For the first time in the same season, two Big South football student-athletes were named Capital One Academic All-Americans, as chosen by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) and announced late last week. Liberty WR Pat Kelly was a First-Team honoree, while Coastal Carolina defensive back Marcus Lott was selected to the Second-Team.
With the honor, Kelly becomes the fourth player in football program history to be named to a CoSIDA Academic All-America team and the third to receive first-team honors. He joins Jarrod Everson (second team, 1997/first-team, 1998), Jay Cline (second team, 2004) and Chris Rocco (first-team, 2009).
Kelly becomes the 16th Liberty student-athlete in athletics department history to be named to the highest collegiate academic team in the country. Kelly also becomes the seventh student-athlete to be named to a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America squad.
In the classroom, the junior has been named to a pair of Big South Presidential Honor Roll listings after maintaining a perfect 4.0 as he pursues an exercise sciences degree.
On the field, Kelly had a banner year in 2011, as he ranked second on the team with 40 receptions for 591 yards and three touchdowns. During the course of the year, the junior surpassed the 1,000-yard career receiving mark and will enter his final season at Liberty with 82 receptions and 1,250 receiving yards to his career credit.
Kelly helped the Flames finish the regular-season ranked No. 9 in the country in scoring offense (35.91 points per game), No. 19 in passing offense (270.27) and No. 20 in total offense (426.25).
Kelly nearly doubled his career totals in both receptions and receiving yards, despite missing two games due to injury. His career year was spotlighted when he posted his third career 100-yard game against a Big South opponent this year, leading the Flames with six receptions for 105 yards against VMI.
Lott, the 2011 Big South Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, carries a career grade point average of 3.91 and qualified for the Academic All-America squad after being voted to the first team Capital One Academic All-Region 4 earlier this fall.
Lott joins Josh Hoke (2005 and '06) as the only Chanticleers to make the prestigious Academic All-America squad, which includes all football players from across the country in both the FBS and FCS Division I subdivisions, such a Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III from Baylor.
Lott, a two-time Academic All-Big South honoree, is studying middle level education and wants to serve as a principal when his playing days are over. Lott has only made five "B's" in his academic career, with three of those being B-pluses.
Lott had started 31 consecutive contests, dating back to his freshman season, and played in every CCU contest since his true freshman year until missing the Gardner-Webb and Stony Brook games this season due to injury. Lott injured his wrist at Liberty and would later require surgery. Despite the injury, Lott had a game-high 10 tackles versus the Flames, including a tackle for loss, while adding a forced fumble and pass break up. The 10 stops were additionally his second-best, single-game total in his career.
Lott returned to the lineup ahead of schedule, starting for Senior Day in the Chanticleers' 15-8 in over Presbyterian. Playing only in the first half before re-aggravating the injury, Lott had four tackles, including a tackle or loss. He also started the final two games of the season but ultimately saw limited action due to the injury, getting four tackles in a win at Charleston Southern and a tackle for loss in his final game as a Chant in the win at Western Carolina.
Despite missing two games, Lott ranked fifth on the team in tackles (41). He added four pass breakups and 4.0 TFL for the season. In the season opener, Lott had five tackles and a key blocked field goal, helping Coastal defeat Furman 30-23.
For his career, Lott played in 44 games, getting 35 starts. He ranks fourth on the CCU all-time list for pass breakups (17), eighth in interceptions (5), sixth in unassisted tackles (112) and ninth in total tackles (184).