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Liberty Remains League's Preseason Favorite
Liberty, the Big South's two-time defending conference champion, garnered 10 first-place votes and 109 total points in the poll voted upon by the league's head coaches and a select media panel.
However, unlike last year's poll where Liberty took home 12 out of 13 possible first-place votes, this year's poll showed greater diversity in what the voters believe could take place as the race for the 2009 title unfolds over the next four months.
Liberty, which has won its last 11 Big South Conference games, led five different programs who received first-place nods. Stony Brook finished second in the listing with 87 total points and four first-place votes.
Coastal Carolina (83 points), Gardner-Webb (77 points) and Charleston Southern (56 points), followed by finishing third through fifth in the standings, respectively, with each program garnering one first-place vote.
VMI was the first program to not receive a first-place vote, finishing sixth in the preseason standings with 39 points. Presbyterian, whose games will count in the Big South standings in 2009, but will not be eligible for the conference crown until 2011, finished seventh with 25 points.
Along with the preseason predicted order of finish, the Big South also released its preseason all-conference teams and top offensive and defensive players of the year during the annual kickoff function to the football season.
Gardner-Webb might be predicted to finish fourth in the league in 2009, but the Bulldogs are predicted to have the league's most individual talent. Gardner-Webb placed 10 student-athletes on the preseason all-conference teams, doubling Liberty, who was second on the list with five preseason selections.
One of Gardner-Webb's 10 honored players was linebacker Jeffrey Williams, who was tabbed the league's preseason Defensive Player of the Year. VMI's senior quarterback Tim Maypray was selected the conference's preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
A pair of offensive linemen were two of Liberty's preseason honorees, as seniors Josh Weaver and Bryan Mosier were named to the league's preseason listing.
On the defensive side of the field, Liberty had a trio of preseason award winners. Defensive lineman Trey Jacobs was joined on the all-conference listing by defensive backs Chris Rocco and Tim Torrence to round out Liberty's five preseason selections.
Liberty's five honorees, along with the remainder of the Flames' roster, will return to Liberty Mountain next week to report for training camp. The squad will hold its annual preseason team on Wednesday, while the team will be "on the line" for its first practice at Williams Stadium at 2:15 p.m., on Thursday afternoon.
2009 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference Team
QB - Tim Maypray, VMI
QB - Zach MacDowall, Coastal Carolina
RB - Ed Gowins, Stony Brook
RB - Conte Cuttino, Stony Brook
WR - Gerald Stevenson, Charleston Southern
WR - James Perry III, Gardner-Webb
WR - Tyson Petty, Gardner-Webb
TE - Josh Miller, Gardner-Webb
OL - Corey O'Daniel, Gardner-Webb
OL - Josh Weaver, Liberty
OL - George Handler, VMI
OL - Bryan Mosier, Liberty
OL - Ryan Boehm, Coastal Carolina
DL - Phillip Oboh, Coastal Carolina
DL - Jordan Woods, Gardner-Webb
DL - Trey Jacobs, Liberty
DL - Quinnon Isom, Gardner-Webb
LB - Jeffrey Williams, Gardner-Webb
LB - Mario Brown, Gardner-Webb
LB - Tyler Santucci, Stony Brook
LB - Andrew McKain, Charleston Southern
DB - Cedric McGowan, Gardner-Webb
DB - Chris Richards, Stony Brook
DB - Chris Rocco, Liberty
DB - Tim Torrence, Liberty
PK - Ryan Gates, Gardner-Webb
P - Ben Erdman, Coastal Carolina
LS - Andrew McKain, Charleston Southern
KR - Gerald Stevenson, Charleston Southern
PR - Tim Maypray, VMI
Preseason Offensive Player Of The Year
Tim Maypray, QB, Sr., VMI
Preseason Defensive Player Of The Year
Jeffrey Williams, LB, Jr., Gardner-Webb
Big South Preseason Poll
1. Liberty (10) - 109
2. Stony Brook (4) - 87
3. Coastal Carolina (1) - 83
4. Gardner-Webb (1) - 77
5. Charleston Southern (1) - 56
6. VMI - 39
7. Presbyterian - 25
(Numbers in parentheses indicate first-place votes)