SAAC Presents 2021-22 Student-Athlete Excellence Awards
CONWAY, South Carolina – The Carolina Coast Department of Athletics honored its top athletes and scholars of 2021-22 Monday night at the 2022 Student-Athlete Achievement Awards at the HTC Center.
The program, organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), was held for the first time since the 2018-19 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program included remarks from Coastal Carolina University President Dr. Michael T. Benson, D.Phil. and Vice President for Intercollegiate Sports and University Recreation Matt Hougueas well as a video on highlights of the year, GPA recognition, and athletic and academic awards.
Male Athlete of the Year
Grayson McCall – Soccer
McCall led the Coastal Carolina football team to an 11-2 record, including the program’s first FBS playoff win in school history. He played and started in 11 games, completing 73% of his passes for 2,873 yards and 27 touchdowns. He threw just three interceptions during the season. He also added 290 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
During the 2021 season, McCall broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency. His passing efficiency rating of 207.6 eclipsed the records set by Alabama’s Mac Jones (203.1) in 2020 and LSU’s Joe Burrow (202) in 2019. Both of those quarterbacks went on to become draft picks. first round of the NFL.
For his efforts, McCall was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and earned All-Sun Belt First Team honors for the second time in two years.
Nationally, McCall was named a semi-finalist for the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards. He was also one of 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and won the 2021 Blanchard-Rogers Trophy, awarded to South Carolina’s most outstanding college player of the year.
Female Athlete of the Year
Melissa Jefferson – Women’s athletics
Coastal Carolina’s first individual national champion, Jefferson has broken school and Sun Belt Conference records since stepping onto campus. The 2022 NCAA Division I 60-meter indoor champion is the first Chanticleer to garner votes for the prestigious The Bowerman Award, an annual track and field award that is the highest honor given to the top student-athlete in the sport. year in American collegiate athletics.
The Georgetown, South Carolina native put in a record-breaking performance on day two of the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship competition, as the junior sprinter won the gold medal at the 60 meters with a CCU school and a Sun Belt Conference record. 7:22 a.m. hour. She crossed the finish line 0.17 seconds faster than the next.
Jefferson recorded another Sun Belt Conference and Coastal Carolina University record time of 7.09, which was also the second-fastest time of any NCAA Division I women’s indoor track and field championship this season, at the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships. Her time of 7.09 is tied for the sixth fastest time ever in the NCAA Division I women’s indoor track and field record books for the 60-yard dash.
To start the outdoor season this year, she has already set a new CCU and Sun Belt Conference record in the 100 meters with a time of 11.00 and was part of the 4×100 meter relay team which posted a time of 43. .58, which set both a new school and Sun Belt Conference record at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational.
Presidential Student-Athlete of the Year
Silas Kelly – Soccer
A co-captain and two-time graduate of Coastal Carolina University, Kelly was named to the 2021-22 CoSIDA Academic All-America Division I Football First Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), for the second consecutive year. Kelly graduated with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science and Business Management in December 2020 and completed a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in December 2021.
Twice selected by CoSIDA Academic All-District (District 4) (2020 and 2021) and member of the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society 2022, he received the team’s BAM award and was named the team’s defensive MVP . Off the court, he has participated in the United Way of Horry County Caring for Kindergartners, Adopt a Christmas Carol and A Night to Shine Prom campaign.
Kelly earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors and his fourth overall all-conference honor this season. Kelly led the Chants and ranked third in the Sun Belt with 110 total tackles and an average of 8.5 per game. He finished the regular season with 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a SportsCenter Top 10 interception (No. 3) at South Alabama (Nov. 26).
The 2020 Mayo Clinic Returning Player of the Year appeared in the 2022 Hula Bowl Senior All-Star Game and became just the third chant in program history to total 300 career tackles, ending his career with 340 career tackles.
Male Newcomer of the Year
Bastien Huon – Men’s Tennis (Spring 2021)
After two years at Campbell University, Huon transferred to Coastal Carolina in 2020-21 to finish his college career. In 2021, Huon was named to the All-Sun Belt first team for singles play and ranked No. 100 nationally in the ITA singles rankings. He led the team with 10 singles wins, although he missed the final three games of the regular season due to injury. Her 10 wins were also the Sun Belt’s second-most in first-place singles.
This year in 2022, Huon earned First Team All-Sun Belt honors for the second straight season in singles as he was once again nationally ranked by the ITA. He had 11 wins during the season, all of which came in the top flight, and was tied for the No. 1 spot in the Sun Belt Conference entering the conference’s postseason tournament.
Female Newcomer of the Year
Irena Drobnjak – Beach volleyball (spring 2021)
After seeing her freshman season abruptly cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, Drobnjak blossomed into her first full season on the sands of Coastal in the spring of 2021. She was named ASUN Freshman 2021 of the year, in the second year. were eligible due to the COVID pandemic in 2020 and earned a spot on the ASUN All-Freshman team. She also earned ASUN 2021 First Team First Team Recognition and was named to the 2021 ASUN Beach Volleyball Tournament Team.
In 2021, Drobnjak and partner Sarolota Svobodova won the 2021 Top Flight award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), as the duo went 21-7 on aggregate while playing No. the season. She was also named to ASUN’s 2021 All-Academic Team.
So far this year, Drobnjak is 19-6 overall on the season while playing in the top two flights. She is 7-5 in the top flight and 12-1 overall in No. 2 Squadron while playing with Martine Kragholm on flight 1 and both Madie Lichty and Ellie Hanford on flight 2.
Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Antwine Loper – Soccer
Loper was a shining example of a student-athlete during his time at CCU. The local product of Carolina Forest High School earned two degrees from Coastal Carolina, graduating in December 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and earning his master’s in sports management in December 2021. He posted a grade point average of 4.0 while completing his masters degree this year while starting all 13 games on the offensive line for the football team that went 11-2 overall and won the program’s first-ever FBS postseason bowl game with a victory over Northern Illinois in the 2021 Tailgreeter Cure Bowl.
Female Researcher-Athlete of the Year
Montoya Abbey – Soft ball
Montoya was named to Coastal Carolina University’s president’s list in six of the seven semesters she’s been at the beach, including last year’s fall and spring terms. Now a senior, Montoya holds a GPA of 3.995 as a biology major. Last year, in 2021, she hit .284 with four homers, two triples, two doubles, 15 RBI, 18 runs scored, and stole six bases in 39 games played. This year, Montoya is hitting .238 with five home runs, five doubles, 18 RBIs, 18 runs scored and four stolen bases.
Male Academic Triumph of the Year
Mael Knife – Men’s soccer
Female Academic Triumph of the Year
Melissa Jefferson – Women’s athletics
Voted for by Student-Athlete Academic Services staff, the Academic Triumph of the Year awards recognize a male and female student-athlete who has persevered despite struggling to achieve academic success.
The inaugural award winners are Mael Knife and Melissa Jefferson.
Linda C. Vereen Team Academic Excellence Award
Men’s Tennis – 3,698 GPA
Women’s Golf – 3,687 GPA
The Linda C. Vereen Team Academic Excellence Awards were given to the men’s tennis and women’s golf teams with the highest combined GPA. Both teams led the department in team grade point average this season.
Student-Athlete Faculty Member of the Year
Dr. Marcos Daou – Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
The Faculty Member of the Year Award, as voted on by student-athletes, is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who is considered to have the greatest impact on the development of our students. Dr. Daou teaches athletic and physical behavior and motor behavior and directs undergraduate research in exercise and sport science.
Savannah Thompson Humanitarian Award
Molly Sullivan received the seventh annual Savannah Thompson Humanitarian Service Award. Named after its first recipient, the award recognizes people in the Coastal Carolina community who make a difference and inspire those around them.
For complete coverage of CCU athletics, follow the chants on social media @GoCCUsports (Twitter), facebook.com/CCUChanticleers (Facebook), @goccusports (Instagram), or visit the Official Home of Coastal Carolina Athletics at www.GoCCUsports.com.