NORFOLK, Va. – Last season, the Norfolk State football team had the element of surprise on its side. Picked to finish fifth in the preseason Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference poll, the Spartans proceeded to win their first-ever MEAC title.
The Spartans won’t have the luxury of surprise this season. NSU topped the preseason MEAC poll with 11 first-place votes and 454 total points.
NSU was one of six teams to receive first-place votes in the poll. South Carolina State received four first-place votes and 432 points to finish second behind NSU. Bethune-Cookman (three, 417) was third in the poll, followed by Florida A&M (two, 354) and Hampton (one, 268) to round out the top five.
Rounding out the rest of the preseason poll were North Carolina A&T, Morgan State, Howard, North Carolina Central, Delaware State and Savannah State, which received the only other first-place vote.
The Preseason All-Conference Teams were announced Friday at the conference’s media day in downtown Norfolk. N.C. A&T running back Mike Mayhew and Howard linebacker Keith Pugh were named Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
Mayhew, a native of Charlotte, N.C., led the MEAC in rushing with 1,120 yards on 231 total attempts. He averaged 101.8 yards per game and recorded nine touchdowns. A fifth-year senior, Mayhew earned a share of the conference’s postseason Player of the Year honor last year. He also ranked 3rd in all purpose yards with 1,222 yards with 93 yards through the air.
Pough led the conference in total tackles with 120 including 10.9 per game. He posted 71 solo tackles and ranked second in the MEAC in tackles for loss with 21.0. He also added 3.0 sacks, two breakups, 11 hurries, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. The senior linebacker from Orangeburg, S.C., helped Howard to a 4-4 finish in conference play and 5-6 overall record.
Hampton led all teams with eight student-athletes receiving preseason honors including seven on the second team. Florida A&M had five student-athletes to earn first-team honors followed by Bethune-Cookman with four.
MEAC Preseason Poll (first place votes in parentheses)
|1. Norfolk State (11)
|2. South Carolina State (4)
|3. Bethune-Cookman (3)
|4. Florida A&M (2)
|5. Hampton (1)
|6. North Carolina A&T
|7. Morgan State
|9. North Carolina Central
|10. Delaware State
|11. Savannah State (1)
PRESEASON MEAC ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
QB - Greg McGhee, Howard, So.
RB - Mike Mayhew, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
RB - Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
WR - Xavier Boyce, Norkfolk State, Sr.
WR - Tavis Tarpley, Delaware State, Sr.
TE - Joeseph Hawkins, Norfolk State, Sr.
C - Michael Kay, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL - Steven Robinson, Florida A&M, Sr.
OL - Blake Mathhews, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL - Terrence Hackney, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
OL - Cory Gwinner, Howard, Sr.
DL - Tony Mashburn, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
DL - Padric Scott, Florida A&M, Sr.
DL - Richard, Ndubueze, Morgan State Sr.
DL - Mathhew Davis, Hampton, Jr.
LB - Keith Pough, Howard, Sr.
LB - Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
LB - D'Vonte Grant, North Carolina A&T, So.
DB - John Ojo, Florida A&M, Sr.
DB - DeVontae Johnson, Florida A&M, So.
DB - Travis Crosby, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
DB - D.J. Howard, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
First-Team Special Teams
PK - Everett Goldberg, Norfolk State, Sr.
P - Brandon Holdren, Florida A&M, Sr.
RS - Geovonie Irvin, North Carolina Central, Sr.
QB - Damien Fleming, Florida A&M, So.
RB - Antwon Chisholm, Hampton, Jr.
RB - Travis Davidson, Morgan State, Sr.
WR - Eddie Poole, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
WR - Justin Wilson, Delaware State, Sr.
TE - Kris Drummond, Savannah State, So.
C - Tristan Bellamy, South Carolina State, So.
C - Vincent Harper, Hampton, Jr.
OL - Sam Hammond, South Carolina State, Sr.
OL - Nathan Isles, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
OL - Cameron Williams, Norfolk State, Jr.
OL - Marquell Rozier, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
DL - Xavier Proctor, North Carolina Central, Sr.
DL - Leon Smith, South Carolina State, Sr.
DL - Herold Love III, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
DL - Brandon Young, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
LB - Delbert Tyler, Hampton, Jr.
LB - Joe Thomas, South Carolina State, Jr.
LB - Lyndell Gibson, Hampton, Sr.
DB - Justin Blake, Hampton, Sr.
DB - Kenneth Ridley, Morgan State, Jr.
DB - Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
DB - DeCarlos Knight, Howard, Sr.
Second-Team Special Teams
PK - Taureab Durham, Hampton, Sr.
P - Jordan Stovall, Hampton, Jr.
RS - Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
Offensive Player of the Year - Mike Mayhew, RB, North Carolina A&T
Defensive Player of the Year - Keith Pough, LB, Howard