Bucs picked second in Big South poll; Drafts, Ross tabbed top playersJuly 28, 2006
By CSU Sports Information
|Head coach Jay Mills|
Charlotte, NC – Who would have ever thought that a Charleston Southern football program that finished 1-11 in 2003 would be a Big South Conference title contender just three years later?
Charleston Southern shocked the league a season ago by winning their last five games, including a double overtime thriller against Coastal Carolina to lay claim to a share of the league championship.
That performance has opened some eyes among media members and coaches around the league as evidenced by the 2006 preseason poll, released as part of the Big South Conference football media day on Friday.
The Buccaneers are picked to finish second in the league, receiving 61 points (though strangely enough no first-place votes). Coastal Carolina received 15 first-place votes and 90 points overall to earn the league’s preseason nod as champion.
“It certainly is a little strange to see our name near the top in such a short time but that was our goal when we came here, to build a program worthy of contending each and every year,” said CSU’s fourth-year head coach Jay Mills.
Certainly with the way the Buccaneers closed out last season, expectations are much higher for Mills’ squad in 2006. The coach realizes that eyes will be focused on his program this fall.
“Back when we were 1-11, we were preaching everyday to our players about overcoming adversity,” said Mills. “Now we are faced with a little different situation, handling prosperity, and for many programs, that can be even tougher.
“We hope to be able to prove that last year was not a fluke, not a one-time deal. We have to set out to prove that we are deserving of such high expectations. It’s not something we want to run away from.”
Senior quarterback Collin Drafts, tabbed as the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year on Friday, says he and his fellow seniors have worked hard to insure the right frame of mind come August.
“We always wanted some respect and last year we were able to earn some but we’re not going to rest on what we did last year,” said Drafts, who enters the season as holder of eight Big South career records for passing and total offense. “Nobody in our program wants what happened last year to be a one-time deal. We worked real hard in the spring and over the summer to make sure we come back with the proper focus and intensity.”
Junior linebacker Jada Ross, a Summerville High product, knows all about expectations, having played in one of the nation’s top high school programs. Ross, tabbed the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the Big South Conference, does not expect to see a drop off in the 2006 Buccaneers.
“Our coaches have talked all during the off-season about how to handle winning and about staying focused on the future, not what we did last year,” said Ross, who led the Bucs with 128 tackles last season. “We’re not going to sneak up on anyone this year. We have to approach every game with the same mentality. Lots of people probably feel like last year was a fluke. We have a chance to prove that it wasn’t.”
Even as his program appears to be turning the corner in terms of respectability among its league peers, Mills cannot help but laugh when thinking of the trials and tribulations of that first season.
“We were 1-11, wow,” said Mills. “Thank goodness we didn’t play 13 games.”
Also released on Friday was the 2006 Preseason All-Conference team, led by Drafts on offense and Ross on defense. Other Buccaneer selections included junior wide receiver Maurice Price and junior center Rick Howell on offense, with defensive back C.J. Hirschman on defense.
2006 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference Team
QB Collin Drafts, Sr., Charleston Southern
RB Zach Terrell, Soph., Liberty
RB Aundres Perkins, Sr., Coastal Carolina
WR Maurice Price, Jr., Charleston Southern
WR Duvaughn Flagler, Jr., Gardner-Webb
WR Jerome Simpson, Jr., Coastal Carolina
TE Chris Luck, Jr., Liberty
OL Demario Deese, Soph., Gardner-Webb
OL Brad Poston, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Brian Kepple, Sr., Coastal Carolina
OL Kris King, Sr., Gardner-Webb
OL Rick Howell, Jr., Charleston Southern
DL Brian Johnston, Jr., Gardner-Webb
DL Jason Horn, Sr., Liberty
DL Adrain Grady, Sr., Coastal Carolina
DL Eric Hall, Sr., VMI
LB Jada Ross, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
LB Jamar Leath, Sr., Coastal Carolina
LB Manny Rojas, R-Sr., Liberty
LB J.P. Weaver, Sr., Gardner-Webb
DB Quinton Teal, Sr., Coastal Carolina
DB Daniel Cooke, Soph., Gardner-Webb
DB Patrick Calvary, Soph., Liberty
DB C.J. Hirschman, Jr., Charleston Southern
PK Josh Hoke, Sr., Coastal Carolina
P Michael Hanna, Soph., Gardner-Webb
LS Matt Skeen, Sr., Gardner-Webb
RS Kory Alston, Sr., Gardner-Webb
PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Collin Drafts, QB, Sr., Charleston Southern
PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jada Ross, LB, R-Jr., Charleston Southern
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (points)
1. Coastal Carolina (90)
2. Charleston Southern (61)
3. Gardner-Webb (59)
4. Liberty (50)
5. VMI (25)