PFN’s All-Conference USA Football Team Honors for the 2021 college football season

    Honoring all of the top players, individuals, units, and teams in our All-Conference USA Team after the 2021 college football season.

    It was a memorable season for multiple programs across the Conference USA. The UTSA Roadrunners capped a remarkable campaign with a championship and a 12-1 record. With the conference’s focus shifting to the realignment of college football, we take a look at the 2021 All-Conference USA team and individual honors.

    Follow along with our All-Conference Awards given out this offseason: AAC | ACC | B1G | Big 12 | MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | FBS Independent

    All-Conference USA Football Team Honors for 2021

    The Conference USA was dominated by UTSA this year. The Roadrunners won 11 straight games and defeated Western Kentucky in the Championship Game. The Hilltoppers themselves saw a huge uptick in production with Zach Kittley as their offensive coordinator. He helped usher in Conference USA records in just about every major passing category for QB Bailey Zappe. As such, both teams are heavily represented in our individual award portion below.

    It’s important to note that these are awards and honors from Pro Football Network for each individual’s prowess on the field this season. This is in no way a projection of their NFL Draft status nor a report on actual conference awards that were already handed out. These honors are from Pro Football Network, as judged upon by our team of college football analysts.

    Let’s get to the overall awards.

    • Conference USA Coach of the Year: Jeff Traylor, UTSA
    • Conference USA Player of the Year: Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
    • Conference USA Newcomer of the Year: Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky
    • Conference USA Game of the Year: UTSA vs. UAB, Week 12

    All-Conference USA Offense

    If you’d believe it, the two teams that represented the conference in their championship game are going to earn the majority of recognition here. This isn’t because they’re the only teams we at Pro Football Network watched this season. It’s a testament to just how good the Roadrunners and Hilltoppers were this year.

    • C-USA Offensive Player of the Year: Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
    • C-USA Quarterback of the Year: Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
    • C-USA Running Back of the Year: Sincere McCormick, UTSA
    • C-USA Wide Receiver of the Year: Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky
    • C-USA Offensive Lineman of the Year: Spencer Burford, UTSA
    • C-USA Offensive Line of the Year: UTSA Roadrunners
    • C-USA Offensive Rookie of the Year: Rasheen Ali, RB, Marshall

    Zappe is 4 passing touchdowns away from tying Joe Burrow’s all-time collegiate record for touchdowns in a season. If he were to throw 5 TDs in WKU’s bowl game against Appalachian State, he’d break Burrow’s record. Impressively enough, if he were to break — or even tie — Burrow’s record, he’d do it in one fewer game to boot.

    Jerreth Sterns was Zappe’s preferred target. All Sterns did was lead the nation in receiving yards this year at 1,718. Sterns produced 14 receiving touchdowns, while Zappe also found Mitchell Tinsley for 1,299 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns of his own. It was quite the aerial showcase.

    UTSA uses brute force to win C-USA Championship

    The pick for the top offensive line was an easy choice. Sincere McCormick ran wild enough on his own, but at times, the holes he had to run through were incredibly large. From left to right, the unit of LT Spencer Burford, LGs Brandon Rolfe and Terrell Haynes, C Ahofitu Maka, RG Kevin Davis, and RT Makai Hart was easily the most dominant front five in the conference.

    Fellow newcomer and freshman RB Rasheen Ali also provided a new spark to the conference. Ali chugged ahead for a national-best 20 rushing touchdowns. He ran the ball 230 times for 1,241 yards while also producing 339 receiving yards as a valuable asset out of the backfield.

    First-Team All-Conference USA Offense

    QB: Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
    RB: Rasheen Ali, Marshall
    RB: Sincere McCormick, UTSA
    WR: Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky
    WR: Jacob Cowing, UTEP
    WR: Tyrese Chambers, Florida International
    TE: Gerrit Prince, UAB
    FLEX: Frank Gore Jr., Southern Mississippi
    LT: Spencer Burford, UTSA
    LG: Quantavious Leslie, Western Kentucky
    C: Ahofitu Maka, UTSA
    RG: Matthew Trehern, UAB
    RT: Mason Brooks, Western Kentucky

    Second-Team All-Conference USA Offense

    QB: Frank Harris, UTSA
    RB: DeWayne McBride, UAB
    RB: DeAndre Torrey, North Texas
    WR: Mitchell Tinsley, Western Kentucky
    WR: Zakhari Franklin, UTSA
    WR: Joshua Cephus, UTSA
    TE: Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion
    FLEX: Smoke Harris, Louisiana Tech
    LT: Cole Spencer, Western Kentucky
    LG: Desmond Noel, Florida Atlantic
    C: Manase Mosa, North Texas
    RG: Braedon Nutter, Rice
    RT: Lyndell Hudson Jr., Florida International

    Honorable Mention All-Conference USA Offense

    QB: Chris Reynolds, Charlotte
    RB: Johnny Ford, Florida Atlantic
    RB: Marcus Williams Jr., Louisiana Tech
    WR: Ali Jennings, Old Dominion
    WR: Grant Dubose, Charlotte
    WR: Bryce Singleton, Florida International
    TE: Xavier Gaines, Marshall
    FLEX: Daewood Davis, Western Kentucky
    LT: Will Ulmer, Marshall
    LG: Bobby DeHaro, UTEP
    C: Alex Mollette, Marshall
    RG: Boe Wilson, Western Kentucky
    RT: Jacob Brammer, North Texas

    All-Conference USA Defense

    While the majority of the discussion for the 2021 C-USA season centered around the offensive prowess of UTSA and WKU, there were some pivotal defensive moments this season as well.

    • C-USA Defensive Player of the Year: Clarence Hicks, LB, UTSA
    • C-USA Defensive Lineman of the Year: DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky
    • C-USA Linebacker of the Year: Clarence Hicks, UTSA
    • C-USA Defensive Back of the Year: BeeJay Williamson, Louisiana Tech
    • C-USA Defensive Rookie of the Year: Gabe Taylor, CB, Rice
    • C-USA Defensive Line of the Year: North Texas Mean Green
    • C-USA Secondary of the Year: UTSA Roadrunners

    UTSA’s Clarence Hicks was unstoppable at times. He led the conference with 10 sacks from his linebacker position while also possessing terrific coverage skills. Hicks patrolled sideline to sideline, recording an interception, 2 pass breakups, and a handful of tackles for loss.

    WKU’s DeAngelo Malone continued to do what he does best in 2021. He wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks to the tune of 8 sacks, but that hardly tells the full story. Malone racked up pressures and QB hits all the same, proving to be too much for most teams.

    Louisiana Tech’s BeeJay Williamson was up to his old antics as well, recording his second consecutive season with 3 interceptions. He returned one for a touchdown but also presented trouble to anyone throwing over the middle for the Bulldogs.

    Gabe Taylor becomes a feel-good story

    It was just a couple of weeks ago that Gabe Taylor announced his presence to the college football world. Through tragedy came great triumph, as Taylor recorded a game-sealing interception on the 14th anniversary of his brother’s — Sean Taylor — death. All told, Taylor recorded 5 pass breakups and 3 interceptions in his first full-time season with the Owls.

    First-Team All-Conference USA Defense

    EDGE: DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky
    EDGE: Alex Wright, UAB
    DI: Dion Novil, North Texas
    DI: Trumane Bell II, UTSA
    LB: Clarence Hicks, UTSA
    LB: KD Davis, North Texas
    LB: Breon Hayward, UTEP
    CB: Quincy Riley, Middle Tennessee
    CB: Gabe Taylor, Rice
    CB: Omari Alexander, Western Kentucky
    S: BeeJay Williamson, Louisiana Tech
    S: Dy’vonne Inyang, UTEP
    FLEX: Tariq Woolen, UTSA

    Second-Team All-Conference USA Defense

    EDGE: Praise Amaewhule, UTEP
    EDGE: Grayson Murphy, North Texas
    DI: Elijah Garcia, Rice
    DI: Keenan Stewart, UTEP
    LB: DQ Thomas, Middle Tennessee
    LB: Jordan Young, Old Dominion
    LB: Eli Neal, Marshall
    CB: Steven Gilmore, Marshall
    CB: Beanie Bishop, Western Kentucky
    CB: Korel Smith, Florida Atlantic
    S: Naeem Smith, Rice
    S: Rashad Wisdom, UTSA
    FLEX: Gabriel Murphy, North Texas

    Honorable Mention All-Conference USA Defense

    EDGE: Jordan Ferguson, Middle Tennessee
    EDGE: Juwuan Jones, Western Kentucky
    DI: Jeremy Darvin, Western Kentucky
    DI: Davon Strickland, Florida International
    LB: Trey Baldwin, Louisiana Tech
    LB: Luke Martin, Charlotte
    LB: Demetrius Cain, Western Kentucky
    CB: Keondre Swoopes, UAB
    CB: Corey Mayfield, UTSA
    CB: Zyon Gilbert, Florida Atlantic
    S: Teja Young, Florida Atlantic
    S: Grayson Cash, UAB
    FLEX: Lakevias Daniel, Southern Miss

    Conference USA Special Teams

    The Conference USA possessed some of the finest examples of special teams during the 2021 season.

    • C-USA Kicker of the Year: Hunter Duplessis, UTSA
    • C-USA Punter of the Year: Lucas Dean, UTSA
    • C-USA Specialist of the Year: LaMareon James, Old Dominion

    UTSA’s Hunter Duplessis was a perfect 60-for-60 on extra points this year and nailed 9 of 13 attempts from 40 or more yards. He was nearly automatic when the Roadrunners got the ball in the red zone as well.

    On the other foot, Lucas Dean routinely punted the snot out of the ball for UTSA. He averaged 42.8 net yards per punt, besting the conference’s punters. Dean also knocked 21 inside the 20 and had a long of 73. ODU’s LeMareon James had a ridiculous 101-yard kick return touchdown that earned him honors here.

    First-Team All-Conference USA Specialists

    Kicker: Hunter Duplessis, UTSA
    Kickoff Specialist: Hunter Duplessis, UTSA
    Punter: Lucas Dean, UTSA
    Kick Returner: LeMareon James, Old Dominion
    Punt Returner: Jaylin Lane, Middle Tennessee
    Special Teamer: JoJo Evans, Marshall

    Second-Team All-Conference USA Specialists

    Kicker: Brayden Narveson, Western Kentucky
    Kickoff Specialist: Cory Munson, Western Kentucky
    Punter: Matt Hayball, Florida Atlantic
    Kick Returner: Camron Harrell, Southern Mississippi
    Punt Returner: Sheldon Jones, UTSA
    Special Teamer: Jordan Brown, North Texas

    Honorable All-Conference USA Specialists

    Kicker: Jacob Barnes, Louisiana Tech
    Kickoff Specialist: Ethan Mooney, North Texas
    Punter: Tommy Heatherly, Florida International
    Kick Returner: Shadrick Byrd, Charlotte
    Punt Returner: Smoke Harris, Louisiana Tech
    Special Teamer: Dadrian Taylor, UTSA

    Congratulations to all those players selected. For any questions regarding these selections or the process behind them, please ask on Twitter (@CamMellor).

    Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast

    Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.

    Related Articles