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July 17, 2013

Tech projected to finish third in CUSA West

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IRVING, Texas - Conference USA announced the 2013 preseason all-conference awards and the projected order of finish Wednesday with two Bulldogs honored.

The team is projected to finish third in the West Division of Conference USA receiving 72 points, just four points shy of projected second place finisher Rice. Tulsa and East Carolina were selected to finish first win the West and East Divisions, respectively.

Junior offensive lineman Matt Shepperd and senior defensive tackle Justin Ellis both earned places on the Preseason All-Conference USA Team. The preseason teams were selected by the league's 14 head coaches.

Tulsa had the most overall preseason selections with five, while East Carolina and Marshall had four. Rice and Tulane each placed three players on the team. Twelve C-USA schools had at least one player named to the team.

Among the preseason superlative winners, Marshall QB Rakeem Cato was selected as the Offensive Player of the Year, Rice DB Phillip Gaines was named the Defensive Player of the Year and Tulane K Cairo Santos - winner of the 2012 Lou Groza Award - was named the Special Teams Player of the Year.

Defending Conference USA Champion Tulsa was chosen unanimously as the preseason favorite to win the West Division. 2012 division co-champion East Carolina was chosen as the team favored to take the East Division crown. Marshall and Middle Tennessee were the other schools to receive first place votes.

The league's ninth annual Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West divisions, will be held Saturday, December 7.

The 2013 C-USA Football season kicks off Thursday, August 29, with three non-conference games. All but one of the league's 14 teams are in action during opening weekend, with seven games scheduled to air on television.

The 2013 season will mark the first under new head coach Skip Holtz as the Bulldogs enter the school's inaugural season as a member of Conference USA. The season begins on Aug. 31 when LA Tech plays at NC State in Raleigh. LA Tech's home schedule begins on Sept. 7 when the Bulldogs host Lamar at 6 p.m. at Joe Aillet Stadium.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

EAST DIVISION
1. East Carolina (11)
2. Marshall (2)
3. Middle Tennessee (1)
4. UAB
5. Southern Miss
6. Florida Atlantic
7. FIU

WEST DIVISION
1. Tulsa (14)
2. Rice
3. Louisiana Tech
4. UTEP
5. North Texas
6. Tulane
7. UTSA
(first place votes in parantheses)

2013 C-USA FOOTBALL COACHES PRESEASON AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Year
Rakeem Cato, Jr., QB, Marshall

Defensive Player of the Year
Phillip Gaines, Sr., DB, Rice

Special Teams Player of the Year
Cairo Santos, Sr., K, Tulane

First Team Offense
QB Rakeem Cato, Jr., Marshall
RB Vintavious Cooper, Sr., East Carolina
RB Darrin Reaves, Jr., UAB
OL Jake Alexander, Jr., Tulsa
OL Stetson Burnett, Sr., Tulsa
OL Scott Inskeep, Jr., UTSA
OL Nate Richards, Sr., Rice
OL Matt Shepperd, Jr., Louisiana Tech
OL Will Simmons, Sr., East Carolina
WR Justin Hardy, Jr., East Carolina
WR Ryan Grant, Sr., Tulane
WR Tommy Shuler, Jr., Marshall
TE Gator Hoskins, Sr., Marshall

First Team Defense
DL Christian Covington, So., Rice
DL Justin Ellis, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DL Greg Hickman, Sr., FIU
DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL, Southern Miss
LB Shawn Jackson, Sr., Tulsa
LB Derrell Johnson, Sr., East Carolina
LB Andre Kirk, Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB Kevin Byard, So., Middle Tennessee DB Lorenzo Doss, So., Tulane
DB Phillip Gaines, Sr., Rice
DB Marco Nelson, Sr., Tulsa

First Team Special Teams
K Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
P Tyler Williams, P, Marshall
KR Reggie Whatley, Jr., Middle Tennessee
PR Trey Watts, Sr., Tulsa



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