ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Carson-Newman College, picked to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference preseason football coaches' poll, leads the way with 11 student-athletes on the 2011 preseason All-Conference Team.
Senior running back Nate Inman (Fitzgerald, Ga.), center Kevin Day (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.), senior placekicker Carlos Lopez (Seymour, Tenn.) and Lucas Mathis (Greenwood, S.C.) were the Eagles' four first-team offense selections.
Inman led the Eagles last season with 1,057 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He enters the season with 1,900 career rushing yards.
Day is a two-year starter at center for the Eagles. Since entering the starting lineup the second game of his freshman season, he has been in the middle of the Eagles finishing first and second nationally in rushing offense, respectively, each of the last two seasons.
Lopez returns after redshirting last season. The junior made 10-of-11 field goals in 2009, including the 35-yard game winner against Newberry, as the Eagles reached the national semifinals.
Mathis emerged as a starter down the stretch of his freshman season, appearing in C-N's final six games after overcoming an early-season injury. The 6'4, 290-pound sophomore will start at left guard.
Senior defensive end Zeke Andrews (Eastman, Ga.) and cornerback Tarvin Jones (St. Petersburg, Fla.) were both named to the first-team defense.
Andrews led the Eagles with 14.0 tackles for loss and was fifth on the team in tackles last season with 45.
Jones was tied for the team lead with four interceptions. He picked off two passes against both Catawba and Mars Hill, both Eagle wins.
Senior tight end Matt Cox (Riceville, Tenn.) and sophomore running back Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) each earned second-team honors.
Cox, a blocking tight end, started every game last season in the nation's No. 2 rushing offense.
Baker emerged as a starter in his sophomore season, rushing for 707 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games. He carried 13 times for career-high 162 yards and two TDs in a 34-27 win over Mars Hill in October.
Defensive end Byron Bell (Knoxville, Tenn.), linebacker Ryan Helton (Tazewell, Tenn.), and cornerback Oliver Davis (Acworth, Ga.) were all named to the All-SAC second team defensive unit.
Bell, who was recently named a nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team, led the Eagles with 6.5 sacks last season from his right defensive end spot.
Helton finished last season with 45 tackles despite missing the Eagles' first two games. He recorded 21 tackles in the team's final two games and added a 15-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Lenoir-Rhyne.
Davis tied Jones for the team lead with four interceptions and led the Eagles with 10 pass break ups. The junior closed the season with two interceptions in C-N's season-ending win at Tusculum.
Defending conference champion and preseason-favorite Wingate is second with nine honorees, including three first-team picks in wide receiver Chris Bowden, offensive lineman Mike Arndt and defensive back Robert Fletcher. 2010 SAC Coach of the Year Joe Reich led the Bulldogs to the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs last season, coming within two points of knocking off top-seeded Albany State in the regional semifinals.
Catawba comes in third with eight selections, including four on the first-team. All-American return specialist LJ McCray, who led the nation in kickoff returns a year ago, is on the first-team, as are 2010 SAC Defensive Freshman of the Year Damein Lee, linebacker Lakeem Perry and defensive back Jumal Rolle.
Tusculum, Lenoir-Rhyne and Brevard are tied for fourth with seven preseason selections each.
Led by 2010 SAC Offensive Player of the Year Bo Cordell, Tusculum has five first-team honorees. Cordell finished fourth in the national voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy last season, which recognizes the DII National Player of the Year. The All-American quarterback led the country in total offense, completions per game and points responsible for per game in 2010.
Joining Cordell on the first-team are receivers Deonte' Gist and Rashaad Carter, tight end Michael Rodriquez and long-snapper Skylar West.
Lenoir-Rhyne has four first-team picks, including 2010 consensus All-American offensive lineman Chandler Rearden. He is joined on the first-team by fellow offensive lineman Kaleb Myrick. L-R's defensive lineman Brandon Martin and linebacker Demetrius Green are also on the first team. The duo will anchor a unit that finished fourth in the nation last season in rushing defense.
Also with four first-team representatives is Brevard, including 2010 SAC Offensive Freshman of the Year Kelvin Jeter, who helped the Tornados boast the No. 3 rushing attack in Division II last year. Joining Jeter on the first-team are linebacker Prince Simunyu, defensive back Salonik Amos and punter Eric Watts. Watts was also recognized as a preseason All-Conference receiver on the second-team.
Five Newberry Wolves are preseason All-SAC, headlined by first-team defensive lineman Arterio Arnold, who tallied 13.5 tackles-for- loss and three sacks in 2010.
Mars Hill has four All-Conference selections, including two-time All American and SAC rushing champion Jonas Randolph. He is joined on the first-team by 2010 All-American linebacker Rudy Cabral, who was the league's leading tackler last season.
Carson-Newman opens its seasons Sept. 1 at Glenville State College (W.Va.). Eagle head coach Ken Sparks begins the year with 294 career victories, hoping to become the 14th college football coach to reach the 300-win plateau.
2011 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference Football Team
First Team – Offense
QB – Bo Cordell, Tusculum
WR – Deonte' Gist, Tusculum
WR – Rashaad Carter, Tusculum
WR – Chris Bowden, Wingate
RB – Kelvin Jeter, Brevard
RB – Jonas Randolph, Mars Hill
RB – Nate Inman, Carson-Newman
OL – Kevin Day, Carson-Newman
OL – Chandler Rearden, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Kaleb Myrick, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Mike Arndt, Wingate
OL – Lucas Mathis, Carson-Newman
TE – Michael Rodriquez, Tusculum
LS – Skylar West, Tusculum
PK – Carlos Lopez, Carson-Newman
First Team – Defense
DL – Zeke Andrews, Carson-Newman
DL – Brandon Martin, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Damein Lee, Catawba
DL – Arterio Arnold, Newberry
LB – Prince Simunyu, Brevard
LB – Demetrius Green, Lenoir-Rhyne
LB – Rudy Cabral, Mars Hill
LB – Lakeem Perry, Catawba
DB – Jumal Rolle, Catawba
DB – Salonik Amos, Brevard
DB – Tarvin Jones, Carson-Newman
DB – Robert Fletcher, Wingate
P – Eric Watts, Brevard
RS – LJ McCray, Catawba
Second Team - Offense
QB – Cody Haffly, Wingate
WR – Brandon Bostick, Newberry
WR – Eric Watts, Brevard
WR – Nick Stutts, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Vince Jordan, Wingate
RB – Brandon Baker, Carson-Newman
RB – Josh Wright, Catawba
OL – Caleb Campbell, Brevard
OL – Tyler Hodgson, Mars Hill
OL – Chase Gamble, Newberry
OL – Dustin Moorehead, Tusculum
OL – Austin Lowe, Wingate
TE – Matt Cox, Carson-Newman
LS – DJ Davis, Catawba
PK – Thomas Trexler, Catawba
Second Team – Defense
DL – Byron Bell, Carson-Newman
DL –Nelson Bullard, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Jack Taylor, Wingate
DL – Terrence Smith, Tusculum
LB – Ryan Helton, Carson-Newman
LB – Apollo Stretch, Newberry
LB – Cory Johnson, Catawba
LB – Jared Seate, Wingate
DB – Michael Gist, Brevard
DB – Oliver Davis, Carson-Newman
DB – Jamont Jones, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Justin Squirewell, Wingate
P – BJ Richmond, Mars Hill
RS – Max Elliott, Newberry