(STATS) - Coastal Carolina failed to win at least a share of the Big South title for the first time since 2011, but for a third straight season it has the conference's top offensive player.
De'Angelo Henderson was named the Big South's offensive player of the year in what was hardly a surprise for a running back who holds the FCS record for consecutive games with a touchdown at 25. He joins current teammate Alex Ross - the conference's first-team all-conference quarterback - and former Chanticleer tailback Lorenzo Taliaferro in giving Coastal Carolina the league's best offensive weapon for a third consecutive year. Henderson, who ran for 1,245 yards and 15 touchdowns, earned 16 of 21 first-place votes.
Liberty produced the defensive player of the year for the first time in defensive end Chima Uzowihe, the Big South's all-time sacks leader with 25. The senior, who leads the conference in tackles for loss (17) and sacks (8), is the first defensive lineman to win the conference award since Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnston in 2007. Uzowihe got six first-place votes, edging out Presbyterian's Ed Britt, Charleston Southern's Anthony Ellis and preseason defensive player of the year O.J. Mau of Gardner-Webb.
The coach of the year award race wasn't nearly as tight. That honor went to Jamey Chadwell of Charleston Southern, the league champion that ran the conference table at 6-0 and has a bye in its first-ever FCS playoff appearance. Chadwell received 18 first-place votes, with Brian Bohannon of first-year program Kennesaw State the only other coach to get more than one.
Henderson, Uzowihe and Chadwell are all finalists for the STATS FCS national honors in their respective categories.
Charleston Southern picked up another individual award that helped shine the spotlight on a defense that allowed the second-fewest yards per game (266.5) in the FCS. Linebacker Solomon Brown was named the league's freshman of the year, becoming the first player at that position to win the award since 2011. Brown, who had six sacks and 11 tackles for loss, is one of four Buccaneers on the Big South's all-defense first team, joining defensive end Anthony Ellis, fellow linebacker Aaron Brown and cornerback Malcolm Jackson. Brown is also a finalist for the STATS FCS freshman of the year award.
The Buccaneers also put two first teamers on special teams, long snapper Joseph Smith and punt returner Darius Hammond, but it was Coastal Carolina's electric kick returner who was named the special teams player of the year. That's Devin Brown, who led the league and was third in the nation in kickoff return average (30.4 yards). The junior took back two kickoffs for touchdowns in the Chanticleers' first three games - becoming the Big South's all-time leader with five - then only had nine return opportunities in the final eight contests.
Brown is one of Coastal Carolina's conference-high eight first-team selections.
BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE AWARDS=
Offensive Player of the Year: RB De'Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Chima Uzowihe, Liberty
Special Teams Player of the Year: KR Devin Brown, Coastal Carolina
Freshman of the Year: LB Solomon Brown, Charleston Southern
Coach of the Year: Jamey Chadwell, Charleston Southern
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: QB Alex Ross, Coastal Carolina
BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM=
QB Alex Ross, Coastal Carolina
RB De'Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina
RB Darrell Bridges, Presbyterian
WR Darrin Peterson, Liberty
WR Bruce Mapp, Coastal Carolina
TE Mike Estes, Gardner-Webb
OL Jonathan Burgess, Liberty
OL Erik Austell, Charleston Southern
OL Max Sommer, Liberty
OL Sam Ekwonike, Coastal Carolina
OL Voghens Larrieux, Coastal Carolina
DL Chima Uzowihe, Liberty
DL O.J. Mau, Gardner-Webb
DL Anthony Ellis, Charleston Southern
DL Jabarai Bothwell, Coastal Carolina
LB Chad Geter, Gardner-Webb
LB Aaron Brown, Charleston Southern
LB Donelle Williams, Presbyterian
LB Solomon Brown, Charleston Southern
DB Mike Basile, Monmouth
DB Ed Britt, Presbyterian
DB Malcolm Jackson, Charleston Southern
DB Taylor Henkle, Kennesaw State
PK Ryan Granger, Coastal Carolina
P Stephen Doar, Presbyterian
LS Joseph Smith, Charleston Southern
KR Devin Brown, Coastal Carolina
PR Darius Hammond, Charleston Southern