Nine Charleston Southern football players were recognized on the 2020 Big South Football Preseason All-Conference teams, announced Tuesday during the Big South Football Media Day.
Defensive linemen Nick Salley, Anton Williams, and Shaundre Mims, defensive back Cody Cline, placekicker Alex Usry, and long snapper Ethan Ray all earned preseason All-Conference First Team recognition. Quarterback Jack Chambers, offensive lineman JT Melton, and wide receiver Garris Schwarting were all honored on the Honorable Mention squad.
Eight of the nine Bucs earned preseason accolades from the conference office for the first time in their collegiate careers, while all nine Bucs were honored on the Phil Steele All-Conference team released last week.
Salley, a 2020 preseason Street & Smith FCS All-American selection, was one of the top defensive players in the nation last season on his way to earning AP All-American recognition (Third Team), while also receiving Street & Smith 2020 FCS Preseason All-American honors this fall. The Walterboro, S.C. native paced the Big South in tackles for loss (17.5) and forced fumbles (3), while also leading all conference defensive linemen in overall tackles and tackles per game.
Williams finished in the top three in the Big South in sacks, tackles for loss, and fumble recoveries, despite missing the first two games of the 2019 season. He posted one of the most dominant stretches in Big South history with 10 tackles for loss, six sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery over the final four weeks of conference play. He added double-digit tackles for loss in six games, including 4.5 in the CSU win over Hampton.
Mims, a 2020 preseason HERO Sports and College Football Athletic Yearbook All-American, is coming off a season where he set a CSU record 10.0 sacks, while adding 12.0 tackles for loss from the defensive tackle position. He posted multiple tackles for loss in four of the final five games of the season, with 10.0 tackles for loss coming against Monmouth, Hampton, Presbyterian, and Campbell.
Cline was a HERO Sports Freshman All-American and is the reigning Big South Defensive Freshman of the Year after a standout campaign that saw the Concord, N.C. native posted the highest tackle total by a freshman in the 2019 season. Cline put together back-to-back double-digit tackling efforts against both Monmouth and Gardner-Webb, adding his first collegiate interception in the Bucs' win over the Runnin' Bulldogs.
A 2019 HERO Sports Sophomore All-American, Usry enters the 2020 season as the reigning Big South Special Teams Player of the Year. The McDonough, Ga. native was a four-time conference Special Teams Player of the Week recipient and set the CSU record for most field goals in a single season and longest field goal in program history (52 at North Alabama), while adding 82 total points on the year.
Ray, recently named to the preseason 2020 Phil Steele All-American team, is a two-time preseason All-Conference selection. He is coming off a season where he became just the second CSU long snapper in program history to earn All-American status in the 2019 season after a standout campaign that included earning National Player of the Week recognition against Gardner-Webb. Ray recovered two fumbles in the game against the Runnin' Bulldogs to highlight a season that featured a perfect snapping record.
One of the more dynamic players in the Big South, Chambers earned preseason accolades after a standout season through both the air and on the ground. Chambers finished sixth in the Big South in passing yards per game (169.1) and ninth in rushing yards per game (46.2), while setting new career-highs in single game passing yards (296) and touchdowns (4) in 2019.
Schwarting was arguably the Bucs' top receiver in the 2019 campaign as the Bamberg, S.C. native led the Bucs with a career-high 575 receiving yards to go with four touchdowns. He finished second on the team with 39 receptions and posted a pair of 100-yard games (131 at Kennesaw State, 124 vs. Campbell).
Melton lined up at both center and guard in the 2019 season on his way to earning preseason recognition. The Chesterfield, S.C. native was part of a unit paved the way for CSU to average 153.0 rushing yards per game, as well as recording 18.4 first downs per contest. He also helped the Bucs average 4.3 yards per carry on their way to posting 361.8 yards of total offense per game.
Bucs ranked third
Charleston Southern football team was voted third in the 2020 Big South Preseason Poll, as announced Tuesday morning during the conference’s annual Media Day.
Voted on by head coaches and media members, the Bucs were one of three programs to receive a first-place vote and earned the third-place prediction. Tuesday’s poll makes it three-consecutive seasons the Bucs have been tabbed to finish third.
Charleston Southern received a first-place vote, a second-place vote, five third-place votes, two fourth-place votes and three fifth-place votes for 43 total points.
Kennesaw State received eight first-place votes and was tabbed the preseason favorite while reigning champion Monmouth received three first-place votes and finished second in the poll. Campbell (42) and Gardner-Webb (19) rounded out the annual preseason poll. Hampton received 23 points and a fifth-place standing but announced July 13 it suspended its fall sports and will not compete in football in 2020.
North Alabama is not included in the poll due to not being eligible for the Big South Championship and not counting as a conference opponent this season.
Charleston Southern enters their second season under Head Coach Autry Denson after finishing 5-1 down the stretch including a perfect 4-0 mark in the month of November. Denson and his staff have used that momentum for another highly-ranked recruiting class this past offseason, checking-in with the No. 13 class according to Hero Sports FCS.