FRISCO, Texas – The McNeese Cowboys landed eight players on the 2017 Preseason All-Southland Conference Football Team with two of those, tight end Lawayne Ross and safety Andre Fuller, garnering first team honors, the league released on Thursday.
Earning a spot on the second team were defensive linemen Jammerio Gross-Whitaker and Chris Livings, wide receivers Kent Shelby and Darious Crawley, defensive back Dominique Hill and transfer offensive lineman Andy Dodd.
Fuller, Gross-Whitaker and Crawley all earned an automatic spot on the preseason team after notching postseason honors in 2016.
Fuller, a senior from Monroe, earned his first-ever postseason honor last year after finishing second on the team with 58 total tackles to go along with six pass breakups, a sack, an interception and three tackles for a loss.
Ross, a redshirt sophomore from Richwood, Texas, switched positions during the spring from running back to tight end and was rewarded with a preseason first team selection. In 2016, he ranked third on the team in rushing with 218 yards and a 4.5 ypc average while running for two touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 53 yards and a score.
Gross-Whitaker picked up second team honors last season after posting the best season of his career. The senior from Shreveport led the Cowboys with 59 total tackles and was second on the team and fifth in the league with 7.5 sacks. He also collected 13 tackles for a loss that ranked tied for fifth in the conference.
Livings, a junior from Lake Charles, teamed with Gross-Whitaker to produce one of the most dominate defensive line duos in the conference last season. In earning honorable mention honors in 2016, Livings led the Cowboys with eight sacks and 14 tackles for a loss to go along with 47 total tackles. He ranked fourth in the conference and 27th nationally in the sacks department.
Crawley and Shelby became the first wide receiving duo in school history to each haul in at least 40 passes in the same season.
In his first year with the Cowboys after transferring from Kansas, Crawley led the team with 41 grabs for 701 yards for a 17.1 yards per catch average. He reeled in seven TD passes, ranked as the fourth-most in a season in school history. Shelby added 40 receptions for 509 yards and five touchdowns.
Hill, a senior from Mansfield who has started since his true freshman season, played in just five games last year due to a team suspension but closed out the year by making 21 tackles, four tackles for a loss and three pass break ups. He earned first team all-conference honors as a sophomore and honorable mention his freshman year.
Dodd will be playing his first year as a Cowboy after transferring from LSU where he played in 14 games in his career while backing up All-American center Ethan Pocic. He is expected to compete for a starting spot on the offensive line this season.
Central Arkansas, last year’s league runner-up, leads the way with 12 selections on the preseason teams while defending champion Sam Houston State landed 11. McNeese and Stephen F. Austin followed with eight apiece. Houston Baptist and Nicholls both earned five while Southeastern Louisiana named four players. Abilene Christian, UIW each had two and Lamar with one to round out the total selections.
The 2017 preseason poll will be revealed nest Thursday, July 20, to kick off Southland Football Media Day at the Hilton Americas in Houston.
2017 Southland Football Preseason All-Conference Teams
First Team Offense
QB – Jeremiah Briscoe, SHSU
RB – Corey Avery, SHSU; Julius Maracalin, SLU
TE/HB – Lawayne Ross, McNeese
WR – Yedidiah Louis, SHSU; Nathan Stewart, SHSU; Davion Davis, SHSU
OL – Stockton Mallett, UCA; Chandler Arceneaux, Nicholls; Tyler Tezeno, SHSU; John Cook, UCA; Josh Keith, SFA
AP – Kody Edwards, UIW
PK – Nik Grau, ACU
First Team Defense
DL – P.J. Hall, SHSU; Sully Laiche, Nicholls; John Franklin, SFA; Cardell Best, UCA
LB – Garrett Dolan, HBU; Sam Denmark, ACU; Justin Johnson, SHSU
DB – Tremon Smith, UCA; George Odum, UCA; Andre Fuller, McNeese; Jaylon Lofton, UCA; Christian Boutte, Nicholls
P – Patrick Ponder, UCA
KR – Jaylen Harris, SHSU
PR – Trae Hart, SFA
Second Team Offense
QB – Hayden Hildebrand, UCA
RB – Remus Bulmer, SHSU; Carlos Blackman, UCA
TE/HB – Kiki Hill, SFA
WR – Darious Crawley, McNeese; Tamrick Pace, SFA; Kent Shelby, McNeese
OL – Andy Dodd, McNeese; Mitchell Watanabe, SHSU; Gilberto Garcia, UCA; Ryan Hanley, Nicholls; Travis Romero, SLU
AP – Trae Hart, SFA
PK – Alec Chadwick, HBU
Second Team Defense
DL – Jammerio Gross-Whitaker, McNeese; Lamont Alexander, SFA; Chris Terrell, UCA; Chris Livings, McNeese
LB – Allen Pittman, Nicholls; Sione Teuhema, SLU; Cody Moncure, HBU
DB – Dominique Hill, McNeese; Rodney Randle Jr., Lamar; Robert Hayes Jr., UIW; Max Lyons, SLU; Derek Broussard, HBU
P – Christian Guzman, HBU
KR – Alize Ward, SFA
PR – Tremon Smith, UCA