Western Kentucky University junior running back Bobby Rainey was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year Wednesday as the league announced its 2010 all-conference football team.
Rainey - who was also selected to the all-league first team - was one of four Hilltoppers honored. Senior linebacker Thomas Majors was named to the all-Sun Belt second team defense, while senior offensive lineman Mychal Patterson and senior linebacker Orlando Misaalefua were both honorable mention all-conference. Voting was conducted by the Sun Belt head coaches and selected members of the media.
Rainey had a season for the record books in 2010, currently leading the nation in rushing attempts (340) and ranking second in rushing yards (1,649). The attempts is also a WKU record, while his total rushing yards ranked second on the WKU single-season list - falling 19 shy of the record. He leads the Sun Belt Conference, and ranks third nationally, averaging 137.42 yards per game. Rainey's 1,879 yards from scrimmage represented 49.23 percent of WKU's 3,817 total team yards. He hit 100 rushing yards nine times this season, and enters next season with a streak of five straight 100-yard performances. Rainey accounted for 15 of WKU's 21 rushing touchdowns on the season, finishing with two scores in six games. It is the second season Rainey has been named to an all-Sun Belt squad. He was a second-team selection as an all-purpose performer in 2009. He is also the first non-quarterback to win the Sun Belt Offensive Player-of-the-Year award since 2004.
Majors posted a team-high 105 tackles on the year, giving him over 100 stops on both his seasons at WKU. His 8.75 tackles per game rank fifth in the Sun Belt, and tied for 48th in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He finished with no less than six tackles in a game this season, and had double-digit stops four times. The Nashville, Tenn., product recorded a team-best 14.5 tackles for loss, which was third in the conference and tied for 34th in the FBS. His 4.5 tackles for loss against FAU tied for the most in a game by a Sun Belt player this year. Majors one of just two Hilltopper defenders to start all 12 games on the season, and his effort helped lead the Hilltopper defense to fewest yards allowed per game in Sun Belt Conference games this season. Majors is the first Hilltopper defensive player to earn all-Sun Belt honors in the two years they have been a part of the league.
Misaalefua made the move to linebacker for his senior season, and responded with 61 total tackles - third most on the team. He also posted 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack in that total to go along with two fourced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. The Fort Campbell, Ky., native recorded 42 of his tackles in Sun Belt Conference games, finishing with five or more tackles six times in eight league games. That included a season-best nine in WKU's overtime win at Arkansas State.
Patterson played and started in 11 games at left guard in his final year on the Hill. The senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., graded out at 85 percent or better in all eight Sun Belt Conference games, including a season-high grade of 92 against Louisiana-Monroe. He was credited with nine knockdown blocks in the last two games - five against MTSU and four against Troy. Patterson's efforts helped lead a Hilltopper offensive line that allowed the fifth-fewest sacks in the Sun Belt.