PGA Tour standout Dustin Johnson has for several years been Coastal Carolina’s most notable former athlete, and the university will formally recognize his impact as a Chanticleer next fall as the golfer headlines the school’s 2012 Sasser Athletics Hall of Fame class.
The class also includes the Chants’ first football inductees in Maurice Simpkins and Quinton Teal along with former Coastal baseball star Mike Costanzo, softball player Meagen Johnson and cross country/track athlete Anne Marie Moutsinga.
The induction ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 12 on campus and the athletes will also be recognized the following day at the football game with Stony Brook, however Johnson will not be in attendance due to prior commitments.
Simpkins, meanwhile, couldn’t contain his excitement when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve looked forward to for a long time, never knowing it would definitely come, but something I worked for and strived to reach.”
Simpkins is remembered as one of the first players to join the Coastal football program in 2002 while following coach David Bennett over from Catawba after his freshman season. Simpkins helped the Chants to a 6-5 record in their debut season in 2003 and was a key cog on Big South Conference championship teams in 2004 and 2005.
The linebacker, who briefly made the Green Bay Packers’ active roster in 2010 after a stint in the Indoor Football League, was a three-time All-Big South selection and ranks second in CCU history with 272 total tackles, tied for first with 34 tackles for loss and third with 14 sacks.
“Anytime you can look back and see something you took part in show appreciation to you for your involvement, it’s a great compliment,” Simpkins said. “I can’t truly accept this type of honor without truly, truly giving credit to the rest of the team ... and, it goes without saying, the coaching staff and what they mean to me. I look at each guy who coached us as another father figure.”
Teal was a four-year starter at safety from 2003-06 and, like Simpkins, is one of three Chants to be honored as a three-time first-team All-Big South selection. A two-time All-American, he ranks as the conference’s all-time leader with 17 interceptions and is fourth in program history with 227 career tackles. He played with both the Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers after his time in Conway.
As for Johnson, he has tallied six PGA Tour wins and four top-10 finishes in major championships since finishing at Coastal in 2007. He’s the first golfer since Tiger Woods to win PGA Tour events in each of his first five years after leaving college and is No. 17 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Johnson led the Chants to a fifth-place NCAA finish in 2007 while placing ninth individually. He also led Coastal to four-straight conference championships, was named the Big South Golfer of the Year three times and was a three-time All-American while earning first-team honors in 2006 and 2007. He is CCU’s career scoring leader (72.11) and single-season scoring leader (70.40).
Although he is officially part of the 2012 class, Johnson will be honored at a future induction ceremony due to his scheduling conflict this year.
Costanzo, meanwhile, was the first Coastal baseball player to be named a consensus All-American, which he accomplished in 2005 when he batted .379 with 16 home runs, 74 runs scored and a Big South-best 14 saves on the mound. He helped the Chants to the program’s first No. 1 seed in an NCAA regional that year and was one of 16 finalists for the Dick Howser National Player of the Year Award. A two-time Big South Player of the Year in 2004-05, he was the 65th overall pick in the 2005 Major League Baseball draft and made his big league debut this May with the Cincinnati Reds.
“I love Coastal, and it’s a big part of where I am today. It’s just an awesome feeling,” Costanzo said of the honor. “I was hoping that I would get the opportunity to go in the hall of fame. It came true and I’m thrilled and I can’t wait for it.”
Meagen Johnson holds the Coastal softball program’s single-season record with 20 home runs, which ranked fourth in the NCAA in 2006 as she was named the Big South Player of the Year and an All-American that season. She also posted a 1.94 earned-run average as a pitcher that season and ranks fourth in program history and ninth in conference history with a 1.66 career mark.
And Moutsinga is remembered as one of the most prolific runners Coastal’s track and cross country programs have ever seen. Over her four-year collegiate career, she tallied 13 Big South championships and 24 all-conference honors. Among her highlights, she was the Big South’s cross country champion and Runner of the Year in 2002, 2003 and 2005 and the conference’s 2004 indoor track and field Most Outstanding Athlete while winning the 3,000 and 5,000 meters and contributing to the winning distance medley relay team.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.