BIRMINGHAM – The SWAC announced its 2008 Preseason All-Conference Football Team Tuesday with Southern quarterback Bryant Lee and Prairie View A&M linebacker Zach East taking top honors.
The team was selected by nominations and votes from the member schools’ coaches and sports information contacts along with selected members of the media.
Named the preseason offensive player of the year, Lee (6-feet-2, 195, Jr.) spearheaded an offensive unit that finished first in passing offense, second in total offense and fourth in scoring offense last season.
The Boutte, La., native tallied 2,326 passing yards in 10 games in 2007. He threw for 23 touchdowns (leading the SWAC) while finishing with a pass efficiency rating of 152.6 (11th in the FCS). He ended the season garnering second-team All-Conference honors.
Tabbed the preseason defensive player of the year, East (6-feet-1, 240, Sr.) came on strong during the end of the 2006 season and continued his strong play in 2007. He finished the 2007 campaign with 127 total tackles (67 solo) while being named SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.
He also tallied 14.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles and a blocked kick. He had double-digit stops in nine games last season including an 18-tackle performance versus Grambling State and a 19-tackle performance against Jackson State.
In two years with the Panthers, he has totaled 187 total tackles. The Prairie View A&M standout was also tabbed as BoxToRow.com/BASN Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
In the predicted order of finish, voters decided that the 2007 division winners will repeat in 2008. In the Eastern Division, defending SWAC champion Jackson State received 17 first-place votes en route to 105 total points.
Alabama A&M, the 2006 SWAC champion, received five first-place tallies as they received 92 points. Mississippi Valley State (51 pts), Alabama State (49 pts) and Alcorn State (33 pts) rounded out the divisional voting.
In the Western Division, 2005 champion Grambling State claimed 11 first-place votes as they earned 96 points. Southern — the 1999 and 2003 champion — received seven first-place votes as en route to 89 total points.
Prairie View A&M earned four first-place tallies as they finished with 75 points. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (38 pts) and Texas Southern (32 pts) rounded out the Western Division.
In all, there were 12 seniors selected to the first team and 13 for the second team. 10 juniors were chosen for the first team while 11 were selected second team. Three sophomores were first-team selections while one was chosen for the second team.
Alabama A&M and Southern led the count with nine preseason selections each. The Bulldogs received six first-team selections while Southern had five. Jackson State ended with seven preseason choices — three on first team and four on second team.
Grambling State had three on each team for a total of six selections. Arkansas-Pine Bluff received four first-team honors and one second-team selection for a total of five. Mississippi Valley State and Alabama State each garnered four selections while Prairie View A&M had three. Alcorn State and Texas Southern carried two and one selections, respectively.
20 players who received all-conference honors in 2007 were named preseason all-conference in 2008. Those who received first-team honors last season were: running back Ulysses Banks (AAMU), defensive linemen Vincent Lands (SU), and Jeremy Maddox (AAMU); linebackers East, Rechard Johnson (ALST), and Tim Turner (UAPB); defensive backs Al Donaldson (AAMU), and Malcolm Palmer (JSU); and punter Josh Duran (SU).
A member of the 2007 BoxToRow.com/BASN Black College All-America team, Donaldson (5-feet-10, 173, Sr.) was tied for the lead amongst HBCU players in interceptions (nine) and recorded 11 pass break-ups.
Those who were named second-team in 2007 include: wide receiver Juamorris Stewart (SU), offensive linemen Darius Turner (AAMU), and Xavier Manuel (AAMU); running back Frank Warren (GSU), quarterback Lee, defensive lineman Ledarius Anthony (UAPB), return specialist Bruce Peters (UAPB), kicker Jeremy Licea (AAMU) and linebacker Marcellus Speaks (JSU).