July 29, 2010
CHARLOTTE - The Big South coaches and media members have picked Coastal Carolina to finish third in the preseason poll, while David Duran, Quinton Davis, Josh Norman and Danny Bonifas were named to the preseason all-conference team.
The Chanticleers return 60 lettermen and 22 starters from last season. Big South co-champions from 2009, Liberty and Stony Brook, were picked ahead of the Chanticleers with the Flames edging the Sea Wolves for the top spot. Coastal Carolina hosts both Stony Brook and Liberty this season, welcoming Stony Brook on Oct. 23 for Homecoming and Liberty Nov. 13 for Hall of Fame Day. Rounding out the preseason picks include Charleston Southern fourth (who Coastal hosts Nov. 20 for the regular-season finale), Gardner-Webb fifth, VMI sixth and Presbyterian seventh.
Duran makes the preseason All-Big South team after earning first team all-league honors in 2009. The junior led the conference tight ends in both receptions (19) and receiving yards (273), while ranking second on the team in both. Davis ranked eighth in the Big South in sacks, helping the Chants pace the conference, as well as producing seven tackles for loss.Norman is coming off a banner season, earning All-America and first team All-Big South honors. The junior set a conference record with eight interceptions in 2009, ranking third in the nation in the category. Bonifas, a senior leader, had served primarily as the team's snapper for extra points/field goals through his career, but stepped in last season after an injury to handle both the long and short snapping duties.
In addition to the excitement to the preseason rankings and all-conference teams being announced today, the talk of the Media Day was the new NCAA Football Championship Subdivision expanded playoffs, giving the Big South Conference an automatic berth to the postseason.
"First, it is good for recruiting because schools could use that against us," said head coach David Bennett. "Second, it makes every conference game important, especially if we have ties like we've had in the past. Third, it is good knowing we don't have to go 11-0, 10-1 or 9-2 and pray you make the playoffs. Along those lines, it allows you to play a tough non-conference schedule in preparation for postseason and, if you win, get into position to host playoff games. This year, we are playing West Virginia, Georgia Southern and Richmond and know those games will only help us now.
"In terms of guaranteeing a spot, it is nice, but you have to know your vision. Do you just want to make the playoffs or do you want to win? Even if you do have the automatic bid, you have to play like you don't. Again, if we can get to the place where we can host playoff games, that is our next step in this progression. That is the key to advancing and winning a national title."
Joining Coach Bennett at Media Day was senior quarterback Zach MacDowall.
"I am really excited about this season," MacDowall said. "We have had more players stick around this summer than ever before and we have been working hard. In fact, my receivers have texted me to get extra work and there is a real sense of urgency among this group. Eric O'Neal looks good and Jeremy Height has developed a great burst and Marcus Whitener has shown great improvement.
"What really excites me is our defense, namely our secondary. Norman is a lock-down corner, Dominique Davenport is a great leader, Marcus Lott has moved over to safety and Tarvorris Jolly is ready to make a name for himself. They are so good and play really well together, almost like they are sharing the same mind."
The 2010 Chanticleers report to campus August 3 and have their first practice August 4.