SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Furman is a seventh place pick in the Southern Conference coaches preseason poll, and four Paladins have been named to preseason all-conference team announced today at the league's annual football media day held at Spartanburg's Marriott hotel.
Furman garnered 26 points in the coaches poll to place seventh, finishing ahead of East Tennessee State (17) and VMI (12).
Wofford was the No. 1 pick, collecting seven first place votes and 63 points among the nine cast by the head coaches, and defending champion The Citadel was second, earning the other two first place votes to finish with 54 points. Samford (52), Chattanooga (41), and Mercer (32) rounded out the top five, with Western Carolina (27) placing sixth in the poll, one point ahead of Furman.
The last time Furman was picked as low as seventh in a SoCon preseason poll was 2013, which the Paladins defied by winning the league crown.
Paladin senior center Matthew Schmidt was the Paladins' lone representative on the preseason all-conference first team. Earning second team accolades were senior fullback Antonio Wilcox, redshirt junior nose guard Jaylan Reid, and junior safety Aaquil Annoor.
Schmidt, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound product from Stokesdale, N.C., earned second team All-SoCon honors in 2016 and heads into the 2017 campaign with 26 career starts — tops among Paladin linemen.
Wilcox, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder from Fitzgerald, Ga., has paced the Paladins in rushing each of the last two years and heads into this season just 37 yards shy of 1,000 career yards.
Defensively, Furman's top returnee is Reid, a 5-foot-11, 274-pound performer from Marietta, Ga., who registered 31 tackles, including 3.5 for-loss a year ago. The two-sport standout, who captured the shot put crown at the 2017 SoCon Outdoor Track & Field Championships, owns 17 starts in his career.
Annoor blossomed a year ago, posting four early season starts at cornerback before moving to safety, where he registered starts in the Paladins' final seven games. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Nashville, Tenn., native finished 2016 with 62 tackles and eight pass deflections, and also contributed significantly as a kickoff return specialist (22.5 av.g).
Furman, which returns 12 starters, will welcome players to campus on Monday, July 31, with preseason practice set to commence on Aug. 1. The Paladins kick off the 2017 campaign on Sept. 2 at league foe Wofford.
The Paladins are under the direction of new head coach Clay Hendrix '86, who assumed the program's reins in late December following 10 years as an assistant coach at Air Force. Prior to his stint with the Falcons, he spent 19 years at Furman (1988-06), playing a key role in one of the greatest eras in program history. The Commerce, Ga., native was a standout offensive guard for the Paladins (1982-85) and part of three SoCon championship teams.
2017 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll
Team (1st-place votes) Total
1) Wofford (7) 63
2) The Citadel (2) 54
3) Samford 52
4) Chattanooga 41
5) Mercer 32
6) Western Carolina 27
7) Furman 26
8) ETSU 17
9) VMI 12
2017 Preseason All-Southern Conference Football Teams
Offensive Player of the Year: Devlin Hodges, R-Jr., QB, Samford
Defensive Player of the Year: Kailik Williams, Sr., DB, The Citadel
First Team Offense
QB Devlin Hodges, R-Jr., Samford
RB Cam Jackson, Sr., The Citadel
RB Detrez Newsome, Sr., Western Carolina
OL Tyler Davis, Jr., The Citadel
OL Matthew Schmidt, Sr., Furman
OL Thomas Marchman, Sr., Mercer
OL Josh Cardiello, Sr., Chattanooga
OL Roo Daniels, Sr., Wofford
TE Sam Walker, R-Jr., Mercer
WR Kelvin McKnight, Jr., Samford
WR Terryon Robinson, R-Sr., Western Carolina
First Team Defense
DL Ahmad Gooden, R-Jr., Samford
DL Isaiah Mack, Jr., Chattanooga
DL Miles Brown, Jr., Wofford
DL Tyler Vaughn, Sr., Wofford
LB Shaheed Salmon, Sr., Samford
LB Dale Warren, Sr., Chattanooga
LB Allan Cratsenberg, Sr., VMI
LB Datavious Wilson, So., Wofford
DB Kailik Williams, Sr., The Citadel
DB Omari Williams, Sr., Samford
DB Lucas Webb, Sr., Chattanooga
DB Devin Watson, Jr., Wofford
First Team Specialists
PK Cole Fisher, Jr., Mercer
P Ian Berryman, R-Jr., Western Carolina
RS Detrez Newsome, Sr., Western Carolina
Second Team Offense
QB Alejandro Bennifield, Sr., Chattanooga
RB Antonio Wilcox, Sr., Furman
RB Richardre Bagley, Sr., Chattanooga
OL Alex Rios, Sr., ETSU
OL Caleb Yates, Sr., Mercer
OL Malcolm White, So., Chattanooga
OL Nathan Dalton, R-Jr., Western Carolina
OL Ross Demmel, Jr., Wofford
TE Chandler Gouger, Sr., Wofford
WR Marquise Irvin, Jr., Mercer
WR James Stovall, Sr., Chattanooga
Second Team Defense
DL Ken Allen, Jr., The Citadel
DL Jonathan King, Sr., The Citadel
DL Jaylan Reid, R-Jr., Furman
DL Isaiah Buehler, R-Jr., Mercer
DL Taylor Reynolds, Sr., Chattanooga
LB Myles Pierce, Sr., The Citadel
LB Dylan Weigel, R-Jr., ETSU
LB Ryan Francis, R-Sr., VMI
DB Aaquil Annoor, Jr., Furman
DB Trevor Wright, Sr., Chattanooga
DB Greg Sanders, Sr., VMI
DB Keion Crossen, Sr., Western Carolina
DB George Gbesee, So., Wofford
Second Team Specialists
PK JJ Jerman, Jr., ETSU
P Austin Barnard, R-Sr., Samford
RS Chandler Curtis, Sr., Mercer
NOTE: Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information