Football Hilltoppers Sweep Sun Belt All-Conference Top Honors

By: Kyle Neaves, WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Kyle Neaves, WKU Athletic Media Relations

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- WKU senior running back Antonio Andrews was named the Sun Belt Conference's Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year while senior linebacker Xavius Boyd was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, along with four other All-Conference First Team selections, the conference office announced on Wednesday.

With their wins, WKU becomes the first school in league history to sweep the top three honors with just two players and the first school to win all three since North Texas had three players take home the top honors in 2003.

Andrews, who led the nation in all-purpose yardage for consecutive seasons, tallied a school-record 1,730 rushing yards this season, a mark that ranked fourth nationally, to go along with 16 rushing touchdowns, both high water marks in the Sun Belt. With Andrews earning the Offensive Player of the Year award, three of the last four such honors have gone to the Hilltoppers after current Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting running back Bobby Rainey took home the honor following the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

For Boyd, it is the capper on his breakout 2013 campaign that saw him become the first SBC player to earn the same player of the week honor in three consecutive weeks. Boyd led the league in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (8.5) while becoming one of just five SBC defenders to tally over 100 tackles (103) on the year. WKU has now won the Defensive Player of the Year award in consecutive seasons as former defensive end Quanterus Smith won the award last season.

All totaled, WKU has won a top individual award in four consecutive seasons - a streak matched only by North Texas between 2001-04.

The Hilltoppers also led the league in All-Conference First Team selections with six this season. No other conference member had more than four.

Along with Andrews on the first team offense, senior offensive guard Luis Polanco earned his first All-Conference award. Polanco and Andrews helped paved the way for a record-setting offensive attack this season for the Hilltoppers under first year head coach Bobby Petrino.

WKU featured four defenders on the first team defense including Boyd at linebacker. Bar'ee Boyd, in his lone season as a defensive end, picked up one of four defensive linemen slots on the first team while defensive backs Jonathan Dowling and Cam Thomas were also given the nod. Dowling and Thomas helped the Hilltoppers to the No. 10 ranked passing efficiency defense nationally while Thomas led the SBC in passes defended with 15 (10 breakups, five interceptions).

On the second team, linebacker Andrew Jackson earned his second consecutive All-Conference nod while receiver Willie McNeal and offensive lineman Forrest Lamp earned Honorable Mention selections.

Petrino has now had eight players named a `Conference Player of the Year' in his nine seasons as a head coach and has twice swept a conference's Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Awards, last happening during the 2005 season.

Under Petrino, 36 players have earned First Team All-Conference selections while he has had at least six first teamers in three of his nine seasons leading a program. In total, 68 players have received All-Conference awards under his watch.

South Alabama head coach Joey Jones was named the conference's Coach of the Year while freshman running back Elijah McGuire of Louisiana-Lafayette took home Freshman of the Year honors.


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