CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Six Charleston Southern players were named to the 2017 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference Team, announced Tuesday at the Big South Conference Football Media Day.
Senior defensive lineman Anthony Ellis was picked as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year to highlight the Buccaneers selected. Fellow seniors Frank Cirone (offensive line) and Zane Cruz (linebacker), as well as redshirt junior Solomon Brown (linebacker), junior Shadarius Hopkins (defensive back), and redshirt sophomore Kameron Brown (wide receiver) also garnered preseason All-Conference nods.
Cirone battled through injuries last season to start nine games and helped CSU finish sixth in the NCAA in rushing (266.5 ypg). The redshirt senior from Naples, Fla. was a 2016 Big South First Team selection and helped the Bucs total 500-plus yards in offensive four times and 30-plus points six times.
Solomon Brown joined Ellis as a disruptive force on the defensive side of the ball for the Buccaneers on his way to earning HERO Sports Sophomore All-American and STATS FCS All-American nods. He led the Bucs in total tackles (70) and finished second in the Big South in tackles for loss (14.5) and sixth in sacks (4.5).
Kameron Brown stepped into the spotlight in his first game with the Bucs with a big day at North Dakota State and carried the momentum over into an All-Conference year as a redshirt freshman. The Beech Island, S.C. native led the Big South in yards per catch by nearly five yards (20.0 ypc) and finished fifth in the NCAA in the category for the 2016 season. He finished fourth in the Big South in receiving yards per game on the year.
Cruz has been a mainstay in the middle of the Bucs' defense since stepping on campus on his way to earning All-Conference honors last season. He finished fourth on the team in tackles, but played his best football when it counted coming up with a key interception in CSU's win against Bucknell, as well as a seven-tackle, two-sack performance in the Bucs' conference-clinching victory over Kennesaw State.
Hopkins finished the 2016 season as the Bucs' top cover corner and was often matched against the opponent's top threat on a weekly basis. He finished the season among the nation's leaders with 12 passes defended on the season. Hopkins came up big for CSU in key games against Liberty and Kennesaw State, recording an interception, four pass breakups and a tackle in the Bucs' win over Liberty. He followed up the next week with a pair of pass breakups and an interception in CSU's clincher over Kennesaw State.