FRISCO, Texas — The University of Central Arkansas placed 12 players overall and nine first-teamers on the Southland Conference preseason football teams.
McNeese State and Sam Houston State also placed 12 players on the 58-member all-conference teams.
Nine of the 29 first-team selections, including six offensive members, highlight the two teams that also have 13 second-team picks return for an automatic spot on the preseason squads.
Four of the conference’s individual award winners from last year are back, including Sam Houston State senior Timothy Flanders, the league’s two-time player of the year, along with Central Arkansas senior Wynrick Smothers, the reigning offensive player of the year, and sophomore teammate Jonathan Woodard, last season’s top freshman, and Lamar junior Kevin Johnson, the conference’s newcomer of the year a season ago.
UCA, which is coming off a share of its first conference title, has a league-high nine first-team selections, including Smothers, defensive lineman Jonathan Woodard, defensive back Jestin Love and kicker Eddie Camara, all of whom earned first-team all-conference honors at the conclusion of last season.
Smothers was one of the top quarterbacks in the league last year, leading the league in passing touchdowns (31) and ranking second in total offense (296.0), passing yards (3,103), passing yards per game (258.6) and passing efficiency (145.7). Woodard, a sophomore defensive end, led the Bears in sacks (7.0) and fumbles recovered (three) and was second on the team in tackles for loss (11.0). Love was eighth in the league with 91 tackles, including 49 solo tackles. Place-kicker Camara was the most efficient kicker in the conference, making 86.7 percent (13-for-15) of his field goals and 98.1 percent (53-for-54) of his point-after attempts.
Also earning preseason first-team honors for the Bears are wide receiver Dezmin Lewis, offensive lineman Cole Caruthers, defensive lineman Matt Hornbuckle, linebacker Justin Heard and defensive back Radarius Winston.
Earning spots on the second-team for UCA are offensive linemen Dominique Allen and Kyle Stouffer and defensive back Marcus Peters.
Returning players who earned all-conference honors at the conclusion of the 2012 season were automatically named to the preseason teams. Head coaches from the eight schools that play football in the Southland Conference voted for the remaining 36 positions, which included eight on the first-team offense, 12 on the first-team defense, seven positions on the second-team offense and nine on the second-team defense. Coaches could not vote for their players.
The conference’s two preseason polls — coaches and sports information directors — will be announced July 24 at Media Day.