DALLAS, TEXAS – The Texas A&M-Kingsville football team was picked fourth in the annual Lone Star Conference South Division Preseason Poll on Thursday at the LSC Media Day. The poll was voted on by head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members.
The Javelinas, 7-4 last year, received 84 points in the poll, two points behind third place Tarleton State and two points ahead of fifth place Midwestern State. Defending LSC champion Abilene Christian was tabbed as the first place team with 135 points, including 16 first place ballots. West Texas A&M grabbed second place with 107 points. Angelo State and Eastern New Mexico were picked sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Javelinas return 19 starters and 41 lettermen from the 2008 season. Senior quarterback Billy Garza (Brownsville/Porter HS) headlines a strong group of returnees. He set several school records last year; including pass completions (209), pass attempts (370), passing yards (2,787) and most pass completions in one game (28). He has two all-conference linemen protecting his blindside in fourth year starters Jorge Guerra (Roma/Roma HS) and Markeith Wesley (Navasota/Navasota HS). Garza also has two all-conference wide receivers to throw to in junior Ryan Lincoln (Bastrop/Bastrop HS) and sophomore Damian Couthren (Bastrop/Bastrop HS) who combined for 86 catches, 1,346 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago.
On defense, the Javelinas have five all-conference players returning from a squad that finished seventh in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (79.7). Defensive tackle Jimmy Saddler-McQueen (Houston/Forest Brook HS), the reigning co-Defensive Lineman of the Year in the LSC-South, anchors a strong defensive line that also features preseason All-American Jimmy Lugo (Alice/Alice HS). Defensive backs Eric John (Miami, FL/Northwestern HS) and Derrick Thomas (San Antonio/Jay HS) should be one of the strongest tandems in the league after earning all-conference honors in 2008.
The special teams, always a focal point under head coach Bo Atterberry, will be strong once again. Senior punter Cody Smith (Kingwood/Kingwood HS) finished fifth in the nation and first in the LSC a year ago with a 43.0 average and enters the season as a preseason All-American. Junior Christian Brom (McAllen/McAllen HS) will likely handle the place kicking duties again after missing just one extra point and connecting on 8-of-12 field goal attempts in 2008.
The 2009 schedule features a number of noteworthy opponents. The Javs open the season with four straight home games and have seven overall. The season opener is against #4 Delta State on August 29. In the third week, Central Oklahoma, ranked as high as #7 nationally in the preseason polls, comes to town. The first LSC-South opponent is West Texas A&M, a regional power, on the road on September 26. On October 31, the Hogs travel to #12 Abilene Christian in what has the potential to determine the LSC championship.