RUSTON, La. – Phil Steele announced his 2020 All-Conference USA team on Tuesday and 12 Bulldogs earned spots across the four teams.
Five Bulldogs earned first team honors in redshirt senior offensive lineman Kody Russey, redshirt junior defensive lineman Milton Williams, redshirt sophomore defensive back BeeJay Williamson, redshirt sophomore kick returner Wayne Toussant and redshirt sophomore punt returner Smoke Harris.
Russey, a native of Burleson, Texas, was named to the 2020 First Team All-C-USA and the C-USA All-Academic Team. He led an offensive front that ranked first in C-USA and second in the FBS in fourth down conversions at 88.9 percent (16-of-18). He also led an offense that ranked fourth in C-USA and 53rd in the FBS in red zone offense at 84.6 percent (33-of-39). Russey helped the offense average 315.8 yards of total offense, including a 216.6 passing yard average and a 99.2 rushing yard average. He also had been named to the Outland and Rimington Trophy Watch Lists.
Williams, a Crowley, Texas, native, earned 2020 First Team All-C-USA honors and was named a third team All-American by Pro Football Focus. He ranked third in C-USA in tackles for loss with 10.0 and seventh in sacks with 4.5. Williams was fifth on the team in tackles with 44, including 21 solo. He had a season-high eight tackles and a career-high 3.0 TFLs against UAB on Oct. 31. Williams also registered two quarterback hurries and forced one fumble during the season.
Williamson, a native of Dallas, Texas, also earned 2020 First Team All-C-USA honors. He ranked fourth in C-USA with 0.30 interceptions per game and tied for 39th in tackles per game with 5.6. Williamson was third on the team in tackles with 56, including 32 solo tackles. He had a career-high 10 tackles against UAB on Oct. 31. He also recorded two interceptions against UAB, both of which resulted in touchdowns, and forced a fumble at the goal line to give LA Tech the game-winning possession. His performance against the Blazers earned him C-USA Defensive Player of the Week and Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week honorable mention honors.
Toussant, a Maringouin, La., native, was a 2020 First Team All-C-USA selection. He led C-USA and ranked 34th in the FBS in kickoff returns, averaging 23.0 yards per kick return. Toussant ranked 11th in C-USA in all-purpose yards per game with 83.9. He returned 28 kicks for a total of 644 yards and registered a season-high 60-yard kickoff return against UTEP (Oct. 10). He totaled at least 50 kickoff return yards in seven of LA Tech’s 10 games, and he was named the LSWA Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 12.
Harris, a native of St. Francisville, La., was named Second Team All-C-USA as a punt returner and was a C-USA honorable mention as a wide receiver. He averaged 21.50 yards per punt return after returning six punts for 129 total yards. Harris had a career-long 60-yard punt return at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 23).
A pair of Bulldogs were named to the second team in freshman linebacker Tyler Grubbs and redshirt junior deep snapper Reeves Blankenship.
Grubbs, a New Orleans, La., native, was named to the 247Sports.com Freshman All-American Team and the FWAA Freshman All-American Watch List. He was also a 2020 Second Team All-C-USA and C-USA All-Freshman Team selection. Grubbs ranked second in C-USA and 24th in the FBS in tackles per game at 9.9. He ranked sixth in C-USA in tackles for loss with 9.5. Grubbs led Tech with 99 tackles, and he was second on the team in solo tackles with 45 and in TFLs with 9.5. Grubbs registered double-digit tackles in five games during the 2020 season, including a career-high 16 tackles at Southern Miss (Sept. 19). He also recorded two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble during the 2020 campaign.
Blankenship, a native of Springfield, La., appeared in all 10 games as LA Tech’s starting deep snapper. The Bulldogs have not given up a blocked field goal and have only had one blocked punt during Blankenship’s three-year tenure as the starting deep snapper. He helped redshirt freshman kicker/punter Jacob Barnes go 12-for-14 in field goals, including the game-winning 35-yarder in double overtime against UAB (Oct. 31). Blankenship also helped Barnes average 37.24 yards per punt in the 2020 season.
Redshirt senior running back Israel Tucker and redshirt senior linebacker Trey Baldwin earned third team honors.
Tucker, a Metairie, La., native, was a 2020 C-USA honorable mention. He ranked ninth in C-USA in rushing at 64.8 yards per game. He had a career-high 37 carries against North Texas which was the fourth most carries in a game in program history and tied for second in the FBS in rushing attempts in a single game this season. He rushed for over 100 yards twice in the 2020 campaign, including a career-high 161 rushing yards against UNT. Tucker had two two-touchdown performances against both UTEP (Oct. 10) and North Texas (Dec. 3). He led the Bulldogs with 149 carries for 648 yards and four rushing touchdowns during the 2020 season.
Baldwin, a native of Orange, Texas, was a 2020 Second Team All-C-USA selection. He ranked first in C-USA and 11th in the FBS in solo tackles with 5.9 per game and he was third in the conference in tackles per game at 9.4. Baldwin registered 85 total tackles, including a team-best 53 solo tackles. He recorded 7.0 tackles for loss, including 1.0 sacks, and he was tied for second on the team with five pass breakups. Baldwin also registered one interception and one quarterback hurry during the 2020 campaign. He posted a career-high 18 tackles, including 14 solo, at UTSA on Oct. 24. Baldwin’s 18 tackles tied for the 11th most nationally this season, while his 14 solo tackles ranked second in the nation.
Redshirt junior offensive lineman Joshua Mote, graduate transfer defensive back Khalil Ladler and Barnes rounded out Tech’s all-conference honorees after earning spots on the fourth team.
Mote, an Oak Grove, La., native, was a 2020 C-USA honorable mention. He was part of an offensive front that ranked first in C-USA and second in the FBS in fourth down conversions at 88.9 percent (16-of-18). He helped the offense rank fourth in C-USA and 53rd in the FBS in red zone offense at 84.6 percent (33-of-39). Mote assisted the offense in averaging 315.8 yards of total offense, including a 216.6 passing yard average and a 99.2 rushing yard average.
Ladler, a native of Stone Mountain, Ga., was a 2020 C-USA honorable mention. He registered 34 tackles, including 19 solo and 1.5 for loss during the season. He had a season-high seven tackles at UTSA (Oct. 24), and he had a season-high four solo tackles at both Southern Miss (Sept. 19) and UTSA. Ladler returned an interception for an 81-yard touchdown after Williamson intercepted the ball and lateraled it to Ladler.
Barnes, a Baton Rouge, La., native, was a Lou Groza National Collegiate Place-Kicker Award semifinalist and named to the FWAA Freshman All-American Watch List. He was also a 2020 C-USA honorable mention and earned a spot on the C-USA All-Freshman Team. Barnes was a perfect 33-for-33 in PATs, including a career-best 9-for-9 against HBU on Sept. 26. He opened the season with eight straight made field goals, including a career-long 51-yarder against HBU. Barnes finished the season 12-for-14 in field goals, including the game-winning 35-yarder in double overtime against UAB on Oct. 31. Barnes was also a two-time C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week honoree.