Chants hope depth helps ease transition to Sun Belt

The Coastal Carolina football program will open its first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference this fall. Here’s a breakdown of the Chants heading into the historic 2017 campaign:

OFFENSE

The battle for the quarterback spot will be wide open with seven players vying for the spot, including two that started for the Chanticleers last season and three transfers.

Coastal Carolina used six quarterbacks last season with a seventh, Chance Thrasher, that suffered a season-ending injury in 2016 preseason camp. Josh Stilley, who started the first three games, was lost for the season due to injury in the first half of game three. Tyler Keane emerged to solidify the position and was 7-1 as the starter. However, he saw limited action down the stretch due to injuries. Austin Bradley saw action and Ryan Lee, who was set to redshirt as a wide receiver, gave Coastal a boost off the bench the last half of the season. While he only competed 2-of-3 passes in seven games, he rushed for nearly 400 yards. However, he will return to wide receiver this season.

Coastal brought in two graduate senior quarterbacks (Austin Wilson and Dalton Demos) as well as transfer Kilton Anderson, while true freshman Darius Harper brings an impressive prep resume. Wilson played four seasons at Syracuse and transferred to Coastal this past January. Demos began his career at Coastal, transferred to a JuCo and spent two seasons and graduating from Northern Iowa. Anderson began his career at Fresno State and sat out last season at a JuCo due to injury.

At running back, Coastal lost two-time All-American and the school’s all-time leader in both rushing and scoring De’Angelo Henderson, who is now with the Denver Broncos. However, the Chanticleers feel confident in senior Osharmar Abercrombie and Boston College transfer Marcus Outlow. Both, as well as a group of talented underclassmen, will have different roles in new offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell’s offense, which features two backs in his spread version of the triple option.

The receiving corps lost one of the program’s all-time greats in Bruce Mapp, but returns the explosive senior Chris Jones. Sophomore Ky’Jon Tyler, who like Jones is a dangerous kick/punt return man, will lead a young but talented group, including several redshirt freshman that could make an impact.

DEFENSE

The offensive line lost two stalwarts, All-American Voghens Larrieux and Sam Ekwonike as well as Dom DiGalbo, who split time at center over the last two years. Junior Adam Lawhorn will anchor this year’s group at guard while Jamarion McBride returns for his junior season after sharing the duties at center the last two years. Ethan Howard emerged late last season, filling in for the injured Chase Tidwell, to give Coastal three reliable forces up front to continue CCU’s strong tradition on the offensive line.

As on offense, Coastal lost a game-changing player on defense as linebacker Alex Scearce has moved on to be with the Chicago Bears. He was a first team All-American and finished sixth in the national defensive player of the year voting. Shane Johnson will headline the defense while sophomore Laqavious Paul and redshirt freshman Silas Kelly should make the linebackers the strength of the defense.

While CCU lost Jabarai Bothwell up front, the CCU defensive line will be the team’s most experienced group. Marcus Williamson and Myles While not only use their speed to wreak havoc in opponent’s backfield, the two have combined to block seven kicks over the last two years. Dwayne Price is a returning starter from last season and Ja’ree Tolbert has been CCU’s top reserve over the last two seasons. Like many positions, Coastal will have good depth but the reserves have little to no playing time under their belts.

The secondary may be the group that has the most experience on the field, but few have served as starters. Junior Anthony Chesley, who led the team with eight PBU last season, is the exception.

SPECIAL TEAMS

As mentioned earlier, Chris Jones and Ky’Jon Tyler will give Coastal an impressive duo as kick returners despite the loss Devin Brown, who was an All-American, CCU career leader in kick return yards, kickoff returns for TDs and second on CCU career all-purpose yards list. CCU will also have to replace Ryan Granger, who set CCU season records for field goals made each of the last two years. The rest of the specialists return intact, including two-year starter at long snapper Connor Kubala, two-year starter at punter Evan Rabon and two-year starter as kickoff specialist Masamitsu Ishibashi. Rabon and Ishibashi will battle for the vacant placekicking job.

Photo courtesy of Sun Belt Conference

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