2012 Sun Belt Conference Football Media Day

From the Sun Belt Conference

Media Day Schedule of Events
2012 Sun Belt Football Media Guide (.pdf format)
Full Media Day Relase (.pdf format)
ESPN3 Coverage

Preseason All-Sun Belt Team
Preseason Sun Belt Coaches Poll
Sun Belt TV Schedule
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The 2012 Sun Belt Conference Football Media Day will be held July 16 at the Marriott New Orleans (555 Canal Street - Second Floor).  Each head coach and one student-athlete from each of the Sun Belt Conference's football playing schools will be in attendance.  Additionally, Billy Curry of Georgia State and Dennis Franchione of Texas State will be in attendance.  Georgia State and Texas State will begin Sun Belt play in 2013.

Fans wishing to watch ESPN3's exclusive coverage of 2012 Sun Belt Football Media Day can do so by clicking on this link.  The coverage starts at 2 p.m. (CT).

Arkansas State Red Wolves


Head Coach Gus Malzahn
Gus Malzahn was  named the Red Wolves' 28th head football coach, bringing him back to his home state after most recently enjoying highly successful stints as a top assistant coach at three NCAA FBS universities that garnered national acclaim. A name highly recognized throughout Arkansas and the nation, Malzahn comes to Arkansas State after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Auburn for the past three seasons.  A native of Fort Smith, Malzahn was named the winner of the 2010 Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate assistant coach. His innovative offense made an immediate and profound impact during his tenure at Auburn, highlighted by a record-setting offense in 2010 when the Tigers finished 14-0 and claimed the school's first national championship since 1957.  The Auburn offense set nine school records, including points in a season (577), points per game (41.2), total yards (6,989), total offense (499.2), rushing yards (3,987), rushing touchdowns (41) and passing touchdowns (31). Malzahn's record-setting offense in 2010 led the Southeastern Conference and finished in the top 10 nationally in six statistical categories.


Player Attendee Ryan Aplin
In just three seasons has broken the school record for career completions (633)...Currently second all-time at ASU in career total offense (8,734) and passing yards (7,416), third in passing touchdowns (43) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (25)...Enters his senior season as the conferences fourth all-time leader in total offense, completions and passing yards. Named the Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2011..First Team All-Sun Belt for the second consecutive season...Broke his own single-season school records for total offense (4,176 yards), total offense per game (321.2 ypg), pass completions (304), passing yards (3,588) and passing yards per game (276.0)...Put up impressive numbers that are among the best in the nation, ranking No. 10 in the country in total offense, No. 14 in passing yards, No. 20 in completions per game (23.38) and No. 33 in points responsible for (13.85 ppg).

Florida Atlantic Owls


Head Coach Carl Pelini
Carl Pelini was named head coach of Florida Atlantic University's football team on December 5, 2011. As the second head coach in the FAU program's 11-year existence, Pelini brings to its helm an intellectual thinker whose coaching experience ranges from serving as a top assistant at one of the most storied collegiate programs in the country, to rebuilding programs and teaching the game of football at the high school level.   Pelini, 46, came to Boca Raton after serving four seasons as the University of Nebraska's defensive coordinator, a defense that was ranked as the best in the nation for a time during his tenure. In combined totals from 2009-11, Nebraska ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense, fifth in passing yards allowed per game, seventh in scoring defense and No. 10 in total defense. Pelini's role in the Huskers' defensive dominance was recognized, as he was a nominee for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach Award in both 2009 and 2010, and finished among the top-five each year.  During his last two years as defensive coordinator at Nebraska, Pelini's defense produced six All-Americans, two first-round NFL Draft picks and two conference defensive players of the year. In four seasons as Nebraska's defensive coordinator, four defensive players earned two-time first team all-conference honors - DT Ndamukong Suh (2008-09); DT Jared Crick (2009-10); CB Prince Amukamara (2009-10); and LB Lavonte David (2010-11). Nebraska also had five first-team all-conference defensive backs in the past three seasons.


Player Attendee David Hinds
Most experienced defensive player...adjusted to a 3-4 in 2011 and was instrumental in the coaching transition and move back to 4-3 in 2012...started in every game...led the squad in tackles with 110, broke the 100 tackle plateau in FAU's victory over UAB...finished second among Sun Belt tackle leaders with 9.2 per game...recorded double-digit tackles at Michigan State and FIU and versus Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State...recorded a season high and career high seven solo tackles three times, all in consecutive games...broke career high of 12 at Michigan State with 13...set a new mark of 14 versus MT and his final mark of 16 versus Arkansas State...nearly matched career high with 15 at FIU...tallied seven games with a tackle for a loss of yards...season and career high was three set during the season home and FAU stadium opener versus Western Kentucky.

FIU Panthers


Head Coach Mario Cristobal
The qualities that define Mario Cristobal are what will ultimately drive FIU football to continued success: passion, leadership, relentlessness, focus, integrity, commitment, enthusiasm, intelligence, fearlessness, vision, confidence, competitiveness and ambition - all of which have earned Cristobal a reputation as one of the country's best recruiters and the opportunity to lead FIU.  Named the second head football coach in FIU history on December 19, 2006, Cristobal has implemented his philosophy of hard work and dedication, which has already begun paying quick dividends both on the field and in the classroom. Last season Cristobal led the Panthers to their second-consecutive bowl appearance. FIU also recorded a program-record eight victories en route to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.  In 2010 Cristobal led FIU to its first-ever winning season, posting a 7-6 record, including the program's first bowl appearance, a 34-32 victory over Toledo in the 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. For his efforts in 2010, Cristobal was named the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year. Following the tremendous success on the field, during the 2011 NFL Draft, Anthony Gaitor became the first Panther recruited by Cristobal to get drafted into the NFL. Gaitor was part of Cristobal's first recruiting class, which he put together shortly after his arrival at FIU.


Player Attendee Jonathan Cyprien

Named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team in 2011 ... Third on the team in tackles with 81... Had 5.5 tackles for loss for the No. 14 scoring defense in the nation... Had eight pass breakups and nine passes defended and a blocked kick... Recorded 11 tackles at Louisville in a 24-17 FIU win... Returned an interception nine yards for a touchdown at ULM.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns


Head Coach Mark Hudspeth

From his days coaching Winston (Miss.) Academy to the 1997 state title to last December, when he provided Ragin' Cajun fans a last-second 32-30 win over San Diego State in the program's first bowl appearance in 41 years, Hudspeth has been a champion. Hired as Louisiana-Lafayette's 25th head coach in program history on December 13, 2010, Hudspeth quickly grabbed the attention of Ragin' Cajuns fans with his dynamic personality, energy and desire.  He tirelessly toured the Acadiana area, visiting all five parishes to speak to any group that wanted to listen to him talk about Ragin' Cajuns football. And seemingly overnight, he reversed ULL's football fortunes, taking the Ragin' Cajuns from nine losses in 2010 to a school-record tying nine wins in 2011.   From the day he arrived on campus, Hudspeth began educating the Ragin' Cajuns on how to win.


Player Attendee Blaine Gautier

Set ULL season records in 2011 for yards passing (2,958), passing touchdowns (23), completion percentage (.628), total offense (3,444) and touchdowns responsible for (26) as a junior. . . also ranks fourth in total plays (462). . . set a single game record with 492 yards of total offense vs. San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl and is sixth with 430 yards at Western Kentucky (10/22). . . his 470 yards passing vs. San Diego State was the second-highest total in school history, three short of the school mark. . . also had 419 yards passing at WKU (sixth best), making him the only player with multiple 400-yard games in a career. . . tossed for TD's vs. North Texas (10/15) and Louisiana-Monroe (11/5), one short of the school record. . . his career-high 32 completions vs. WKU was fifth best. . . ranks fourth in school history with 27 career touchdown passes.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks


Head Coach Todd Berry
Todd Berry begins his third season as the head coach of the Warhawk football team. Berry, who is highly regarded as an offensive mastermind, returned to ULM as the program's 14th head coach after serving as the offensive coordinator for two seasons. Berry tutored sophomore quarterback Kolton Browning to another record-setting season for the Warhawks in 2011. Browning finished last season just 39 yards shy of the school record for total offense with 2,926 yards. Browning now owns two of the top three spots on ULM's all-time total offense list. He also set the set the school record with 554 total plays, breaking his previous record of 549 plays set in 2010. His final completion in the season finale against Florida Atlantic set the ULM record for single-season completions at 244 total. ULM landed six players on the All-Sun Belt team following the 2011 season, including seniors Ken Dorsey and Darius Prelow on the first team. ULM has had 11 players named to the All-Sun Belt team in two seasons under Berry.


Player Attendee Brent Leonard
All-Sun Belt Second Team selection ... set personal single-season bests in catches (69), receiving yards (751) and touchdowns (4) as a junior ... his 69 receptions were the third-most in a single-season in ULM school history ... career-high 13 catches for 92 yards at TCU, three grabs from tying the ULM single-game record ... team-high eight receptions for 74 yards at Big Ten foe Iowa ... 10 catches for a career-high 145 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas State, the highest single-game receiving yardage total since Tavarese Maye at FIU on Nov. 6, 2010 (146) ... five catches at Troy ... eight catches for 113 yards at North Texas ... six grabs for 80 yards at home against Western Kentucky ... team-high seven catches for 79 yards at UL-Lafayette ... hauled in a 12-yard touchdown catch to set a new single-season career-high (4) at home against Middle Tennessee.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders


Head Coach Rick Stockstill

Rick Stockstill, a two-time Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year recipient, has elevated the Blue Raider program both on and off the field during his six seasons at the helm. During his short tenure, the Blue Raiders have captured a league title, won the 2009 New Orleans Bowl, made three bowl games in six years, appeared on national television a record and Sun Belt Conference best 18 times, and produced six of the top eight crowds in Floyd Stadium history. In 2010, Stockstill's team battled back from a tough start and came up with clutch play down the stretch to make back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. The coach also had an Academic All-American in Jeremy Kellem, the SBC Defensive Player of the Year in Jamari Lattimore, and a total of nine players who were recognized on the All-Conference team. Cornerback Rod Issac was also taken in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The 2009 season was one for the record books as that squad accomplished what few believed possible with an FBS-record 10 wins, a final ranking of 33rd nationally in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, a bowl victory, a seven-game winning streak, the most Sun Belt victories in school history, five road victories, and a second straight undefeated month of November. It all resulted in Stockstill being named Sun Belt Conference Co-Coach of the Year and 11 players earning All-Conference honors, including co-Defensive Player of the Year Chris McCoy, who was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. To top things off, quarterback Dwight Dasher earned New Orleans Bowl MVP honors and became just the fourth player in NCAA history to pass for more than 2,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.


Player Attendee Omar McLendon
Played and started all 12 games...Led all defensive linemen with 867 snaps played while earning 21 winning grades from the coaches...Ended the year with a career-best 54 tackles to go with five hurries, four pass breakups, 4.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery...Collected four tackles, a half sack, and three pass breakups in first start at Purdue...Registered a personal-best 10 tackles against GT...Turned in three tackles at Troy, including a sack and two TFLs...Added six tackles and four quarterback hurries against WKU...Had three tackles, including a sack and a fumble recovery at FAU...Also had three stops at Tennessee...Had five tackles at ULM...Turned in six stops and a hurry against ASU, while collecting five tackles and a pass breakup against FIU...Led MT with seven stops at North Texas.

North Texas Mean Green


Head Coach Dan McCarney

Dan McCarney was named the Mean Green's 18th head football coach, University President V. Lane Rawlins and Director of Athletics Rick Villarreal announced on November, 30, 2010.   McCarney had the most wins by a first-year head coach at North Texas since 1994 and tied for the sixth most by a first-year head coach with the Mean Green. He also notched the most wins by a first-year head coach at the FBS level at North Texas since 1979.  McCarney led North Texas to its best record and most wins in a single season since 2004. The five wins also tied for the fourth most wins in a single season at North Texas since returning to the FBS level in 1995.  It was the most conference wins since 2004 and the most conference wins by a first-year head coach at the FBS level at North Texas since 1973.  Under McCarney the Mean Green had a 4-2 home mark, which was the first winning season at home since 2004. North Texas also won three of its final five games, which is only the sixth time since 1986 that has occurred.  The Mean Green set an all-time attendance record in McCarney's first season.


Player Attendee Zach Orr
Set a career high in tackles and lead the team with 74 despite missing the last three games due to injury...Ranked seventh in the conference in total tackles...Recorded seven tackles for a loss moving the oppent back 21 yards...Had a career high with two season sacks...Produced four turnovers having one interception and two fumble recoveries and forcing one... Recovered a fumble and accumulated nine tackles against ASU...Broke up a pass and tallied nine tackles against ULM...Led a team-high six tackles against ULL, including a forced ...Had a game-high 12 tackles against FAU including an eight-yard sack...Made a team-high eight tackles with six of them being solo and recovered a fumble against Indiana...Picked up his first sack of the season for five yards against the Alabama...Recorded eight tackles, two of which were solo, against the Crimson Tide.

South Alabama Jaguars


Head Coach Joey Jones
With deep roots in the Mobile area, a track record of success at the high school level and experience building a program from scratch, Joey Jones has proven to be the ideal man to guide the University of South Alabama through its early stages up to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision level. The Jaguars' mentor, who is entering his fourth season and fifth year in charge of the program in the fall, has put together one of the top staffs in the nation, helped the school reach its 85 scholarship allotment in a four-year period, and lent a hand in efforts to help the school raise funds for the program as well as construct a $10 million field house on the west side of campus since being hired in February 2008. On the field, the results have surpassed even the school's most ardent supporters' wildest dreams - a 17-0 record in the Jags' first two seasons of competition, and an overall record of 23-4 in three seasons of competition. Just 22 months after taking over the reins of the school's start-up football venture, Jones helped lead the Jags to an undefeated record in its first-ever season on the field in 2009.  And not only did USA go 7-0 against a schedule that included four high-level prep programs, two top-20 junior colleges and a qualifier for the NCAA Division III playoffs, but it outscored the opposition 321-41 while never trailing at any point during the season.


Player Attendee Jake Johnson
Led USA with 83 stops in his first season as a starter in 2011, finishing second on the squad with 6½ tackles for loss...Credited with a pair of sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as well...Had three games with a double-figure tackle total while leading the Jags in stops on five occasions...Had a program game-record 17 stops at Kent State, also forcing a fumble against the Golden Flashes...Led the team with 12 stops in double-overtime victory at Texas-San Antonio, posting three tackles for loss including a sack in the contest, and shared game-high honors in the category after making 14 stops in the season finale against Cal Poly...Tied for the team lead with eight tackles at North Carolina State - which included two stops behind the line of scrimmage - while also forcing a fumble...Credited with nine stops in season-opening victory over West Alabama. 

Troy Trojans


Head Coach Larry Blakeney
Among the few constants on the landscape of college football is Trojans head coach Larry Blakeney. Entering his 22nd season in 2012, Blakeney, quite simply, has been a winner throughout his career. A 2009 inductee into the prestigious Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, Blakeney has been at the forefront of the move of the entire Troy University athletics program from the ranks of Division II, through Division I-AA and into Division I-A. He has run a program that is based on integrity and has been regularly recognized by the American Football Coaches Association for high graduation rates. Throughout his career, Blakeney has been recognized by his peers, by the people he has worked for and with, and by the sporting community at large. He has been named to four separate Halls of Fame, has been named Coach of the Year on numerous occasions and he gives generously of his time to almost any group or organization who asks for it. During the spring of 2011, Blakeney was awarded with the ultimate honor - the playing surface at the university's home stadium was named after the legendary head coach.  The home field at Troy University will now, and forever be known as Larry Blakeney Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. He was also selected to be enshrined in the inaugural Troy Athletics Hall of Fame class in August 2012.


Player Attendee Corey Robinson
Enters the 2012 season ranked in top 10 in numerous Troy career categories [number need to set record]: second in pass attempts (1,012) [26], first in completions (637), third in passing yards (7,137) [552], second in touchdown passes (49) [20], third in total offense (6,959) [414]. Finished his sophomore campaign with 21 touchdowns and 3,411 yards on 316-of-508 pass attempts ... he averaged 284.2 yards per game through the air and completed 62.2 percent of his pass attempts...he set a Troy school record for pass attempts and had the third most completions, fourth most passing yards and sixth most touchdown passes in a single-season in school history ... threw for over 300 yards seven of Troy's 12 games on the season and completed 20 or more passes in nine of 12 games ... threw a season-high four touchdown passes against North Texas. 

WKU Hilltoppers


Head Coach Wille Taggart
Former Hilltopper All-America quarterback Willie Taggart enters his third year as the head coach of his alma mater in 2012.  After guiding the Hilltoppers to two wins in his first season, Taggart saw his squad start 0-4 in 2011.  However, WKU was able to orchestrate a remarkable turnaround, winning seven of its last eight games.  The only loss in that stretch came to No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge.  The Hilltoppers finished 7-1 in Sun Belt Conference games to finish second in the league race.  The only loss in the league was a four-point setback to eventual league champion Arkansas State.  The five-win difference in Sun Belt Conference play represents the biggest one-season turnaround in league history.  Only two teams in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision - Houston and Arkansas State - experienced bigger turnarounds in terms of overall wins from 2010 to 2011.   In just two seasons, Taggart has seen three different student-athletes named to an All-America team, including running back Bobby Rainey who was selected to five different teams in 2011, and six total over his final two years in uniform.  Rainey also earned back-to-back Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player-of-the-Year awards, and was one of 13 all-Sun Belt selections under Taggart's guidance.


Player Attendee Jack Doyle
Named 2011 second-team all-Sun Belt...Set career highs in receptions (52) and receiving yards (614) while playing in all 12 regular season games for the first time in his career on the Hill...Led the Hilltoppers in both receptions and receiving yards for the regular season...Averaged over 50 yards per game receiving and over four catches per game, while going over 100 yards receiving in three different games, putting him over 1,000 yards receiving for his career...Led the Hilltoppers in receiving on seven different occasions...Tied for the team lead with four catches for 35 yards in the home opener against Navy (09/10/11) in week two...Led the Hilltopper offense the following week with 68 yards receiving off five catches against Indiana State (09/17/11)...Posted his first career 100-yard receiving performance in week five against Middle Tennessee.