By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Eastern Washington will begin defense of its NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title with five players who were selected to The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Preseason All-America Team, including center Chris Powers and safety Matt Johnson on the first team.
Georgia Southern, a national semifinalist last season, also placed five players on the Preseason All-America Team announced Friday. Liberty and Montana State gained four selections each.
The preseason team consisted of 11 returning players who were voted to the All-America first team at the end of the 2010 regular season by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
Eastern Washington finished with a 13-2 record after it rallied past Delaware, 20-19, in the FCS championship game in January. Powers, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior, was a first-team All-America last season. Johnson, a 6-2, 220-pound senior who made the third team last season, totaled 105 tackles and five interceptions.
The Eagles' other preseason All-America selections were junior wide receiver Brandon Kaufman and senior defensive tackle Renard Williams on the second team, and senior linebacker Zach Johnson, Matt's twin brother, on the third team.
In addition to Powers, other preseason first-team selections who earned that honor after the 2010 season were Colgate senior running back Nate Eachus (5-10, 216), Wofford junior fullback Eric Breitenstein (5-11, 225), Liberty wide receiver Chris Summers (6-4, 190), San Diego senior defensive end Mario Kurn (6-2, 220), Wofford senior defensive end Ameet Pall (6-0, 245), Massachusetts senior linebacker Tyler Holmes (6-0, 220), Montana senior cornerback Trumaine Johnson (6-3, 197), Liberty senior place-kicker Matt Bevins (6-2, 185) and Stephen F. Austin junior kick returner Gralyn Crawford (5-10, 175).
Dartmouth senior punt returner Shawn Abuhoff (5-11, 190) made the All-America first team last season, but second-team selection Dontrell Johnson (5-11, 180) of Murray State leaped him for the preseason honor.
The rest of the first-team offense consisted of Appalachian State senior quarterback DeAndre Presley (5-11, 195), William & Mary senior running back Jonathan Grimes (5-10, 201), Chattanooga senior wide receiver Joel Bradford (6-0, 165), and senior offensive linemen Alex Gottlieb (6-4, 255) of William & Mary, Natiel Curry (6-2, 280) of Bethune-Cookman, D.J. Hall (6-3, 300) of Texas State and J.C. Oram (6-4, 310) of Weber State.
Also selected to the first-team defense were Northern Iowa senior defensive tackle Ben Boothby (6-0, 280), New Hampshire junior linebacker Matt Evans (6-0, 219), Northwestern State junior linebacker Derek Rose (5-11, 225), Idaho State senior linebacker A.J. Storms (6-0, 215), Cal Poly senior cornerback Asa Jackson (5-11, 188), Alabama State junior safety Kejuan Riley (6-0, 182) and Idaho State senior punter David Harrington (6-3, 185).
There were 84 players selected to the Preseason All-America Team. The Big Sky led all conferences with 16 selections, followed by the Southern Conference with 14, CAA Football with 10, Missouri Valley Football Conference with nine and the Big South and Southland Conference with six each. All 14 FCS conferences plus an independent school (Texas State) have at least one representative.
Eleven of the players were named on July 11 to the Watch List for the 2011 Walter Payton Award, which is given to the FCS' outstanding player and is sponsored by Fathead.com: five first-team selections, Breitenstein, Eachus, Grimes, Presley and Summers; four second-team selections, Brown, Kaufman, North Dakota State senior running back D.J. McNorton and Delaware sophomore running back Andrew Pierce; and two third-team selections, Youngstown State junior running back Jamaine Cook and Montana State sophomore quarterback DeNarius McGhee.
Twenty players were named on Monday to the Watch List for the 2011 Buck Buchanan Award, which is given to the FCS' outstanding defensive player and is sponsored by Fathead.com: 12 first-team selections, Boothby, Evans, Holmes, Jackson, Matt Johnson, Trumaine Johnson, Kurn, Pall, Rose, Russell, Storms and Williams; seven second-team selections, Furman senior linebacker Kadarron Anderson, Eastern Kentucky senior kickoff returner/cornerback Jeremy Caldwell, Prairie View A&M senior cornerback Moses Ellis, New Hampshire senior defensive end Brian McNally, Sacramento State senior defensive end Zack Nash, Howard junior linebacker Keith Pough and Furman senior cornerback Ryan Steed; and one third-team selection, Indiana State junior defensive end Ben Obaseki.
The Sports Network/Fathead.com All-America Team will be announced on Dec. 19.
TSN presents and Fathead.com sponsors the four major awards in the division the Walter Payton, the Buck Buchanan, the Jerry Rice (FCS outstanding freshman player) and the Eddie Robinson (FCS coach of the year) - and team up for the FCS's most widely recognized weekly Top 25 poll and weekly awards honoring the nation's top offensive player, defensive player and special teams players.