MONROE — Grayson McCall was considered Coastal Carolina’s third-string quarterback heading into his redshirt freshman season, so just cracking the starting lineup in 2020 was notew+orthy. But the Porter Ridge High graduate did so much more, and was recently named Player of the Year in the Sun Belt Conference.

McCall led the Chanticleers to an 11-0 record in the regular season and a top-10 national ranking by the Associated Press. McCall was also voted Freshman of the Year in the league.

The Chants came up just short of a perfect season, losing to Liberty, 37-34, in the Cure Bowl in overtime.

Coastal (11-1) won the Sun Belt Conference championship for the first time this season and achieved a high rank of No. 9 in the AP Poll.

McCall finished the bowl game 21-of-32 passing for 318 yards, with three touchdown passes and one interception, while adding another 96 yards and a score on the ground.

McCall finished his redshirt season 172-of-250 (68.8%) for 2,488 yards, 26 touchdowns and just three interceptions while adding 569 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

Howell short handed for Orange BowlFormer Sun Valley quarterback Sam Howell will play in his first major bowl game on Saturday, Jan. 2, starting at 8 p.m. against No. 5 Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla. While Howell (6-1, 225 pounds) led one of the nation’s top offenses this season, the UNC football team will be without several of its top offensive weapons when it takes the field.

Three UNC offensive players have decided to opt out of the Orange Bowl to focus on preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. Running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter — who were named second- and third-team All-Americans, respectively, by the Associated Press — will not be available after combining for 2,385 rushing yards and 33 total touchdowns this season. Third-team All-American receiver Dyami Brown (55 catches, 1,099 yards, eight touchdowns) is also sitting out.

The Heels will also be without all-conference linebacker Chazz Surratt, who is sitting out the bowl game, while Texas A&M expects to be at full strength, according to 24/7 Sports.

Howell was named second-team All-ACC this season after leading the conference in passing yards (3,352) and touchdown passes (27).

Emezie preps for Gator Bowl

On Saturday, former Marvin Ridge receiver Emeka Emezie will play the final game of his senior season for N.C. State when the Wolfpack faces Kentucky in the Gator Bowl.

Emezie (6-3, 220) has been a bright spot for the 8-3 Wolfpack this season, leading the team in catches (42) and receiving yards (694) while scoring five touchdowns. For his career, Emezie has caught 164 passes for 2,049 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The Wolfpack is ranked No. 24 in the AP Top 25 and already has four more wins than last season.

Duncan’s doneFormer Weddington High all-state kicker Keith Duncan’s college career, which included all-American honors for the University of Iowa, ended abruptly this week after Missouri pulled out of the Music City Bowl because of a rise of COVID-19 cases in the program.

Duncan finished his career second all-time in field goals made (52) and third all-time in total points (252) among Iowa kickers. He was a consensus all-American as a redshirt junior in 2019. Duncan announced on Twitter he will not return for a sixth year at Iowa.