Billy Napier, 11 Ragin’ Cajuns earn Sun Belt All-Conference honors

Cajun Nation

Louisiana’s 11 individual All-Conference selections mark the most since 1995

LAFAYETTE, La. (Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics) – Led by First Team All-Sun Belt selections Kevin Dotson, Robert Hunt and Raymond Calais, 11 members of the Cajuns football team were named to Sun Belt All-Conference teams, the league office announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Head coach Billy Napier was also voted as the Sun Belt’s Coach of the Year, the third Louisiana coach to earn the distinction and the first since 1993 when Nelson Stokley was named the Big West Conference’s top coach, the announcement said.

Napier is the first Ragin’ Cajuns coach to win the award in the Sun Belt era.

The 11 individuals are the most that Louisiana has placed on All-Conference squads since 1995, while the 13 overall selections are the most in program history.

Louisiana also saw four players named Honorable Mention All-Conference.

Appalachian State led the league with 16 total selections, with Arkansas State (12) and Troy (11) placing just behind Louisiana (13) as teams with at least 10 student-athletes earning All-Conference recogntion.

Napier has led Louisiana to unprecedented heights during the 2019 season, guiding the Ragin’ Cajuns to their first, 10-win season in program history and a second-straight trip to the Sun Belt Championship Game after clinching the league’s West Division title with a 53-3 victory over Troy on Nov. 23.

Along the way, the team has broken numerous school records on top of its win total, including the most points in a season (466) and the most total offense in a single season (6,004), while coaching the team to top-15 national rankings in total offense (500.3), rushing offense (274.2), scoring offense (38.8) and scoring defense (17.8).

Both Dotson and Hunt were huge in Louisiana’s success on offense this year, helping pave the way for a unit that ranks eighth in the country in total offense (500.3), 12th in scoring offense (38.8) and sixth in rushing offense (274.2).

The pair was pivotal in Louisiana breaking the record for most rushing touchdowns in a season (40) and has enabled a record-breaking season for quarterback Levi Lewis by allowing just 1.17 sacks per contest, good for eighth nationally.

Dotson was recently named a Pro Football Focus First Team All-American and will be competing in the East/West Shrine Bowl on Jan. 18, while Hunt has accepted an invitation to play at the Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 25.

Calais earned his First-Team nod as a return specialist after he led the league in kick-return average with 30.6 yards in 15 attempts. In the team’s first meeting with Appalachian State on Oct. 9, Calais returned four kicks for 109 yards, while his season-long return of 60 yards came against South Alabama on Nov. 16.

The senior from Breaux Bridge also garnered Third Team recognition as both a running back and for all-purpose yards. On the ground, Calais has rushed for 818 yards and six touchdowns, while he leads the team and ranks eighth in the Sun Belt in all-purpose yards with 112.2 yards per game. He will participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 18.

Louisiana’s Second Team All-Conference selections include Elijah Mitchell (Offense), Ja’Marcus Bradley (Offense), Zi’Yon Hill (Defense), Joe Dillon (Defense), Michael Jacquet III (Defense) and Rhys Byrns (Special Teams).

Mitchell was Louisiana’s most productive runner during the regular season, becoming the sixth Ragin’ Cajun to rush for over 1,000 yards with 1,007 on the season and leading the team with 14 rushing touchdowns, ranking him second in the league and 15th in FBS. Mitchell’s best game came on Oct. 17 at Arkansas State when he carried the ball 17 times for 143 yards and three scores, earning him Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Bradley cemented himself as one of the best wide receivers in program history after a big senior year, finishing the regular season with 48 receptions for 760 yards and seven touchdowns. With his regular season totals, Bradley is tied for third in career receiving touchdowns (20), becoming just the fourth receiver to record at least 20 scores in a career, while ranking fifth all-time in career receiving yards (2,213). He will be playing in the East West Shrine Bowl along with Dotson on Jan. 18.

On the defensive side of the ball, Hill ranks fourth on the team with 40 tackles and added 1.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks, while Dillon leads the team with 6.0 sacks for a total of 50 yards lost, 7.5 TFL, a forced fumble and 36 tackles. In the secondary, Jacquet III, who also accepted an invitation to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 18, ranks eighth on the team with 35 tackles to go along with two interceptions, four PBU and a forced fumble.

With the help of the defensive trio, Louisiana ranks second in the Sun Belt in total defense (369.8) and is 12th nationally in scoring defense, holding its opponents to just 17.8 points per game.

Byrns, the team’s final Second Team selection, has been stellar this season with an average of 44.2 yards per punt despite not punting against Texas Southern or Coastal Carolina and only punting once against Liberty and Georgia Southern. The sophomore has placed 14 of his 38 attempts inside the 20 and has sent eight punts over 50 yards, including a career-high, 70-yard boot at Ohio.

Louisiana’s Third Team All-Conference selections include running back Trey Ragas and placekicker Stevie Artigue.

Ragas currently ranks third on the team with 777 rushing yards and is second on the team with 11 rushing touchdowns, ranking him fifth in the Sun Belt. Ragas scored in all but two games this season, recording two touchdowns in wins against Georgia Southern and Troy, while going over the 100-yard mark on three different occasions, including a season-high 131 yards against Georgia Southern.

Artigue has had a season for the ages with 96 points on the year, moving him into a tie for second on the program’s all-time scoring list at 293 career points with Tyrell Fenroy. The redshirt senior has also broken multiple school records this season, including the most field goals made in a career (50), as well as the most PATs in a single season (57) and a single game (11).

Earning Sun Belt Honorable Mention honors from Louisiana is linebacker Jacques Boudreaux, linebacker Chauncey Manac, wide receiver Jarrod Jackson and tight end Nick Ralston.

For the second-straight season, Louisiana will travel to Boone, N.C., to face Appalachian State in the 2019 Sun Belt Championship Game. Kickoff from Kidd Brewer Stadium is slated for 11 a.m. and will be nationally televised on ESPN. More information on the game, including ticket information, can be found here.

Follow the Ragin’ Cajuns on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@RaginCajunsFB) to stay up-to-date on Louisiana Football.

2019 SUN BELT FOOTBALL POSTSEASON HONORS

All-Sun Belt First Team

Offense

Kaleb Barker, Troy (Sr., QB, Decatur, Ala.)

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Jr., RB, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Tra Barnett, Georgia State (Sr., RB, Elberton, Ga.)

Omar Bayless, Arkansas State (RSr., WR, Laurel, Miss.)

Kirk Merritt, Arkansas State (Sr., WR, Destrehan, La.)

Kaylon Geiger, Troy (Jr., WR, Fort Worth, Texas)

Josh Pederson, ULM (Jr., TE, Morristown, N.J.)

Noah Hannon, Appalachian State (Jr., OL, Greer, S.C.)

Victor Johnson, Appalachian State (Sr., OL, North Augusta, S.C.)

Hunter Atkinson, Georgia State (Sr., OL, Flowery Branch, Ga.)

Kevin Dotson, Louisiana (Sr., OL, Plaquemine, La.)

Robert Hunt, Louisiana (Sr., OL, Burkeville, Texas)

Defense

Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State (Jr., DL, Miami, Fla.)

William Bradley-King, Arkansas State (Jr., DL, Kansas City, Mo.)

Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina (Jr., DL, Aiken, S.C.)

Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southern (Jr., DL, Sumter, S.C.)

Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State (Sr., LB, Thomasville, N.C.)

Bryan London II, Texas State (Sr., LB, Converse, Texas)

Carlton Martial, Troy (So., LB, Mobile, Ala.)

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

Darreon Jackson, Arkansas State (Sr., DB, Derby, Kan.)

Kindle Vildor, Georgia Southern (Sr., DB, College Park, Ga.)

Corey Straughter, ULM (Jr., DB, Monroe, La.)

Will Sunderland, Troy (Sr., DB, Midwest City, Okla.)

Special Teams

Blake Grupe, Arkansas State (So., PK, Sedalia, Mo.)

Cody Grace, Arkansas State (Sr., P, Perth, Western Australia)

Raymond Calais, Louisiana (Sr., RS, Breaux Bridge, La.)

Tra Minter, South Alabama (Sr., AP, Ellaville, Ga.)

All-Sun Belt Second Team

Offense

Dan Ellington, Georgia State (Sr., QB, Olive Branch, Miss.)

Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana (Jr., RB, Erath, La.)

Josh Johnson, ULM (Jr., RB, Opelika, Ala.)

Thomas Hennigan, Appalachian State (Jr., WR, Greensboro, N.C.)

Corey Sutton, Appalachian State (Jr., WR, Cornelius, N.C.)

Ja’Marcus Bradley, Louisiana (Sr., WR, Ackerman, Miss.)

Aubry Payne, Georgia State (Jr., TE, Locust Grove, Ga.)

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

Baer Hunter, Appalachian State (Jr., OL, Clemmons, N.C.)

Bobby Reynolds, ULM (Sr., OL, Keller, Texas)

Aaron Brewer, Texas State (Sr., OT, Dallas, Texas)

J.l. Gaston, Troy (Sr., OL, Monroeville, Ala.)

Defense

Kevin Thurmon, Arkansas State (Sr., DL, Chicago, Ill.)

Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana (So., DL, New Iberia, La.)

Jeffery Whatley, South Alabama (Sr., DL, Midland City, Ala.)

Will Choloh, Troy (So., DL, Lawrenceville, Ga.)

Jordan Fehr, Appalachian State (Sr., LB, Charlotte, N.C.)

Rashad Byrd, Georgia Southern (Jr., LB, North Augusta, S.C.)

Joe Dillon, Louisiana (Jr., LB, Tylertown, Miss.)

Cortez Sisco, ULM (Sr., LB, Memphis, Tenn.)

Josh Thomas, Appalachian State (Sr., DB, Montgomery, Ala.)

B.J. Edmonds, Arkansas State (Sr., DB, Mobile, Ala.)

Chandler Kryst, Coastal Carolina (Sr., DB, Tega Cay, S.C.)

Michael Jacquet III, Louisiana (Sr., DB, Beaumont, Texas)

Special Teams

Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern (Sr., PK, Irmo, S.C.)

Rhys Byrns, Louisiana (So., P, Melbourne, Australia)

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Jr., AP, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Jr., RS, Oak Hill, Fla.)

All-Sun Belt Third Team

Offense

Zac Thomas, Appalachian State (RJr., QB, Trussville, Ala.)

Raymond Calais, Louisiana (Sr., RB, Breaux Bridge, La.)

Trey Ragas, Louisiana (Jr., RB, New Orleans, La.)

Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State (Jr., WR, Jonesboro, Ark.)

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

Reggie Todd, Troy (Jr., WR, Mobile, Ala.)

Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (So., TE, Maiden, Mass.)

Jarrett Horst, Arkansas State (So., OL, Middleton, Wis.)

Jacob Still, Arkansas State (Jr., OL, Collierville, Tenn.)

Trey Carter, Coastal Carolina (Jr., OL, Monroeville, Ala.)

Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State (Jr., OL, Riverdale, Ga.)

Kirk Kelley, Troy (Sr., OL, Marrero, La.)

Defense

E.J. Scott, Appalachian State (Sr., DL, Farmville, N.C.)

C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina (Jr., DL, Bowdon, Ga.)

Sterling Johnson, Coastal Carolina (Sr., DL, Clayton, N.C.)

Donald Louis, ULM (Sr., DL, Monroe, La.)

Marcus Webb, Troy (Sr., DL, Decatur, Ala.)

Tajhea Chambers, Arkansas State (Jr., LB, Gordon, Ga.)

Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina (Jr., LB, Los Angeles, Calif.)

Nikolas Daniels, Texas State (Sr., LB, League City, Texas)

Desmond Franklin, Appalachian State (Sr., DB, Inverness, Fla.)

Monquavion Brinson, Georgia Southern (Sr., DB, Atlanta, Ga.)

Kenderick Duncan Jr., Georgia Southern (So., DB, Stockbridge, Ga.)

Travis Reed, South Alabama (Sr., DB, Meridian, Miss.)

Special Teams

Stevie Artigue, Louisiana (Sr., PK, Lafayette, La.)

Tyler Sumpter, Troy (Jr., P, Hoover, Ala.)

Reggie Todd, Troy (Jr., RS, Mobile, Ala.)

Raymond Calais, Louisiana (Sr., AP, Breaux Bridge, La.)

All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention

Noel Cook, Appalachian State (Sr., LB, Reidsville, N.C.)

Ryan Neuzil, Appalachian State (Jr., OL, Bradenton, Fla.)

Marcus Williams Jr., Appalachian State (Jr., RB, Rocky Mount, N.C.)

Malik Williams, Appalachian State (Jr., WR, Chester, S.C.)

Caleb Bonner, Arkansas State (Jr., LB, Reform, Ala.)

Andre Harris Jr., Arkansas State (So., OL, Oklahoma City, Okla.)

Marcel Murray, Arkansas State (So., RB, Hiram, Ga.)

Ivory Scott, Arkansas State (Jr., OL, Kenner, La.)

Shadell Bell, Coastal Carolina (RSr., TE, Decatur, Ga.)

Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (So., WR, Venice, Fla.)

Ethan Howard, Coastal Carolina (RSr., OL, Brookwood, Ala.)

CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina (Jr., RB, Decatur, Ga.)

Shai Werts, Georgia Southern (RJr., QB, Clinton, S.C.)

Wesley Kennedy III, Georgia Southern (Jr., RB, Savannah, Ga.)

J.D. King, Georgia Southern (Jr., RB, Fitzgerald, Ga.)

Reynard Ellis, Georgia Southern (RSo., LB, Birmingham, Ala.)

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

Malik Sumter, Georgia State (RSo., C, Irmo, S.C.)

Hardrick Willis, Georgia State (RSo., DE, Jonesboro, Ga.)

Dontae Wilson, Georgia State (Jr., NG, Jefferson, Ga.)

Jacques Boudreaux, Louisiana (Sr., LB, New Orleans, La.)

Jarrod Jackson, Louisiana (RSr., WR, Reserve, La.)

Chauncey Manac, Louisiana (RJr., LB, Homerville, Ga.)

Nick Ralston, Louisiana (Gr., TE, Argyle, Texas)

Caleb Evans, ULM (Sr., QB, Mansfield, Texas)

Markis McCray, ULM (RSr., WR, Euless, Texas)

Larance Shaw, ULM (Sr., DL, Fort Worth, Texas)

Eastwood Thomas, ULM (RSr., OL, Jackson, Ala.)

Kawaan Baker, South Alabama (Jr., WR, Atlanta, Ga.)

Sean Brown, South Alabama (Sr., DL, Pleasant Grove, Ala.)

Riley Cole, South Alabama (Jr., LB, Oneonta, Ala.)

Jacob Shoemaker, South Alabama (Jr., OL, Gulfport, Miss.)

Jarron Morris, Texas State (So., CB, Orange, Texas)

Caeveon Patton, Texas State (Jr., DT, Cuero, Texas)

Hutch White, Texas State (Sr., WR, Kerrville, Texas)

Khambrail Winters, Texas State (Fr., CB, Houston, Texas)

Dylan Bradshaw, Troy (Jr., OL, Enterprise, Ala.)

Khalil McClain, Troy (Jr., WR, Fairburn, Ga.)

Dell Pettus, Troy (Fr., DB, Harvest, Ala.)

Austin Stidham, Troy (RSo., OL, Russellville, Ala.)

Player of the Year

Omar Bayless, Arkansas State (RSr., WR, Laurel, Miss.)

Offensive Player of the Year

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State (Jr., RB, Oak Hill, Fla.)

Defensive Player of the Year

Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State (Sr., LB, Thomasville, N.C.)

Freshman of the Year

Layne Hatcher, Arkansas State (RFr., QB, Little Rock, Ark.)

Newcomer of the Year

Kaylon Geiger, Troy (Jr., WR, Fort Worth, Texas)

Coach of the Year

Billy Napier, Louisiana

– www.RaginCajuns.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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