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Flames Place School-Record 11 Players on Big South Preseason Football Team
The Flames placed a program-record 11 players on the Big South preseason all-conference football team as announced during today's Big South Football Kickoff Media Luncheon held at the Embassy Suites Hotel.
Liberty became the first team in conference history to place a player at each offensive and defensive position and posted the second-highest preseason all-conference selections in league history.
The Flames dominated the offensive team, claiming seven of the 12 spots. Team captains Eddie Pinigis (OL), Stephen Sene (OL) and Brock Smith (QB) were joined on the preseason squad by Liberty's dynamic running back tandem Rashad Jennings and Zach Terrell, who helped Liberty rush for 2,035 yards last year.
Rounding out the Flames' offensive preseason selections were wide receiver Brandon Turner and tight end Chris Luck, who made his second-straight appearance on the team.
Defensively, Liberty final two team captains were preseason selections as defensive lineman Steven Ackley and linebacker Stevie Ray Lloyd were named to the team. Defensive back Ryan Greiser concluded the Flames trio of defensive honorees, who helped Liberty set a school record in fewest points allowed last year and rank No. 12 in the nation in scoring defense (15.6 points per game).
Liberty's final preseason accolade was bestowed upon Wynton Jackson at return specialist. Last year, Jackson helped Liberty finish the year ranked No. 3 in the county in kickoff returns (25.6 yards per return) and individually set school records in punt returns (26) and posted the second-best numbers in program history in punt return yardage (298) and kickoff return average (29.4).
Coastal Carolina's Jerome Simpson was named the league's Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Last season, the wide receiver was a second-team All-American selection after finishing the year with a league-record 1,077 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnston received 10 first-place votes to repeat as the league's Defensive Player of the Year. The defensive end posted 77 total tackles last year (35 solo), 14.0 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a career-best 23 quarterback hurries.
Liberty's 11 Big South preseason all-conference selections set a program record as the Flames' previous-high preseason honorees was seven in 2005.
2007 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference Team
(Note: for further information on Liberty's players, please click on the player's name.)
OFFENSE SCHOOL YR HOMETOWN
QB Brock Smith Liberty Jr. Hershey, Pa.
RB Rashad Jennings Liberty Jr. Forest, Va.
RB Zach Terrell Liberty Jr. Manasses Park, Va.
WR Jerome Simpson Coastal Carolina Sr. Reidsville, N.C.
WR Duvaughn Flagler Gardner-Webb Sr. Norcross, Ga.
WR Brandon Turner Liberty Sr. Gretna, Va.
TE Chris Luck Liberty Sr. Montvale, Va.
OL Stephen Sene Liberty R-Sr. Columbia, S.C.
OL Demario Deese Gardner-Webb Jr. Charlotte, N.C.
OL Rick Howell Charleston Southern Sr. Satellite Beach, Fla.
OL Robert Brown VMI Sr. Mesquite, Texas
OL Eddie Pinigis Liberty R-Sr. Forest, Va.
DEFENSE SCHOOL YR HOMETOWN
DL Brian Johnston Gardner-Webb Sr. San Diego, Calif.
DL Dennis Justiniani Charleston Southern Sr. Huntington Beach, Calif.
DL Adrain Grady Coastal Carolina R-Sr. Leland, N.C.
DL Steven Ackley Liberty R-Sr. Columbia, Tenn.
LB Mario E. Brown Gardner-Webb Jr. Greenville, S.C.
LB Jada Ross Charleston Southern Sr. Summerville, S.C.
LB Stevie Ray Lloyd Liberty R-Sr. Lynchburg, Va.
LB Mike Pavelko Gardner-Webb Jr. Eden Prairie, Minn.
DB C.J. Hirschman Charleston Southern Sr. Jacksonville, Fla.
DB Daniel Cooke Gardner-Webb Jr. Charlotte, N.C.
DB Ryan Greiser Liberty Jr. Quakertown, Pa.
DB Okeba Rollinson Charleston Southern R-Jr. Gastonia, N.C.
SPECIAL TEAMS SCHOOL YR HOMETOWN
PK Nick Ellis Charleston Southern Sr. Stockbridge, Ga.
P Michael Hanna Gardner-Webb Jr. Lawrenceville, Ga.
LS David McCarthy Gardner-Webb Jr. Irmo, S.C.
RS Wynton Jackson Liberty R-Sr. Jacksonville, Fla.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Jerome Simpson, WR, Sr., Coastal Carolina
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Brian Johnston, DE, Sr., Gardner-Webb