ROCK HILL, S.C. - The 2007 preseason all-South Atlantic Conference football team was released at the conference's annual media day today, with 12 Newberry College players named to either the first or second team.
Newberry, ranked 13th nationally by Street and Smith's College Football Preview, has the most players on the teams of any of the seven competing schools in the conference. Catawba is close behind with 11 honorees, while Carson-Newman had 10 players named to the list. Tusculum also had eight first-teamers to match Newberry's total.
The Indians have four first-team selections on each side of the ball. Of the five offensive line honorees on the first team, two are Newberry Indians. Redshirt senior Heath Benedict (Greer, S.C.) was the 2006 winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is awarded to the conference's best offensive lineman each season. He has been named a preseason All-American by three publications already this season.
Joining Benedict on the first team offensive line is Marchent Faustin (Summerville, S.C.). The redshirt junior was a postseason first team selection following the 2006 championship campaign. Benedict and Faustin will be blocking for one of the SAC's premiere running backs in 2007, as Alex Haynes (Summerville, S.C.) was named a preseason first-teamer for the second consecutive season. The senior rushed for 1,007 yards last year, the only running back in the league to break the 1,000-yard mark.
Kicker Ryan Lukshis (Irmo, S.C.) is the final first team offensive player for the Indians. The senior had an outstanding year in 2006, connecting on 39-of-44 extra point attempts and 10-of-14 field goals for a total of 69 points. He needs 12 extra points in 2007 to break Hall of Famer Eddie Taylor's school record for extra points.
The Indians' defense is also well-represented on the first team as a lineman, a safety and two linebackers are amongst the top honorees.
Defensive lineman Jonathan Breaux (Ladson, S.C.) was a second team postseason All-SAC honoree in 2006 after a solid showing in the championship run. The senior was promoted to the 2007 preseason first team after he recorded a career-high 35 tackles, including two tackles for loss, last year.
Junior Will Newell (Irmo, S.C.) leads a group of exceptional first team linebackers, and he is joined by redshirt junior teammate Mike Grase (Rock Hill, S.C.).
Newell led the conference with 130 tackles last year, the third-highest single season total in Newberry history. He was ranked 10th in the country in tackles and was named a second team all-Southeast Region selection by two publications. He also had 10 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2006.
Grase had 68 tackles in 2006, including 6.5 tackles for loss. He also had two quarterback hurries and two pass breakups to go with the second-best tackling numbers on the team.
All-American free safety Derrell Mills (Gray Court, S.C.) rounds out Newberry's first team selections. The junior had 64 tackles in 2006 and led the team with six interceptions. He was named a second team All-American by Don Hansen's Football Gazette and was named a first team all-Southeast Region performer by two publications.
One offensive player and three defenders from Newberry are on the second team. Corey Seawell (Columbia, S.C.) led the Indians with 719 receiving yards in 2006 on 50 catches, including five touchdown receptions. The redshirt senior needs only 89 receiving yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard milestone in his career.
Defensive lineman Devin Robinson (St. Helena, S.C.) had 15 tackles for loss in the 2006 season, good enough for third place in the league last year and a 2007 preseason second team all-conference nod. The senior also led the Indians with six sacks. He has 23 tackles for loss in three seasons thus far.
Defensive back Temarcus Thompson (Greenville, S.C.) started all 13 games at cornerback last year, and recorded 30 tackles. The redshirt junior had one interception and six pass breakups in 2006.
Ryan Lukshis shows up on the list a second time this year, as he was named the second team all-SAC punter. He averaged 40.0 yards per punt, with a long punt of 59 yards. He had six punts of over 50 yards, while pinning the opponent within their own 20-yard line eight times.
Catawba placed 11 on the squad, with four on the first team. Defens ive lineman Ron Ellington, the 2006 SAC Defensive Player of the Year, returns on the first team, while quarterback Brad Roach, wide receiver Brent Johnson and running back Jamelle Cuthbertson made the first team on offense.Ellington was also named a preseason All-American.
Tusculum had 10 preseason All-SAC selections, with eight on the first team. Octavius Love was a two-time selection, making the first team as both a return specialist and a defensive back. Other first team picks include wide receiver Jamichael Caldwell, running back Patrick King, offensive lineman Manuel Dickson, defensive lineman Adrian Samples and punter John Gregory.
Caldwell, a two-time All-Conference receiver, had 43 catches for 647 yards and seven touchdowns last season and needs one TD reception to become Tusculum's all-time leader. Love led the nation in punt returns in 2005.
Carson-Newman, the pick to win the league title, also had 10 preseason All-Conference picks. The Eagles had two on the first team in linebacker Eric Rice and defensive back Denres Waites. Rice led the Eagles with 73 tackles and seven sacks in 2006.
Mars Hill had eight picked to the preseason All-SAC team. Linebacker Nathaniel Smith and defensive back Rashawn Champion were both selected to the first team. Smith led the Lions in tackles last season with 97 stops.
Wingate had five selections, including four to the first team. Making the first team for the Bulldogs are returning All-American defensive lineman Kenwin Cummings, as well as wide receiver Gary Tatum, tight end Chris Conklin and offensive lineman Greg Keziah.
Two-time All-SAC defensive end Kenwin Cummings led the conference in tackles for loss, quarterback hurries and sacks.
Lenoir-Rhyne College has two preseason All-Conference selections. Offensive lineman Greg Jones is a first-team pick.
The Indians begin the defense of their first-ever South Atlantic Conference championship on September 1, as Newberry hosts Chowan University.
2007 Preseason All-SAC Football Team
First Team Offense
QB – Brad Roach, Catawba
WR – Brent Johnson, Catawba
WR – Jamichael Caldwell, Tusculum
WR – Gary Tatum, Wingate
RB – Jamelle Cuthbertson, Catawba
RB – Alex Haynes, Newberry
RB – Patrick King, Tusculum
TE – Chris Conklin, Wingate
OL – Greg Jones, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Heath Benedict, Newberry
OL – Marchent Faustin, Newberry
OL – Manuel Dickson, Tusculum
OL – Greg Keziah, Wingate
PK – Ryan Lukshis, Newberry
RS – Octavius Love, Tusculum
First Team Defense
DL – Ron Ellington, Catawba
DL – Jonathan Breaux, Newberry
DL – Adrian Samples, Tusculum
DL – Kenwin Cummings, Wingate
LB – Nathaniel Smith, Mars Hill
LB – Will Newell, Newberry
LB – Eric Rice, Carson-Newman
LB – Mike Grase, Newberry
DB – Octavius Love, Tusculum
DB – Derrell Mills, Newberry
DB – Denares Waites, Carson-Newman
DB – Rashawn Champion, Mars Hill
P – John Gregory, Tusculum
LS – Robby Kelly, Tusculum
Second Team Offense
QB – Alex Rouse, Carson-Newman
WR – Reggie Hubbard, Carson-Newman
WR – Demario Zachery, Mars Hill
WR – Corey Seawell, Newberry
RB – Buck Wakefield, Carson-Newman
RB – Kory Fisher, Catawba
RB – George Washington, Mars Hill
TE – Shane Timmons, Catawba
OL – Ross Shaffer, Carson-Newman
OL – Jeff Weaver, Carson-Newman
OL – Josh Sims, Mars Hill
OL – Matt Lawrie, Tusculum
OL – Daniel Yow, Catawba
PK – DJ Gill, Catawba
RS – Buck Wakefield, Carson-Newman
Second Team Defense
DL – Anthony Toribio, Carson-Newman
DL – James House, Catawba
DL – Charles Chavous, Mars Hill
DL – Devin Robinson, Newberry
LB – Brian Brown, Carson-Newman
LB – Joe Brown, Catawba
LB – Stan Galbraith, Mars Hill
LB – Bobby Floyd, Wingate
DB – Thomas Presley, Catawba
DB – Chima Okoro, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Temarcus Thompson, Newberry
DB - Tagon Richard, Tusculum
P – Ryan Lukshis, Newberry
LS – Andy McCall, Mars Hill