The head coaches of the Southern Conference have voted five Bulldogs to the preseason all-conference team for the upcoming 2012 season, the league announced at its football media day Thursday in Spartanburg.
Junior center Mike Sellers, senior defensive end Chris Billingslea and senior punterCass Couey were selected to the first team while junior fullback Darien Robinsonand junior defensive tackle Derek Douglas were voted to the second team.
The coaches also named a preseason offensive and defensive player of the year, with Wofford senior running back Eric Breitenstein and Georgia Southern senior defensive tackle Brent Russell earning those honors.
Sellers took over the starting center job late in his true freshman season in 2010 and has held that position since, becoming the anchor of The Citadel offensive line. A year ago, the Fort Dorchester High School graduate started all 11 games and helped the Bulldogs average 286.6 rushing yards per game, the third-highest mark in the nation, and was named first team All-SoCon by the coaches and the team's offensive player of the year.
Billingslea is in his fifth year at The Citadel and is a mainstay on the defensive line, having played in all 33 games in his career with 28 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of his redshirt freshman season in 2009. The Fort Mill High School product had 53 tackles last season, second among returning Bulldogs, while adding 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and three fumble recoveries to earn second team All-SoCon honors.
Couey is in his fourth season and has established himself as one of the top punters in the nation. He led the SoCon and ranked fifth in the nation last season with an average of 43.0 yards per punt, including 14 inside the 20, 10 of at least 50 yards and nine fair catches. He was named first team All-SoCon by both the coaches and media and enters the year ranked third in school history with an average of 40.5 yards per attempt, trailing only Greg Davis (42.1) and Kenny Caldwell (40.7).
Robinson is coming off a 2011 campaign which saw him play in all 11 games with 10 starts and carry 136 times for 862 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the Bulldogs and ranked sixth in the Southern Conference and 48th nationally with an average of 78.4 yards per game. Robinson's career average of 5.90 yards per carry is seventh in school history, and he enters his senior season just 38 yards shy of reaching the 1,000 plateau.
Douglas was chosen The Citadel's team MVP and first team All-SoCon by the coaches and media last season after ranking fifth in the conference with 14.5 tackles for loss while placing 47th in the nation with an average of 1.32 per game. He had a total of 43 tackles and added 3.5 sacks and a forced and recovered fumble. Douglas has played in all 22 games the past two seasons with 19 starts but will miss the early portion of 2012 after suffering a knee injury during spring practice.
The head coaches and SoCon media also predicted the order of finish in this year's conference race. Both groups picked The Citadel to finish eighth with defending conference champion and FCS semifinalist Georgia Southern as the preseason favorite. The coaches voted Appalachian State second and Wofford third while the media reversed the Mountaineers and Terriers.
The rest of the preseason poll was identical, with Chattanooga picked fourth followed by Furman, Samford, Elon, The Citadel and Western Carolina.
The Citadel opens the 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 when Charleston Southern visits Johnson Hagood Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff. The Bulldogs begin SoCon play the following Saturday when they host Georgia Southern, also at 6 p.m.
2012 SoCon Football Preseason Coaches Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
1. Georgia Southern (7) 63
2. Appalachian State (2) 57
3. Wofford 48
4. Chattanooga 44
5. Furman 36
6. Samford 27
7. Elon 24
8. The Citadel 17
9. Western Carolina 8
NOTE: Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team
2012 SoCon Football Preseason Media Poll
School (First-place votes) Points
1. Georgia Southern (25) 266
2. Wofford (4) 225
3. Appalachian State (1) 223
4. Chattanooga 163
5. Furman 152
6. Samford 105
7. Elon 104
8. The Citadel 79
9. Western Carolina 36
2012 Southern Conference Football
Preseason All-Conference Teams
Offensive Player of the Year: Eric Breitenstein, Sr., RB, Wofford
Defensive Player of the Year: Brent Russell, Sr., DL, Georgia Southern
First Team Offense
QB Jamal Jackson, Jr., Appalachian State
RB Jerodis Williams, Sr., Furman
RB Eric Breitenstein, Sr., Wofford
OL Mike Sellers, Jr., The Citadel
OL Dakota Dozier, Jr., Furman
OL Dorian Byrd, Jr., Georgia Southern
OL Ryan Dudchock, Sr., Samford
OL Jake Miles, Sr. Wofford
TE Colin Anderson, Sr., Furman
WR Aaron Mellette, Sr., Elon
WR Kelsey Pope, Jr., Samford
First Team Defense
DL Chris Billingslea, Sr., The Citadel
DL Josh Lynn, Sr., Furman
DL Brent Russell, Sr., Georgia Southern
DL Josh Williams, Sr., Chattanooga
LB Jeremy Kimbrough, Sr., Appalachian State
LB Wes Dothard, Jr., Chattanooga
LB Alvin Scioneaux, Jr., Wofford
DB Demetrius McCray, Sr., Appalachian State
DB Greg Worthy, Jr., Furman
DB Deion Stanley, So., Georgia Southern
DB D.J. Key, Jr., Chattanooga
First Team Specialists
PK Cameron Yaw, Sr., Samford
P Cass Couey, Sr., The Citadel
RS Fabian Truss, Jr., Samford
Second Team Offense
QB Thomas Wilson, Sr., Elon
RB Darien Robinson, Jr., The Citadel
RB Fabien Truss, Jr., Samford
OL Kendall Lamm, So., Appalachian State
OL Blake DeBartola, Sr., Georgia Southern
OL Charlie Sanford, Sr., Samford
OL Adam Miller, Sr., Chattanooga
OL Jared Singleton, Jr., Wofford
OL (tie) Calvin Cantrell, Sr., Wofford
TE Faysal Shafaat, So., Chattanooga
WR Andrew Peacock, Jr., Appalachian State
WR Tony Washington, Jr., Appalachian State
Second Team Defense
DL Ronald Blair, So., Appalachian State
DL Derek Douglas, Jr., The Citadel
DL Tony Thompson, Jr., Elon
DL Nick Williams, Sr., Samford
(tie) Davis Tull, So., Chattanooga
LB Brandon Grier, Sr., Appalachian State
LB Mitch McGrath, Sr., Furman
Darius Eubanks, Sr., Georgia Southern
LB (tie) Rock Williams, Sr., Western Carolina
DB Troy Sanders, Sr., Appalachian State
DB Alvin Hines II, Sr., Samford
DB Kadeem Wise, Jr., Chattanooga
DB Nathan Wade, Sr., Furman
Second Team Specialists
PK Nick Pollard, So., Chattanooga
P Sam Martin, Sr., Appalachian State
RS Darreion Robinson, Sr., Georgia Southern
NOTE: Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.