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Football: McGuire named Sun Belt player of the year

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, December 10, 2014



UL-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire reaches out to hand the ball to a referee after scoring a touchdown. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)



Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year. First team All-Sun Belt running back. First team All-Sun Belt all-purpose player.

The only league award UL sophomore running back Elijah McGuire did not win Wednesday: first team All-Sun Belt defense.

“Hey,” UL coach Mark Hudspeth joked, “if we put him on defense, he probably would.”

Three other Ragin’ Cajuns were named to the All-Sun Belt first team: senior offensive lineman Daniel Quave and senior defensive linemen Justin Hamilton and Christian Ringo.

Named to the All-Sun Belt second team from UL were junior offensive lineman Mykhael Quave, senior defensive back Corey Trim and senior kicker Hunter Stover.

Daniel Quave has 51 straight career starts, Hamilton has 8.5 tackles for loss this season and Ringo has 10.5 sacks.

McGuire has rushed 150 times for a team-high 1,165 yards and 14 touchdowns for 8-4 UL, which plays Nevada in the Dec. 20 New Orleans Bowl.

He also has a team-high 40 catches for 414 yards and leads the Sun Belt (ranked 19th) nationally in all-purpose yards at 141.2 per game.

“I expected Elijah to make it,” Hudspeth said. “I’m glad he did. He just had a phenomenal year.”

McGuire, however, was not nearly so certain he would emerge from his true sophomore season so decorated.

“I was shocked about it. … I had no idea I was gonna get that,” the product of Vandebilt Catholic in Houma said shortly after learning the news. “But … that’s maybe the outcome for me of all the hard work I put in the offseason, and I see it paid off at the end of the season.”

McGuire said the key to his on-field success was “teammates, for having my back; the o-line, the receivers blocking for me; (and) the fan support” he received.

“It’s just great to have those guys around me to push me to be the best I can be,” he said.

Cajuns linebacker Dominique Tovell, quarterback Terrance Broadway, tight end Larry Pettis and center Terry Johnson all earned All-Sun Belt honorable mention.

UL defensive back Tracy Walker, a redshirt freshman, was named to the new All-Sun Belt Newcomer Team.

“Excited for (McGuire), excited for our program to have so many guys selected,” Hudspeth said. “Once again, it just shows what the rest of the conference thinks about our team.

“We felt like there were some others that definitely should have made it,” he added. “I’m a little disappointed about that they didn’t. But I’m very proud of the ones that did.”

Texas State linebacker David Mayo was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year and Appalachian State quarterback Taylor Lamb is Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.

Willie Fritz of Sun Belt-champion Georgia Southern was tapped Sun Belt Coach of the Year.

Arkansas State’s Fredi Knighten was named first team All-Sun Belt quarterback (Georgia Southern’s Kevin Ellison was the second-team pick) and Georgia Southern’s Matt Breida was the other first team All-SBC running back.

McGuire, Sun Belt Freshman of the Year in 2013, joins ex-Cajuns running back Tyrell Fenroy in earning SBC Player of the Year honors and ex-UL quarterback Michael Desormeaux in being named the league’s top offensive player.

Both did it in 2008.

“I really don’t know that guy (Fenroy),” McGuire said, “but for him to do it so many years ago and for me to do it now — I guess it’s just a great feeling to be in that situation, with that name. I’m just thankful for it.”

McGuire is the only Can to win both SBC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year in the same season.

“He (McGuire) earned it. He deserved it, worked for it,” said Broadway, who was Sun Belt Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

“There was no doubt in my mind he was gonna be the guy to get it,” Broadway added, “and I was so happy for him to get it because of the plays he made for us in the passing game and in the running game.”

Hudspeth called McGuire’s honors Wednesday “a natural progression.”

“He goes from Freshman of the Year, and he surpassed the sophomore jinx, I guess,” the Cajun coach said. “That didn’t affect him. … He racked up some awards.”

When Hudspeth was asked what’s next for McGuire, the questioner suggested Heisman Trophy candidate.

“If you look at the other candidates, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be,” Hudspeth said. “He’ll need to perform well in out-of-conference play next year, but I definitely think hopefully in the future that he could be a candidate for that.”

LAGNIAPPE: Hudspeth said the Cajuns will wear red helmets, jerseys and shoes and white pants against Nevada. … On their first night in town for the bowl, Cajun players will attend the New Orleans Pelican’s NBA game vs. the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night. Hudspeth said the team will sit “right behind the Pelicans bench” and he’ll throw up a ceremonial jump ball. … Asked Wednesday if going to the New Orleans Bowl gets old — the Cajuns will be there for a fourth straight year — Hudspeth asked, “Does Christmas get old?”

All-Sun Belt honors

Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year

Elijah McGuire (Louisiana, So., RB)

Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year

Elijah McGuire (Louisiana, So., RB)

Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year

David Mayo (Texas State, Senior, LB)

Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year

Taylor Lamb (Appalachian State, Fr., QB)

Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year

Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern

All-Sun Belt Conference First Team Offense

Fredi Knighten (Arkansas State, Jr., QB)

Matt Breida (Georgia Southern, So., RB)

Elijah McGuire (Louisiana, So., RB)

Donovan Harden (Georgia State, Jr., WR)

Joshua McCain (Idaho, Sr., WR)

Rashon Ceaser (ULM, Jr., WR)

Brad Miller (Texas State, Sr., TE)

Kendall Lamm (Appalachian State, Sr., OL)

Garrett Frye (Georgia Southern, Sr., OL)

Manrey Saint-Amour (Georgia Southern, Sr., OL)

Daniel Quave (Louisiana, Sr., OL)

Valerian Ume-Ezeoke (New Mexico State, Sr., OL)

All-Sun Belt Conference First Team Defense

Justin Hamilton (Louisiana, Sr., DL)

Christian Ringo (Louisiana, Sr., DL)

Gerrand Johnson (ULM, Jr., DL)

Michael Odiari (Texas State, Sr., DL)

Qushaun Lee (Arkansas State, Sr., LB)

Edwin Jackson (Georgia Southern, Sr., LB)

David Mayo (Texas State, Sr., LB)

Doug Middleton (Appalachian State, Jr., DB)

Artez Brown (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)

Mitch Lane (ULM, Jr., DB)

Montres Kitchens (Troy, Jr., DB)

David Mims (Texas State, Jr., DB)

All-Sun Belt Conference First Team Special Teams

Justin Manton (ULM, Sr., PK)

Austin Rehkow (Idaho, So., P)

Chandler Worthy (Troy, Sr., RS)

Elijah McGuire (Louisiana, So., All Purpose)

All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team Offense

Kevin Ellison (Georgia Southern, So., QB)

Marcus Cox (Appalachian State, So., RB)

Michael Gordon (Arkansas State, Jr. RB)

Ajalen Holley (ULM, So., WR)

Teldrick Morgan (New Mexico State, So., WR)

Shavarez Smith (South Alabama, Sr., WR)

Joel Ruiz (Georgia State, Jr., TE)

Mike Marboe (Idaho, Sr., OL)

Mykhael Quave (Louisiana, Jr., OL)

Ucambre Williams (South Alabama, Sr., OL)

Terrence Jones (Troy, Sr., OL)

Adrian Bellard (Texas State, Jr., OL)

All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team Defense

Ronald Blair (Appalachian State, Jr., DL)

Ja’Von Rolland-Jones (Arkansas State, Fr., DL)

Jerome McClain (South Alabama, Sr., DL)

Theo Rich (South Alabama, Sr., DL)

John Law (Appalachian State, So., LB)

Joseph Peterson (Georgia State, Jr., LB)

Hunter Kissinger (ULM, Jr., LB)

Maleki Harris (South Alabama, Sr., LB)

Matt Dobson (Georgia Southern, JR., DB)

Corey Trim (Louisiana, Sr., DB)

Terrell Brigham (South Alabama, Sr., DB)

Craig Mager (Texas State, SR., DB)

All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team Special Teams

Hunter Stover (Louisiana, Sr., PK)

Justin Manton (ULM, Sr., P)

Blaise Taylor (Arkansas State, Fr., RS)

Chandler Worthy (Troy, Sr., All Purpose)

All-Sun Belt Conference Honorable Mention

Drew Bailey (Appalachian State, Sr., TE)

Parker Collins (Appalachian State, So., OL)

Kennan Gilchrist (Appalachian State, So., LB)

Joel Ross (Appalachian State, Sr., DB)

Tres Houston (Arkansas State, Jr., WR)

Chris Stone (Arkansas State, Jr., DL)

Andrew Tryon (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)

Xavier Woodson (Arkansas State, So., LB)

Logan Daves (Georgia Southern, Sr., OL)

Deion Stanley (Georgia Southern Sr., S)

Jay Ellison (Georgia Southern, So., DL)

Antwione Williams (Georgia Southern, Jr., LB)

Nick Arbuckle (Georgia State, Jr., QB)

Tim Wynn (Georgia State, Sr., OL)

LynQuez Blair (Georgia State, Sr., WR)

Robert Davis (Georgia State, So., WR)

Marc Millan (Idaho, Jr., LB)

Quinton Bradley (Idaho, Jr., DE)

Matt Linehan (Idaho, Fr., QB)

Elijhaa Penny (Idaho, Jr., RB)

Dominique Tovell (Louisiana, Jr., LB)

Larry Pettis (Louisiana, Sr., TE)

Terrance Broadway(Louisiana, Sr., QB)

Terry Johnson (Louisiana, Sr., OL)

Trey Caldwell (ULM, Jr., DB)

Kenzee Jackson (ULM, Sr., WR)

Michael Johnson (ULM, Jr., LB)

Ray Stovall (ULM, Grad., LB)

Rodney Butler (New Mexico State, So., LB)

Winston Rose (New Mexico State, Sr., DB)

Larry Rose III (New Mexico State, Fr., RB)

Derek Ibekwe (New Mexico State, Fr., LB)

Chris May (South Alabama, Jr., OL)

Melvin Meggs (South Alabama, Sr., OL)

Jesse Kelley (South Alabama, Sr., DL)

Montell Garner (South Alabama, Sr., DB)

Will Johnson (Texas State, Sr., P)

Tyler Jones (Texas State, So., QB)

Robert Lowe (Texas State, Jr., RB)

Ryan Melton (Texas State, So., OL )

Dalton Bennett (Troy, Jr., OL)

Brandon Burks (Troy, Jr., RB)

Tyler Roberts (Troy, Jr., DL)

Bryan Holmes (Troy, Jr., WR)

Sun Belt Conference Newcomer Team

Beau Nunn (Appalachian State, Fr., OL)

Dijon Paschal (Arkansas State, Fr., WR)

Nick Arbuckle (Georgia State, Jr., QB)

L.A. Ramsby (Georgia Southern, Fr., RB)

Jordan Rose (Idaho, Fr., OL)

Tracy Walker (Louisiana, Fr., DB)

Pete Thomas (ULM, Grad, QB)

Larry Rose III (New Mexico State, Fr., RB)

Braedon Bowman (South Alabama, Jr., TE)

CJ Best (Texas State, Jr., WR)

Brandon Silvers (Troy, Fr., QB)