Area players earn conference honors in college football

  • Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 10:47 p.m.
AP Photo/The Sun News, Charles Slate
Coastal Carolina wide receiver Matt Hazel was named to the Big South All-Conference first team.
AP Photo/The Sun News, Charles Slate Coastal Carolina wide receiver Matt Hazel was named to the Big South All-Conference first team.

With around 50 football players representing nine area high schools at the college level, it would stand to reason that a few would make names for themselves each season.

This year, five players were honored for their efforts from their respective conferences, led by Silver Bluff grad DeMarcus Lawrence, now a defensive end at Boise State. He was recently named first-team All-Mountain West Conference for a season in which he was tied for second on the team with 67 tackles and led the Broncos in sacks with 10˝ – good for first in the MWC and eighth in the country – and tackles for loss with 19˝. His average of 1.8 tackles for loss per game is the second-highest average at the FBS level, behind only Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald (2.2).

According to Lawrence earlier in the year, this season wasn’t about what he could do, but about achievement for the Broncos.

“I really haven’t set my sights on individual goals this year,” he said.

Boise State is 8-4 on the year and will face Oregon State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24. As for Lawrence, the redshirt junior is projected as a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft as the 15th-ranked defensive end in the country according to CBSsports.com.

Also garnering first-team honors was Coastal Carolina senior wide receiver Matt Hazel in the Big South Conference. The North Augusta grad led the Chanticleers with 70 catches for 990 yards and nine touchdowns, including 91 yards and a 20-yard touchdown catch in Saturday’s season-ending loss to two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State for the Chanticleers (12-3).

Even though Hazel, projected as a possible seventh-round draft pick, has seen his college career come to an end, he was aware that he’s been a part of the “best season Coastal has ever had” in advancing to the quarterfinals.

“I’ve had a great career here,” Hazel said. “Every year I’ve gotten better.”

Three other athletes with area ties were also honored by their conferences.

Strom Thurmond grad Tristan Bellamy, the center for South Carolina State, was named second team All-Mid Eastern Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs finished second in the MEAC and were selected to the FCS playoffs before falling to Furman in the first round.

Hudson Smith, a redshirt senior from South Aiken, had a solid year as the long snapper for Gardner Webb and was chosen second team for the All-Big South squad. He was a key figure in a Runnin’ Bulldog punt coverage team that was sixth in the country at the FCS level, allowing only 3 yards a return.

Rounding out the group was North Augusta grad Trey Morgan. In his first year at Western Carolina, Morgan was named to the Southern Conference All-Freshman team after starting all 12 games for the Catamounts. He compiled 45 tackles, one for loss, and he broke up four passes, intercepted one and forced a fumble.

While he didn’t win a conference award, North Augusta grad Montez McGuire got to play in a national championship game. In his second year at Georgia Military College, McGuire caught and threw a pass for Georgia Military College in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Mississippi Bowl, which was won 52-32 by East Mississippi Community College.

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.

Sports Editor Noah Feit contributed to this report.

MISSING SOMEONE?

Do you know a college football player with area ties that earned all-conference honors at the conference level? Let us know by emailing jtimmerman@aikenstandard.com.

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