Hammond named STATS FCS First Team All-American; Four Bucs recognized to STATS AA Teams

Hammond named STATS FCS First Team All-American; Four Bucs recognized to STATS AA Teams

(STATS) - Charleston Southern senior Darius Hammond headlines four Buccaneers named to the STATS FCS All-American team announced on Tuesday afternoon. Hammond earned First Team honors at kick returner after leading the FCS in kickoff returns by a wide margin in the 2016 season.

Redshirt senior offensive lineman Erik Austell and junior defensive lineman Anthony Ellis were named to the Second Team, while redshirt sophomore Solomon Brown received Third Team honors at linebacker.

2016 FCS STATS All-American Teams

Hammond's All-America recognition was his second in as many days as the senior returner was named to the Walter Camp FCS All-America Team on Monday afternoon. The Johnston, S.C. native averaged a Big South single-season record 33.7 yards per return in the 2016 season. He ranked 17th nationally in combined kick returns and 23rd in all-purpose yards, cementing his place as one of the most dynamic threats in the country. Hammond earned Big South Special Teams Player of the Year honors after pacing the conference in kickoff returns and punt returns.

He broke an 83-yard kickoff return at Liberty on his way to accumulating 154 return yards and earning November 14 Big South Special Teams Player of the Week honors. Hammond's returns boosted the Bucs' field position all season highlighted by a 58-yard return in the win at Monmouth, a key 48-yard kickoff return in CSU's win at Coastal Carolina and a 65-yard return in a victory over Bucknell. He averaged 35.6 yards on eight kickoff returns in conference play.

Austell's Second Team recognition was his third award received this week after previously earning Second Team AP All-America honors and First Team AFCA All-America recognition. The Warner Robins, Ga. native 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.

Ellis' All-America recognition was his second of the postseason after previously being named to the AP Second Team this past Thursday. Ellis was named the 2016 Big South Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in sacks (7.0) and tackles-for-loss (16.0). The junior is the second player in conference history to post two seven-sack seasons. The Apopka, Fla., native is also a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the FCS. 

Ellis shined in league play as he totaled a league-best 9.5 TFL in five games (1.90 per game), and tied for the top spot with four sacks (one each against Monmouth, Presbyterian, Gardner-Webb and Liberty).  He also had 24 of his 45 stops against Big South foes, 15 of which were solo.

Solomon Brown earned his spot on the FCS STATS Third Team as an integral player in CSU's 'Blue Swarm' defense. Brown followed up on his Big South Freshman of the Year campaign in 2015 by excelling the bandit position in the lineup. Brown finished the season third in the Big South in tackles for loss (13.0) and sixth in sacks (4.5). He also led CSU overall in tackles with 70 on the year.

Brown saved his best game for when the spotlight shined brightest with nine tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup that nearly resulted in an interception against No. 3 Florida State. He added a season-high 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the 2016 FCS Quarterfinal at Wofford.

Quarterbacks Jeremiah Briscoe of Sam Houston State and Gage Gubrud of Eastern Washington and Eagles wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who have been invited to the announcement of the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, along with Missouri State linebacker Dylan Cole and defensive ends P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State and Karter Schult of Northern Iowa, the three at the announcement of the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award, are part of the All-America team that features 100 players from 59 schools across all 13 FCS conferences.

CAA Football has the most All-Americans with 16, one more than the Missouri Valley Football Conference, which had the most first-team selections with seven, and the Southern (12) and the Big Sky (11) conferences also reached double figures. Charleston Southern, James Madison, and North Dakota State had the high among schools with four selections each.

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