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Albany State picked to win East Division

ASU coach Mike White, right, is interviewed Tuesday in Atlanta at the conference’s annual kickoff luncheon.

ASU coach Mike White, right, is interviewed Tuesday in Atlanta at the conference’s annual kickoff luncheon.

Rory Sharrock

SPECIAL TO THE HERALD


ATLANTA — In a surprise move to some within the conference — all except for the residents within the Golden Rams’ locker room — Albany State was honored as the preseason favorite to win the East Division. This announcement was made at the conference’s annual media day kickoff luncheon.

Albany State received three first-place votes by the coaches and conference governing board. Coming in second in the preseason picks is defending East Division champion Fort Valley State, which earned two first-place votes.

The remaining predicted order of finish in the division, respectively, includes Morehouse College, Benedict College and Clark Atlanta University.

Despite falling below their normal expectations of excellence in 2012 with a 6-4 record, the Golden Rams will buckle up their chin straps this fall with the hopes of regaining their stature as one of the premiere programs in the conference and Division II.

“We have improved from last season, and I will accept this honor. Just for us to get back to our old level would be a major improvement,” head coach Mike White said.

“We want to build off last year. We thought we were better than a 6-4 team. We want to put out a well-rounded team and play Albany State style of football. We want to be champs in this conference, but we want to think about the bigger picture and play more than just 10 games this season.”

Perhaps one of the driving forces behind Albany State’s preseason pick is the return of offensive coordinator Steve Smith. During the times when the famed play caller donned the headset, his offenses lit up the scoreboard, and his reemergence with the school gives hope for a promising 2013 campaign.

Albany State’s status as the favorite to win the East Division not only speaks volumes to the coaching staff, but to the overall depth of the squad. This year’s group features only three players selected on the preseason All-Conference Teams. Senior safety Dexter Moody (30 tackles, 7 interceptions in 2012) and junior wide out Jessie Atkins (32 catches, 553 yards, 2 TDs), a Camilla native, were named to the First Team, while senior linebacker Marcavius Dudley was selected to the Second Team.

“Dexter Moody is a great all-around athlete who plays very in coverage and against the run,” Smith said. “Jessie Atkins is a great receiver, and he’s had a great offseason of training to prepare himself the competition this year. But I’m interested to see the fire that will be lit under the guys that didn’t make the list.”

Albany State kicks off the year at North Greenville University on Sept. 7, but the measuring stick for the 2013 season takes place in a Week 2 tilt when the Golden Rams host Tuskegee.

Tuskegee was not only predicted to win the West Division, but it is favored to repeat as the last team standing in the SIAC at season’s end.

“Tuskegee is going to be a huge contest, and knowing them, we’re going to have to be ready to play. If we want to win the conference, it starts with our first league game,” said Smith.

Following behind Tuskegee in the West Division is Miles College, Stillman College, Kentucky State, Lane College and conference newcomer, Central State.

The conference has partnered with Bounce TV, which will broadcast five conference games in 2013. Albany State is slated to appear on the network when it faces East Division foe, Fort Valley State, on Nov. 9 in the Fountain City Classic in Columbus.


2013 preseason All-Conference teams

FIRST TEAM

Offense

QB — David Thomas, Miles

RB — Floyd Graves, Miles

RB — Justin Williams, Kentucky St.

OL — Devonte Jones, Tuskegee

OL — Christopher Tolbert, Tuskegee

OL — Drew Wilkins, Morehouse

OL — Richard Washington, Morehouse

OL — Terrance Owens, Miles

WR — Antonio Pitts, Miles

WR — Jessie Atkins, ASU

TE — Zach Thomas, Central St.

K — Eduardo Hernandez, Benedict

KR — Thomas Williams, Morehouse

Defense

DL — Bernard Little, Fort Valley State

DL — Clarence Christian, Morehouse

DL — Devin Gainer, Benedict

DL — Peter Dele, Stillman

LB — Bernard Williams, Clark Atlanta

LB — LeRon Furr, Fort Valley

LB — Quavon Taylor, Tuskegee

DB — Carlos Wilson, Stillman

DB — Joe Beckham, Miles

DB — Dexter Moody, ASU

DB — Jack Howard, Lane

P — Temitayo Agoro, Morehouse

PR — Dondre Purnel, Stillman

SECOND TEAM

Offense

QB — Justin Nared, Tuskegee

RB — Devonta Parker-Johnson, Miles

RB — Michael J. Thornton, Tuskegee

OL — Michael D. Thornton, Tuskegee

OL — Marquis Franklin, Fort Valley

OL — Aderus Hood, Miles

OL — Derrick Miles, Stillman

OL — Matt Reese, Tuskegee

WR — Marquel Franklin, Tuskegee

WR — DJ Fife, Miles

TE — Stephen Clements, Tuskegee

K — Cade Berryman, Kentucky State

KR — Dondre Purnel, Stillman

Defense

DL — Jordan Paige, Central State

DL — Kevdrick Blue, Tuskegee

DL — Reginald Woods, Tuskegee

DL — Kenneth Townsend, Kent. St.

LB — El-Malik Chinn, Tuskegee

LB — Marcavius Dudley, ASU

LB — Reginald Virges, Miles

DB — Thomas Wolfe, Fort Valley

DB — Duron Furr, Fort Valley

DB — Tracey White, Fort Valley

DB — Joseph Blount, Central State

P — Brian Currey, Benedict

PR — Desmond Reese, Tuskegee


2013 predicted order of finish

Conference champion: Tuskegee

EAST DIVISION

  1. Albany State (3)

  2. Fort Valley State (2)

  3. Morehouse

  4. Benedict

  5. Clark Atlanta

WEST DIVISION

  1. Tuskegee (4)

  2. MIles (2)

  3. Stillman

  4. Kentucky State

  5. Lane

  6. Central State