SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference’s media selected Wofford as the preseason favorite for the 2017 season. The Terriers, who were the preseason pick for the first time, earned half of the possible first-place votes.
Wofford, which tied for second in the SoCon last year and reached the FCS Playoff quarterfinals, finished with 11 first-place votes and 178 points in the media’s preseason poll. The Terriers have won four SoCon titles, with the last coming in 2012. Wofford, which led the SoCon and was fifth nationally in total defense in 2016, went 6-2 in the league last year and 10-4 overall for its first 10-win season since 2010.
Two-time defending league champion The Citadel is second in the poll with 166 points and six first-place votes. The Bulldogs went 10-2 overall last season and 8-0 in the SoCon for their first undefeated league slate in school history. The Citadel, which boasts Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Kailik Williams at defensive back, reached the FCS Playoffs for the second straight season.
Samford, led by Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and quarterback Devlin Hodges, earned three first-place votes and 156 points to finish third in the preseason media poll. The Bulldogs, who have led the league and finished third nationally in passing offense in each of the last two seasons, went 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the league and earned an FCS Playoff selection for the first time since 2013.
Chattanooga was picked fourth in the media poll with 152 points and the remaining two first-place votes. The Mocs, who won three straight SoCon titles from 2013-15 before being unseated by The Citadel last year, went 9-4 and tied for second at 6-2 in the league last year, reaching the second round of the FCS Playoffs for the third straight season. The Mocs are under the direction new head coach Tom Arth, a former NFL quarterback and NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year.
Mercer was picked fifth in the preseason media poll with 101 points. The Bears’ fifth-place finish in 2016 was their best since joining the league in 2014.
Furman followed with 87 points to finish sixth in the poll. The Paladins also have a new head coach in Clay Hendrix, a former Furman offensive guard and longtime Paladin assistant who has returned to Furman for his first head coaching stop.
Western Carolina is seventh in the poll with 71 points, followed by ETSU with 49 points. The Bucs went 5-6 overall and 2-6 in the league in 2016, finishing seventh in their first season in the SoCon since dropping the program following the 2003 season.
VMI rounded out the poll with 30 points.
The 2017 FCS season kicks off Aug. 26 when Chattanooga takes on Jacksonville State in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff in Montgomery, Alabama. The contest will air nationally on ESPN.
2017 Preseason Southern Conference Media Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Wofford (11) 178
2. The Citadel (6) 166
3. Samford (3) 156
4. Chattanooga (2) 152
5. Mercer 101
6. Furman 87
7. Western Carolina 71
8. ETSU 49
9. VMI 30