ROCK HILL, S.C. - The 2009 South Atlantic Conference Football Preseason Coaches' Poll and Preseason All-Conference Teams were announced by the league office today. Newberry College is predicted to finish sixth in the conference this season and had nine players selected to the Preseason All-SAC squads.
PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
Newberry, under the direction of first-year head coach Todd Knight, is predicted to finish in sixth place in the South Atlantic Conference. The scarlet and gray were the league champions in 2008 along with Carson-Newman and Tusculum, and return 14 starters from last year's 6-4 team. Newberry earned 34 points in the voting, which is conducted by the league's head football coaches. Mars Hill is in fifth place with 35 points, just one point ahead of Newberry.
One of three defending league champions, Carson-Newman received six first-place votes and 62 out of a possible 64 total points. Catawba College and 2008 champion Tusculum College shared second place in the poll. The Catawba Indians, coming off a 6-4 record and fourth-place finish in the SAC, received one first-place vote. The Pioneers won their second conference title last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
Wingate University is picked to finish fourth. The Bulldogs finished in a tie for fourth place last season after a strong start to the season. The Bulldogs picked up 41 points. Lenoir-Rhyne University received 16 points for seventh place, which is where the Bears finished last season. Brevard College rounds out the preseason poll with eight points.
2009 SAC Football Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Carson-Newman (6) 62
t2. Catawba (1) 46
t2 Tusculum 46
4. Wingate 41
5. Mars Hill (1) 35
6. Newberry 34
7. Lenoir-Rhyne 16
8. Brevard 8
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
Newberry placed nine players on the 2009 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference teams, which is the second-most of any team in the conference behind Carson-Newman's 11 selections. Four Newberry players earned first team honors.
Newberry's first team preseason All-SAC representatives are wide receiver Kelton Tindal (Sumter, S.C.), offensive lineman Matt Holmes (Johnston, S.C.), defensive lineman Lance Clark (Florence, S.C.) and defensive back Kamaal McIlwain (Fort Mill, S.C.).
Tindal, a senior wide receiver, was a first team all-SAC selection in 2008 after catching 39 passes for 745 yards and six touchdowns. He was a member of the DAKTRONICS All-Super Region Two second team and Don Hansen's Football Gazette All-Super Region Two third team, as well as an Orangeburg Touchdown Club All-State selection. He was fifth in the conference in receptions per game (3.9), fourth in receiving yards per game (74.5) and 10th in scoring (4.8 points per game).
Holmes, a junior center, was a second team all-SAC selection in 2008 after starting all 10 games at center. He was one of only three linemen on the team to start all 10 games and is tied for the team's longest active games started streak.
Clark, a junior defensive tackle, was a second team all-SAC selection in 2008 after recording 28 tackles in his sophomore season. He was second on the team with six tackles for loss and made 5.0 sacks, earning seventh in the conference in sacks.
McIlwain, a junior cornerback, was a first team all-SAC selection in 2008 with 29 tackles, two fumble recoveries, three interceptions, two blocked kicks and eight pass breakups as a sophomore. He ranked fourth in the SAC and first on the team with three interceptions. He also ranked third in the league in passes defended, tied for third in the league in fumble recoveries and was fourth in the league in interception return yardage. He was named to the all-Super Region Two second team by both DAKTRONICS and Don Hansen's Football Gazette and was named SAC Defensive Player of the Week once and SAC Special Teams Player of the Week once last season.
The scarlet and gray are represented on the second team by quarterback Brandon Gantt (Lexington, S.C.), running back Gerald Legree (St. Helena Island, S.C.), offensive lineman Walter Simmons (Charleston, S.C.), defensive lineman Marcus Nelums (Columbia, S.C.) and defensive back Andre Moyd (Andrews, S.C.).
Gantt, a senior quarterback, completed 42-of-72 passes for 452 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions as a junior, as well as rushing 38 times for 136 yards and a touchdown. He was named to the ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District Three team in 2008 and has been a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll the last two seasons. Legree, a senior running back, was Newberry's second leading rusher in 2008 with 94 carries for 480 yards and three touchdowns. He earned starts in the final three games of the season in his junior campaign. Simmons, a senior right guard, earned five starts as a junior and is expected to be a senior leader on the offensive line.
Nelums, a senior defensive end, started five games as a junior in his first season at Newberry earning 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a pass breakup. Moyd, a senior defensive back/linebacker, was a second team all-SAC selection in 2008, after starting in seven games. He finished the season with 24 tackles, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, four pass breakups and a tackle for loss. He ranked ninth in the conference in interceptions (2) with two, sixth in interception return yards (40), tied for eighth in the SAC in fumbles forced (2) and tied for third in the SAC in fumbles recovered (2).
Carson-Newman College leads the 2009 preseason All-Conference football team with 11 selections. The Eagles had seven players named to the first team, including quarterback Alex Good and running back Buck Wakefield. Good was a second team All-Conference pick in 2008, while Wakefield returns as a first team running back.
Tusculum College had eight on the preseason All-Conference team. The Pioneers had four named to the first team, including returning All-American tight end Jarrell NeSmith and wide receiver Ryan Tallent, who led the conference with 92 catches last season.
Wingate University had six preseason All-Conference selections. The Bulldogs had three first team selections, including running back Nelson Woods, who led the conference with 1,238 yards rushing last season.
Mars Hill College placed seven on the preseason squad, including three on the first team. The Lions return a pair of first team standouts on the defensive side in linebacker Stan Galbraith, who registered six sacks last season, and defensive back Deshon Nesbitt.
Catawba College and Lenoir-Rhyne University each placed six on the preseason All-Conference team. The Catawba Indians had three first-team selections, including returning All-American offensive lineman Terence Crosby. The Bears had three first team selections, and all on the offense, including the conference's top kicker last season in Colin Corpe.
Brevard College had three preseason All-Conference selections, including a pair of first team defensive selections in linebackers Stanley Jones and Brandon Rawls.
2009 SAC Preseason All-Conference Football Team
QB - Alex Good, Carson-Newman
RB - Buck Wakefield, Carson-Newman
RB - Nelson Woods, Wingate
RB - Marcus Foster, Tusculum
WR - Reggie Hubbard, Carson-Newman
WR - Kelton Tindal, Newberry
WR - Ryan Tallent, Tusculum
TE - Jarrell NeSmith, Tusculum
OL - Terence Crosby, Catawba
OL - Chandler Rearden, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL - Josh Sims, Mars Hill
OL - Matt Holmes, Newberry
OL - Ross Shaffer, Carson-Newman
PK - Colin Corpe, Lenoir-Rhyne
LS - Jordon Simmons, Lenoir-Rhyne
QB - Brandon Gantt, Newberry
RB - Ricky Harris, Carson-Newman
RB - Anthony Silvers, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB - Gerald Legree, Newberry
WR - Nate Binder, Tusculum
WR - John Brown, Mars Hill
WR - Calvin Britt, Tusculum
TE - Ryan Webber, Wingate
OL - Hunter Carnes, Catawba
OL - Harrison Smith, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL - Walter Simmons, Newberry
OL - Josh Stone, Tusculum
OL - Ben Benshoof, Wingate
PK - Michael Pinkerton, Mars Hill
LS - Kyle Davis, Wingate
DL - Melquan Fair, Catawba
DL - Brandon Harmon, Carson-Newman
DL - Brandon Sutton, Catawba
DL - Lance Clark, Newberry
LB - Brian Brown, Carson-Newman
LB - Stanley Jones, Brevard
LB - Brandon Rawls, Brevard
LB - Stan Galbraith, Mars Hill
DB - Mario Russell, Carson-Newman
DB - Deshon Nesbitt, Mars Hill
DB - Kamaal McIlwain, Newberry
DB - Tylan Merkerson, Wingate
P - John Gregory, Tusculum
RS - Patrick Pinchinat, Wingate
DL - Marqus Davis, Catawba
DL - Maurice Harris, Mars Hill
DL - Marcus Nelums, Newberry
DL - Brandon Kelley, Tusculum
LB - Lakeem Perry, Catawba
LB - Zach Johnson, Mars Hill
LB - Ben Hinson, Wingate
LB - Aaron Plyler, Wingate
DB - Marcus Shuford, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB - Andre Moyd, Newberry
DB - Michael Gist, Brevard
DB - Denares Waites, Carson-Newman
P - Chris Jones, Carson-Newman
RS - Reggie Hubbard, Carson-Newman