All-American honors keep rolling in for Coastal trio

ccufoot-backuscelebrateFor the second consecutive year, Coastal Carolina placed three football players on The Sports Network FCS All-American team. Linebacker Quinn Backus (Greenwood) and offensive lineman Chad Hamilton (Charleston) were named to the first team while long snapper Shane Ballard (Manning) was a third team selection.

Backus makes The Sports Network’s All-American team for the third consecutive season, earning third team honors as a sophomore and second team honors last season. Backus was joined on last year’s team by Lorenzo Taliaferro (second team) and Jamey Cheatwood (third team). Coastal was one of eight teams to have three players honored, third only to North Dakota State (6) and Northern Iowa (4).

Backus, the three-time Big South Defensive Player of the Year, he became the first player to lead the league in tackles three times. Backus ranked fourth in the FCS with six forced fumbles, which additionally set league and school records. Of his 127 tackles, 10.0 were for losses including a career-best 5.5 sacks. He added two interceptions, seven pass breakups, six quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery. Five of his turnovers created led to Coastal Carolina touchdowns. Backus was the only player in the Big South to rank among the top 10 in tackles (first), forced fumbles (first), sacks (sixth), tackles for losses (seventh) and passes defended (seventh).

Backus finished his career with 441 tackles, 14th on the NCAA FCS all-time list, and 243 solo tackles, 10th on the FCS career list. His 441 tackles is second on the Big South all-time list – first in school history – and he is the CCU and league’s all-time leader with 243 solo tackles.

Hamilton is a three-time All-Big South selection, earning first team honors in 2013 and ’14, and was named Capital One Academic All-District this season. Hamilton led the team with 66 knockdown blocks and was CCU’s top-graded offensive lineman (solo or tied) in 10 of CCU’s 14 games. He was only whistled for three penalties and, over CCU’s 433 pass attempts, only allowed two sacks this season. Hamilton led an offensive line that helped Alex Ross become the 2014 Big South Offensive Player of the Year and finish seventh in the Walter Payton Award voting. Also, he helped De’Angelo Henderson rush for 1,534 yards (10th-best in the FCS), 20 rushing touchdowns (sixth-best in the FCS) and 6.56 yards per carry (seventh-best in the FCS).

As a unit, Coastal Carolina led the Big South in both fewest tackles for losses (4.07 avg.) and fewest sacks (1.14 avg.), while ranking 10th and 16th, respectively. Also, Coastal ranked first nationally in fourth down conversions (80 percent), second in first downs (339), ninth in third down conversions (47.9 percent), 18th in total offense (463.4 ypg) and 20th in rushing offense (215.5 ypg).

Ballard, who was named first team All-Big South, becomes the second Chanticleer long snapper to earn All-American honors, joining Danny Bonifas in 2010. Ballard is one of four Chanticleers to play in all 53 games over past four years. He helped placekicker Alex Catron set the school career mark for field goal percentage (.680) and CCU single-season records for PATs made (60 in 2013) and field goals made (15 in 2014). Also, punter Austin Cain set the CCU record for career punting average (37.12) and post the top two single-season efforts for punting average in a season (39.20 in 2014 and 28.20in 2013). He only had one bad snap in four years, coming in the second game of his freshman season.

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