A record number of Ragin' Cajuns earned a spot on this year's All-Sun Belt team.
Led by standout tight end Ladarius Green, who is making his third consecutive appearance, the Ragin' Cajuns landed a total of 11 players earn on the All-Sun Belt football team. That's the highest total number of selections since UL joined the conference in 2001.
UL had five players earn first-team honors. Joining Green are wide receiver Javone Lawson, linebacker Lance Kelley, cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley and defensive end Bernard Smith. Running back Alonzo Harris picked up SBC Freshman of the Year honor, joining Tyrell Fenroy as the only UL athlete to earn this recognition. Quarterback Blaine Gautier and offensive tackle Leonardo Bates both made the 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.
Read more on the Cajuns' individual performances here.
In other Cajun news this week, head coach Mark Hudspeth became the first Sun Belt head coach to be named one of 10 Football Bowl Subdivision finalists for the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. The award is the leading college football-coaching honor that celebrates coaches for their sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence, and for giving back to their teams, schools and communities, on and off the field.
In his first year at UL, Hud led the team to one of the best seasons in school history and the first bowl appearance in 41 years. But there's much more reason to take the time to vote for Hud.
"I can't say enough about what Coach Hudspeth means to our program and community," UL Director of Athletics Scott Farmer said in a press release announcing the honor. "He is very deserving of this honor. Coach Hudspeth does just as much for his student-athletes and community off the field, as he does on the field, which gives Ragin' Cajun fans and alumni something to be proud of. I encourage our fans to keep voting for Coach Hudspeth to bring home the trophy, and to support his charities and our school."
The 10 finalists were determined as a result of online fan voting at www.CoachoftheYear.com and through an objective scoring model endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame. Each coach was among the top 15 in fan votes in FBS to qualify for the model, which considers, among other criteria: wins, team penalties, on-field sportsmanship, academic achievement by the student-athletes, and commitment to charitable endeavors.
Joining Hud among the 10 FBS finalists for the 2011 award are Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State University; Brady Hoke, University of Michigan; Mike London, University of Virginia; Les Miles, LSU; Bobby Petrino, University of Arkansas; Mark Richt, University of Georgia; Nick Saban, University of Alabama; Bill Snyder, Kansas State University; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson University.
Fans can visit www.CoachoftheYear.com until Dec. 22 to vote daily among the finalists in each division. Selection committees of more than 50 College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches including Archie Manning, Lou Holtz, Vince Dooley, Ronnie Lott, Archie Griffin and the national college football media, such as Kirk Herbstreit, Stewart Mandel and Tim Brando, will also cast votes for the winners to ensure coaches are evaluated fairly and measured against the specific values of responsibility and integrity. Winners are ultimately determined using the following voting weight: fans, 20 percent; College Football Hall of Fame, 55 percent; and college football media, 25 percent.
In case anxiety over the New Orleans Bowl game is already setting in, you can put your game face on Sunday by getting your car windows painted at Cajun Field.
From noon to 4 (the time isn't great, as you'll have to break away from the Saints game) you can start showing your support for the Ragin' Cajuns. Artist "King Rob," aka Robert Harris, and the UL softball team will be painting vehicles at Cajun Field by the big oak tree. All proceeds will go to the Ragin' Cajuns, with a suggested $10 donation. The event is sponsored by Townsquare Media and Service Chevrolet.