CSU tabbed Big South preseason co-favorite with Kennesaw State

CSU tabbed Big South preseason co-favorite with Kennesaw State

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charleston Southern and Kennesaw State have been installed as Big South Conference preseason co-favorites, it was announced Tuesday at the league's annual Football Media Day. CSU and Kennesaw State each received nine first-place votes and 80 total points in the poll conducted by the league's head coaches and a media panel. It is the first time two teams have tied for the top spot in the preseason poll.

CSU and Kennesaw State are followed by Gardner-Webb (54 points), Monmouth (36 points) and Presbyterian (20 points). Liberty was not eligible for the preseason poll due to its transition to FBS and ineligibility for the conference championships and FCS Playoffs.

The Bucs are coming off back-to-back Big South titles and return 16 starters from a 2016 squad that beat three ranked teams en route to a second consecutive playoff appearance. Leading the way on the sidelines in his first season as head coach will be Mark Tucker, CSU's quarterbacks coach for the last four years. Tucker has been an integral part of the Bucs' rise to prominence, as the program has rolled up 35 wins since 2013, becoming a fixture in the national polls.

Among CSU's primary returners is senior Anthony Ellis, who was named Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight time. Ellis led the league in sacks and tackles for loss in 2016, earning him All-America honors from STATS FCS, the Associated Press and Hero Sports. Ellis is joined on the preseason all-conference team by linebackers Solomon Brown and Zane Cruz, cornerback Shadarius Hopkins, wide receiver Kameron Brown and offensive lineman Frank Cirone.

CSU reports for fall camp on July 31 and is slated to open practice on August 1. The Bucs kick off the season on Saturday, Sept. 2 at Mississippi State.

The preseason favorite has gone on to win at least a share of the conference championship in 12 of the Big South's 15 years of football. The poll is detailed below.

 

 2017 Preseason Poll (first-place votes)

 Points

 T-1. Charleston Southern (9)

 80

 T-1. Kennesaw State (9)

 80

 3. Gardner-Webb

 54

 4. Monmouth

 36

 5. Presbyterian College

 20

 -- Liberty *

 n/a

* - not eligible for preseason poll due to transition to FBS 

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