DENTON, Texas (7/21/08) North Texas record-breaking wide receiver Casey Fitzgerald and offensive lineman Kelvin Drake were named to the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Preseason All-Conference Team, the league announced on Monday.
Fitzgerald was a 2007 All-American last season after leading the league in receptions and yards. Drake was a second-team all-conference selection last season and the anchor of the Mean Green’s offensive line after starting all 12 games at center.
“This league returns a lot of great players and we know that we will have to show a lot of improvement to move up in the standings,” said Coach Todd Dodge. “We are excited to begin the 2008 season to show that we are improving and moving this program in the right direction. Looking back at last year we know that we were a better team than our final record indicated, but that is what you have to live with until you can make amends the following year”.
Along with leading the Sun Belt Conference in receiving last season, Fitzgerald was third in the nation in receptions (111), sixth in yards (1,322), and tied for 10th nationally with 12 touchdown catches.
The Mean Green was picked to finish seventh this season in the preseason poll as voted on by the leagues head coaches. Defending conference champion Florida Atlantic is picked to repeat as they garnered six of the eight first place votes and 62 points. Troy and Louisiana-Monroe picked up the other two first place votes.
Florida Atlantic also swept the offensive and defensive Player of the Year as quarterback Rusty Smith and linebacker Frantz Joseph captured the awards.
The Mean Green ended the 2007 season with a 2-10 overall record and a league record of 1-6. North Texas begins the 2008 season on August 30 at Kansas State under second-year head coach Todd Dodge. The home opener for North Texas is one week later on September 6 against Tulsa.
2008 Preseason Sun Belt Poll
As voted on by the league’s eight head coaches.
First place votes in parentheses.
1. Florida Atlantic (6) 62
2. Troy (1) 51
3. Louisiana-Monroe (1) 46
4. Arkansas State 39
5. Middle Tennessee 32
6. Louisiana-Lafayette 26
7. North Texas 19
8. Florida International 13
QB: Rusty Smith (FAU, Jr.)
RB: Reggie Arnold (ASU, Jr.)
RB: Tyrell Fenroy (ULL, Sr.)
WR: Cortez Gent (Florida Atlantic, Jr.)
WR: Casey Fitzgerald (NT, Sr.)
TE: David Johnson (ASU, Sr.)
TE: Zeek Zacharie (ULM, Sr.)
OL: Matt Mandich (ASU, Sr.)
OL: Nick Paris (FAU, Sr.
OL: Chris Fisher (ULL, Jr.)
OL: Kelvin Drake (NT, Jr.)
OL: Dion Small (Troy, Sr.)
DL: Alex Carrington (ASU, Jr.)
DL: Robert St. Clair (FAU, Sr.)
DL: Jervonte Jackson (FAU, Sr.)
DL: Kenny Mainor (Troy, Sr.)
LB: Ben Owens (ASU, Sr.)
LB: Frantz Joseph (FAU, Sr.)
LB: Boris Lee (Troy, Jr.)
DB: Tavious Polo (FAU, So.)
DB: Corey Small (FAU, Sr.)
DB: Greg James (ULM, Jr.)
DB: Alex Suber (MT, Sr.)
DB: Sherrod Martin (Troy, Sr.)
DB: Tavares Williams (Troy, Sr.)
P: Scott Love (ULM, Jr.)
PK: Drew Edmiston (ULL, Sr.)
RS: Desmond Gee (MT, Jr.)
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Rusty Smith (FAU, Jr., Quarterback)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Frantz Joseph (FAU, Sr., Linebacker)