FRISCO -- Reigning SLC Offensive Player of the Year Nathan Brown of Central Arkansas and 2007 SLC Newcomer of the Year Lardarius Webb of Nicholls State highlight the 2008 All-Southland Conference preseason football teams.
All eight Southland teams placed at least two student-athletes on the preseason teams. The teams are comprised of players voted All-SLC following last season as automatic selections. The remaining spots are nominated for and voted upon by the eight head coaches of the league.
Preseason favorite McNeese State leads all teams with eight first-team selections on the 2008 Preseason All-Southland Conference football squads and also has nine on the second unit for a total of 17.
Central Arkansas has seven total selections, with five coming on the offensive side of the ball. Nicholls State has six players on the All-SLC preseason teams, with three on each side for the Colonels. Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana, Sam Houston State and Texas State each placed five players on the squads, as the Demons got three first teamers and two on the second team, while the Bobcats got two on the first and three on the second, one on the first and five on the second for the Bearkats and four on the first and one on the second for the Lions. Stephen F. Austin, looking to bounce back after an 0-11 season last year, placed two players on the second team.
The Cowboys placed wide receiver Quinten Lawrence (6-1, 180) on the first-team, after he caught 31 passes for 645 yards and six touchdowns last year. Joining Lawrence on the first team is offensive linemen Kyle Link (6-6, 295), Eman Naghavi (6-2, 300) and Lance Fremin (6-1, 300).
On first-team defense is lineman Vaalyn Jackson (6-0, 280), linebacker Allen Nelson, defensive back Brandt Linde (6-1, 190) and defensive back Ladarius Key (5-10, 185). Linde finished No. 12 in the SLC in total tackles with 73, while Nelson had 63. Jackson had three sacks and Key had 21 tackles and an interception a year ago.
Brown (6-2, 209) threw for 3,084 yards last season, the fourth best single-season total in SLC history, with 26 touchdowns. The Russellville, Ark., native tied an SLC single game record with seven touchdowns responsible for against Texas State last year. Brown averaged 280.4 passing yards per game and finished with 3,216 yards of total offense.
Joining Brown on the first-team for the Bears is tight end Marquez Branson (6-3, 242), as he caught 37 balls for 499 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Two offensive linemen are also on the first team for UCA, Brad Gordon (6-1, 295) and Lane Freiwald (6-7, 317).
On defense for the Bears is lineman Taylor Scott (6-3, 206), who finished No. 2 in the SLC with five sacks last year while posting 51 tackles.
Southeastern Louisiana had two players on offense, highlighted by running back Jay Lucas (5-11, 220). Lucas finished No. 2 in the league with 1,239 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, but led the league with 1,724 all-purpose yards. Placekicker Jeff Turner (5-9, 170) connected on 17-of-20 field goals and finished No. 2 nationally in field goals per game at 1.89.
On defense for the Lions is defensive back Tommy Connors (6-0, 195), who finished No. 6 in the SLC with 74 tackles. Punter Cody Samples (5-9, 180) rounds out the first-team selections for the Lions, as he punted 64 times for 2,368 yards last year.
Texas State wide receiver Cameron Luke and fullback Blake Burton are first-team offensive selections for the Bobcats. Luke led the league with 60 receptions for 1,035 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, as he became the first SLC player to post a 1,000 yard season since 2004, when Sam Houston State’s Jarrod Fuller (1,383) and Jason Mathenia (1,357) both went over the 1,000 yard mark. His 12 touchdowns were the most since Mathenia caught 13 in 2004. Burton scored two touchdowns last year for the Bobcats.
Nicholls State has two players on the first-team defense, highlighted by Webb, who led the league with five interceptions for 148 yards and took three back for a touchdown. Webb also was a first-team return specialist, as he returned 22 kicks for 588 yards and 16 punts for 273 yards and a touchdown. Rounding out the first-team for the Colonels is linebacker Garrick Spain, who posted 61 tackles a year ago.
For Northwestern State, Byron Lawrence (5-8, 197) is a first-team offensive selection as he led the league with 1,377 rushing yards and five touchdowns and finished No. 3 with 1,449 all-purpose yards. Joining Lawrence is defensive lineman Albert Smith (6-0, 300) and defensive back Gary Riggs (6-1, 215). Riggs posted three interceptions last year and 42 total tackles, while Smith forced two fumbles, had 6.5 tackles for loss and 33 overall tackles.
Sam Houston State has Chris Brown (6-3, 218) on first-team defense, as he was No. 5 in the SLC with three sacks last year and 60 overall tackles.
Highlighting the second-team selections for McNeese State is quarterback Derrick Fourroux (6-1, 187), tight end Wes Mangan (6-4, 245), wide receiver and 2006 SLC Player of the Year Steven Whitehead (5-8, 175), running back Toddrick Pendland (5-10, 167), defensive lineman Kenneth Lundy (6-1, 260), defensive back John Vigers (6-1, 200) and punter Blake Bercegeay (6-2, 178).
On the second-team for Sam Houston State is offensive lineman John Dirk (6-3, 285), place kicker Taylor Wilkins (5-7, 151), defensive lineman Eric Mikolajchak (6-4, 315) and linebacker Nolan Bucek (5-10, 194).
On the second team for Nicholls State is offensive lineman Nigel Cormier (6-1, 260), defensive lineman Jairius Jarvis (6-5, 220) and defensive back Lance Moore (6-1, 190). Jarvis tied for the league lead with three forced fumbles last year.
For Central Arkansas is offensive lineman Jeremy Ford (6-1, 284) and wide receiver Preston Echols (6-0, 202) on the second unit.
The Demons place fullback Dante Austin (5-10, 250) and defensive back Wesley Eckles (6-0, 185) on the second team.
Stephen F. Austin has defensive lineman Tim Knicky (6-4, 235) and linebacker Jabara Williams (6-3, 250) on the second team. Knicky was No. 2 in the SLC with 12 tackles for loss last year and posted 51 total tackles. Williams finished with 58 total tackles last year to rank No. 16 in the SLC.
Texas State running back Karrington Bush (5-10, 182), the 2007 SLC Freshman of the Year, is on the second-team. Last year, Bush ran for 1,039, the third most in the SLC and scored three touchdowns. Bush was No. 2 in the league in all-purpose yards with 1,621. Joining Bush on the second team is offensive lineman Jeff Bowen (6-1, 280) and defensive back Will Thompson, who registered 45 tackles last year.
Southeastern Louisiana’s Marquis Powell rounds out the second team for the Lions, as he finished with 30 tackles last year.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
POS NAME UNIVERSITY HT. WT. CL. HOMETOWN
QB Nathan Brown Central Arkansas 6-2 209 Sr. Russellville, Ark.
RB Jay Lucas Southeastern La. 5-11 220 Sr. Baton Rouge, La.
RB Byron Lawrence Northwestern State 5-8 197 Sr. North Little Rock, Ark.
FB Blake Burton Texas State 6-0 235 Sr. Hungerford, Texas
WR Cameron Luke Texas State 6-2 211 Sr. Klein, Texas
WR Quinten Lawrence McNeese State 6-1 180 Sr. Carencro, La.
TE Marquez Branson Central Arkansas 6-3 242 Sr. Starkville, Miss.
OL Eman Naghavi McNeese State 6-2 300 Sr. Katy, Texas
OL Brad Gordon Central Arkansas 6-1 295 Sr. Little Rock, Ark.
OL Kyle Link McNeese State 6-6 295 Sr. Lake Charles, La.
OL Lane Freiwald Central Arkansas 6-7 317 Jr. Little Rock, Ark.
OL Lance Fremin McNeese State 6-1 300 Sr. Starkville, Miss.
PK Jeff Turner Southeastern La. 5-9 170 Jr. Houston, Texas
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Taylor Scott Central Arkansas 6-3 206 Jr. Little Rock, Ark.
DL Vaalyn Jackson McNeese State 6-0 280 Sr. Sulphur, La.
DL Chris Brown Sam Houston State 6-3 218 Sr. Texarkana, Texas
DL Albert Smith Northwestern State 6-0 300 Jr. Matthews, La.
LB Allen Nelson McNeese State 6-1 210 Sr. Beaumont, Texas
LB Garrick Spain Nicholls State 6-0 205 Jr. Franklin, La.
DB Lardarius Webb Nicholls State 5-11 180 Sr. Opelika, Ala.
DB Gary Riggs Northwestern State 6-1 215 Jr. Jennings, La.
DB Tommy Connors Southeastern La. 6-0 195 Jr. Marrero, La.
DB Brandt Linde McNeese State 6-1 190 Sr. Mandeville, La.
DB Ladarius Key McNeese State 5-10 185 Sr. Monroe, La.
P Cody Samples Southeastern La. 5-9 180 Sr. Ripley, Miss.
RS Lardarius Webb Nicholls State 5-11 180 Sr. Opelika, Ala.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB Derrick Fourroux McNeese State 6-1 187 Jr. Erath, La.
RB Karrington Bush Texas State 5-10 182 So. Whitewright, Texas
RB Toddrick Pendland McNeese State 5-10 167 Jr. Newton, Texas
FB Dante Austin Northwestern State 5-10 250 Jr. Galveston, Texas
WR Preston Echols Central Arkansas 6-0 202 Jr. Forrest City, Ark.
WR Steven Whitehead McNeese State 5-8 175 Sr. Slidell, La.
TE Wes Mangan McNeese State 6-4 245 Jr. Brenham, Texas
OL John Dirk Sam Houston State 6-3 285 Sr. Stephenville, Texas
OL Jeremy Ford Central Arkansas 6-1 284 Sr. Bastrop, La.
OL David Ballard McNeese State 6-4 300 Sr. Lake Charles, La.
OL Jeff Bowen Texas State 6-1 280 Sr. Richland Hills, Texas
OL Nigel Cormier Nicholls State 6-1 260 Sr. Lafayette, La.
PK Taylor Wilkins Sam Houston State 5-7 151 Jr. LaMarque, Texas
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL Kenneth Lundy McNeese State 6-1 260 Sr. Bogalusa, La.
DL Jairius Jarvis Nicholls State 6-5 220 Jr. Donaldsonville, La.
DL Tim Knicky Stephen F. Austin 6-4 235 Jr. Cedar Park, Texas
DL Eric Mikolajchak Sam Houston State 6-4 315 Sr. Houston, Texas
LB Nolan Bucek Sam Houston State 5-10 194 Sr. Houston, Texas
LB Jabara Williams Stephen F. Austin 6-3 250 So. Garrison, Texas
DB Lance Moore Nicholls State 6-1 190 Sr. Leakesville, Miss.
DB Wesley Eckles Northwestern State 6-0 185 Jr. Mansfield, La.
DB John Vigers McNeese State 6-1 200 Sr. Baton Rouge, La.
DB Marquis Powell Southeastern La. 5-9 207 Sr. Madison, Fla.
DB Will Thompson Texas State 5-10 174 Jr. Katy, Texas
P Blake Bercegeay McNeese State 6-2 178 Sr. Gonzales, La.
RS Steven Whitehead McNeese State 5-8 175 Sr. Slidell, La.
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