Five Citadel Players Named to Preseason All-SoCon Team by League Head Coaches
Spartanburg, S.C. — The head coaches of the Southern Conference have voted five Bulldogs to the preseason all-conference team for the upcoming 2012 season, the league announced at its football media day Thursday in Spartanburg.
Junior center Mike Sellers, senior defensive end Chris Billingslea and senior punter Cass Couey were selected to the first team while junior fullback Darien Robinson and junior defensive tackle Derek Douglas were voted to the second team.
The coaches also named a preseason offensive and defensive player of the year, with Wofford senior running back Eric Breitenstein and Georgia Southern senior defensive tackle Brent Russell earning those honors.
Sellers took over the starting center job late in his true freshman season in 2010 and has held that position since, becoming the anchor of The Citadel offensive line. A year ago, the Fort Dorchester High School graduate started all 11 games and helped the Bulldogs average 286.6 rushing yards per game, the third-highest mark in the nation, and was named first team All-SoCon by the coaches and the team's offensive player of the year.
Billingslea is in his fifth year at The Citadel and is a mainstay on the defensive line, having played in all 33 games in his career with 28 consecutive starts dating back to the middle of his redshirt freshman season in 2009. The Fort Mill High School product had 53 tackles last season, second among returning Bulldogs, while adding 11 tackles for loss, two sacks and three fumble recoveries to earn second team All-SoCon honors.
Couey is in his fourth season and has established himself as one of the top punters in the nation. He led the SoCon and ranked fifth in the nation last season with an average of 43.0 yards per punt, including 14 inside the 20, 10 of at least 50 yards and nine fair catches. He was named first team All-SoCon by both the coaches and media and enters the year ranked third in school history with an average of 40.5 yards per attempt, trailing only Greg Davis (42.1) and Kenny Caldwell (40.7).
Robinson is coming off a 2011 campaign which saw him play in all 11 games with 10 starts and carry 136 times for 862 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the Bulldogs and ranked sixth in the Southern Conference and 48th nationally with an average of 78.4 yards per game. Robinson's career average of 5.90 yards per carry is seventh in school history, and he enters his senior season just 38 yards shy of reaching the 1,000 plateau.
Douglas was chosen The Citadel's team MVP and first team All-SoCon by the coaches and media last season after ranking fifth in the conference with 14.5 tackles for loss while placing 47th in the nation with an average of 1.32 per game. He had a total of 43 tackles and added 3.5 sacks and a forced and recovered fumble. Douglas has played in all 22 games the past two seasons with 19 starts but will miss the early portion of 2012 after suffering a knee injury during spring practice.
The head coaches and SoCon media also predicted the order of finish in this year's conference race. Both groups picked The Citadel to finish eighth with defending conference champion and FCS semifinalist Georgia Southern as the preseason favorite. The coaches voted Appalachian State second and Wofford third while the media reversed the Mountaineers and Terriers.
The rest of the preseason poll was identical, with Chattanooga picked fourth followed by Furman, Samford, Elon, The Citadel and Western Carolina.
The Citadel opens the 2012 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 when Charleston Southern visits Johnson Hagood Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff. The Bulldogs begin SoCon play the following Saturday when they host Georgia Southern, also at 6 p.m.