Dec 7, 2011 11:21 AM by UL Sports Information
The Ragin' Cajuns football team had 11 players earn a spot on the All-Sun Belt football team - the highest total number of selections since joining the conference in 2001- the conference office announced on Wednesday.
"I am very proud of our guys and think they are extremely deserving," head coach Mark Hudspeth said. "I felt like we had a number of guys who were worthy of being named all-conference, but to have 11 guys selected is a testament to how hard these guys have worked all year long."
UL had five players earn first-team honors including tight end Ladarius Green who is making his third straight appearance on the All-SBC team.
Joining Green on the first team are wide receiver Javone Lawson, linebacker Lance Kelley, cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley and defensive end Bernard Smith.
The Cajuns also saw running back Alonzo Harris pick up SBC Freshman of the Year honors, becoming only the second UL athlete to earn the recognition joining Tyrell Fenroy.
Quarterback Blaine Gautier and offensive tackle Leonardo Bates were both tabbed to the SBC second team, while Brett Baer was selected as both the second team punter and kicker.
Cornerback Melvin White and linebacker Devon Lewis-Buchanan were honorable mention selections.
A Mackey Award semifinalist for the second straight season, Green was slowed by an injury at the beginning of the season, but returned to post 45 catches for 486 yards and seven touchdowns over the final nine games of the season. He erupted for an SBC single-game tight end record with 13 receptions vs. La.-Monroe. Green is the NCAA active career leader in touchdowns by a tight end.
Lawson, the SBC leader in yards per reception (16.6), ranks third in the conference in yards per game (74.9) and touchdowns (6). Lawson had four or more receptions in six of the last seven games and went over 100 yards receiving in four of the last seven games.
Kelley is the SBC leader in total tackles in conference play (75). He is one of only four linebackers in the SBC to total 100-plus tackles on the season (107) and ranks fourth in overall total tackles. The Lafayette native is tied for 15th in the SBC in tackles-for-loss (8.5).
Bentley, a two-time All-SBC honoree, stepped up as one of the top shutdown corners and leads the SBC with two "pick sixes" helping Louisiana tie a 40-year old NCAA record with seven on the season. He is tied for fifth in the SBC with three interceptions. Two of his interceptions came against Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden who has been tabbed one of the top rated quarterbacks in the nation. His 50 solo tackles ranks ninth in the SBC while he ranks fifth in the SBC in passes defended.
Smith led a Cajuns defensive line that ranks 23rd in the nation in tackles-for-loss and tied for 30th in sacks. He finished atop the SBC in TFL with 9.5 in conference play, while ranking third overall in the SBC in TFL (13) and fifth in sacks (6.5).
Harris took over as the Cajuns starting running back in week five. He went on to start the final seven games of the season posting 784 yards of total offense, including 638 yards rushing which ranked fifth in the conference. Harris ranks fifth in the SBC with nine total touchdowns scored (8rush/1rec).
Despite playing in only nine full games, Gautier led the SBC in touchdown passes (20) and was the most efficient passer, both overall and in conference play. Gautier threw for 2,328 yards with 19 TD passes and rushed for an additional 376 yards with three touchdowns in those nine full games for an average of 300 yards of total offense per game. Gautier needs just one more touchdown pass to set the UL single season passing touchdown record.
Bates started in all 12 games at left tackle helping the Cajuns to the No. 2 ranked scoring offense in the conference (32.3 ppg) and the most pass efficient offense in the SBC. The Cajuns ranked No. 1 in red zone offense and fourth down conversions, a true measure of offensive line play.
A Lou Groza semifinalist, Baer is tied for the NCAA lead in field goal percentage (89.9%) converting on 16-of-18 field goal attempts with five FGs of 40-plus yards. He is perfect in onside kick attempts on the season (3-for-3) having recovered two.
The junior also pulled double duty as the Ragin' Cajuns punter ranking Top 10 nationally in punts inside the 20 (24). Baer was deadly accurate for the Cajuns pinning 10 punts inside the 10-yard line and seven inside the 5-yard line. He also has 12 punts of 50-plus yards and has
limited opponents to only 16 returns on 75 punts.
White has scored two defensive touchdowns on the season collecting an 89-yard "pick six" and a 68-yard blocked field goal return. His 32 solo tackles in SBC play ranks in a tie for eighth. White also has a blocked a field goal to his credit and is tied for 15th in the SBC in tackles-for-loss (8.5).
Lewis-Buchanan ranks third among linebackers in the SBC, both overall and in conference play, in tackles-for-loss. He also ranks seventh in solo tackles overall (52). Lewis-Buchanan is one of five Cajuns to post a "pick six" with a 55-yard interception return for touchdown against Middle Tennessee tying the NCAA record set by Tennessee in 1971.