Gunter tops seven Chants earning Sun Belt awards

Coastal Carolina football had three players earn all-conference accolades and a total of seven players receive postseason conference recognition, as the Sun Belt Conference offense announced the 2018 Sun Belt All-Conference football teams and end of the year awards on Thursday.

Sophomore defensive end Jeffrey Gunter earned a spot on the All-Sun Belt first team, while both defensive end Tarron Jackson and place-kicker Massimo Biscardi were both named to the all-conference third team.

Offensive lineman Trey Carter, linebacker Silas Kelly, long snapper Connor Kubala and wide receiver Malcolm Williams were all named honorable mention.

CCU’s first-ever first-team All-Sun Belt football selection, Gunter was the defensive leader up front all season long, starting and playing in all 12 games this season on the defensive line. Named a top-20 finalist for the 2018 Blanchard-Rogers Award – the Heisman Trophy of South Carolina awarded by the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame – Gunter led the team and ranked fourth in the Sun Belt with 14.0 tackles for loss, an average of 1.2 per game. His 14.0 tackles for loss this season were the second-most in CCU single-season history and is just 2.0 TFL behind the single-season school record of 16.0 set back in 2003.

A member of the Team Leadership Council this season, Gunter also led the team and ranked fifth in the conference in sacks with 5.0 on the year. He totaled 49 tackles, five quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and forced a fumble this season from his defensive end spot. He also blocked what would have been the game-tying field goal versus UAB (Sept. 8) in the third quarter with the Chants up 27-24. The block spearheaded a 20-0 fourth quarter for the Chants, who pulled away for the double-digit win over the Blazers in CCU’s home opener.

Jackson, who is also a member of the Team Leadership Council, was named to the third team. He played and started all 12 games this season for the Chants at defensive end, despite battling through a leg injury all season long. The sophomore was second on the team and fifth overall in the Sun Belt in tackles for loss with 11.0 on the year, an average of 0.92 per game. He totaled 58 tackles on the season, including 3.0 sacks, and was tied with Gunter for the team-lead with five quarterback hurries. 2018 was a breakout season, as his 58 total tackles and 11.0 tackles for loss were both more than he had over his first two seasons combined at Coastal in 2016 and ’17.

Joining Jackson on the third team was Biscardi. A Lou Groza Award semifinalist for the top place-kicker in the nation, Biscardi made an immediate impact in his first year for the Chants, leading the team in scoring with 72 points on the season. He ranked eighth in the Sun Belt in total points (72), having scored at least one point in all 12 games on the season, an average of 6.0 points per game, which ranked in the top-10 in the Sun Belt.

He was second in the Sun Belt and 28th nationally in field goal percentage, making 13-of-16 attempts (81.3 percent), which included a career-long 50-yard field goal in the win at Louisiana (Sept. 22) and the game-winning field goal at Georgia State (Oct. 27). The true freshman made good on each of his first eight field goal attempts (8-for-8) to start his career, a CCU record. He also became the first true freshman in CCU history to make three field goals in a single game, doing it twice this year at South Carolina (Sept. 1) and at Georgia State.

For the second-straight season, both Carter and Kelly earned honorable mention honors, while Williams was recognized for the second consecutive year after receiving third-team recognition last season. It is Kubala’s first Sun Belt postseason honor, but his second all-conference accolade overall.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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