Mocs picked fourth with league-high 10 preseason All-SoCon players

UTC defensive back Lucas Webb returns an interception ahead of Weber State tight end Helam Heimuli during the Mocs' first-round FCS playoff game last season at Finley Stadium. UTC won 45-14.

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Individuals on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team have gained a lot of respect from the Southern Conference entering the 2017 season.

The team? That's a different story.

The Mocs were selected fourth in both the coaches' and media polls Tuesday at the SoCon media day at the Spartanburg Marriott, despite having a league-high 10 players selected to at least one of the two preseason all-conference teams. Wofford, The Citadel and Samford were picked to finish ahead of the Mocs in the 2017 season, with Mercer right behind UTC in both polls.

"I don't think it matters where you're picked," first-year UTC coach Tom Arth said. "It is what it is, but I'm glad. I was hoping we weren't picked very high; I think our players are going to see that, everybody around our program is going to see that. Not that we need it, but there might be something extra our guys will be reminded of every single time they step on the field, that they picked a bunch of people ahead of us.

"We'll take it. We're pleased, and we'll see how it finishes up when it's all said and done."

Senior offensive lineman Josh Cardiello, defensive end Isaiah Mack, linebacker Dale Warren and safety Lucas Webb were selected to preseason first teams. Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield, running back Richardre Bagley, offensive lineman Malcolm White, receiver James Stovall, defensive end Taylor Reynolds and cornerback Trevor Wright were picked to second teams.

Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges and The Citadel defensive back Kailik Williams were the preseason players of the year.

Bennifield and Webb said that although UTC's ranking doesn't really mean anything, it may light a fire under the team.

"The way I look at it is that last year wasn't good enough," Bennifield said. "It means this year that we have to be that much better to actually win the conference."

Added Webb: "Last year helped us understand that winning the conference is not a given. We've got to work for that, and with new coaches and a new scheme, it's a good thing from what we've done for the past couple of years.

"It will help us get the hunger back, get the drive we need."

Contact Gene Henley at Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.


School (Firsts) Pts.Coaches’ poll1. Wofford (7) 632. The Citadel (2) 543. Samford 524. UTC 415, Mercer 326. Western Carolina 277. Furman 268. East Tennessee State 179. VMI 12Media poll1. Wofford (11) 1782. The Citadel (6) 1663. Samford (3) 1564. UTC (2) 1525. Mercer 1016. Furman 877. Western Carolina 718. East Tennessee State 499. VMI 30


Offensive player of the year: Devlin Hodges, QB, SamfordDefensive player of the year: Kailik Williams, DB, CitadelOFFENSEFirst TeamQB Devlin Hodges, SamfordRB Cam Jackson, CitadelRB Detrez Newsome, WCUOL Tyler Davis, CitadelOL Matthew Schmidt, FurmanOL Thomas Marchman, MercerOL Josh Cardiello, UTCOL Roo Daniels, WoffordTE Sam Walker, MercerWR Kelvin McKnight, SamfordWR Terryon Robinson, WCUSecond TeamQB Alejandro Bennifield, UTCRB Antonio Wilcox, FurmanRB Richardre Bagley, UTCOL Alex Rios, ETSUOL Caleb Yates, MercerOL Malcolm White, UTCOL Nathan Dalton, WCUOL Ross Demmel, WoffordTE Chandler Gouger, WoffordWR Marquise Irvin, MercerWR James Stovall, UTCDEFENSEFirst TeamDL Ahmad Gooden, SamfordDL Isaiah Mack, UTCDL Miles Brown, WoffordDL Tyler Vaughn, WoffordLB Shaheed Salmon, SamfordLB Dale Warren, UTCLB Allan Cratsenberg, VMILB Datavious Wilson, WoffordDB Kailik Williams, CitadelDB Omari Williams, SamfordDB Lucas Webb, UTCDB Devin Watson, WoffordSecond TeamDL Ken Allen, CitadelDL Jonathan King, CitadelDL Jaylan Reid, FurmanDL Isaiah Buehler, MercerDL Taylor Reynolds, UTCLB Myles Pierce, CitadelLB Dylan Weigel, ETSULB Ryan Francis, VMIDB Aaquil Annoor, FurmanDB Trevor Wright, UTCDB Greg Sanders, VMIDB Keion Crossen, WCUDB George Gbesee, WoffordSPECIALISTSFirst TeamPK Cole Fisher, MercerP Ian Berryman, WCURS Detrez Newsome, WCUSecond TeamPK JJ Jerman, ETSUP Austin Barnard, SamfordRS Chandler Curtis, Mercer