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Chasing The Cats: BCU Heavy Favorite To Repeat As MEAC Champs

Bethune-Cookman running back Isidore Jackson was named preseason Co-Offensive Player of The Year at MEAC Media Day on Friday. (Jacksonville.com photo)

Over the past decade a few teams have taken turns dominating MEAC football. Since 2003, both Hampton and South Carolina State have won or shared the conference title at least three times. Heading into the 2013 season, many people seem to think Bethune-Cookman will be the next MEAC dynasty. The defending champs have won two of the last three conference titles.

On offense, BCU is paced by running back Isidore Jackson, who was voted preseason Co-Player of The Year along with Florida A&M quarterback Damien Fleming. On defense, preseason Defensive Player of The Year Lakevious Fields roams the field at linebacker while defensive end LaBrandon Richardson and defensive back Nick Addison make scoring on BCU a challenge.

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Predicted Order of Finish

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js 1. Bethune-Cookman (16)-The Wildcats bring back a ton of talent. No problems with them being picked to repeat.
2. South Carolina State (2)-The Bulldogs are looking to rebound from their worst finish in over a decade.
3. North Carolina A&T -The Aggies are coming off their best season in a decade. They have a Grade A defense, but the offense must improve for them to challenge for the title.
4. North Carolina Central 260-The Eagles took a big step forward last year with a 6-5 record. If the improvement continues, they could find themselves among the MEAC elite.
5. Florida A&M -Will a new coach (Earl Holmes) and the conference’s top quarterback (Damien Fleming) be enough to restore the Rattlers to greatness?
6. Howard-The Bison finished second last season, but without Keith Pough and Flea Harrell, repeating or improving on that feat doesn’t seem likely.
7. Norfolk State (1)-Norfolk State has several players who could be amongst the best at their position in the conference. The problem is that quarterback isn’t one of those positions.
8. Delaware State-The Hornets have some talented defensive starters, but making up for the loss of quarterback Nick Elko won’t be easy.
9. Hampton (1)-The Pirates haven’t been this lowly regarded since the 1980s. If things don’t change soon, head coach Donovan Rose could be forced to walk the plank.
10. Morgan StateSpeaking of coaches on the hotseat, Donald Hill-Eley has to be smelling smoke.
11. Savannah State (1) -The bar is pretty low for new head coach Earnest Wilson. Any win against a D1 opponent would be one more than the Tigers recorded all last year.

Overrated Team: South Carolina State
The Bulldogs are a traditional MEAC power, but last year the only offense that scored less points was Savannah State. They also fell in the bottom half of several MEAC defensive categories. They have some talent, including Tyler McDonald and Kentucky transfer Justin Taylor, but not enough to justify being picked over NC A&T or even NCCU.
Underrated Team: Norfolk State
Norfolk State has plenty of talent, as a glimpse of the preseason all-conference teams will tell you. The big problem last year was that the Spartans turned the ball over entirely too much, especially in the air (21 interceptions in 2012). If the quarterback position solidifies, this team could easily find itself in one of the top three spots.
Underrated Player: Davon Moore, Delaware State 
Defensive back is probably the conference’s strongest position overall, so it makes sense that some deserving corner/safety would get left off the first-team. While its hard to argue against any of the guys who made it, for my money, I’m taking Davon Moore over his teammate Terrick Coston. Moore finished third in the MEAC with 97 total tackles, and broke up more passes (10 to 5) and came away with more interceptions (4 to 3) than his teammate.

2013 Football All-Conference Preseason Teams 
Co-Offensive Player of the Year: Damien Flemming, Florida A&M and Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman
                 Defensive Player of the Year: Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman
Pos. Name Cl. School Hometown
QB Damien Fleming Jr. Florida A&M Jacksonville, Fla.
RB Isidore Jackson Sr. Bethune-Cookman Mossy Head, Fla.
RB* Malcolm Williams Jr. Delaware State Reading, Pa.
RB* James Owens r-Sr. Florida A&M Apopka, Fla.
WR Lenworth Lennon r-Jr. Florida A&M Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
WR Simon Hewyard Sr. Savannah State Savannah, Ga.
TE Joseph Hawkins r-Sr. Norfolk State Chicago, Ill.
C Brandon Cunningham Sr. Delaware State Lumberton, N.J.
OL Alex Monroe Sr. Bethune-Cookman Jacksonville, Fla.
OL Kevin House r-Jr. Florida A&M Jacksonville, Fla.
OL Zerrie Patterson So. Florida A&M Fort Pierce, Fla.
OL Joshua Matthews Sr. Howard Bowman, S.C.
DEFENSE
Pos. Name Cl. School Hometown
DL LeBrandon Richardson Jr. Bethune-Cookman Miami, Fla.
DL Damon Gresham Chisholm So. Howard Covington, Ga.
DL Rodney Gunter Jr. Delaware State Haines, Fla.
DL Javon Hargrave So. South Carolina State Salisbury, N.C.
LB Jarkevis Fields Sr. Bethune-Cookman Sanford, Fla.
LB Ernest Adjei Sr. Delaware State Woodbridge, Va.
LB Lynden Trail r-Jr. Norfolk State Miami, Fla.
DB Nick Addison Jr. Bethune-Cookman Tampa, Fla.
DB Julien David Sr. Howard Coral Springs, Fla.
DB D’Vonte Graham Sr. North Carolina A&T Tallahassee, Fla.
DB Terrick Colston So. Delaware State Lakeland, Fla.
P Nick Belcher r-Sr. South Carolina State Sumter, S.C.
PK Chase Varnadore r-So. Florida A&M Tallahassee, Fla.
RS D’Vonte Graham Sr. North Carolina A&T Charlotte, N.C.

Second Team
OFFENSE
Pos. Name Cl. School Hometown
QB Jordan Reid r-Sr. North Carolina Central High Point, N.C.
RB Aquanius Freeman Jr. Howard New Orleans, La.
RB Brendon Riddick r-So. Norfolk State Richmond, Va.
WR Eddie Poole Grad. Bethune-Cookman Belle Glade, Fla.
WR Derrick Demps r-Sr. Norfolk State Tallahassee, Fla.
TE David Wilson Sr. Howard Sacramento, Calif.
C Ronald Canty r-Jr. North Carolina A&T Chester, S.C.
OL John Smith r-So. Howard Atlanta, Ga.
OL Jamal Wilson r-Sr. Hampton Brooklyn, N.Y.
OL Williams Robinson r-Jr. North Carolina A&T Clinton, Md.
OL Charles Goodwin r-Sr. North Carolina Central High Point, N.C.
DEFENSE
Pos. Name Cl. School Hometown
DL Tyree Hearn Sr. North Carolina A&T Durham, N.C.
DL George Riddick Jr. Norfolk State Suffolk, Va.
DL Matthew Davis Sr. Hampton Chesapeake, Va.
DL Demarco Bisbee r-So. Morgan State Lansing, Mich.
LB D’Vonte Grant Sr. North Carolina A&T Charlotte, N.C.
LB Justin Hughes Jr. South Carolina State Virginia Beach, Va.
LB Travis Crosby Sr. North Carolina A&T Charlotte, N.C.
DB Davon Moore Jr. Delaware State Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
DB Joe Rankin Sr. Morgan State Germantown, Md.
DB Ryan Smith r-So. North Carolina Central Upper Marlboro, Md.
DB* John Wilson Sr. Savannah State Athens, Ga.
DB* Jonathan Pillow r-Sr. Florida A&M Jacksonville, Fla.
P Matthew Cornellus r-Sr. North Carolina Central Charlotte, N.C.
PK Oleg Parent Jr. North Carolina Central Lake Forest, Calif.
RS James Owens r-Sr. Florida A&M Apopka, Fla.
Third Team
OFFENSE
Pos. Name Cl. School Hometown
QB Nico Flores r-Sr. Norfolk State Miami, Fla.
RB Dae-Hon Cheung So. Delaware State Coatesville, Pa.
RB Conley Smith So. Norfolk State Chesapeake, Va.
WR Tyler McDonald Sr. South Carolina State Summerville, SC
WR Dylan Cook Sr. Savannah State Hiram, Ga.
TE Kris Drummond Jr. Savannah State Washington, D.C.
C Doug Almendares Sr. Florida A&M Miami, Fla.
OL Domanic Wilson r-Jr. South Carolina State Lake City, SC
OL Karim Barton Sr. Morgan State Los Angeles, Calif.
OL E.J. Rogers r-Jr. Norfolk State Alexandria, Va.
OL Cameron Williams r-Sr. Norfolk State Burke, Va.
DEFENSE
Pos. Name Cl. School Hometown
DL Andrew Carter r-Jr. South Carolina State Hamlet, NC
DL Tevin Toney Sr. Bethune-Cookman Sebring, Fla.
DL Micah Blount Sr. Savannah State Stone Mountain, Ga.
DL* Chikezie Ukeje Sr. Delaware State Stanten Island, N.Y.
DL* Noel Clarke Jr. Jr. Norfolk State Brooklyn, N.Y.
LB Christopher Robinson r-Jr. Morgan State Germantown, Md.
LB Joe Boyd Sr. Delaware State Ft. Washington, Md.
LB Brandon Denmark Sr. Florida A&M Tallahassee, Fla.
DB Keenan Lambert r-Jr. Norfolk State Norfolk, Va.
DB Nathan Ayers Jr. Morgan State Baltimore, Md.
DB Devontae Johnson r-Jr. Florida A&M Tallahassee, Fla.
DB Carvin Johnson Sr. Hampton New Orleans, La.
PK Nick Belcher r-Sr. South Carolina State Sumter, SC
RS Chris Flowers Sr. Morgan State Haines City, Fla.

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