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Grayson McCall leads 11 Chants on preseason All-Sun Belt teams

Coastal Carolina tied with App State atop of the East Division preseason poll
McCall was named the Sun Belt's preseason offensive player of the year.
McCall was named the Sun Belt's preseason offensive player of the year.(Coastal Carolina Athletics)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 2:03 PM EDT
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NEW ORLEANS – Coastal Carolina redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall was named the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, as 11 total Chanticleers picked up Preseason All-Sun Belt honors, the league announced on Tuesday.

In addition to the preseason all-conference teams, the Sun Belt Conference also announced the 2021 Sun Belt Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll which saw the Chanticleers receive six first-place votes but finish tied with Appalachian State with 44 total points atop of the East Division preseason rankings.

The Chants and Mountaineers were in front of Georgia State (24 points), Georgia Southern (20), and Troy (18) in the East Division predictions, while in the West Division preseason poll Louisiana led the way with nine first-place votes and a total of 49 points.

On top of being named the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, McCall was also named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt first team. He was joined on the preseason all-conference first team by senior tight end Isaiah Likely, senior wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh, redshirt senior bandit end Jeffrey Gunter, super senior defensive tackle C.J. Brewer, super senior linebacker Silas Kelly, and senior cornerback D’Jordan Strong.

Named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt second team was super senior offensive lineman Trey Carter, sophomore offensive lineman Willie Lampkin, super senior linebacker Teddy Gallagher, and senior placekicker Massimo Biscardi.

Grayson McCall – Preseason Offensive Player of the Year / Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

Named to the 2021 Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award preseason watch lists, McCall adds to his list of preseason accolades which includes being named to the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt first team, the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference first team, and the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt first team already this summer.

Tabbed the 2020 Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Most Inspirational Freshman and named to both the 2020 FWAA Freshman All-American team and The Athletic’s 2020 College Football Freshman All-American team, McCall was a 2020 Manning Award finalist, a 2020 Shaun Alexander-FWAA Freshman of the Year Award semifinalist, a 2020 Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award semifinalist, and a member of the Davey O’Brien QB Class of 2020 last season.

McCall was named the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and the 2020 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches and earned a spot on the 2020 All-Sun Belt first team and the 2020 Phil Steele SBC All-Conference first team last season in which he led the Sun Belt and ranked 10th nationally with 26 passing touchdowns on the year.

He also led the Sun Belt and ranked in the top 30 nationally in passing efficiency at 184.3 (fifth), points responsible for with 202 (ninth), points responsible for per game at 18.4 (16th), passing yards with 2,488 (19th), and in total offensive yards per game at 277.9 (30th), and was second in the Sun Belt in completion percentage at 68.8 percent (172-of-250), in passing yards per completion at 14.47, and yards per attempt at 9.95.

McCall, who ranked sixth in the Sun Belt with seven rushing touchdowns and 12th in rushing yards with 569 rushing yards from his quarterback position, threw for over 200 yards in eight of the 11 games he played in on the season, including a career-high 338 passing yards at Troy (Dec. 12). He also tallied two passing touchdowns or more in nine games on the season, including a career-high four touchdown tosses against Arkansas State (Oct. 3) and at Georgia State (Oct. 31).

Isaiah Likely – Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

A two-time All-Sun Belt selection, garnering first-team honors in 2020 and third-team recognition in 2019, Likely will line up for the Chants once again at tight end in 2021 after being named to the 2020 Pro Football Focus (PFF) All-America second team and earning a spot on the 2020 Phil Steele Sun Belt Conference All-Conference first team last season.

A 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-America third-team selection and 2021 first-team preseason all-conference pick by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports, Likely has played in 35 games, recording 74 receptions for 1,138 yards and 15 touchdowns over his three years at CCU.

In 2020, despite playing with an injured foot that required offseason surgery for most of the season, he played in 11 of the 12 games for the Chants on the season, totaling 30 catches for 601 yards and five touchdowns on the season. His 601 receiving yards were eighth in the Sun Belt overall but first among all Sun Belt tight ends, while his average yards per catch of 20.03 yards per reception was first in the Sun Belt and 10th nationally among all players. He caught at least one pass in 10 of the 11 games in which he played and recorded catches of 75, 72, and 57 yards on the season, all three of which were the longest pass plays on the season for CCU’s offense.

Jaivon Heiligh – Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

A 2020 All-Sun Belt first-team selection and named to the 2020 Phil Steele Sun Belt All-Conference first team last season, Heiligh picks up Preseason All-Sun Belt honors his senior season. Also named to the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt first team and both the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference and 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason first teams as a wide receiver and fourth teams as a punt returner, Heiligh looks to build on a career year in 2020.

A Biletnikoff Award watch list member last season in which he hauled in his 100th career reception and surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards, the Florida native led the Chants and ranked second in the Sun Belt with 65 receptions on the year. He also led the team and was third in the conference in receiving yards with 998 on the season and totaled 10 receiving touchdowns, which ranked third in the Sun Belt and sixth overall in total touchdowns.

Heiligh hauled in at least one pass in 11 of the 12 games in which he played including a career-high 13 catches in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl which was both a Cure Bowl and CCU single-game record. He also recorded 178 receiving yards in the Cure Bowl which was also a Cure Bowl record and the third-most by a Chant in a single game.

The fourth-year Chant registered four 100-yard receiving games in 2020 and had three games with two touchdown catches. He also returned nine punts for 71 yards on the season, including a career-long 40-yard return versus Georgia Southern.

Jeffrey Gunter – Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

Named to the Bednarik Award preseason watch list, Gunter has also been named to the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt first team, the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference first team, and the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt first team.

Last season, Gunter earned a spot on the 2020 All-Sun Belt first team and the 2020 Phil Steele Sun Belt All-Conference first team as he led the nation in forced fumbles with six on the year. He also finished the season tied for second on the team and fourth in the Sun Belt with 6.5 sacks and was second on the team and seventh in the Sun Belt with 12.5 tackles-for-loss.

He totaled 58 tackles, including 35 solo stops, one interception, one pass breakup, and 12 quarterback hurries off the edge last season, including a season-high eight tackles twice versus Appalachian State (Nov. 21) and in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl versus No. 23 Liberty (Dec. 26).

C.J. Brewer – Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

Named to the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-America fourth team, Brewer has also been named to the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference and 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt first teams, as well as the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt third team this preseason.

A 2020 Associated Press (AP) All-America third-team selection and 2020 Phil Steele honorable mention All-American last season as a team captain, the Chant defender also picked up All-Sun Belt and Phil Steele SBC All-Conference first-team accolades after garnering All-Sun Belt third-team recognition in 2019. Brewer played in and started all 12 games along the defensive front for the Chants in 2020 and finished the season tied for second on the team and fourth in the Sun Belt with 6.5 sacks. He was also third on the team and eighth in the league with 11.0 tackles-for-loss on the year and ranked fifth on the team with 60 total tackles. He also recorded six quarterback hurries, forced one fumble, and recovered a fumble on the defensive line.

Brewer recorded a career-high 14 tackles, to go along with 3.0 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks, in the win over Appalachian State (Nov. 21) and tallied six stops in home wins over South Alabama (Nov. 7) and then-No. 8 BYU (Dec. 5). He also recorded 3.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.0 sacks in the season-opening win over Kansas (Sept. 12), the same game in which he caught his first career touchdown pass, and registered seven total tackles in wins over Campbell (Sept. 18) and at then-No. 21 Louisiana (Oct. 14).

He enters his final season at CCU in 2021 ranked fifth all-time in CCU’s career record books in quarterback hurries (14), sixth all-time in sacks (11.5), sixth all-time in fumbles forced (5), ninth all-time in tackles-for-loss (23.0), and ninth all-time in assisted tackles (108).

Silas Kelly – Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

A 2021 first-team preseason all-conference pick by both Phil Steele and Athlon Sports, as well as a Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list member, Kelly returns to the Teal for his final season on the gridiron in 2021. The super senior linebacker has played in 36 games over his career at CCU, totaling 230 tackles, 16.0 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, and one interception.

Named one of three national 2020 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award winners last season, Kelly was also named to the 2020 Phil Steele Sun Belt Conference All-Conference second team and earned a spot on the 2020 All-Sun Belt second team.

In 2020, the Maryland native played in all 12 games on the season, starting 11 contests, and was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 21 following the win over Campbell (Sept. 18). He led Coastal Carolina with 80 tackles and added 6.5 tackles-for-loss, 5.0 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery on the season. His 5.0 sacks were tied for eighth in the Sun Belt, while his 80 total stops were ninth in the conference on the year.

D’Jordan Strong – Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team

Named the 2020 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, Strong made an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball for the Chants and the “Black Swarm” defense in 2020.

A 2020 All-Sun Belt first-team selection and member of the 2020 Phil Steele Sun Belt Conference All-Conference first team, the rising senior has been named to the preseason All-Sun Belt first team by Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football, Phil Steele, and Athlon Sports.

In his first season at Coastal last year, Strong played in and started all 12 games in the defensive backfield for the Chants. He ranked second in the Sun Belt and third nationally with five interceptions on the season and totaled seven pass breakups to give him 12 passes defended which were tied for fifth in the league overall. He added 30 tackles, 2.0 tackles-for-loss, and forced one fumble on the season.

Strong was one of just six different players in the Sun Belt to pick up two interceptions in the same game but the only one to do it twice with two picks against both Georgia Southern (Oct. 24) and Appalachian State (Nov. 21). He also returned one of the interceptions for a touchdown to help seal the Chants’ first-ever win over App State.

Trey Carter – Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team

A four-time All-Sun Belt selection, having worked his way up from honorable mention in both 2017 and 2018 to the third team in 2019 and finally the first team in 2020, Carter enters the 2021 season having made 48-straight starts dating back four seasons.

Named to the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference first team, the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt first team, and a 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt honorable mention, Carter returns to the offensive line where he helped to pave the way for a top-20 rushing and scoring offense in 2020.

A team captain last season, Carter played in and started at right guard in all 12 games on the season and was a key member of the offensive line that was a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award which is presented annually to the nation’s top offensive line unit. He played every snap at right guard in wins over Kansas (Sept. 12), at then-No. 21 Louisiana (Oct. 14), versus Georgia Southern (Oct. 24), against South Alabama (Nov. 7), versus Appalachian State (Nov. 21), against then-No. 8 BYU (Dec. 5), at Troy (Dec. 12), and in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl versus No. 23 Liberty (Dec. 26). He was rated as the top offensive lineman in eight of the 12 games for the Chants and totaled a team-high 36 pancake blocks on the season.

Willie Lampkin – Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team

A 2020 FWAA Freshman All-American and a member of both the ESPN’s 2020 College Football True Freshman All-American and 247Sports True Freshman All-American teams, as well as The Athletic’s 2020 College Football Freshman All-American team last season, Lampkin has also been named to the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt second team, the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference second team, and the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt second team this preseason.

Named to the 2020 All-Sun Belt second team and a member of the 2020 Phil Steele Sun Belt All-Conference third team last year as a true freshman, the Florida native played in and started all 12 games at left guard in 2020 and was a key member of the offensive line that was a semifinalist for the Joe Moore Award which is presented annually to the nation’s top offensive line unit. He helped to pave the way for a top-20 rushing and scoring offense on the season and allowed just one sack all season long while grading out as PFF College’s fourth-best freshman offensive lineman nationwide.

Lamkin played every snap at left guard in wins over Kansas (Sept. 12), at then-No. 21 Louisiana (Oct. 14), versus Georgia Southern (Oct. 24), against South Alabama (Nov. 7), versus Appalachian State (Nov. 21), against then-No. 8 BYU (Dec. 5), at Troy (Dec. 12), and in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl versus No. 23 Liberty (Dec. 26) last season and totaled 27 pancake blocks on the year, the second-most on the team. He had four knockdown blocks in his first career game in the season-opener at Kansas and recorded a season-high six knockdowns in the home win over No. 8 BYU.

Teddy Gallagher – Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team

A two-time All-Sun Belt third-team selection in each of the last two seasons, Gallagher earns preseason All-Sun Belt second-team accolades from the league’s coaches for the second consecutive season.

A 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference and 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt second-team selection, the super senior played in and started all 12 games for the Chanticleers at linebacker in 2020 while serving as a team captain. He was second on the team and 13th in the Sun Belt with 76 tackles on the season, an average of 6.3 tackles per game, and had 4.0 tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and four quarterback hurries on the year.

Gallagher registered five tackles or more in 10 of the 12 games in which he played last year, including a season-high 10 stops versus Georgia Southern (Oct. 24) and nine tackles, including a season-high seven solo stops, in the road win at Kansas (Sept. 12) in the season opener. He also had eight total tackles in the road win at then-No. 21 Louisiana (Oct. 14) and tallied seven tackles in wins over South Alabama (Nov. 7), No. 8 BYU (Dec. 5), and Troy (Dec. 12).

Heading into his final season for the Chants in 2021, Gallagher ranks 10th in CCU’s career record book in total tackles (217) and assisted tackles (106), and is fourth all-time in fumble recoveries with three.

Massimo Biscardi – Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team

A two-time All-Sun Belt pick with second-team honors in 2020 and third-team recognition in 2018, Biscardi has already been named to the 2021 Phil Steele Preseason SBC All-Conference second team, the 2021 Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt second team, and the 2021 Pro Football Focus (PFF) College Football Preseason All-Sun Belt third team.

Tabbed the Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 19, 2020, after making the game-winning field goal in the Chants’ road win over No. 21 Louisiana (Oct. 14), Biscardi was second on the team in scoring with 81 points in 2020. He was 11-of-13 on field goal attempts for an 84.6 field-goal percentage, which ranked third in the Sun Belt, and made 48 PATs on the season, which ranked second in the Sun Belt on the year. He scored multiple points in every game on the season for the Chanticleers and made good on four field goals of 40 yards or longer on the season.

Biscardi connected on a 51-yard field goal in the win over Appalachian State (Nov. 21) and kicked a 40-yard game-winning field goal at then-No. 21 Louisiana with four seconds left on the game clock to give the Chanticleers their first-ever win over an FBS top 25 nationally-ranked opponent.

He also matched his career-high with three made field goals (26, 30, and 27 yards) in the home win over South Alabama (Nov. 7) and knocked through two field goals in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl versus No. 23 Liberty (Dec. 26). He also recorded 80 kickoffs for 4,382 yards in 2020, an average of 54.8 yards per kickoff, and totaled 17 touchbacks on kickoffs on the year.

2021 Sun Belt Conference Football Preseason Awards

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year

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

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year

Carlton Martial, Troy (Jr., LB – Mobile, Ala.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Offense

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

RB – Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State (Jr. – Lineville, Ala.)

RB – Destin Coates, Georgia State (Sr. – Tallahassee, Fla.)

OL – Baer Hunter, Appalachian State (Super Sr. – Clemmons, N.C.)

OL – Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State (RS Sr. – Riverdale, Ga.)

OL – Cooper Hodges, Appalachian State (Jr. – Glen St. Mary, Fla.)

OL – Austin Stidham, Troy (Jr. – Russellville, Ala.)

OL – O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana (So. – Greensburg, La.)

TE – Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Cambridge, Mass.)

WR – Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)

WR – Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Venice, Fla.)

WR – Sam Pinckney, Georgia State (RS Jr. – Greenwood, S.C.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Defense

DL – Jeffery Gunter, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr. – Durham, N.C.)

DL – C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Bowdon, Ga.)

DL – Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State (Super Sr. – Miami, Fla.)

DL – Will Choloh, Troy (Jr. – Lawrenceville, Ga.)

LB – Carlton Martial, Troy (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)

LB – D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State (Sr. – Spartanburg, S.C.)

LB – Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Mount Airy, Md.)

DB – Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern (RS So. – Evans, Ga.)

DB – Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State (Sr. – Stone Mountain, Ga.)

DB – D’Jordan Strong, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Batesville, Miss.)

DB – Bralen Trahan, Louisiana (RS Jr. – Lafayette, La.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt First Team Special Teams

K – Noel Ruiz, Georgia State (Sr. – Wilson, N.C.)

P – Rhys Byrns, Louisiana (Jr. – Melbourne, Australia)

RS – Chris Smith, Louisiana (RS So. – Louisville, Miss.)

7 Chants led by preseason Sun Belt player of the year Grayson McCall landed on the preseason...
7 Chants led by preseason Sun Belt player of the year Grayson McCall landed on the preseason first teams.(Coastal Carolina Athletics)

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Offense

QB – Levi Lewis, Louisiana (Sr. – Baton Rouge, La.)

RB – JD King, Georgia Southern (Fifth-Year Sr. – Fitzgerald, Ga.)

RB – Daetrich Harrington, Appalachian State (Sr. – Douglasville, Ga.)

OL – Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Monroeville, Ala.)

OL – Max Mitchell, Louisiana (Jr. – Monroe, La.)

OL – Dylan Bradshaw, Troy (Sr. – Enterprise, Ala.)

OL – Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina (So. – Lakeland, Fla.)

OL – Aaron Dowdell, Georgia Southern (Sixth-Year Sr. – Fairburn, Ga.)

TE – Roger Carter, Georgia State (Sr. – Columbia, S.C.)

WR – Thomas Hennigan, Appalachian State (Super Sr. – Greensboro, N.C.)

WR – Marcell Barbee, Texas State (Jr. – Pueblo, Colo.)

WR – Cornelius McCoy, Georgia State (Sr. – Deerfield Beach, Fla.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Defense

DL – Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana (RS Jr. – New Iberia, La.)

DL – Hardrick Willis, Georgia State (RS Sr. – Jonesboro, Ga.)

DL – Dontae Wilson, Georgia State (Sr. – Jefferson, Ga.)

DL – Nico Ezidore, Texas State (Jr. – Garland, Texas)

LB – Lorenzo McCaskill, Louisiana (RS Jr. – Detroit, Mich.)

LB – Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr. – Los Angeles, Calif.)

LB – Brendan Harrington, Appalachian State (Jr. - Pittsboro, N.C.)

DB – Antavious Lane, Georgia State (RS So. – West Palm Beach, Fla.)

DB – Quavian White, Georgia State (Sr. – Greer, S.C.)

DB – Keith Gallmon, South Alabama (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)

DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana (Jr. – Mobile, Ala.)

Preseason All-Sun Belt Second Team Special Teams

K – Massimo Biscardi, Coastal Carolina (Sr. – Downingtown, Pa.)

P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern (RS Jr. – Guyton, Ga.)

RS – Khaleb Hood, Georgia Southern (Jr. – McDonough, Ga.)

Four Chanticleers earned spots on the preseason all-conference second teams.
Four Chanticleers earned spots on the preseason all-conference second teams.(Coastal Carolina Athletics)

2021 Sun Belt Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll

East Division

T1. Coastal Carolina (6) – 44

T1. App State (4) – 44

3. Georgia State – 24

4. Georgia Southern – 20

5. Troy – 18

West Division

1. Louisiana (9) – 49

2. Arkansas State (1) – 38

3. South Alabama – 27

4. Texas State – 25

5. ULM – 11

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