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Flames Picked 2nd in Big South Football Preseason Poll

July 30, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty's D.J. Abnar was one of eight Liberty players named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference team.

Liberty's D.J. Abnar was one of eight Liberty players named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference team.

Defending Big South champion Liberty was picked second in the Big South's annual preseason football poll, which was released earlier today to jump start the second day of the 2015 Big South Football Media Day events.

The 2015 Big South Football Media Day events began yesterday at the College Football Hall of Fame, marking the first time a collegiate conference at any level has conducted its Football Media Day at the facility.

Thursday's events shifted locations to the Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria. During today's schedule, coaches and players ran through a series of media interviews with national, regional and local media members.

Prior to any of the media sessions, the Big South Conference released its annual preseason football poll and the 2015 Big South Preseason All-Conference team.

Liberty received 129 total votes in the preseason poll, including six first-place votes, and was picked behind preseason favorite Coastal Carolina (139 points/15 first-place votes).

Liberty and Coastal Carolina shared last year's Big South title, with both teams finishing with identical 4-1 records in league play.

The Flames upended the No. 1 ranked Chanticleers, 15-14, on Nov. 22, 2014, wrapping up the regular season and Liberty's seventh Big South title in the last eight years. The win also pushed the Flames into the NCAA FCS Playoffs for the first time in program history.

Charleston Southern took third place in the preseason poll with 106 points, followed by Presbyterian (72 votes), Gardner-Webb (57 votes), Monmouth (53 votes) and league newcomer Kennesaw State (32 votes).

Additionally, Liberty and Coastal Carolina each had eight players named to the 2015 Big South Preseason All-Conference team. The two squads combined to have 16 of the 29 players named to the preseason all-conference listing.

Coastal Carolina quarterback Alex Ross, the reigning Big South Offensive Player of the Year, was named the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Gardner-Webb defensive lineman O.J. Mau was tabbed the Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Liberty's preseason all-conference selections included: D.J. Abnar (RB), Darrin Peterson (WR), Jonathan Burgess (OL), Max Sommer (OL), Chima Uzowihe (DL), John Lunsford (PK), Trey Turner (P) and Hunter Winstead (LS).

Several of Liberty's preseason all-conference selections have already received other preseason accolades this summer.

Burgess, Lunsford, Peterson and Uzowihe were each named to the STATS FCS Preseason All-America team a few weeks ago. Additionally, Peterson (Offensive) and Uzowihe (Defense) were named to the STATS FCS Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Award watch lists.

Liberty begins preparation for the upcoming 2015 schedule on Aug. 6, when the Flames will hold their first practice of preseason training camp.

The Flames open the 2015 season at home against Delaware State on Sept. 5 (7 p.m.), while they will begin their Big South title defense on Oct. 10 at Gardner-Webb (7 p.m.).

Liberty's first home Big South game of the year will be on Oct. 24 when they welcome the Owls of Kennesaw State to Williams Stadium for the first time (7 p.m.).

2015 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference Team

Offense
QB - Alex Ross (Coastal Carolina, R-Sr.)
RB - De'Angelo Henderson (Coastal Carolina, R-Jr.)
RB - D.J. Abnar (Liberty, Sr.)
WR - Darrin Peterson (Liberty, Sr.)

WR - Bruce Mapp (Coastal Carolina, R-Jr.)
WR - John Israel (Coastal Carolina, R-Sr.)
TE - Mike Estes (Gardner-Webb, R-Jr.)
OL - Jonathan Burgess (Liberty, Sr.)
OL - Erik Austell (Charleston Southern, R-Jr.)
OL - Max Sommer (Liberty, R-Sr.)
OL - Voghens Larrieux (Coastal Carolina, R-Jr.)
OL - Alex Thompson (Monmouth, So.)

Defense
DL - O.J. Mau (Gardner-Webb, Sr.)
DL - Chima Uzowihe (Liberty, Sr.)
DL - Roderick Holder (Coastal Carolina, Sr.)
DL - Calvin Hollenhorst (Coastal Carolina, R-Sr.)
LB - Donelle Williams (Presbyterian, R-Sr.)
LB - Aaron Brown (Charleston Southern, Sr.)
LB - Aaron Cook (Gardner-Webb, Jr.)
LB - John Sieczkowski (Monmouth, Sr.)
DB - Mike Basile (Monmouth, So.)
DB - Ed Britt (Presbyterian, Sr.)
DB - Ivan Toomer (Gardner-Webb, R-Sr.)
DB - Troy McGowens (Charleston Southern, Jr.)

Special Teams
PK - John Lunsford (Liberty, Sr.)
P - Trey Turner (Liberty, So.)
LS - Hunter Winstead (Liberty, So.)

KR - Devin Brown (Coastal Carolina, Jr.)
PR - Darius Hammond (Charleston Southern, Jr.)

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Alex Ross, R-Sr., QB, Coastal Carolina

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
O.J. Mau, Sr., DL, Masefau, Gardner-Webb

2015 Big South Preseason Football Poll
1. Coastal Carolina – 139 votes (15 first place votes)
2. Liberty – 129 votes (six first place votes)
3. Charleston Southern – 106 votes
4. Presbyterian – 72 votes
5. Gardner-Webb – 57 votes
6. Monmouth – 53 votes
7. Kennesaw State – 32 votes