McNeese State quarterback Cody Stroud. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 8:09 PM
Persistence pays off.
Quarterback Cody Stroud and offensive lineman Arinze Agada have both started 34 straight games for McNeese State, and both turned that consistency into greatness in the eyes of Southland Conference coaches.
Stroud was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, and Agada earned honors as the league’s Offensive Lineman of the Year to lead a cast of Cowboys named to the all-Southland team.
Stroud is the first McNeese player to be named conference OPY since running back Toddrick Pendland in 2008.
It’s been an unlikely journey for the senior from Montgomery, who overcame the growing pains of his freshman and sophomore seasons to reach the conference’s pinnacle.
“In 2011 I turned the ball over more than I would have liked, especially fumbles-wise,” Stroud said in October. “The past two years I’ve put more of an emphasis on not turning the ball over. I can’t say I’m not scared to take chances, but if I don’t like the look of something I’ll check it down and go to the next play. I pride myself in not turning the ball over and putting my team in a bad position.”
He’s mostly made well on that resolution, at one point setting a school record with 142 consecutive passes without an interception this season.
Previous Cowboys named to the honor are Pendland, Vick King (2002-03), Buford Jordan (1981) and Stephen Starring (1980).
The conference only began naming a top offensive lineman last year, making Agada the first Cowboy to earn the honor. He was the lone McNeese first-team all-conference selection last season and the only two-time honoree on the roster.
Stroud tied Kerry Joseph’s single-season school record with 27 touchdown passes. He completed 193 of 330 passes (58.4 percent) for 2,680 yards and threw five interceptions. He is 14th in the FCS with a 150.7 passer rating.
Joining Agada on the all-conference first team are senior left tackle Antoine Everett, senior running back Marcus Wiltz, junior tight end Nic Jacobs, senior wide receiver Diontae Spencer, junior defensive end Everett Ellefsen and senior cornerback Guy Morgan.
Three different Cowboys were named to the second team: senior kicker Ryan Rome, junior defensive back Aaron Sam and sophomore linebacker Bo Brown. Spencer also landed on the second team as a kick returner.
Stroud is an honorable mention at quarterback despite being the offensive player of the year. Offensive linemen Quentin Marsh and Nick Gorman, defensive lineman Kevin Dorn, safety Terence Cahee and punter Jean Breaux were the other honorable mentions.
The 10-2 Cowboys are making their first playoff appearance since 2009. McNeese will host either Jacksonville State or Samford on Dec. 7.
Southeastern Louisiana quarterback Bryan Bennett was named the conference player of the year, while Lions linebacker Cqulin Hubert is the defensive player of the year.
Unsurprisingly, SLU’s Ron Roberts is the league’s coach of the year after leading the Lions to their first conference title since 1961.
Lamar running back Kade Harrington is the Southland freshman of the year, and Northwestern State quarterback Zach Adkins was named newcomer of the year.
• NOTE: Tickets are now on sale to the public for the Dec. 7 playoff game. Prices are $20 for general admission, $25 for reserved seating and $41 for premium seating.