PFN’s All-Sun Belt Football Team Honors for the 2021 college football season

Honoring all of the first-team and top players, individuals, units, and teams in our All-Sun Belt Team after the 2021 college football season.

The Sun Belt was indeed the Fun Belt in 2021. With many marquee matchups, nationally known teams, and statistical leaders, the Sun Belt season was a memorable one. It’s a who’s who of stars on the All-Sun Belt Team from the 2021 college football season.

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

All-Sun Belt Football Team Honors for 2021

There is no denying just how good the Sun Belt was in 2021. In fact, its top coach (Billy Napier) is headed to become the head coach of the Florida Gators. The top quarterback led the country in a bevy of statistical metrics in 2021. And the top pass catcher transcended Group of Five football to become a household name.

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 have already been 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.

  • Sun Belt Coach of the Year: Billy Napier, Louisiana
  • Sun Belt Player of the Year: Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
  • Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year: Montrell Johnson, RB, Louisiana
  • Sun Belt Game of the Year: Appalachian State vs. Coastal Carolina, Week 8

All-Sun Belt Offense

Jalen Tolbert headlines the group of playmakers from the Sun Belt in 2021. Tolbert finished with a whopping 1,474 receiving yards, ranking fourth in the country. Impressive enough as that is, Tolbert managed that performance with two different quarterbacks in Jake Bentley and Desmond Trotter, the latter of whom struggled to find much success through the air.

  • Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year: Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
  • Sun Belt Quarterback of the Year: Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
  • Sun Belt Running Back of the Year: Shermari Jones, Coastal Carolina
  • Sun Belt Wide Receiver of the Year: Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
  • Sun Belt Offensive Lineman of the Year: Andre Harris Jr., Arkansas State
  • Sun Belt Offensive Line of the Year: Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
  • Sun Belt Offensive Rookie of the Year: Montrell Johnson, Louisiana

Tolbert was terrific in 2021, averaging 18 yards per catch and routinely finding open space in coverages. He’s headed to the Senior Bowl in Mobile as his Sun Belt career comes to a close. He ranks third all-time in receiving yards in the Sun Belt, ranking among the best to ever play the position in the conference, right up there with T.Y. Hilton.

Grayson McCall had a ton of success for the Chanticleers in 2021. He led the country in yards per pass attempt and was among the nation’s top marks in several other categories. He runs the Jamey Chadwell scheme on offense with brilliance.

First-Team All-Sun Belt Offense

QB: Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
RB: Shermari Jones, Coastal Carolina
RB: Camerun Peoples, Appalachian State
WR: Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
WR: Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
WR: Corey Xavier Sutton, Appalachian State
TE: Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
FLEX: Amare Jones, Georgia Southern
LT: Andre Harris Jr., Arkansas State
LG: Shamarious Gilmore, Georgia State
C: Baer Hunter, Appalachian State
RG: O’Cyrus Torrence, Louisiana
RT: Max Mitchell, Louisiana

Second-Team All-Sun Belt Offense

QB: Levi Lewis, Louisiana
RB: Nate Noel, Appalchian State
RB: Montrell Johnson, Louisiana
WR: Corey Rucker, Arkansas State
WR: Malik Williams, Appalachian State
WR: Jalen Wayne, South Alabama
TE: Lincoln Sefcik, South Alabama
FLEX: Kimani Vidal, Troy
LT: Austin Stidham, Troy
LG: AJ Gillie, Louisiana
C: Shane Vallot, Louisiana
RG: Anterrious Gray, South Alabama
RT: Cooper Hodges, Appalachian State

Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt Offense

QB: Chase Brice, Appalachian State
RB: Tucker Gregg, Georgia State
RB: Chris Smith, Louisiana
WR: Te’Vailance Hunt, Arkansas State
WR: Thomas Hennigan, Appalachian State
WR: Tez Johnson, Troy
TE: Roger Carter, Georgia State
FLEX: Terrion Avery, South Alabama
LT: Ken Marks, Louisiana
LG: Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina
C: Malik Sumter, Georgia State
RG: Isaiah Helms, Appalachian State
RT: Caleb Kelly, Georgia Southern

All-Sun Belt Defense

Some of the country’s top playmakers on the defensive side of the ball hailed from the Sun Belt.

In fact, Steven Jones Jr. led the country with 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns, while Javon Solomon led the country in sacks for a while.

  • Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year: D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State
  • Sun Belt Defensive Lineman of the Year: Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina
  • Sun Belt Linebacker of the Year: D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State
  • Sun Belt Defensive Back of the Year: Steven Jones Jr., Appalachian State
  • Sum Belt Defensive Rookie of the Year: Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina
  • Sun Belt Defensive Line of the Year: Troy Trojans
  • Sun Belt Secondary of the Year: Appalachian State Mountaineers

Jones Jr. recorded a whopping 5 interceptions, including those 3 pick-sixes. He was a ball hawk in every sense of the word, while the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year was the same. D’Marco Jackson was dominant in all facets. Jackson finished with 114 total tackles, 6 sacks, 1 interception, 5 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. He patrolled the middle better than anyone in the Sun Belt.

Then there was Josaiah Stewart. The freshman recorded a conference-best 12.5 sacks, proving to be unblockable down the stretch of the season. He’ll be a force to contend with over the next few years as he pushes the pocket with ease from the interior of the defensive line.

First-Team All-Sun Belt Defense

EDGE: Javon Solomon, Troy
EDGE: Josaiah Stewart, Coastal Carolina
DI: C.J. Brewer, Coastal Carolina
DI: Zi’Yon Hill, Louisiana
LB: Carlton Martial, Troy
LB: Silas Kelly, Coastal Carolina
LB: Trey Cobb, Appalachian State
CB: Darrell Luter Jr., South Alabama
CB: Steven Jones Jr., Appalachian State
CB: Devin Rockette, South Alabama
S: Antavious Lane, Georgia State
S: Tre Young, South Alabama
FLEX: D’Marco Jackson, Appalachian State

Second-Team All-Sun Belt Defense

EDGE: Kivon Bennett, Arkansas State
EDGE: Demetrius Taylor, Appalachian State
DI: Thomas Gore, Georgia State
DI: C.J. Wright, Georgia Southern
LB: Zack Woodard, UL-Monroe
LB: Ferrod Gardner, Louisiana
LB: Teddy Gallagher, Coastal Carolina
CB: Bryquice Brown, Georgia State
CB: Jarius Reimonenq, Arkansas State
CB: Eric Garror, Louisiana
S: Zion Childress, Texas State
S: Keith Gallmon Jr., South Alabama
FLEX: Nick Hampton, Appalachian State

Honorable Mention All-Sun Belt Defense

EDGE: Chauncey Manac, Louisiana
EDGE: Charles Coleman III, South Alabama
DI: Will Choloh, Troy
DI: Caeveon Patton, Texas State
LB: T.D. Roof, Appalachian State
LB: A.J. DeShazor Jr., South Alabama
LB: KJ Robertson, Troy
CB: Zion Williams, Troy
CB: Josh Newton, UL-Monroe
CB: Davyn Flenord, South Alabama
S: Keilos Swinney, UL-Monroe
S: TJ Harris, Troy
FLEX: Quae Drake, UL-Monroe

Sun Belt Special Teams

An absolutely brilliant season from some of the specialists in the Sun Belt is capped with the PFN All-Sun Belt special-teams awards for the 2021 season.

  • Sun Belt Kicker of the Year: Chandler Staton, Appalachian State
  • Sun Belt Punter of the Year: Rhys Byrns, Louisiana
  • Sun Belt Specialist of the Year: Alan Lamar, Arkansas State

Alan Lamar earns the spot here after leading the country with 1,307 kick return yards. He returned 2 kicks for touchdowns and averaged 23.3 yards per return on 56 opportunities. His 1,307 yards were 489 yards ahead of the next closest returner.

Chandler Staton was perfect on nearly all of his kicks, missing just one of his 70 total attempts this season. He knocked home all 51 extra-point attempts and went 18-of-19 on field goals.

First-Team All-Sun Belt Specialists

Kicker: Chandler Staton, Appalachian State
Kickoff Specialist: Michael Hughes, Appalachian State
Punter: Rhys Byrns, Louisiana
Kick Returner: Alan Lamar, Arkansas State
Punt Returner: Johnnie Lang Jr., Arkansas State
Special Teamer: NaJee Thompson, Georgia Southern

Second-Team All-Sun Belt Specialists

Kicker: Blake Grupe, Arkansas State
Kickoff Specialist: Jacob Bates, Texas State
Punter: Anthony Beck II, Georgia Southern
Kick Returner: Jalen Virgil, Appalachian State
Punt Returner: Eric Garror, Louisiana
Special Teamer: Jalen Tate, Georgia State

Honorable All-Sun Belt Specialists

Kicker: Seth Keller, Texas State
Kickoff Specialist: Tristan Mattson, Arkansas State
Punter: Ryan Hanson, Arkansas State
Kick Returner: Chris Smith, Louisiana
Punt Returner: Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina
Special Teamer: Trey Kiser, South Alabama

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

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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