published Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Back to the Future: UTC preseason SoCon pick for first time since 1982

Southern Conference preseason rankings

(First-place votes in parenthesis)

Media poll

1. Chattanooga (29) 235

2. Furman (1) 203

3. Samford 174

4. Wofford 155

5. Western Carolina 105

6. The Citadel 103

7. Mercer 67

8. VMI 38

Coaches Poll

1. UTC (6) 48

2. Furman (1) 40

2. Samford (1) 40

4. Wofford 30

5. Western Carolina 24

6. The Citadel 22

7. Mercer 10

7. VMI 10

Preseason all-conference

Offensive Player of the Year: Jacob Huesman, Jr., QB, Chattanooga

Defensive Players of the Year: Davis Tull, Sr., DL, Chattanooga

First Team Offense

QB Jacob Huesman, Jr., QB, Chattanooga

RB Hank McCloud, Sr., Furman

RB Keon Williams, Sr., Chattanooga

OL Charles Emert, Sr., Furman

OL Gunnar Bromelow, Jr., Samford

OL Synjen Herren, Jr., Chattanooga

OL Josh Wineberg, Jr., Western Carolina

OL T.J. Chamberlin, Jr., Wofford

TE Faysal Shafaat, Sr., Chattanooga

WR Andrej Suttles, So., Furman

WR Karnorris Benson, Jr., Western Carolina

First Team Defense

DL Justin Oxendine, Sr., The Citadel

DL Gary Wilkins, Sr., Furman

DL Davis Tull, Sr., Chattanooga

DL Tarek Odom, Sr., Wofford

LB Carl Robinson, Sr., The Citadel

LB Marcus McMorris, Sr., Furman

LB Carl Rider, Jr., Furman

DB Reggie Thomas, Jr., Furman

DB James Bradberry, Jr., Samford

DB Jaquiski Tartt, Sr., Samford

DB Sertonuse Harris, Jr., Western Carolina

First Team Specialists

PK Warren Handrahan, So., Samford

P Greg Peranich, Sr., Samford

RS Shaun Warren, Sr., Western Carolina

Second Team Offense

QB Reese Hannon, Jr., Furman

RB Darius Ramsey, Jr., Western Carolina

RB Will Gay, Jr., Wofford

OL Joe Turner, Jr., Furman

OL C.H. Scruggs, Jr., Samford

OL Corey Levin, So., Chattanooga

OL Andrew Marcotte, Sr., VMI

OL Anton Wahrby, So., Wofford

TE Tony Philpot, Jr., Samford

WR Karel Hamilton, So., Samford

WR Terryon Robinson, So., Western Carolina

Second Team Defense

DL Ira McCune, Sr., Furman

DL Jerry Mathis, Sr., Samford

DL Josh Freeman, Jr., Chattanooga

DL Derrick Lott, Sr., Chattanooga

LB Bobby Wilson, Jr., Samford

LB Christon Gill, Sr., Western Carolina

LB Kevin Thomas, Sr., Wofford

DB Trey Robinson, So., Furman

DB Ace Clark, Sr., Western Carolina

DB Chris Armfield, So., Wofford

DB Bernard Williams, Sr., Wofford

Second Team Specialists

PK Richard Sigmon, Sr., Western Carolina

P Nick Pollard, Sr., Chattanooga

RS Will Gay, Jr., Wofford

The last time the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team was the preseason pick to win the Southern Conference Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album had just been released, E.T. was the top grossing movie, Danica Patrick and Lil Wayne were newborns and Knoxville hosted the World's Fair.

For the first time since 1982, he Mocs topped both the coaches' and media polls at Wednesday's SoCon media day in Spartanburg (S.C.).

Furman and Samford, which shared last season's conference title with UTC, finished tied for second in the coaches' poll and were second and third, respectively, according to the media.

"We had a decent year last season and we have a lot coming back, so I figured we would be one of the teams in there somewhere," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "Nobody looks at us like we all did Appalachian State and Georgia Southern for years. And I'm sure four or five other teams left media day saying, 'they ain't better than us.'

"You can't hide it from the players. They'll read the paper and know about that kind of stuff, but we haven't arrived yet. We've got to get better and take another step this year as a team."

With 15 returning starters, including two-time Defensive Player of the Year Davis Tull, from last year's team, the Mocs collected 29 of the media members' 30 first-place votes and earned six of the league's eight coaches' first-place votes.

The Mocs also swept the conference preseason individual honors, with two-time All America end Tull being selected Defensive Player of the Year and junior quarterback Jacob Huesman named Offensive Player of the Year.

Huesman, who is on the Walter Payton Award watch list, was joined by running back Keon Williams, lineman Synjen Herren and tight end Faysal Shafaat on the SoCon preseason first-team offense, while Tull was the lone first-team defender for UTC. Four other Mocs -- defensive linemen Derrick Lott and Josh Freeman, sophomore offensive lineman Corey Levin and punter Nick Pollard were named second-team all conference. Furman led all schools with 11 preseason all-conference honorees.

"I'm real happy for all those kids because they've worked hard and deserve the recognition," Coach Huesman said. "We'll congratulate those guys and move on to get ready for the season now.

"I remember a few years ago we didn't have any preseason all conference players so this just shows what a great job our coaches have done in bringing in talent and developing it and we've got a lot of good kids who work to make us better."

Mocs host women's clinic

The Mocs coaching staff will host a women's football clinic Friday at Finley Stadium beginning at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30. Admission is $40 either through pre-registration (www.gomocs.com) or at the door. UTC students, faculty and staff can get in for $25. All attendees receive an official Women's Clinic visor. The clinic includes instruction from the coaching staff, both on the field and in the Finley Stadium Club. Door prizes and other awards will be given throughout the evening and all proceeds benefit the Huesman's Huddle program, which provides free admission to home football games to underprivileged fans.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293.

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about Stephen Hargis...

Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...

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