SoCon coaches pick Wofford, select all-conference teams
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 07/18/2017
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Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges and Citadel defensive back Kailik Williams
Courtesy: Southern Conference

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges has been named the Southern Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Citadel defensive back Kailik Williams has been tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year in preseason voting by the league’s nine head coaches, who chose Wofford as the favorite to win the SoCon in their annual predictive poll.

The coaches also selected all-conference first and second teams and were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes or teams in the voting process.

The Terriers, who reached the FCS Playoff quarterfinals last season, picked up seven of the nine first-place votes in the preseason poll, totaling 63 points. Wofford, which has won the league four times, is the preseason pick to win it for the first time. Head coach Mike Ayers, entering his 31st season at the helm, last led the Terriers to a SoCon title in 2012.

Two-time defending SoCon champion The Citadel was second with 54 points and the remaining two first-place votes to edge Samford, which was picked third with 52 points.

Chattanooga finished fourth in the poll with 41 points, followed by Mercer (32), Western Carolina (27), Furman (26), ETSU (17) and VMI (12).

Samford’s Hodges paced the SoCon and finished second nationally in total offense last season, averaging 359.2 yards per game. The redshirt junior from Kimberly, Alabama, also finished third nationally in passing yards per game with 340.7. In all, he totaled 4,088 yards in the air and threw for 36 touchdowns, adding 222 yards on the ground and running for four more scores. Hodges went 375-for-530 with just eight interceptions and posted a league-best efficiency rating of 154.9. He helped the Bulldogs to their first FCS Playoff berth since 2013 and a top-25 ranking at season’s end.

The Citadel’s Williams totaled 103 tackles last season, helping the Bulldogs to their first-ever undefeated SoCon slate at 8-0 and a top-10 national finish. The senior from Ormond Beach, Florida, had 10 tackles for loss, including half a sack, forced a fumble and intercepted two passes, returning one 13 yards for a score against Wofford to tie the game with less six minutes remaining before The Citadel would go on to win in overtime. Williams helped the Bulldogs finish second in the league in passing defense at 169.5 yards allowed per game and third in total defense at 302.6 yards per game.

Chattanooga led all teams with 10 preseason all-conference selections, putting four on the first team and a league-best six on the second team. Wofford and Samford shared league-high honors with five each on the first team, with the Terriers boasting eight total selections and Samford six. The Citadel also had six total selections, with three first-team and three second-team preseason all-conference picks. Due to ties in the voting, there was an extra linebacker on the first team and an extra defensive lineman and defensive back on the second team.

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 Coaches Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Wofford (7)               63
2. The Citadel (2)         54
3. Samford                   52
4. Chattanooga            41
5. Mercer                     32
6. Western Carolina     27
7. Furman                    26
8. ETSU                       17
9. VMI                          12

2017 Preseason All-Southern Conference Football Teams
Offensive Player of the Year: Devlin Hodges, R-Jr., QB, Samford
Defensive Player of the Year: Kailik Williams, Sr., DB, The Citadel

First Team Offense
QB    Devlin Hodges, R-Jr., Samford
RB    Cam Jackson, Sr., The Citadel
RB    Detrez Newsome, Sr., Western Carolina
OL    Tyler Davis, Jr., The Citadel
OL    Matthew Schmidt, Sr., Furman
OL    Thomas Marchman, Sr., Mercer
OL    Josh Cardiello, Sr., Chattanooga
OL    Roo Daniels, Sr., Wofford
TE    Sam Walker, R-Jr., Mercer
WR   Kelvin McKnight, Jr., Samford
WR   Terryon Robinson, R-Sr., Western Carolina

First Team Defense
DL    Ahmad Gooden, R-Jr., Samford
DL    Isaiah Mack, Jr., Chattanooga
DL    Miles Brown, Jr., Wofford
DL    Tyler Vaughn, Sr., Wofford
LB    Shaheed Salmon, Sr., Samford
LB    Dale Warren, Sr., Chattanooga
LB    Allan Cratsenberg, Sr., VMI
LB    Datavious Wilson, So., Wofford
DB    Kailik Williams, Sr., The Citadel
DB    Omari Williams, Sr., Samford
DB    Lucas Webb, Sr., Chattanooga
DB    Devin Watson, Jr., Wofford

First Team Specialists
PK    Cole Fisher, Jr., Mercer
P      Ian Berryman, R-Jr., Western Carolina
RS    Detrez Newsome, Sr., Western Carolina

Second Team Offense
QB    Alejandro Bennifield, Sr., Chattanooga
RB    Antonio Wilcox, Sr., Furman
RB    Richardre Bagley, Sr., Chattanooga
OL    Alex Rios, Sr., ETSU
OL    Caleb Yates, Sr., Mercer
OL    Malcolm White, So., Chattanooga
OL    Nathan Dalton, R-Jr., Western Carolina
OL    Ross Demmel, Jr., Wofford
TE    Chandler Gouger, Sr., Wofford
WR   Marquise Irvin, Jr., Mercer
WR   James Stovall, Sr., Chattanooga

Second Team Defense
DL    Ken Allen, Jr., The Citadel
DL    Jonathan King, Sr., The Citadel
DL    Jaylan Reid, R-Jr., Furman
DL    Isaiah Buehler, R-Jr., Mercer
DL    Taylor Reynolds, Sr., Chattanooga
LB    Myles Pierce, Sr., The Citadel
LB    Dylan Weigel, R-Jr., ETSU
LB    Ryan Francis, R-Sr., VMI
DB    Aaquil Annoor, Jr., Furman
DB    Trevor Wright, Sr., Chattanooga
DB    Greg Sanders, Sr., VMI
DB    Keion Crossen, Sr., Western Carolina
DB    George Gbesee, So., Wofford

Second Team Specialists
PK    JJ Jerman, Jr., ETSU
P      Austin Barnard, R-Sr., Samford
RS    Chandler Curtis, Sr., Mercer

NOTE: Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.

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