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.

Mocs, SoCon preview stories

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’ poll

1. Wofford (7) 63

2. The Citadel (2) 54

3. Samford 52

4. UTC 41

5, Mercer 32

6. Western Carolina 27

7. Furman 26

8. East Tennessee State 17

9. VMI 12

Media poll

1. Wofford (11) 178

2. The Citadel (6) 166

3. Samford (3) 156

4. UTC (2) 152

5. Mercer 101

6. Furman 87

7. Western Carolina 71

8. East Tennessee State 49

9. VMI 30


Offensive player of the year: Devlin Hodges, QB, Samford

Defensive player of the year: Kailik Williams, DB, Citadel


First Team

QB Devlin Hodges, Samford

RB Cam Jackson, Citadel

RB Detrez Newsome, WCU

OL Tyler Davis, Citadel

OL Matthew Schmidt, Furman

OL Thomas Marchman, Mercer

OL Josh Cardiello, UTC

OL Roo Daniels, Wofford

TE Sam Walker, Mercer

WR Kelvin McKnight, Samford

WR Terryon Robinson, WCU

Second Team

QB Alejandro Bennifield, UTC

RB Antonio Wilcox, Furman

RB Richardre Bagley, UTC

OL Alex Rios, ETSU

OL Caleb Yates, Mercer

OL Malcolm White, UTC

OL Nathan Dalton, WCU

OL Ross Demmel, Wofford

TE Chandler Gouger, Wofford

WR Marquise Irvin, Mercer

WR James Stovall, UTC


First Team

DL Ahmad Gooden, Samford

DL Isaiah Mack, UTC

DL Miles Brown, Wofford

DL Tyler Vaughn, Wofford

LB Shaheed Salmon, Samford

LB Dale Warren, UTC

LB Allan Cratsenberg, VMI

LB Datavious Wilson, Wofford

DB Kailik Williams, Citadel

DB Omari Williams, Samford

DB Lucas Webb, UTC

DB Devin Watson, Wofford

Second Team

DL Ken Allen, Citadel

DL Jonathan King, Citadel

DL Jaylan Reid, Furman

DL Isaiah Buehler, Mercer

DL Taylor Reynolds, UTC

LB Myles Pierce, Citadel

LB Dylan Weigel, ETSU

LB Ryan Francis, VMI

DB Aaquil Annoor, Furman

DB Trevor Wright, UTC

DB Greg Sanders, VMI

DB Keion Crossen, WCU

DB George Gbesee, Wofford


First Team

PK Cole Fisher, Mercer

P Ian Berryman, WCU

RS Detrez Newsome, WCU

Second Team

PK JJ Jerman, ETSU

P Austin Barnard, Samford

RS Chandler Curtis, Mercer