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Football: Louisiana Earns Ten Selections on Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Teams

Ragin’ Cajuns’ ten picks are tied for the most in the Sun Belt Conference

LAFAYETTE – Paced by First Team selections Elijah MitchellJoe Dillon and Rhys Byrns, Louisiana Football earned 10 selections on the Sun Belt’s Preseason All-Conference Teams, the league office announced on Tuesday afternoon.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were also picked to win the West Division for the second consecutive season under head coach Billy Napier after accumulating 47 total points and seven first place votes in the league’s preseason Coaches’ Poll.

Representing the program on the Second Team are Levi LewisTrey RagasMax MitchellO’Cyrus TorrenceZi’Yon Hill and Eric Garror. Overall, Louisiana’s 10 selections are tied for the most in the Sun Belt Conference with Appalachian State.

Mitchell became the sixth player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark with 1,147 yards and rushed for 16 touchdowns in 2019. His yardage total ranked fourth in the Sun Belt, while his touchdown total ranked 11th nationally.

After wrapping up a successful junior season with First Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors, Mitchell enters 2020 with his name on the Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List and the Reese’s Senior Bowl Top 250.

Dillon was stellar in 2019, leading the team with 8.0 sacks and 10.5 tackles-for-loss before earning Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors. The redshirt senior enters his final season with 19.5 career sacks, 2.0 shy of breaking the program record held by Jeff Mitchell (21.0) and Christian Ringo (21.0).

Byrns, who also earned Second Team All-Sun Belt honors, set the program record for punt average in a single season (44.2). The Melbourne, Australia, native booted 45 punts for 1,991 yards and a long of 70 yards, which he achieved on Sept. 21 at Ohio.

Lewis was stellar during his junior campaign, throwing for 3,050 yards and 26 touchdowns, both of which were single-season school records. He enters his final season ranked ninth in program history with 4,012 career passing yards and fourth in total passing touchdowns with 35.

The quarterback has also been highly touted ahead of the 2020 season, having been named to the Manning Award Preseason Watch List, the Davey O’Brien Award Preseason Watch List, the Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Watch List and was listed on the Reese’s Senior Bowl Top 250.

Ragas also played a big role in the backfield, toting the ball 116 times for 886 yards and 11 touchdowns. The New Orleans native joined Mitchell as one of the most productive backs in the conference, ranking fifth in touchdowns and eighth in rushing yards.
Like Mitchell, Ragas was tabbed on the Doak Walker Award Preseason Watch List and named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl Top 250.

Representing the offensive line are Torrence and Mitchell, who started 13 and 14 games, respectively, in 2019. Having to replace NFL Draft picks Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson, the tandem played key roles in helping Louisiana produce one of the top rushing attacks in the country and helped the line earn Joe Moore Award Honorable Mention honors a year ago.

On the defensive line, Hill returns the third-most tackles on the team with 53 to go along with 2.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. He finished 2019 with Second Team All-Conference honors.

Garror picked up two selections on the Second Team as a defensive back and as return specialist. Defensively, he started in all 14 games, posting a team-leading eight pass breakups and 35 total tackles, while returning 25 punts for 161 yards, good for 30th in the FBS for punt yards per game (6.7).

The Ragin’ Cajuns are set to open the 2020 campaign on Saturday, September 12, when Napier’s squad make its first-ever trip to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State.
Season ticket holders, fans and the general public will learn more about the entry and attendance processes at Cajun Field in the coming weeks.
Should disruptions or modifications to the 2020 season occur due to the coronavirus, the Department of Athletics will quickly communicate plans to fans and season ticket holders regarding accommodations for pre-purchased tickets.
More season ticket information can be obtained by calling the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at the Cajundome, (337) 265-2170. For information on parking passes, contact RCAF by phone at (337) 851-2903.
2020 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Football Teams
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Zac Thomas, (App State, Senior)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Carlton Martial (Troy, Junior)
First Team Offense
QB – Zac Thomas, App State
RB – Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana
RB – Josh Johnson, ULM
OL – Noah Hannon, App State     
OL – Baer Hunter, App State        
OL – Cooper Hodges, App State
OL – Jarrett Horst, Arkansas State          
OL – Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State          
TE – Josh Pederson, ULM
WR – Corey Sutton, App State    
WR – Jonathan Adams, Arkansas State
WR – Kaylon Geiger, Troy
First Team Defense
DL – Demetrius Taylor, App State
DL – Tarron Jackson, Coastal Carolina
DL – Raymond Johnson III, Georgia Southern
DL – Will Choloh, Troy      
LB – Rashad Byrd, Georgia Southern   
LB – Joe Dillon, Louisiana
LB – Carlton Martial, Troy 
DB – Shaun Jolly, App State        
DB – Kenderick Duncan Jr, Georgia Southern
DB – Corey Straughter, ULM       
DB – Dell Pettus, Troy
First Team Special Teams
K – Blake Grupe, Arkansas State
P – Rhys Byrns, Louisiana
RS – Wesley Kennedy III, Georgia Southern    
Second Team Offense
QB – Levi Lewis, Louisiana
RB – Trey Ragas, Louisiana
RB – CJ Marable, Coastal Carolina
OL – Ryan Neuzil, App State        
OL – Jacob Still, Arkansas State  
OL – Max Mitchell, Louisiana       
OL – O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana
OL – TJ Fiailoa, ULM         
TE – Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina      
WR – Thomas Hennigan, App State      
WR – Cornelius McCoy, Georgia State  
WR – Reggie Todd, Troy  
Second Team Defense
DL – Forrest Merrill, Arkansas State       
DL – C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina       
DL – Dontae Wilson, Georgia State
DL – Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana
LB – Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina
LB – Trajan Stephens-McQueen, Georgia State          
LB – Riley Cole, South Alabama 
DB – Shemar Jean-Charles, App State 
DB – Antonio Fletcher, Arkansas State  
DB – Quavian White, Georgia State       
DB – Eric Garror, Louisiana        
Second Team Special Teams
K – Massimo Biscardi, Coastal Carolina
P – Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern
RS – Eric Garror, Louisiana         
2020 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Championship Game Winner
App State
2020 Sun Belt Football Coaches Predicted Order of Finish
First-place votes in parentheses
East Division
1. App State (9) – 49 pts
2. Georgia Southern – 36 pts
3. Troy (1) – 32 pts
4. Georgia State – 20 pts
5. Coastal Carolina – 13 pts
West Division
1. Louisiana (7) – 47 pts
2. Arkansas State (2) – 40 pts
3. South Alabama (1) – 22 pts
4. Texas State – 21 pts
5. ULM – 20 pts