Marshall University picked 2nd in C-USA East
HUNTINGTON — Last season, Marshall was one or two mistakes against Florida Atlantic from earning itself an East Division football title.
With both teams having the bulk of their teams back from that 2017 run, all eyes are again on the two East Division juggernauts as the 2018 season approaches.
Marshall received four first-place votes and was selected second behind Florida Atlantic in the Conference USA Media Poll, which was released by the league on Tuesday afternoon.
The Herd and Owls were the only two teams to receive first-place votes in the poll, which is made up of 26 media members who cover the conference.
Florida Atlantic, who went undefeated in C-USA play last season, received 22 of 26 first-place votes to return to the top of the East Division pedestal.
The Owls return junior running back Devin Singletary, who was a third-team All-American in 2017 and was named on Monday as the 2018 C-USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,920 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2017.
Florida Atlantic also boasts of linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who was named the C-USA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. Al-Shaair finished with 147 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss in 2017.
Not to be outdone, Marshall also returns a wealth of talent with 18 starters back from last season’s team.
The Herd is led offensively by senior wide receiver Tyre Brady, who finished with 62 catches for 942 yards and eight touchdowns despite missing action due to injury. Brady was a All C-USA first-team selection last season.
Defensively, Marshall also features senior linebacker Chase Hancock, who finished second in C-USA behind Al-Shaair in tackles with 128 in 2017. Both Brady and Hancock were 2018 C-USA preseason first-team selections, as announced Monday.
Middle Tennessee was selected to finish third behind Florida Atlantic and Marshall in the East Division while FIU, Western Kentucky, Old Dominion and Charlotte round out the voting.
In the West Division, North Texas was selected to repeat as division champion, garnering 18 of 26 first-place votes.
The Mean Green are led by junior quarterback Mason Fine, who returns after throwing for 4,052 yards and 31 touchdowns.
HERD PLACES FIVE ON PRESEASON TEAM
HUNTINGTON — Marshall head coach Doc Holliday has always said during his nine years that a team needs to be solid in all three phases to be successful.
As Holliday saw the 2018 Preseason All-Conference USA team unveiled on Monday afternoon, the ninth-year coach had to be pleased with what he saw.
Marshall landed the second-most players of any team in Conference USA with five selections and was the only conference program to have a player named in all three phases.
The Herd had two offensive representatives in wide receiver Tyre Brady and center Levi Brown, two defensive representatives in linebacker Chase Hancock and defensive back Malik Gant and longsnapper Matt Beardall.
Florida Atlantic had the most nominations of any school with six, including both the Offensive and Defensive Preseason Players of the Year in running back Devon Singletary and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair.