FRISCO, Texas – McNeese defensive end Isaiah Chambers etched his name on what has become a staple in the Southland Conference with the Cowboy program producing the league’s top defensive player when on Tuesday, he was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year to go along with All-SLC first-team defensive honors.
Chambers is the third straight McNeese player to receive the special award (Chris Livings in 2019 and B.J. Blunt in 2018) and the fourth in the last six years. Overall, McNeese has produced 14 conference defensive players of the year recipients, more than any team in the conference, past or present.
In addition to Chambers’s accolades, defensive back Andre Sam earned first-team honors while defensive back Chris Joyce and defensive end Mason Kinsey garnered a second-team award. Wide receiver Josh Matthews picked up third-team honors on offense.
“When you look at the accomplishments individually, it reflects on us as a whole, as an organization as a team,” said Cowboys’ head coach Frank Wilson. “That’s huge. The ability to give them a platform to go out and perform the way that they’re capable of doing. It’s a testament of our staff and continuing development of these young men so that they can go forth and play their best football.”
Chambers, who on Monday was named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in the FCS, led the league and ranked second in the FCS in the spring season with 7.5 sacks to go along with 14 tackles for a loss, also tops in the conference and No. 2 in the nation. He recorded 32 tackles in the seven-game slate and a team-high 11 quarterback hurries.
Sam tied for the league lead with three pass interceptions this season and led the Cowboys with 52 total tackles. The Iowa native also recorded 1.5 tackles for a loss, a half-sack and five pass breakups. He recorded a season-high 10 tackles in a win at Northwestern State and picked off two passes at Sam Houston in the season finale.
Joyce, a sophomore product of Dutchtown HS, led the league with 15 passes defended, all pass break-ups. The first-year Cowboy recorded four PBUs in a win over 11th-ranked Nicholls and tallied a season-high six tackles against Northwestern State.
Kinsey joined Chambers on the defensive line to build one of the nation’s most fierce units. The Mansfield, Texas native ranked third in the conference with four sacks and fourth with 7.5 tackles for a loss. He finished with 38 tackles go to along with seven quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and forced a fumble. He recorded 10 tackles in a season-opening win at Tarleton.
Matthews was the lone offensive representative for the Cowboys and led the team with 32 catches and 458 receiving yards. The Baton Rouge native ranked fourth in the league in both categories while ranking sixth in the conference with four touchdown catches. He averaged 14.3 yards per catch and 65.4 receiving yards per game. His best game came in a win over nationally-ranked Nicholls where he caught seven passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Sam Houston quarterback Eric Schmid was named the league’s player of the year while Southeastern Louisiana QB Cole Kelley garnered offensive player of the year honors.
2020 Southland Conference Spring Football Individual Superlative Winners
Player of the Year: Eric Schmid, Sam Houston
Offensive Player of the Year: Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana
Defensive Player of the Year: Isaiah Chambers, McNeese
Newcomer of the Year: Jequez Ezzard, Sam Houston
Freshman of the Year: Cameron Ward, UIW
Offensive Lineman of the Year: PJ Burkhalter, Nicholls
Coach of the Year: K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston