Published Jul. 24, 2023, 12:00 p.m.
By Creg Stephenson
South Alabama is picked to finish second in the Sun Belt Conference West Division in 2023, in voting by league coaches announced Monday.
The Jaguars earned four first-place votes and 85 points to check in behind in-state rival and defending conference champion Troy in the West. South Alabama finished 10-3 in 2022, and lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Trojans for the West title.
Troy — which beat South Alabama 10-6 in Mobile last season — got the other 10 first-place votes, with 92 overall points. Louisiana (64 points) was predicted to finish third, followed by Southern Miss (62), Texas State (36), Arkansas State (33) and Louisiana-Monroe (20).
James Madison is the pick in the East with 78 points and four first-place votes, just ahead of Appalachian State (75 points, 4 first-place votes), Coastal Carolina (71, 3) and Marshall (68, 2). Georgia Southern is fifth (52, 1), followed by Georgia State (31) and Old Dominion (17).
South Alabama placed a total of nine players on the preseason All-Sun Belt team, two on the first team and seven on the second team. Running back La’Damian Webb and defensive back Yam Banks earned first-team nods after both made the postseason all-conference team a year ago.
Webb rushed for a school-record 1,067 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2022, his first season at South Alabama after transferring from junior college. Banks — a three-year starter at Husky (nickel) safety — led the Jaguars with a school-record six interceptions, along with 50 tackles, 11 pass breakups and six tackles for loss.
Second-team preseason selections for the Jaguars were quarterback Carter Bradley, wide receivers Devin Voisin and Caullin Lacy, defensive lineman Wy’Kevious Thomas, defensive backs Keith Gallmon and Jaden Voisin and kicker Diego Guajardo.
Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall is the preseason pick for Offensive Player of the Year. McCall has won the postseason award each of the last three seasons.
Old Dominion linebacker Jason Henderson is the preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Henderson led the country with 186 tackles last season.
Sun Belt Media Days take place Tuesday and Wednesday in New Orleans.
2023 Sun Belt Conference
Preseason coaches poll
(first-place votes in parentheses)
East Division
1. James Madison — 78 Points (4)
2. Appalachian State — 75 Points (4)
3. Coastal Carolina — 71 Points (3)
4. Marshall — 68 Points (2)
5. Georgia Southern — 52 Points (1)
6. Georgia State — 31 Points
7. Old Dominion — 17 Points
West Division
1. Troy — 92 Points (10)
2. South Alabama — 85 Points (4)
3. Louisiana — 64 Points
4. Southern Miss — 62 Points
5. Texas State — 36 Points
6. Arkansas State — 33 Points
7. Louisiana-Monroe — 20 Points
Preseason all-conference teams
Offensive Player of the Year: Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., Indian Trail, N.C.)
Defensive Player of the Year: Jason Henderson, LB, Old Dominion (Jr., Dingmans Ferry, Pa.)
First-team offense
QB – Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., Indian Trail, N.C.)
RB – La’Damian Webb, South Alabama (Sr., Opelika, Ala.)
RB – Frank Gore Jr., Southern Miss (Jr., Miami, Fla.)
OL – Isaiah Helms, App State (Sr., Hudson, N.C.)
OL – Khalil Crowder, Georgia Southern (6th Yr., Carrollton, Ga.)
OL – Travis Glover, Georgia State (RS Sr., Vienna, Ga.)
OL – Nick Kidwell, James Madison (RS Sr., Knoxville, Md.)
OL – Logan Osburn, Marshall (RS Jr., Ona, W.Va.)
TE – Neal Johnson, Louisiana (Sr., Mesquite, Texas)
WR – Jared Brown, Coastal Carolina (RS So., Lilburn, Ga.)
WR – Sam Pinckney, Coastal Carolina (Super Sr., Greenwood, S.C.)
WR – Khaleb Hood, Georgia Southern (5th Yr., McDonough, Ga.)
First-team defense
DL – James Carpenter, James Madison (RS Jr., Roanoke, Va.)
DL – Owen Porter, Marshall (RS Sr., Huntington, W.Va.)
DL – TJ Jackson, Troy (Jr., Millbrook, Ala.)
DL – Richard Jibunor, Troy (Sr., Delta State, Nigeria)
LB – JT Killen, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., Lake Wylie, S.C.)
LB – Marques Watson-Trent, Georgia Southern (RS Jr., Beaver Falls, Pa.)
LB – Eli Neal, Marshall (Sr., Memphis, Tenn.)
LB – Jason Henderson, Old Dominion (Jr., Dingmans Ferry, Pa.)
DB – Micah Abraham, Marshall (RS Sr., Tampa, Fla.)
DB – Yam Banks, South Alabama (Jr., Ridgeland, Miss.)
DB – Jay Stanley, Southern Miss (Sr., Greenwood, Miss.)
DB – Reddy Steward, Troy (Sr., Decatur, Ala.)
First-team specialists
K – Dominic Zvada, Arkansas State (So., Chandler, Ariz.)
P – Ryan Hanson, James Madison (RS Jr., Elgin, Texas)
RS – Milan Tucker, App State (RS Jr., Lehigh Acres, Fla.)
AP – Frank Gore Jr., Southern Miss (Jr., Miami, Fla.)
Second-team offense
QB – Carter Bradley, South Alabama (Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.)
RB – Rasheen Ali, Marshall (RS So., Cleveland, Ohio)
RB – Kimani Vidal, Troy (Jr., Marietta, Ga.)
OL – Damion Daley, App State (RS Sr., Columbia, S.C.)
OL – Will McDonald, Coastal Carolina (RS Sr., Matthews, N.C.)
OL – AJ Gillie, Louisiana (RS Jr., Natchitoches, La.)
OL – Ethan Driskell, Marshall (RS Jr., Louisville, Ky.)
OL – Daniel King, Troy (Jr., Cairo, Ga.)
TE – Jjay Mcafee, Georgia Southern (6th Yr., Charleston, S.C.)
WR – Tyrone Howell, ULM (6th Yr., Idabel, Okla.)
WR – Caullin Lacy, South Alabama (Jr., Mobile, Ala.)
WR – Devin Voisin, South Alabama (Sr., Crestview, Fla.)
Second-team defense
DL – Javon Denis, Georgia State (RS Sr., Deerfield Beach, Fla.)
DL – Wy’Kevious Thomas, South Alabama (RS Jr., Riverdale, Ga.)
DL – Jalen Williams, Southern Miss (Sr., Tylertown, Miss.)
DL – Jordan Revels, Texas State (Sr., Houston, Texas)
DL – Javon Solomon, Troy (Jr., Tallahassee, Fla.)
LB – Jontrey Hunter, Georgia State (RS Sr., Tampa, Fla.)
LB – Jordan Veneziale, Georgia State (Sr., Dallas, Ga.)
LB – Taurus Jones, James Madison (RS Jr., Portsmouth, Va.)
DB – Bryquice Brown, Georgia State (RS Sr., Dorchester, Mass.)
DB – Keith Gallmon Jr., South Alabama (RS Sr., Mobile, Ala.)
DB – Jaden Voisin, South Alabama (RS Jr., Crestview, Fla.)
DB – Dell Pettus, Troy (Sr., Harvest, Ala.)
Second-team specialists
K – Diego Guajardo, South Alabama (Sr., Spanish Fort, Ala.)
P – Ethan Duane, Old Dominion (Jr., Melbourne, Australia)
RS – Matthew McDoom, Coastal Carolina (So., Winter Garden, Fla.)
AP – Kimani Vidal, Troy (Jr., Marietta, Ga.)

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