Former area stars garner repeat first team honors from Conference USA

For the second straight year, a pair of former area high school football standouts have been named first team all-conference by Conference USA.

Forrest Lamp, a Venice High graduate, anchored Western Kentucky’s offensive line as the Hilltoppers claimed their second consecutive conference title this season. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound redshirt senior has earned a litany of awards during his collegiate career, including honorable mention All-Sun Belt Conference and honorable mention All-Conference USA honors in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In addition to being a first team all-conference selection last year, Lamp was named a second team All-American by Pro Football Focus.

Lamp, a Senior Bowl invitee who is currently ranked by Pro Football Focus as the second-best offensive tackle in the NFL Draft Class of 2017, has started 50 games at either right guard or left tackle during his college career. He was one of 14 Hilltoppers to earn either first or second team mention from the conference this season.

Riverview High grad Richie James has proven to everyone outside of the 941 that he is a dynamic offensive player since the day he took the field for Middle Tennessee State. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound James was named to Conference USA’s All-Freshmen team and Conference USA’s first team all-conference squad in 2015 after collecting 1,346 yards and eight touchdowns on 108 receptions. Those numbers were good enough to garner first team Freshman All-American honors from the FWAA, USA Today and Athlon Sports.

A preseason candidate for the Bilentnikoff and Maxwell Awards, James has amassed 1,463 yards with 11 touchdowns on 97 receptions this season. He became only the sixth player in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history to collect 200 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game when he was forced to step in at quarterback against Florida Atlantic in the regular-season finale. James earned co-Offensive Player of the Week honors from Conference USA after throwing for 76 yards on 5-of-6 passing, rushing 22 times for 207 yards and three touchdowns, and catching four passes for 120 yards and a score in the 77-56 win over the Owls on November 26.

Western Kentucky will take on Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl on December 20, while James and Middle Tennessee State will battle Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on December 24.

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