Defending champion Coastal Carolina was the overwhelming choice to win the 2014 Big South Conference football championship and Charleston Southern was picked to finish third at the league's annual media day luncheon in Charlotte on Thursday.
1. Coastal Carolina (14)
2. Liberty (4)
3. Charleston Southern
6. Presbyterian College
Coastal Carolina received 14 of 18 first-place votes with Liberty receiving the other four first-place votes. Charleston Southern received two votes for second and 10 for third, finishing ahead of Gardner-Webb, Monmouth and Presbyterian in the poll.
The Buccaneers return 20 starters and 44 lettermen from last year's 10-3 team. The Bucs set a school record for victories and recorded wins over The Citadel, Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina last season. Second-year head coach Jamey Chadwell was not surprised by the results of the poll.
"I think everyone sort of predicts Coastal and Liberty near the top every year and really, third through sixth is wide open," said Chadwell. "I'm not real surprised. It is what it is. The poll we are most concerned with is at the end of the year and hopefully we will be sitting at the top.
"We had a great year and I am sure everyone is waiting to see if we can do it again. That's our challenge, to prove that our program can be consistent."
Four members of the Buccaneers' program were selected to the preseason all-conference team. Leading the way is senior running back Christian Reyes, who rushed for a school-record 1,254 yards last season. Reyes enters the 2014 season needing 488 yards to become the school's career rushing leader.
Senior offensive lineman Clayton Truitt also was a first-team selection, along with defensive lineman Dylan Black and defensive back Demaris Freeman.
Black tallied 10.5 tackles for loss in 2013 while Freeman led CSU in tackles with 90 total hits.
Charleston Southern opens its 2014 season Aug. 28 against Point University. The game will mark the first night game at CSU in school history and is one of four night games scheduled on campus during the season. The 2014 non-conference schedule features a home game against The Citadel, as well as road games at Vanderbilt and Georgia.
The Buccaneers report to campus Aug. 1 with the first practice the next day.
"It's in the air now and everyone is pretty excited at this time of year," said Chadwell. "We're excited about our season, with the night games and the SEC games on the schedule. Our challenge is to build upon what we accomplished last year. It will be here before you know it."