C-N football team ranked in two preseason polls
JEFFERSON CITY — Carson-Newman football has received some love from two preseason publications. The Eagles are ranked 18th in The Sporting News’ preseason poll and 14th in Lindys.
In addition, Carson-Newman defensive back EJ Jacob has been named a preseason first team All-American by Lindys.
Jacob was second in the SAC with his five picks last year. With his two interceptions against Newberry, Jacob became the first Eagle with a multi-pick game since Oliver Davis had a pair against Tusculum in 2010.
He finished the regular season with a career best seven-tackle day against Wingate. Jacob needed two more picks to break into the top 10 for most interceptions in a single season at C-N.
The Eagles must find ways to replace All-American tackle Alex Taylor and all-region guard Lucas Mathis on the right side of the line. However, they do return all-region performer Robbie Ignagni up front, as well as Dan Gallman, Derek Evans and Tyler Scott. Those three linemen all have significant starting experience.
Both starting running backs are gone in All-American Brandon Baker and all-conference performer Tyron Douglas – the duo combined for 2,051 yards last year and 6,488 yards in their career. However, Andy Hibbett will move into the role of full-time starter after gaining 837 yards in his junior season with nine touchdowns. Hibbett has 1,817 career rushing yards and needs 634 to break into the top 15 on the all-time rushing list at C-N in his senior season.
At quarterback, the Eagles bring back De’Andre Thomas. In his sophomore year, Thomas became the first Eagle QB with 20 rushing touchdowns in a single season and the fourth player overall to do so. He also set Sparks-era passing records for completions and completion percentage, as well as the single game passing efficiency record. The Eagles only lose Luther Walker from the receiving corps, Thomas’ top two targets – TraShaun Ward and Anthony Eubanks both return.
Defensively, the Eagles must replace Anthony Baskin in the secondary, who signed in the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason. However, three other starters are back in the secondary (Jacob, Sean Rawson and Dante Thomas), as well as 2012 starter Xavier Stevens.
C-N’s linebacking corps was hit hardest by graduation; four senior starters leave the program including All-American Jaycob Coleman and 260-career tackle LB Jonathan Sites.
On the defensive line, tackles Jamar Neal and Michael Surgbally are gone, but all-region defensive end Javaris Neal is back, as well as William Alderman.
The Eagles open the season Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. against Edinboro.
-From Contributed Reports