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ASU debuts at No. 22 in Div. II poll

ASU head football coach Mike White

ASU head football coach Mike White

ALBANY — Mike White admitted he was shocked when he learned about the preseason Division II football rankings.

Albany State’s head football coach wasn’t surprised to see his team No. 22 in the national poll — a Top 25 preseason ranking is almost a given these days for the Rams.

White just couldn’t believe who his team was ranked ahead of.

ASU, which suffered its worst playoff loss in school history (63-14) last year to North Greenville (S.C.), is ranked No. 22 in the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll.

North Greenville, which advanced to the Division II quarterfinals after blowing out the Rams, is ranked No. 23.

“I’m shocked at that,” White said. “That’s surprising with the way they beat up on us.”

The two teams will face off in the Sept. 1 season opener in Albany, and White said the Rams had plenty to play for before the rankings came out.

“There was enough (to make it interesting) with the way they beat us up in the playoffs,” White said. “We already have enough gas. This fire is burning bright enough. It’s our first game. It’s at home. We got all we need right now.”

The Rams received 149 points in the poll — 10 more than North Greenville. White said he wasn’t sure exactly what the voters were thinking by placing his team in front of the Crusaders.

“I don’t know why, other than we want to be a good team year in and year out,” White said. “I know that is something myself and my staff shoot for every year, to be consistent.”

Pittsburgh State (Kan.) is ranked No. 1 and received 21 of the 30 first-place votes, while Minnesota-Duluth, Northwest Missouri State, Midwestern State (Texas) and Wayne State (Mich.) round out the top five. Valdosta State, which is coming off a disappointing 6-4 season, is ranked No. 8.


ASU’s Blash earns preseason honor

Albany State defensive end Justin Blash was named to the Boxtorow Preseason All-American team on Monday.

The senior, who has already been named to the All-Conference First Team, was one of four defensive linemen to make the team.

The preseason team is made up of 27 of the top Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) football players in the country. The voters are comprised of some of America’s writers and media members who cover HBCU football.

Last season, Blash had five sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 43 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries.

Other ASU players receiving votes for the Preseason All-American team were: offensive lineman Hakeem Lassiter, wide receiver Ronnie Tubbs, linebacker and former Monroe Star Larry Whitfield and return specialist Orion Ponder.

The only other player from Albany State’s conference to make the team was Morehouse running back David Carter, who was the conference’s offensive player of the year in 2011 and led all HBCU players in rushing with 1,495 yards (149.5 yards per game) and 19 touchdowns.

For a complete list of the Preseason All-American team, go to www.albanyherald.com.

2012 Boxtorow All-American team

Offense

QB: Kameron Smith, Winston-Salem State, 6-0, 180. Sr., Garner, N.C.

RB: David Carter, Morehouse, 5-10, 225, Sr., Marietta, Ga.

RB: Mike Mayhew, North Carolina A&T, 5-10, 205, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.*

OL: Sanford Banks, Grambling State, 6-4, 319, r-soph., Columbus, Ga.

OL: Jamal Johnson-Webb, Alabama A&M, 6-6, 306, Sr., Atlanta, Ga.

OL: Terren Jones, Alabama State, 6-7, 320, Sr., Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

OL: Markus Lawrence, Winston-Salem St., 6-4, 280, Sr., Charlotte, N.C.

OL: Blake Matthews, Norfolk State, 6-4, 315, r-Sr., Manassas, Va.*

OL: Steven Robinson, Florida A&M, 6-3, 300, r-Sr., Tallahassee, Fla.

TE: E.J. Drewery, Jackson State, 6-6, 220, Sr., Chesapeake, Va.

TE: Joseph Hawkins, Norfolk State, 6-3, 245, Sr., Chicago, Ill.

WR: Xavier Boyce, Norfolk State, 6-4, 220, r-Sr., Virginia Beach, Va.*

WR: Rico Richardson, Jackson State, 6-1, 185, Sr., Natchez, Miss.

Defense

DL: Justin Blash, Albany State, 6-5, Sr., Alma, Ga.

DL: Tim Green, Lincoln (Pa.), 6-0, 225, Jr., Plainfield, N.J.

DL: Carlton Jones, Alabama State, 6-3, 230, Jr., Shreveport, La.

DL: Joseph LeBeau, Jackson State, 6-1, 245, Sr., New Orleans, La.*

LB: Raheem Cardwell, Prairie View A&M, 6-2, 225, r-Jr., Alexandria, Va.

LB: Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman, 6-0, 230, r-Jr., Sanford, Fla.

LB: Keith Pough, Howard, 6-3, 225, r-Jr., Orangeburg, S.C.*

DB: Qua Cox, Jackson State, 6-0, 185, r-Sr., Tuskegee, Ala.

DB: DeVontae Johnson, Florida A&M, 6-0, 183, Soph., Tallahassee, Fla.

DB: Vernon Marshall, Alabama A&M, 5-11, 188, Sr., Birmingham, Ala.

DB: Kejuan Riley, Alabama State, 6-0, 182, Jr., Wetumpka, Ala.*

Specialists

PK: Everett Goldberg, Norfolk State, 6-4, 210, Sr., Mesa Ridge, Col.

P: Bobby Wenzig, Alabama State, 6-2, 180, Jr., San Diego, Calif.

RS: Weldon Garlington, Tennessee State, 5-10, 160, Soph., Antioch, Tenn.

*2011 Boxtorow All-American