College Football: Best Player on Every Sun Belt Team
The Heisman Trophy only goes to one player in the nation, but there is no shortage of great football players throughout college football this year. Let's take a look at the best player on each FBS team this season, starting with the Sun Belt.
Note: This is not necessarily a list of the most important players on each team, but rather players who perform their respective positions best for their team (although in many cases they are also their team's most valuable player). All positions are eligible.
This is part one in a 12-part series.
FAU Owls: Alfred Morris, RB
Photo Courtesy of Palm Beach Post
The Owls may be the worst team in FBS football this season, but none of the blame for that should be directed towards running back Alfred Morris. He has rushed for 916 yards and five touchdowns on only 176 carries, for a yards-per-carry average of 5.2. He has also hauled in 14 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Morris also happens to be FAU's career rushing yards leader. Not too shabby for someone who initially joined the team as a fullback.
Honorable Mention: K Vinny Zaccario, P Mickey Groody
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders: Eric Russell, S
Photo Courtesy of CollegeFootballNews.com
Russell is hands down the most potent force on MTSU's defense, racking up 77 tackles (seven of which are tackles for loss, and one of which was a sack). The next closest player on the team has 53. Not too shabby, considering Russell plays in the secondary.
He also leads the team in interceptions (two) while he is tied for the team lead in forced and recovered fumbles, with two each.
Did I mention that he is also the Blue Raiders' primary punt and kick returner? Honestly, Russell is the type of rare all-around player that usually plays for elite teams, so Middle Tennessee is very lucky to have him.
Honorable Mention: QB Logan Kilgore, OG Brandon McLeroy, OT Mike Williams
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks: Kolton Browning, QB
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Browning is pretty much the entire Warhawks Offense. He has thrown for 2,300 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 391 yards and five touchdowns rushing.
Considering that he has accomplished all of that while having pretty much no protection from his offensive line, ULM is very fortunate to have Browning. He has been sacked 29 times, yet has still managed to put up impressive statistics.
Honorable Mention: S Darius Prelow
Troy Trojans: James Brown, OT
Courtesy of CollegeFootballNews.com
It's not often that offensive lineman get a lot of recognition in college football. Troy's James Brown, however, is already being projected as a mid-round pick in the NFL draft, despite playing in a low-profile conference.
While much of Troy's team has struggled this season, Brown has done his job, effectively shutting down those opposing defensive players who have the misfortune of lining up opposite him.
Honorable Mention: QB Corey Robinson, WR Eric Thomas
North Texas Mean Green: Lance Dunbar, RB
Dunbar was actually on the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list for the nation's top running back. Injuries and poor blocking in front of him have helped to derail that campaign, but Dunbar is still a very good running back.
On the season, Dunbar has carried 229 times for 802 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 28 receptions for 343 yards and two touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: P Will Atterberry, DE Brandon Akpunku
FIU Golden Panthers: T.Y. Hilton, WR
Courtesy of Miami Herald
Hilton was last season's Sun Belt MVP, and for good reason. The speedy receiver is a threat in receiving, rushing and returning kicks and punts.
So far, Hilton has caught 61 passes for 934 yards and six touchdowns, while adding 91 yards rushing on 13 carries, averaging seven yards a carry.
He's also managed to find the end zone on a punt return this year, despite the fact that opposing teams tend to kick it away from him on both kickoffs and punts.
Honorable Mention: MLB Winston Fraser, K Jack Griffin, RB Kedrick Rhodes, QB Wesley Carroll
Lousiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns: Ladarius Green, TE
It isn't often that a team's biggest offensive threat is their tight end. The Ragin' Cajuns are lucky to have Ladarius Green, who was a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award this season, given to the nation's top tight end.
Green has 40 catches for 419 yards and leads the team with seven touchdown receptions. More importantly, he often draws extra coverage, freeing up other receivers for QB Blaine Gautier to toss the ball to.
Honorable Mention: QB Blaine Gautier, K/P Brett Baer, MLB Lance Kelley
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: Bobby Rainey, RB
Courtesy of Athlon Sports
The Hilltoppers are bowl-eligible for the first time since moving up to the FBS level, and that's mostly due to senior running back Bobby Rainey. The reigning Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year is pretty much the entire WKU offense, and he continues to produce despite the fact that opposing defenses tailor their entire game plans around stopping him.
On the season, Rainey has carried 326 times for 1,468 yards and 10 touchdowns. Oh, and he also has 36 receptions for 361 yards while leading the team with four touchdown receptions.
Rainey is pretty much the perfect example of the phrase "He put the team on his back, do."
Honorable Mention: Bobby Rainey, Bobby Rainey, and Bobby Rainey again (Oh, and also LB Andrew Jackson and P Hendrix Brakefield)
Arkansas State Red Wolves: Ryan Aplin, QB
Photo Courtesy of ArkansasSports360.com
The Red Wolves are college football's most surprising team of this season, and are in position to win the Sun Belt. QB Ryan Aplin is a major reason why.
Aplin has thrown for 2,879 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also happens to be A State's leading rusher, with 720 yards and nine touchdowns on 135 carries. That gives him over 3,500 all-purpose yards on the season.
Aplin has a good shot at winning the Sun Belt MVP Award this season, with only WKU's Bobby Rainey and FIU's T.Y. Hilton providing any real competition for the award.
Honorable Mention: C Tom Castilaw, WR Dwayne Frampton, CB Kelcie McCray