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ASU FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Rams WR Staton named All-American; ASU debuts as No. 1-ranked HBCU school

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Albany State receiver Octavius Staton caught 32 passes for 518 yards and six TDs from quarterback Stanley Jennings last season.

And media members from around the nation expect the 6-foot-2 senior from Greenville, N.C., to be as good -- if not better -- this season.

Staton was one of two receivers named Monday to the 2011 national Boxtorow Preseason HBCU Football All-American team, which is selected by some of America's top writers and media members who cover HBCU football.

Along with Orion Ponder, Staton is expected to be one of Jennings' top targets in a passing game that averaged 209.8 yards per game and 17 yards per catch last season.

Three Rams were nominated to the 25-player All-American team, including Jennings, who threw for 26 touchdowns and 2,392 yards last season. Jennings, the SIAC's MVP, was edged out for the lone quarterback spot by Jackson State's Casey Therriault, who finished second in FCS with 3,436 yards passing and third in the nation with 312.0 yards per game last year. He also threw for 31 touchdowns and rushed for another 10 scores.

Rams offensive lineman Travis Walker was also nominated for the team. Walker, a junior, will be asked to lead the offensive line after All-SIAC Preseason First Team linemen Mike Mavromichalis and Norris Byrd were ruled academically ineligible last month.

Other SIAC players making the 5th annual team were tight end Tony Davis from Fort Valley State and punter Ronnie Partridge from Stillman.

Davis, a Boxtorow All-American last year, is coming off a junior season during which he had 50 receptions for 611 yards and two touchdowns.

Partridge was also a Boxtorow All-American last year when he led the nation in punting average, recorded 17 punts of 50 yards or more and had 16 punts downed inside the 20.

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RAMS RANKED NO. 1 IN PRESEASON POLL:

ASU will begin its season on top of the Heritage Sports Radio Network Preseason Division II poll, which was released Monday.

The Rams collected 17 of the 20 first-place votes in the weekly poll that ranks Historical Black College Division I FCS and NCAA Division II teams. ASU recorded 195 points -- 16 more than second place Shaw, which received the other three first-place votes.

Bethune Cookman received 10 first-place votes and sits atop the Division I poll, ahead of South Carolina State, Florida A&M and Jackson State.

ASU, which ended last season on top of the Division II poll, and Shaw are followed in this year's rankings by Tuskegee (160 points), St. Augustine's (123), Fort Valley State (108), Winston Salem St. (105), Morehouse (78), Virginia St. (54), Elizabeth City St. (49) and Bowie St. (34).