CONWAY — A dozen seniors on the Coastal Carolina football team are taking full advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to fall athletes by the NCAA.
Seniors and graduate students are returning for another year next season, and on top of that, the Chants will have 20 of 22 starters back from last season’s historic run, missing only defensive end Tarron Jackson and running back CJ Marable, who both declared for the NFL Draft.
“I think because of what we did and the trajectory of our program, they wanted to come back and do it again,” head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “One, it’s awesome because you’ve got a lot of players returning, but two, the leadership of that … and the example it sets I think will be a huge benefit for us long term.”
The only other senior who played last season who will not be returning next season is wide receiver Sam Denmark, who finished his Master of Business Administration and decided to hang them up.
“I wouldn’t say I’m really surprised,” linebacker Teddy Gallagher said of so many players coming back. “We kind of talked about it when the ruling came out that guys could come back; we talked about it a lot. It was towards the end of the season that I decided I was going to come back. As soon as that ruling came out, some guys were like ‘I’m coming back next year’ automatic(ally). I wasn’t really surprised; we kind of knew all along we were going to have a lot of guys coming back, a lot of guys that people probably didn’t expect to come back.”
Also of note, tight end Isaiah Likely will be back for his senior season. Likely decided to stay at the beach for one more year because he is “finishing my four years (and) getting a degree” instead of testing the NFL waters.
Likely caught 30 passes for 601 yards in the 11 games he played, the most yards for a Sun Belt tight end this season, and caught five touchdown passes.
The following are the 12 seniors/graduate students (now all graduate students) who will be returning for the 2021 season:
Silas Kelly, linebacker
Kelly, who won the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award after posting a solid season after breaking his hand in the Chants’ first game of 2019 and torn ACL in the team’s second game against Kansas, causing him to miss the rest of the season. He came back with a vengeance this year, leading the team with 80 tackles on the season, which was good enough for ninth in the Sun Belt.
Kelly also added five sacks, which was eighth in the conference, and had 6.5 tackles-for-loss and an interception.
Teddy Gallagher, linebacker
Gallagher is coming off a breakout year, where he was tied for second on the team in tackles with 76, also adding 0.5 sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Gallagher made the All-Sun Belt Third Team for his efforts.
“It was just weighing my options,” Gallagher said on returning this season. “Obviously, the goal is to play football after college and decide what gives you the best opportunity to do that, and I felt like coming back was the best opportunity for me.”
C.J. Brewer, defensive tackle
An Associated Press third-team All-American, Brewer finished the season tied for second on the team and fourth in the Sun Belt with 6.5 sacks this season. He was also third on the team and eighth in the league with 11 tackles-for-loss this year. He was tied for fourth on the team with 60 total tackles and also recorded six quarterback hurries, forced one fumble, and recovered a fumble on the defensive line for CCU.
Kameron Brown, wide receiver
Brown was third on the team in reception yards with 306 on 20 catches, for an average of 15.3 yards per catch, and also had three touchdowns. His longest catch of the season was 65 yards. Including his redshirt year, Brown was with Charleston Southern for four seasons, two of those with Chadwell, before transferring to CCU this past season.
Trey Carter, offensive lineman
An All-Sun Belt First Team selection, Carter started all 12 games for the Chants this season. The Chants’ offense was the best in the Sun Belt in scoring, averaging 37.2 points per game, second in total yards with 5,398, third in yards per game with 449.8, third in rushing with 218.3 yards per game and fifth in passing with 231.5 yards per game.
The offense was also first in the Sun Belt in third-down conversion percentage at 52.3 percent, fourth-down conversion percentage 76.5 percent and average time of possession at 33:50.
Sam Thompson, offensive lineman
Thompson was a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given annually to the best player who started their career as a walk-on. Normally under center, Thompson was on an offensive line unit that only allowed 14 sacks for a loss of 63 yards. He was also on the Rimington Trophy watch list and was named to the All-Sun Belt Third Team.
Steven Bedosky, offensive lineman
Bedosky got redemption this season after missing all of last season with a leg injury he suffered in the Kansas game. The 6-foot-2, 280-pound lineman is starting his sixth season with the Chants. Bedosky was named an All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention and was named to the Phil Steele Sun Belt All-Conference Third Team for his work in the trenches in 2020.
Greg Latushko, wide receiver
The wide out from Franklin Lakes, N.J. was fifth on the team in receptions yards with 232 on 15 receptions. His only two touchdowns came in the final game of the season against Liberty in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, a game the Chants lost 37-34 in overtime in heartbreaking fashion. It was CCU’s only loss of the season.
Myles Olufemi, bandit
The bandit from Crofton, Md. recorded eight tackles and a sack this season that resulted in a loss of nine yards. Olufemi is entering his fifth season with the Chants after transferring from Frostburg State where he redshirted.
Kendricks Gladney Jr., spur
Gladney was No. 14 on the team in tackles with 18 and also had a pass deflection and forced fumble. This will be Gladney’s second year with the Chants. He previously played at ASA College and Middle Tennessee State before transferring to CCU.
CJ Shrimpf, long snapper
The long snapper from Tempe, Ariz., is entering his fourth season with the Chants after transferring from Phoenix College following his two-season stay there.
Charles Ouverson, punter
The hometown kid from St. James High School in Murrells Inlet was on the Ray Guy Award watch list this season. Ouverson played all 12 games for the Chants this season and booted the ball 35 times with an average of 40.3 yards per punt. He had a long of 62, two touchbacks, 18 land inside the 20-yard-line and zero punts blocked.