Monday, July 28, 2014
Charleston Southern was picked to finish in third place in the Big South Conference Football 2014 Preseason Poll, announced Thursday at the league’s media day.
Defending co-champion Coastal Carolina was selected as the preseason favorite, receiving 14 of 18 first-place votes. Fellow 2013 co-champion Liberty was tabbed second and earned the four remaining first-place votes.
“We don’t put much stock into preseason predictions,” second-year CSU coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We try to focus on us and putting a team out there that’s going to play with heart and for each other. Preseason is based off of what-ifs so we’ll work hard and see where we end up.”
The poll was compiled based on voting by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, as well as media that cover the conference. CSU received 65 points to place third and was followed in the poll by Gardner-Webb, Monmouth and Presbyterian.
CSU enters the season with heightened expectations following a record-setting 2013 season. The Bucs set a program record with 10 victories a year ago and finished the season nationally ranked for the first time ever, checking in at No. 22 in the final FCS Coaches’ Poll. Included in CSU’s exciting 2013 campaign were road wins over The Citadel and FBS-bound Appalachian State in out-of-conference play, and a 31-26 win over then-No. 3 and undefeated Coastal Carolina in front of over 6,000 fans at Buccaneer Field.
The Bucs return 20 starters and 44 lettermen from last year’s team, including four Big South Preseason All-Conference honorees. CSU opens the season on Thursday, Aug. 28 against Point University. The contest is the first night game in school history and will kick off at 7 p.m. as the Bucs start a stretch of four home games to open the year. Big South Conference play begins at Buccaneer Field on Saturday, Oct. 18 against Presbyterian.
In other news at the media day, Charleston Southern seniors Christian Reyes, Clayton Truitt, Dylan Black and Demaris Freeman were selected to the Big South preseason all-conference team.
The team was voted on by a panel of Big South head coaches and sports information directors, as well as media members that cover the conference. Coastal Carolina quarterback Alex Ross was chosen as Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Chanticleers’ teammate Quinn Backus, a linebacker, was tabbed Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Reyes, Truitt, Black and Freeman were critical factors in CSU’s success last fall.
Reyes was the catalyst for a CSU offense that led the country in average time of possession in 2013.
He shattered the CSU single-season rushing record by almost 500 yards, finishing with 1,254 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging better than five yards a carry. Reyes posted six 100-yard games for the campaign and was named Big South Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in wins over Charlotte and then-No. 3 and undefeated Coastal Carolina. He also led the Bucs to an historic win at FBS-bound Appalachian State, tallying 167 yards and a touchdown on a CSU single-game record 34 carries.
Reyes needs 488 yards to become CSU’s all-time leading rusher.
Truitt led a young offensive line that paved the way for the Bucs’ ball-control attack. He started 12 games at right guard and tallied 86 knockdowns while grading out at 88 percent for the year. Truitt and his offensive line mates helped CSU record a 33:44 average time of possession that was the longest in all of FCS College Football. CSU also finished the campaign 17th in rushing yardage, with 232.9 yards per game.
Black emerged as one of the top defensive linemen in the Big South en route to earning second team all-conference honors last year. He led CSU and ranked seventh in the conference with 10 tackles for loss, and added 3.5 sacks to help the Bucs pace the league in sacks. Black delivered one of the bigger plays of the season for CSU, recording a strip sack for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter of the Bucs’ win at Norfolk State. Black also came up big in the win over Coastal, recording two tackles for loss and a sack.
Freeman returned from injury to earn second team all-Big South honors in 2013. He led CSU and ranked fourth in the Big South with 90 tackles and tallied five or more stops in 11 of 13 games.
Freeman snared his second career interception in the home opener win over Shorter and racked up a career-high 13 tackles in the win at Norfolk State. He also helped CSU cap off a 7-0 start to the season with a victory at VMI by posting 10 tackles and a forced fumble.