BELTON – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team has been picked to successfully defend its American Southwest Conference Championship in the league’s 2014 Preseason Coaches and Media Poll. The Cru picked up 15 of the 16 first-place votes and totaled 95 points in balloting of the ASC head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members to earn preseason favorite honors for the 12th straight season.
Louisiana College is the pick to finish second with 79 total points and the Wildcats also received the other first-place vote. Hardin-Simmons was the choice at third with 59 total points and East Texas Baptist was picked fourth with 44 total points. Howard Payne was picked fifth with 41 total points and Sul Ross State rounded out the poll with 18 total points.
UMHB linebacker Deshon Kinsey was voted ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Kinsey, a senior from Mart High School, led UMHB and the ASC with 132 total tackles and six forced fumbles. He added 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and an interception. Kinsey is the fourth straight UMHB player to claim ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors and the eighth overall.
Louisiana College quarterback Easton Melancon was voted ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,386 yards and 24 touchdowns as a freshman last season. Hardin-Simmons kick returner Jessie Ramos took ASC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year honors. Ramos returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season and finished with more than 1,000 return yards.
The Cru returns 51 lettermen from a team that went 13-1 overall and 6-0 in the ASC last season. UMHB welcomes back seven offensive starters and five defensive starters from a team that won its 11th ASC championship in the last 12 years and advanced to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the tenth straight year. The Cru will open fall camp on August 14th, and will kick off the 2014 season on the road against Millsaps College on September 6th at 6:00 PM.