Ladies and gentleman, we are now under 50 days until the start of football season. The 2017 Golden Hurricane will be taking the field under the lights at Boone Pickens Stadium before you know it! Until then, we are stuck in the dog days of summer where I spend my free time swimming, golfing, ignoring baseball, and getting way too invested into college football.
One of the things the media offers college football fanatics in July and August is conference previews. AAC media days is this week, which means the USA Today conference preview is right around the corner. This may come as a surprise, but the Reign Cane guys don’t currently hold a media vote! However if we did, here is how I would vote…
I know I am biased, but TU should get this many on the preseason all-conference team. Miller was voted 1st team last season by the coaches, so he should be automatic. Plagg and Bowling were both 2nd teamers, and considering all of the lineman on the first team from 2016 are now gone, I believe Plagg and Bowling are automatic too. The same goes for D’Angelo Brewer, the conference’s leading returning rusher.
First-team QB is a no brainer here, Quinton Flowers is the reigning AAC offensive player of the year, and has passed for over 5000 yards and 46 touchdowns in 2 seasons with the bulls.
Another no brainer is SMU’s WR Courtland Sutton. Sutton is an athletic freak, and is projected by many scouts to be the very first receiver taken in the 2017 draft, even though he is just a redshirt junior. Sutton is coming off a stellar 2016 season, where he earned himself a spot on first team all-conference. He hauled in 1246 yards, good enough for 12th in the nation.
Elsewhere on the list, I struggled to find players to put next to Brewer and Sutton. The top position players in this league are clear (Flowers, Brewer, Sutton), but the other spots on first-team are up for grabs.
On the defensive end, you see balance. The offensive team had 8/11 players come from 3 schools. On the defensive side, no team has more than 2 players on my first-team.
The top defensive talent in our conference starts with the youngest player on my list, true sophomore DT Ed Oliver of Houston. Coming into 2016 as a 5-star recruit, Oliver made an immediate impact for the Cougars last season; he racked up 22.5 Tackles For Loss in 13 games, this was 3rd most in the nation. Oliver was a unanimous selection to first team all-conference.
LB Genard Avery of Memphis and DT Justin Lawler of SMU are the only other returning members of that AAC all-defense team from a season ago.
The player that is projected to be the best pro in our conference might be S Sean Chandler from Temple. Draft scout has him as the 4th best FS in the 2018 class. Chandler has been a grinder since his freshman year at Temple; he is the only Owl freshman ever awarded the prestigious single-digit jersey, given to one of the nine toughest players each season.
Staying in the secondary, USF’s CB Deatrick Nichols will give QBs nightmares this season. Draft scout has him as the 7th best CB in the 2018 class.
I didn’t put any Tulsa players on the defensive team, but I have a couple in mind that could work their way in. The best shot we have for a first-team defense performer is DT Jesse Brubaker. He is just barely outside the list as is, so with a big senior season he could earn first team honors. Additionally, CB Keanu Hill was my favorite defensive player until he tore his ACL last season. If he comes back strong in 2017, coaches will notice and stay away from his side. Finally, I’m not sure what Petera Wilson’s role will be in 2017, but he is the AAC’s leading sack returner. If he steps up as an every-down pass rusher he could earn first-team honors.
No real surprises for the first three awards, I imagine that this is who the media will have too. However, I’m not sure they will expect Coach Monty to win coach of the year. This is an important year for Montgomery; how well you can transition from one set of players to the next is a testament of a good coach. I think Monty answers the call in a big way.
Who did I miss? Tweet or comment to let me know! If y’all enjoy this I’ll come back and post how I would vote in the AAC preseason poll.