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Football Boasts 20 Selections on the Athlon Sports Preseason All-Sun Belt Teams
The Ragin’ Cajuns own the most selections of any league school
LAFAYETTE – Boasting one of the most experienced teams in the Sun Belt Conference entering the 2021 season, Louisiana Football earned 20 selections on the Athlon Sports All-Sun Belt Preseason Teams, the national publication announced.
The 20 selections are the most of any school in the Sun Belt and are highlighted by First Team choices Chris Smith (Running Back/All-Purpose/Kick Return), Max Mitchell (Offensive Line), Zi'Yon Hill (Defensive Line), Rhys Byrns (Punter) and Eric Garror (Punt Return).
Smith was one of the most productive returners all year, taking back 23 kicks for 617 yards and two touchdowns. He was one of four players in the nation with two return touchdowns, joining Baylor's Trestan Ebner, Boise State's Avery Williams and Rutgers' Aron Cruickshank, while his 617 return yards were the fourth most in the nation and the most in the Sun Belt.
His production saw him garner First Team All-Conference honors and earn All-America honors from CBSSports/247Sports (First Team), Pro Football Focus (First Team) and the FWAA (Second Team).
As a running back, Smith toted the ball 62 times for 359 yards and one touchdown in 2020, while leading all Louisiana running backs with 16 catches for 170 receiving yards and a score.
Mitchell started in 10 games on Louisiana's offensive line in 2020 and helped the position group earn Joe Moore Award Semifinalist honors. He finished the year with Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference and First Team All-Louisiana honors.
Defensively, Hill led all Louisiana defensive lineman with 49 tackles on the season, while adding 5.0 tackles-for-loss, 4.0 sacks, two quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries en route to picking up Second Team All-Sun Belt honors and Honorable Mention All-America honors from Pro Football Focus.
Byrns picked up Second Team All-Conference honors after appearing in 11 games for the squad in 2020. During the season, he notched 36 punts for 1,567 yards and pinned 14 balls inside the 20-yard line while only having two touchbacks.
A Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection in 2020, Garror served as the team's primary punt returner, posting 20 returns for 156 yards and a score. His return yardage ranked 16th nationally, while he tied for fourth nationally with his one score which came in the team's historic victory at Iowa State. The Mobile, Ala., native also earned Third Team honors from Athlon Sports as a cornerback.
In total, Louisiana had eight selections on offense, nine selections on defense and three selections on special teams.
To view all four Preseason All-Sun Belt teams, click here.
Louisiana Football's 2021 season and the fourth year of the Billy Napier Era will arrive soon. Fans are encouraged to secure tickets now, which includes six games at Cajun Field. More information can be obtained by calling the Louisiana Athletics Ticket Office at the Cajundome, (337) 265-2170, or by visiting the office in-person.
Follow the Ragin' Cajuns on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@RaginCajunsFB) to stay up-to-date on Louisiana Football.
2021 Athlon Sports All-Sun Belt Teams
First Team Offense
Chris Smith (RB/AP)
Max Mitchell (OL)
First Team Defense
Zi'Yon Hill (DL)
First Team Specialists
Rhys Byrns (P)
Chris Smith (KR)
Eric Garror (PR)
Second Team Offense
Levi Lewis (QB)
O'Cyrus Torrence (OL)
Second Team Defense
Lorenzo McCaskill (LB)
Bralen Trahan (S)
Third Team Offense
Shane Vallot (C)
Ken Marks (OL)
Third Team Defense
Tayland Humphrey (DL)
Percy Butler (S)
Eric Garror (CB)
Fourth Team Offense
Kyren Lacy (WR)
Carlos Rubio (OL)
Fourth Team Defense
Ferrod Gardner (LB)
Chauncey Manac (LB)
Mekhi Garner (CB)
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