Grayson McCall

Grayson McCall rushes for a first down in the team's 52-23 win over Arkansas State on Oct. 3rd. Coastal and Liberty play in the 2020 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Orlando. Photo by Ian Livingston Brooking

Grayson McCall has been anything but quiet on the gridiron this season.

Coastal's redshirt freshman quarterback put together an impressive stat sheet: 2,170 passing yards, the sixth most in a single season by a Chant, and 23 touchdowns, good enough for third most in a single year.

McCall's dual threat style of play has made him a disruptive force, a pest to the Sun Belt Conference's top defenses.

However, until this week, the noise that McCall created on the field was all fans really got from the Chants' leading man. McCall rarely tweets anything personal; if he does take to Twitter, it's mostly retweets from Coastal or college football accounts.

McCall hadn't been given the opportunity to talk to the media due to head coach Jamey Chadwell's policy that prohibits freshmen from granting interviews.

The signal caller finally got to the microphone on Wednesday.

"There's a lot of negative things that can come with the media and positive things as well," McCall said during a Cure Bowl news conference. "I understood what Coach Chadwell was trying to do and protect me."

While McCall stayed silent for almost the entire 2020 season, there were times he wanted to break the silence and speak up.

"You hear stuff here and there on Twitter and in the media," McCall said. "There were definitely times that I wanted to express my voice. It's all good though because I get the chance to do that now."

Long before the McCall was named the starting quarterback in the season opener against Kansas, the redshirt freshman predicted that Coastal would be successful.

"The Chants will be a good football team this year," McCall tweeted on Aug. 20.

The Chanticleers have been more than good. So far, they've been perfect, completing the first ever undefeated regular season in both program and Sun Belt history. Coastal is looking to continue to prove the doubters wrong Saturday with a win over Liberty in the 2020 FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl and finish the entire season undefeated for the first time.

McCall has been a growing sensation in college football this past season and it's not just because of his flowing mullet. McCall, the 2020 Sun Belt Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year, has an incredible ability to command the offense.

"It's been a crazy journey," McCall said. "I learned a lot from the guys ahead of me. … We have a great coaching staff here. Coach [Willy] Korn does a great job with the quarterbacks and Coach Chadwell does as well."

McCall said the team's 34-23 win at Kansas "got the ball rolling" for the Chanticleers this fall.

"It gave us more confidence," he said. "My teammates were able to see me for the first time and it gave some confidence in me."

McCall has used that confidence to become one of the premier quarterbacks in college football this season. McCall's touchdown total (23) is tied for seventh in the nation. His 473 rushing yards? The ninth most among quarterbacks. In fact, McCall has a better passer rating, completion percentage, more touchdown passes and fewer interceptions than Clemson quarterback and Heisman finalist Trevor Lawrence.

Earlier this week, it was announced that McCall was named the 2020 Sun Belt Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. The last time a Coastal offensive player won an end-of-the-year award in football was in 2015 when De'Angelo Henderson was named the Big South Offensive Player of the Year.

"It's really cool," McCall said. "Hop was a great player and everyone around here knows that guy."

McCall was also listed as a finalist for the 2020 Manning Award, along with names such as Ohio State's Justin Fields, Alabama's Mac Jones, and Florida's Kyle Trask. However, the accolades are not a part of the bigger picture for McCall.

"The accolades and the awards are really cool to me, but I'm more so focused on coming in every day getting ready to work and finding a way to win for my team," McCall said.

Finding a way to win is certainly something that McCall has shown he can do this year, especially in the final game of the regular season. In the final two minutes of the Chants' game against Troy, he threw just his second interception of the season, giving the Trojans excellent field position. 

Troy scored a few plays later to take a 38-35 lead with under 90 seconds to go, putting the Chanticleers' perfect season in jeopardy. But McCall didn't flinch.

He went 4-for-4 on the next drive, connecting with wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh for the game-winning touchdown. 

"[That drive] just proved that he really is a baller," Heiligh said. "He has the confidence in himself to make plays after a big mistake. Four times he put the ball on the money. That shows he has the confidence in himself."

There have been other defining moments for McCall's freshman year: his 62-yard touchdown run against App State and his helicopter touchdown in the opening game of the season. But for one of his teammates, McCall's ability was obvious before he was listed as the starting quarterback.

"Grayson solidified that he would be a special player in spring ball," junior tight end Isaiah Likely said. "You could just tell he was comfortable with being like a one quarterback. He knew where he was supposed to be. Him being comfortable with all the receivers and the running backs and starting to take the lead when he started going with the ones at the end of the fall, you could see he was a phenomenal player."

McCall now leads the Chanticleers into battle against the Liberty Flames in the Cure Bowl. The Flames defense almost resembles the "Black Swarm" unit of the Chanticleers in their stinginess and their ability to make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket and force them out.

"They're definitely strong up front," McCall said. "They have some really good guys on the edge that can get into the backfield. I'm really confident in our offensive line and what they're going to do. They're going to handle business."

The Coastal-Liberty game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The game can be viewed on ESPN.

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