IRVING, Texas -- Marshall has been picked to finish second in the East Division in the Conference USA Football Preseason Poll, announced Wednesday morning by the league office.
The Thundering Herd garnered 82 points and two first-place votes, second only to East Carolina’s 95 points and 11 first-place picks. Middle Tennessee, which had one first-place vote, was third with 70 points, followed by UAB (54), Southern Miss (40), Florida Atlantic (28) and FIU (23).
Tulsa was the runaway winner in the West, taking all 14 first-place votes, and 98 points. Rice was second (76), followed by Louisiana Tech (72), UTEP (46), North Texas (39), Tulane (31) and UTSA (30).
The league’s ninth annual Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West divisions, will be held Saturday, Dec. 7, hosted by the team with the best conference winning percentage.
In voting by the 14 C-USA head coaches, Herd quarterback Rakeem Cato was named the league’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He was joined on the preseason All-Conference USA team by three Herd teammates -- wideout Tommy Shuler, tight end Gator Hoskins and punter Tyler Williams.
Cato was named to the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award Watch List earlier Wednesday, while Shuler is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, Hoskins was selected to the John Mackey Award Watch List and Williams was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List. Cato also is on the preseason Watch List for the Maxwell Award, which is presented to the national player of the year.
This is the eighth preseason all-conference honor for the offensive trio and the seventh for Williams (Bloguin.com did not select specialists on its all-conference list).
Cato was also named the league’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year by Lindy’s Sports and CollegeSportsMadness.com.
AWARD WATCH LISTS:
Biletnikoff Award – Tommy Shuler, WR
Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award – Rakeem Cato, QB
Maxwell Award –Cato
John Mackey Award – Gator Hoskins, TE
Ray Guy Award – Tyler Williams, P
College Football Performance Awards – Cato; Hoskins; Shuler; Jeremiah Taylor, DE; Jermaine Holmes, LB; Justin Haig, PK; Williams.
ALL-AMERICA (magazines, websites):
Honorable Mention – Shuler.
ALL-CONFERENCE USA (magazines, websites):
Cato (also Offensive Player of the Year); Shuler; Hoskins; Williams.
Phil Steele’s Preview:
First team – Cato; Shuler; Hoskins; Chris Jasperse, C; Taylor; D.J. Hunter, S; Williams.
Second team – Devon Smith, WR; Holmes.
Third team – Kevin Grooms, RB; Gage Niemeyer, OT; Alex Bazzie, DE.
Fourth team – Josh Lovell, OG; Brandon Sparrow, DT; Kent Turene, LB; Derrick Thomas, CB.
First team – Cato; Shuler; Hoskins; Jasperse; Sparrow; Williams.
Second team – Jeffries; Bazzie.
First team – Cato (also Offensive Player of Year); Hoskins; Bazzie.
Second team – Shuler; Jordan Jeffries, OT; Grooms; Holmes; Hunter; Williams.
Firat team – Cato (also Offensive Player of Year); Hoskins; Jeffries.
Second team – Shuler; Taylor; Hunter; Williams.
Third team – Jasperse; Bazzie; Holmes.
First team – Cato; Hoskins; Williams.
Honorable Mention – Shuler; Jeffries.
Frist team – Cato; Shuler; Hoskins; Jasperse; Williams.
Honorable Mention – Grooms, Taylor, Hunter.
First team – Cato; Shuler; Hoskins; Holmes; Hunter; (no kick specialists on team).