Houston, Mastromatteo join CCU players on watch lists

Coastal Carolina now has a total of four players listed among the nation’s best at their respective positions, according to CollegeFootballPerformance.com. Earlier this summer,

Matt Hazel (wide receiver) and Quinn Backus (linebacker) were named to the website’s “Watch Lists,” while Johnnie Houston (defensive back) and Niccolo Mastromatteo (punt returner) were recent additions.

Houston, a senior safety, came on strong at the end of 2012, making several big plays in Coastal’s two NCAA playoff games. In the Chanticleers’ first-round playoff win at Bethune-Cookman, Houston was named the National co-Defensive Player of the Week by CollegeFootballPerformance.com as he forced two fumbles, recorded a half sack and returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown. For good measure, he recovered a Bethune-Cookman on-side kick and CCU would run out the clock for the win. The following week at Old Dominion, Houston tallied six tackles while adding a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Overall, Houston ranked sixth on the team with 53 tackles and tied for the team lead with his three forced fumbles.

Mastromatteo, a senior, is a three-time All-Big south selection as a punt returner, adding second team All-Big South honors last season at wide receiver. This past season, he ranked 13th in the nation and first in the Big South in punt returns with an average of 11.36 yards per return. He holds the Big South and Coastal Carolina records for punt returns (61) and punt return yards (538). Mastromatteo additionally ranks third on the CCU career lists for kickoff returns (47) and kickoff return yards (995) and seventh on the CCU career all-purpose yards list with 2,128 while his 108 combined punt/kick returns rank third on the Big South career list and his 1,533 combined punt/kick return yards rank fifth.

Mastromatteo enjoyed a banner year in 2012, tying a CCU single-game record with 10 receptions versus Eastern Kentucky, had two game with over 100 yards receiving, set a CCU record with an 81-yard touchdown reception and had an 87-yard punt return for a TD to stand as the second-longest return in Big South history (behind his own 91-yard punt return in 2010). In addition to his work on the field, Mastromatteo has been named to the Big South Presidential Honor Roll three times, was a 2012 Big South All-Academic team pick, earned FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star and was named to the College Sports Journal Academic FCS All-Academic team.

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