WACO, TEXAS (AFCA) - Charleston Southern offensive lineman Erik Austell was named to the 2016 AFCA FCS Coaches All-American First Team on Monday morning. Austell was a driving force in CSU's second consecutive run to the Big South Conference championship and the FCS Playoffs.
The All-American nod was Austell's second recognition in as many weeks after being named to the 2016 Associated Press FCS All-American Second Team this past Thursday. The Warner Robins, Ga. native lined up at multiple positions along the offensive line in his senior season, showcasing his versatility while leading a unit that was saddled with injuries throughout the year.
Austell is the first Buccaneer to be selected to an AFCA All-America team and the recognition was not lost on the redshirt senior offensive lineman.
"It's definitely a huge honor," Austell said. "It's just as much of a team award as anything. I'd like to thank the rest of the offensive line; we grinded every day in practice together. The defensive line also played a huge part in this. We have the best defensive line in the Big South, possibly the country, and we go up against them every day. I'd also like to thank all of my coaches, especially Coach Gabe Giardina, as well as my wife and my parents for their support throughout my career."
Austell was voted a team captain prior to the season and bounced back from an injury to return to his normal dominant self in his season year. He started 10 games and graded out at 91.4 percent while recording 84 knockdown blocks.
Austell earned a place on the All-Big South first-team after powering the nation's sixth best rushing attack. CSU scored 30+ points six times and tallied 500+ yards of offense four times. He finished his career with 39 starts and was an integral part of the winningest senior class in program history.
"Erik is a prime example of what it means to be an All-American," said CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell. "He wasn't given anything; he earned his way from being a former walk-on to becoming a two-time All-American with hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and commitment to the team. This award was very well-deserved and was given to a young man who everyone loves to coach."
The All-American honors were Austell's fourth in his career at CSU. Previously he had earned 2015 FCS Third Team All-American honors, 2015 FCS STATS Second Team All-American honors, and the aforementioned 2016 AP Second Team All-American honors. Prior to the 2016 season, Austell was a STATS FCS Preseason First Team All-American selection.
Austell was one of three Big South selections to the AFCA All-America team with Gardner-Webb linebacker Chad Geter and Monmouth safety Mike Basile both selected to the Second Team.
About the AFCA All-America Team
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. Beginning this year, the AFCA has started selecting a first and second team. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves.