Coastal to its third consecutive Big South title and first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships. The first-ever Big South player to be nominated for the Payton Award, he set nine Conference season records in 2006 in total offense (3,952), total offense per game (329.3), passing yards (3,296), touchdown passes (29), passing yards per game (274.7), passing efficiency (167.42), 300-yard passing games (5), 300-total yard games (9) and rushing yards by a quarterback (656). He was named Player of the Week four times this season and became the first Big South quarterback to rush for more than 600 yards in a season, with his 656 ranking fourth overall in league rushing, while adding five touchdowns. His 3,296 passing yards also made him the first quarterback ever to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a single season. He also ranks second all-time in the Big South in total offense with 8,236 yards, while also helping CCU to a 34-11 (30-8 as a starter) during his four years with the Chanticleers.
Simpson, also a First Team All-Big South selection, set the school records in receptions, yards and touchdowns with 54 catches for 1,077 yards and 16 touchdowns. He currently ranks 11th in the nation in yards per game (89.8) and 26th in scoring (7.64) as well as setting the league record for touchdown receptions in a season (16). Simpson was named Offensive Player of the Week twice this season and scored at least one touchdown in 11 out of 12 contests this year, including five touchdowns in Big South play and a streak of seven consecutive games. He also is Coastal's career leader in receptions (119), yards (2,024) and touchdown receptions (33).
Another First Team league honoree, Burgess played in all 12 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.
Poston, who was a two-time First Team All-Big South selection, started all 12 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 12 games this year and has been the only player in Coastal history to start all 45 games since the program's inception in 2003.
Leath, who finished third in the league's Defensive Player of the Year voting and a two-time First Team All-Big South pick, started all 12 games for the Big South champs and finished his career as the conference's all-time leading tackler with 364 career tackles. He posted his second consecutive 100-tackle season, setting a new school record with 116 tackles and currently ranks 31st in the nation at 9.67 tackles per game. He recorded four games with 10-plus tackles this year and had at least eight stops in 11 of 12 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 Big South Player of the Week honors.
Teal, another two-time First Team All-Big South selection, is the league's all-time interception leader with 17 and leads the conference in single-season picks, this time tying with four, which ranks him 48th in the nation. He led the league with 13 passes defended and had 81 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.