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N.C. A&T favored in MEAC, but vulnerable

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - The low number with North Carolina A&T on Friday was "1" - the Aggies' spot in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll.

The other low number with the two-time defending champion as it heads toward the 2019 season is something that should excite the rest of the conference.

The Aggies return only eight starters - four on each side of the ball. That's five fewer than any other team as the rest of the FCS conference returns experienced starting lineups.

Still, beating N.C. A&T has almost become just a hope in the MEAC. Bethune-Cookman was picked second and Florida A&M third in a conference that drops to nine teams with Savannah State's return to the Division II level. Florida A&M is under NCAA sanctions, ineligible for the conference title and the postseason.

N.C. A&T went 10-2 last season, beating an FBS opponent for the third straight year and winning the Celebration Bowl and the black college national title for the third time in four seasons. While the player losses were significant, coach Sam Washington's Aggies feature a quarterback who's appeared in 24 career games, fifth-year senior Kylil Carter, a potential All-America wide receiver in Elijah Bell and an All-America cornerback in Mac McCain.

"We want to be in the top echelon of FCS teams and in order to do that you have to win your league year in and year out," said Washington, the 2018 MEAC coach of the year. "Winning this league becomes harder and harder every year. There are a lot of good young coaches in this conference with tremendous talent on their teams. We're looking forward to the challenge."

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MEAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL

Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors Poll

1. North Carolina A&T State (12 first-place votes)

2. Bethune-Cookman (1)

3. Florida A&M (2)

4. Howard

5. North Carolina Central (1)

6. South Carolina State

7. Norfolk State (1)

8. Morgan State (1)

9. Delaware State

MEAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON TEAM

Offensive Player of the Year - Caylin Newton, QB, Howard

Defensive Player of the Year - Brian Cavicante, LB, Delaware State

First-Team Offense

QB - Caylin Newton, Howard, Jr.

RB - Isaiah Totten, North Carolina Central, R-Jr.

RB - Dedrick Parson, Howard, R-So.

WR - Jequez Ezzard, Howard, Sr.

WR - Kyle Anthony, Howard, Sr.

TE - Xavier Gravette, Morgan State, So.

C - L'Dre Barnes, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.

OL - Alex Taylor, South Carolina State, R-Sr.

OL - Marcus Pettiford, North Carolina A&T, R-Sr.

OL - Kaiden Crawford, Delaware State. Sr.

OL - Dontae Keys, North Carolina A&T, R-Jr.

First-Team Defense

DL - Marques Ford, Bethune-Cookman, R-Sr.

DL - Justin Cates, North Carolina A&T, Gr.

DL - Darius Royster, North Carolina Central, R-Sr.

DL - Kawuan Cox, North Carolina Central, Sr.

LB - Brian Cavicante, Delaware State, Jr.

LB - Marquis Hendrix, Bethune-Cookman, R-Sr.

LB - Rico Kennedy, Morgan State, R-Sr.

DB - Trevor Merritt, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.

DB - Tydarius Peters, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.

DB - Franklin "Mac" McCain III, North Carolina A&T, R-Jr.

DB - Jahad Neibauer, Delaware State, Sr.

First-Team Special Teams

PK - Yahia Aly, Florida A&M, Gr.

P - Chris Faddoul, Florida A&M, Jr.

RS - Jimmie Robinson, Bethune-Cookman, R-Sr.

Second-Team Offense

QB - Ryan Stanley, Florida A&M, R-Sr.

RB - Jah-Maine Martin, North Carolina A&T, R-Jr.

RB - Deshawn Smith, Florida A&M, Sr.

WR - Elijah Bell, North Carolina A&T, Sr.

WR - Xavier Smith, Florida A&M, So.

TE - Malik Hyatt, Howard, So.

C - Mike Terry, South Carolina State, Jr.

OL - Kenneth Kirby, Norfolk State, Jr.

OL - Andrew Dale, North Carolina Central, R-Jr.

OL - Stefan Touani, Morgan State, Jr.

OL - Cedric Jackson, Bethune-Cookman, R-So.

Second-Team Defense

DL - Marcellos Allison, Howard, Sr.

DL - Zamon Robinson, Howard, So.

DL - Christian Johnson, Delaware State, Sr.

DL - Tyrell Goodwin, South Carolina State, R-Sr.

DL - Paul Mckeiver, South Carolina State, R-Sr.

LB - Nigel Chavis, Norfolk State, Sr.

LB - Ian McBorrough, Morgan State, Sr.

LB - Antoine Wilder, North Carolina A&T, R-Sr.

DB - Terry Jefferson, Florida A&M, Gr.

DB - Donte Small, Morgan State, Jr.

DB - Tye Freeland, Howard, Jr.

DB - Bobby Price, Norfolk State, Sr.

DB - Nhyre' Quinerly, Norfolk State, Sr.

Second-Team Special Teams

PK - Jose Romo-Martinez, Delaware State, R-Jr.

P - Fidel Romo-Martinez, Delaware State, R-Jr.

RS - Marcus Williams, Florida A&M, Sr.

Third-Team Offense

QB - Tyrece Nick, South Carolina State, Jr.

QB - Arkevious Williams, Bethune-Cookman, Gr.

RB - Bishop Bonnette, Florida A&M, Jr.

RB - Josh Chase, Morgan State, Sr.

RB - Aaron Savage, Norfolk State, Sr.

WR - Chad Hunter, Florida A&M, Jr.

WR - Zachary Leslie, North Carolina A&T, R-Jr.

TE - Isiah Williams, Delaware State, Sr.

TE - Anthony Williams, Norfolk State, Jr.

C - Somadina Okezie-Okeke, North Carolina Central, R-So.

OL - Ricky Lee, North Carolina Central, So.

OL - Bruce Trigg, Morgan State, R-Jr.

OL - Nicholas Roos, Bethune-Cookman, R-Sr.

OL - Jamal Savage, Bethune-Cookman, R-Jr.

Third-Team Defense

DL - Bruce Johnson, South Carolina State, Gr.

DL - Gerome Howard, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.

DL - Jermaine Williams, North Carolina A&T, R-Sr.

DL - Demontre Moore, Florida A&M, Sr.

DL - Devan Henron, Morgan State, R-So.

LB - Richie Kittles, North Carolina A&T, R-Sr.

LB - Elijah Richardson, Florida A&M, Sr.

LB - Branden Bailey, North Carolina Central, Jr.

DB - Aaron Walker, Howard, So.

DB - Devin Smith, Delaware State, Sr.

DB - Decobe Durant, South Carolina State, R-So.

DB - Dominick Trigg, Morgan State, R-Sr.

DB - Herman Jackson Jr., Florida A&M, So.

Third-Team Specialists

PK - Nicholas O'Shea, Morgan State, So.

P - Michael Rivers, North Carolina A&T, So.

RS - Dedrick Parson, Howard, R-So.

Updated July 26, 2019

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