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Midseason Sun Belt Conference Report

The following is a midseason look at the Sun Belt by the league’s newspaper beat reporters. Ted Hutton (FAU) declined to participate.

***All eight beat writers that participated picked Troy to win the Sun Belt, for the Trojans and Middle Tennessee to play in a bowl game and Troy redshirt freshman QB Corey Robinson as the Freshman of the Year.

***Three players were nominated for Offensive Player of the Year: Troy senior WR Jerrel Jernigan (five votes), WKU junior RB Bobby Rainey (two votes) and Troy redshirt freshman QB Corey Robinson (one vote).

***MTSU senior DE Jamari Lattimore (Defensive Player of the Year) and Middle Tennessee (Biggest Disappointment) received seven of eight votes. FIU senior DB Anthony Gaitor (Defensive POY) and Middle Tennessee senior QB Dwight Dasher (Biggest Disappointment) got the other votes.

***Six beat writers selected Troy redshirt sophomore DE Jonathan Massaquoi as Newcomer of the Year, FIU as the Biggest Surprise and for three teams to play in bowl games (which has never happened). The other two votes went to FIU junior QB Wesley Carroll and ULM redshirt freshman QB Kolton Browing (Newcomer) and ULM (Biggest Surprise) and two teams going to bowl games.

***Five beat writers selected Troy coach Larry Blakeney as Coach of the Year. FIU coach Mario Cristobal (COY) got the other three votes.

***Three beat writers had the Ragin’ Cajuns playing in a bowl game. Three had FIU competing in the postseason, and one had Arkansas State in a bowl.

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ADAM BEASLEY

FIU beat writer

Miami Herald

(Miami, Fla.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Bobby Rainey, RB, WKU

Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Gaitor, DB, FIU

Newcomer of the Year: Wesley Carroll, QB, FIU

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), FIU (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

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ADAM SPARKS

Middle Tennessee beat writer

Daily News Journal

(Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (At-large bowl TBA) ... I think Big Ten will fill Little Casears Pizza Bowl.

Biggest surprise: Louisiana-Monroe

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

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DREW CHAMPLIN

Troy beat writer

Dothan Eagle

(Dothan, Ala.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Ragin' Cajuns (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

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MATTHEW ROBERSON

Arkansas State beat writer

Jonesboro Sun

(Jonesboro, Ark.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (New Orleans Bowl), Florida International (Little Caesar's Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (GoDaddy.com Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee senior quarterback Dwight Dasher, who was suspended for the season’s first four games by the NCAA after accepting an illegal loan.

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BRETT VITO

North Texas beat writer

Denton Record Chronicle

(Denton, Texas)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy  (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Middle Tennessee (New Orleans Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Louisiana-Monroe

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

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NICK BAUMGARDNER

Western Kentucky beat writer

Bowling Green Daily News

(Bowling Green, Ky.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, MTSU

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy, MTSU

Biggest surprise: FIU

Biggest disappointment: MTSU

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JOSHUA PARROTT

Ragin’ Cajuns beat writer

Lafayette Daily Advertiser

(Lafayette, La.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, DE, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, Troy

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Ragin' Cajuns (New Orleans Bowl) and Middle Tennessee (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

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TABBY SOIGNIER

ULM beat writer

The News-Star

(Monroe, La.)

Offensive Player of the Year: Bobby Rainey, WKU

Defensive Player of the Year: Jamari Lattimore, Middle Tennessee

Newcomer of the Year: Kolton Browning, ULM

Freshman of the Year: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy

Coach of the Year: Mario Cristobal, FIU

Conference champion: Troy

Bowl teams: Troy (GoDaddy.com Bowl), Florida International (New Orleans Bowl) and Arkansas State (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl)

Biggest surprise: Florida International

Biggest disappointment: Middle Tennessee

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