Official Release From Southland Conference
FRISCO – The Southland Conference released its preseason all-conference teams on Thursday with 11 Sam Houston State Bearkats being named to the squad.
The 11 preseason all-SLC selections for the Bearkats is the second most among league schools, trailing only Central Arkansas' 12, while Stephen F. Austin and McNeese each had eight choices. The 2017 preseason poll will be revealed next Thursday, July 20, to kick off Southland Football Media Day at the Hilton Americas in Houston.
Of the 11 selections, 10 were automatically named to either the first or second teams following all-conference selections from a 2016 season that saw the Kats roll to a perfect 9-0 conference mark and claim the league title.
Nine of Sam Houston's preseason all-conference nods come on the first team, headlined by quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, the 2016 Southland Conference Player of the Year and Walter Payton Award winner. Briscoe set an FCS record with 57 touchdown passes as a junior, throwing for 4,602 yards and completing 62.6 percent of his passes while leading the Kats to an FCS-best 49.5 points per game.
Each of his three favorite targets – wide receivers Yedidiah Louis, Nathan Stewart and Davion Davis – make up the first team receiving corps. Louis hauled in 14 touchdowns and racked up 1,152 receiving yards last season on his way to being named the SLC Offensive Player of the Year. Meanwhile, Stewart became the first Bearkat freshman in program history to reach the 1,000-yard mark, finishing with 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns while being named the SLC Freshman of the Year and finishing third in the voting for the Jerry Rice Award as the nation's top freshman.
Davis was an all-SLC second team wide receiver as a sophomore in 2016 after hauling in 56 passes for 960 yards and 10 touchdowns, nearly making the Bearkats just the third team in history to sport three 1,000-yard receivers on the same roster.
Sam Houston will also have a pair of running backs on the preseason team with Corey Avery being named to the first team and Remus Bulmer on the second team. Avery was a first-team all-league choice last year and led the league with 10 rushing touchdowns to go with his 755 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Bulmer had three 100-yard rushing games and led the team in rushing with 901 total yards on the ground. He was a second team all-SLC choice in 2016, also adding eight scores on the ground and one in the air.
The Kats return eight of 11 starters to the nation's most explosive offense, with each of the three losses coming on the offensive line; however, each of the Bearkats' two returning linemen have found their way onto the preseason team. Tyler Tezeno was a first team choice last year and is an automatic selection to the first team this year, while Mitchell Watanabe received a second-team nod to the preseason squad.
Sam Houston is also well represented on the defensive side with defensive lineman P.J. Hall and linebacker Justin Johnson each being automatic selections to the first team after earning all-SLC first team honors in 2016. Hall was also an all-America selection and runner up for the Buck Buchanan Award as the nation's top defensive player following a year that saw him lead the league with 24.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles while picking up 13 sacks.
Johnson was named a sophomore all-American by HERO Sports at the end of the year, leading the team and finishing fourth in the Southland with 97 total tackles and an interception.
The Kats also put one on the preseason special teams unit in Jaylen Harris, a first team choice. The Bearkat kick-return specialist became the first player in program history to surpass 1,000 kick return yards in a season in 2016 and was a second team selection last year in the return game.
The Bearkats will begin the 2017 season on Aug. 27 when they host Richmond at Bowers Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. and the game will be aired live on ESPNU.