Picked to finish ninth in the preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday by the Gulf South Conference, the Shorter football team will report in less than a week to begin preparations for the upcoming season; a season that will see new coaches, new players, and ultimately a new look for the Hawks.
The Hawks tallied 11 total points in the preseason coaches’ poll; earning two each for the three seventh place votes, and one for each of the five eighth place votes.
Returning for the Hawks, however, will be the GSC’s leading rusher from a year ago and lone preseason All-GSC selection, B.J. McCoy. Last year as a junior, McCoy led the Hawks and the conference with 1,489 yards on 207 carries, with 10 touchdowns. While being named first team All-GSC and earning player of the week honors twice. He finished the year with 100+ yards in nine of the Hawks ten games – including the final eight of the season – and surpassed the 200-yard mark twice.
During 2015, McCoy also earned D2CCA All-Super Region honors and was named to the Don Hanson All-America team.
Of the new players, four were recognized as the Hawks’ top newcomers; Kareem Taylor (LB, Fr., Rincon), Dwayne Tiller (DL, Fr., Canton), Jared White (TE, Soph., Knoxville, TN), and Matt Williams (QB, Soph., Murphreesboro, TN).
West Georgia (63 points) earned a near unanimous selection as the preseason favorite, garnering seven first place votes. North Alabama (53 points) was picked to finish second, and was followed by Florida Tech (48 points) in third. Delta State (46 points) and Valdosta State (40 points) rounded out the top five, respectively. Meanwhile, West Alabama (26 points), Mississippi College (21 points), and West Florida (16 points) were picked to finish 6th, 7th, and 8th. Both MC and UWF are making their inaugural presence in the preseason poll in 2016 as MC was awarded active membership in Division II earlier this summer and UWF will be fielding a football team for the first time this season.
The Hawks open the season on the road, travelling to UT-Chattanooga Sept. 1 and Mars Hill Sept. 10 before returning home on Sept. 17 to host Florida Tech in the first game of the GSC-TV slate for the year. The Hawks will make a second appearance in the Florida’s Space Coast Game of the Week on ESPN3 when they travel to West Florida on October 22.
The team reports Tuesday, Aug. 9, and the first official practice takes place Thursday, Aug. 11, at Ben Brady Field.