Kade Harrington has been named the 2015 Southland Conference Player of the Year. Harrington becomes the first player in program history to earn Southland Player of the Year Honors, just two seasons after becoming the first LU player to receive Southland Freshman of the Year honors.

Junior running back Kade Harrington has been named 2015 Southland Conference Player of the Year announced league officials Tuesday morning. In addition to Harrington, nine other Cardinals received all-conference recognition, including five first-team selections, as voted on by the league head coaches and media relations directors. LU’s five first-team selections are the most since bringing back the program for the start of the 2010 season.

Harrington was joined on the first-team offense by senior receiver Reggie Begelton, senior offensive linemen Cody Elenz and junior offensive linemen Bret Treadway. Junior Larance Hale was the Cards’ lone first-team representative on the defensive side of the ball. Freshman Rodney Randle garnered second-team recognition as a kickoff returner.

“It’s an honor to have five players earn first-team recognition,” said head coach Ray Woodard. “I believe it shows the continued progress of our programs. These players earned the respect of the other coaches in the league.”

Harrington becomes the first player in program history to earn Southland Player of the Year Honors, just two seasons after becoming the first LU player to receive Southland Freshman of the Year honors. Harrington joins an elite list of former players who have received either SLC Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year recognition. Former All-American Burton Murchison was named SLC Offensive Player of the Year in 1985, while Vernon McManus (1965) and Eugene Seale (1983) each garnered league defensive player of the year honors.

Harrington put together not only one of the best seasons in conference history, but one of the best by a running back in the history of the game. Harrington led the nation in total yards (2,092), rushing yards per game (190.2 ypg), rushing touchdowns (21), all-purpose yards (213.36 ypg), finished second in scoring (12.5 ppg), and was third in yards per carry (7.86 ypc). He also became just the seventh player in NCAA Division I history to rush for 2,000 yards in just 10 games. Along the way, Harrington set the conference single-season records for rushing yards per game and points per game, in addition to rushing for a league single-game record of 347 yards against Abilene Christian.

The STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Year candidate set school and conference single-game and season rushing records during a year that saw him post eight of the school’s top 16 single-game performances of all time. In addition to his single-game records, Harrington became the LU all-time leading rusher, reaching the mark in just under three seasons.

A big-play threat every time he touched the ball, Harrington recorded 63 rushes of at least 10 yards on the season. He also recorded eight runs of at least 50 yards and three of at least 70 yards. He also recorded touchdown receptions of 77 and 29 yards during the year.

“Kade has far exceeded our expectations when we recruited him,” said Woodard. “He has gone from a young running back fighting for playing time to one of the best in the country. This is quite an honor for him, and it says a lot about Kade and our program.”

Two key figures working up front to block for Harrington were Elenz and Treadway, who took very different routes to get to Beaumont. Signed out of high school, Treadway is a three-year starter for the Cardinals, while Elenz transferred to LU after spending three seasons at Idaho. The Big Red duo started all 12 games, and in addition to blocking for the nation’s top running back, the LU offensive line also led the nation in pass protection.

One of only six players on the 2015 list to be recognized for a third time, Begelton is a first-team selection for the first time in his career. The school’s all-time leading receiver ended the season with a team-best 57 receptions for 545 yards and five touchdowns. Begelton finished second in the Southland averaging 5.7 catches per game this season. Over the course of his final three seasons Begelton ranked either first or second in the league in that category.

Begelton leaves LU as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (227) and receiving yards (2,435) and second in TD catches (20) – just one shy of former teammate Mark Roberts. He will also go down as one of the greatest receivers in Southland history finishing his career second to only Simmie Yarborough (229) in receptions.

Although Hale didn’t break fall camp as the starter at defensive end, the junior took advantage of early season injuries on the depth chart ahead of him. A College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Defensive Linemen of the Year candidate, Hale finished the season leading the team and ranked second in the league in tackles for losses (21.5) and sacks (7.5), while finishing ninth in the SLC with 86 tackles.

A second-team selection as a kick returner, Randle made an impact for the Cardinals in the secondary and on special teams. He finished the year ranked second in the league averaging better than 24 yards per kickoff return. He was one of only three players in the league to return a kick for a touchdown during the 2015 campaign.

In addition to the first and second-team selections, offensive lineman Justin Brock, tight end DeAndre Jennings, linebacker Logan Moss and safety Xavier Bethany each received honorable mention recognition.

“It’s an honor for me knowing that several of these guys will be back next season,” added Woodard. “Of the 10 guys we have that were recognized, six of them have at least one more year of eligibility remaining.”