CHARLOTTE, NC -In just its third year, Coastal Carolina's football program was picked to defend its Big South Conference title, announced by the league office at the Big South Football Media Day in Charlotte, NC, July 29. The poll was voted on by the Leagues head coaches, sports information directors and media panel. It marks the first time in Big Souths four-year football history that Gardner-Webb was not selected as the preseason favorite.
"I'm very proud of our young men for what they accomplished but that season is gone now," CCU Head Coach David Bennett said. "Everybody will be looking for us this year. We have a tough schedule this year, opening at Elon, then hosting James Madison and following it up on the road at Appalachian State, where they haven't lost since 2002. We have a great challenge ahead of us this year. We have a good core of starters returning this year and the best thing is that we will have even greater competition for time on the playing field this year. It should be a very interesting year in the Big South."
Coastal returns 22 starters from last years Big South champion team that finished 10-1 overall, 4-0 in the Big South and ranked in three of the final Top 25 polls. The Chanticleers received 11 first-place votes and 73 total points in this years preseason poll. Liberty, returning 14 starters and coming off a 6-5 season and 3-1 Big South mark, was voted second for the second-straight year, edging Steve Pattons Gardner-Webb Bulldogs by one point in the voting. Gardner-Webb returns 16 starters from a squad that went 5-6 last year with a 2-2 Big South record the Bulldogs first-ever losses in the Conference. VMI, which went 0-11 in 2004, welcomes back 20 starters and was picked fourth in the poll, finishing four points ahead of Charleston Southern. The Bucs 5-5 record a year ago was their best in 14 years; they return 15 starters in 2005.
Coastal Carolina running back Patrick Hall ,the reigning Big South Offensive Player of the Year, and Charleston Southern QB Collin Drafts were voted as the Leagues 2005 Preseason co-Offensive Players of the Year by the Conferences coaches, SIDs and media panel, while the group voted Coastal defensive lineman Kelvin McIver preseason Defensive Player of the Year, it was announced today by the League as part of the 2005 Football Kickoff Media Luncheon at The Westin Hotel in Charlotte.
Drafts and Hall tied for the top spot with 18 points each. Hall tallied five first-place votes and was the lone Conference rusher to eclipse 1,000-yards rushing last year (1,107). He averaged a Big South single-season record 7.14 yards per carry and scored a League-leading 13 touchdowns. Hall is rated No. 16 among all I-AA running backs by The Sports Network entering 2005.
McIver is the first defensive lineman to receive the Conferences preseason honor, as former Gardner-Webb defensive back Mario Williams was the preseason favorite the first two years of the individual poll. Last season, McIver was a First-team All-Big South selection after tying for the League lead with seven sacks and second with 15 tackles for loss, while recording 51 total tackles.
CCU had five other players recognized on the Preseason All-Big South squads. Two additional offensive players were named Preseason All-Big South, as senior offensive lineman Antwon Trice and sophomore wide receiver Jerome Simpson were honored. CCU also had two on the defensive side of the ball, as senior linebacker Maurice Simpkins and senior defensive back received accolades from the league. Junior kicker Josh Hoke was also named to the squad.
Trice, also a Third Team All-American according to Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette, anchored an offensive line that helped CCU set new league offensive records in points scored, rushing yards, rushing per game. CCUs offensive attack ranked fifth nationally in rushing yardage and eighth in scoring, while setting new school records for passing yards and touchdowns in a season. Jeffcoat also had five receptions for 62 yards, including a career-long 22-yard reception at Newberry. Trice was a Second Team All-Big South selection in 2003.
Simpson, named Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Big South in 2004, was Coastals leading receiver, posting school records with 26 receptions, 419 yards and eight touchdowns, earning Freshman of the Week honors three times. He currently ranks first in career receiving touchdowns and second in career yardage and receptions. The sophomore-to-be from Reidsville, N.C. ranked eighth in the Big South in yards per game and 10th in scoring. He made a stellar first impression, with four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns in the season-opening win at Morehead State. His 108 yards receiving against Charleston are the second most in school history, while the three touchdown receptions set a new school record.
Simpkins earned his second consecutive First Team honor in 2004 after ranking 10th in the Big South overall and sixth among linebackers with 78 tackles on the season, including 43 solo. He also finished sixth in the Big South in sacks per game with 0.45 per game and seventh in tackles for loss with eight. He had 10 tackles against Liberty including a tackle for loss, along with seven versus Gardner-Webb and eight versus Charleston Southern.
Teal led the Big South Conference and ranked 11th in the nation with a new CCU record six interceptions. He also finished second in the league and 10th nationally with 18 passes defended. In the league, he ranked 11th among defensive backs with 50 tackles (32 of them solo), including a career-high 10 tackles and an interception in the season-finale win over Charleston Southern.
Coming off an ACL injury in Spring 2004, Hoke led the Big South in 2004 in total points with 83 and ranked second in scoring average at 7.5 points per game. He finished 35th in the nation in field goals (0.91 per game) and scoring (7.55 ppg). He led all Big South kickers in PAT percentage, hitting on 53-of-54 extra points for a 98.1 percent rating, with both the attempts and made new league records. He was also the top field goal kicker at 71.4 percent, hitting a league-best 10 field goals. Hoke set a new league record with 16 points in the win over North Greenville, earning National and Big South Special Teams Player of the Week honors, en route to becoming the first kicker in league history to score more than 100 career points, currently with 138.
The Preseason All-Conference team is comprised of 12 offensive and defensive players and four special teams players. Coastal Carolina has the most selections with seven, followed by VMI (six), Gardner-Webb and Liberty (five each), and Charleston Southern (four).
2005 Preseason Poll (first-place votes) 1 2 3 4 5 Points
1. Coastal Carolina (11) 55 12 6 - - 73
2. Liberty (3) 15 20 18 4 - 57
3. Gardner-Webb (2) 10 32 9 4 1 56
4. VMI - - 9 14 6 29
5. Charleston Southern - - 6 10 9 25
Preseason All-Conference Offense Preseason All-Conference Defense
QB Collin Drafts, Jr., Charleston Southern DL Kelvin McIver, Sr., Coastal Carolina
RB Patrick Hall, Sr., Coastal Carolina DL Brandon Schweitzer, Sr., Gardner-Webb
RB Sean Mizzer, Sr., VMI DL Vicheal Foxx, R-Sr., VMI
WR Kory Alston, Jr., Gardner-Webb DL Adam DeGraffenreid, Jr., Charleston Southern
WR Zohn Burden, Sr., VMI LB Maurice Simpkins, Sr., Coastal Carolina
WR Jerome Simpson, Soph., Coastal Carolina LB Keppy Baucom, Sr., Gardner-Webb
TE Bryan Meers, Sr., Charleston Southern LB Justin Huggard, Sr., VMI
OL Antwon Trice, Sr., Coastal Carolina LB Manny Rojas, R-Jr., Liberty
OL Markus Ferguson, R-Sr., Liberty DB Robert Mason, Sr., VMI
OL C.J. Brown, Sr., Gardner-Webb DB Quinton Teal, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Kevin Inge, R-Sr., Liberty DB C.J. Moore, R-Sr., Liberty
OL Jeremy Ward, Jr., VMI DB Tavares Shorter, Sr., Charleston Southern
Preseason All-Conference Special Teams
K Josh Hoke, Jr., Coastal Carolina
P Noah Crouch, R-Sr., Liberty
LS Matt Skeen, Soph., Gardner-Webb
RS Sean Mizzer, Sr., VMI