NORFOLK, Va.- Delaware State University has been picked to finish fifth in the 2014 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football standings, according to a poll of league head coaches and sports information representatives announced Friday at the annual MEAC Kickoff Luncheon at the Marriot Waterside Hotel.
The Hornets received a total of 229 points in the preseason poll. Bethune-Cookman is the favorite to win its third straight MEAC championship with 487 points in the balloting. South Carolina State, which shared the 2013 championship with Bethune-Cookman, is a close second with 457 points in this year’s poll.
Delaware State has exceeded MEAC preseason expectations in each of the last two years. The Hornets were tied for third in the 2013 conference race with a 5-3 record after an eighth place prediction by pollsters. In 2012, DSU was also tied for third in the final league standings at 5-3 following a 10th place forecast by MEAC pollsters.
“The preseason polls make for great conversation, but what happens on the field is all that matters,” said Delaware State fourth-year head coach Kermit Blount. “We lost some key players from last year, but have a solid group of veterans returning and some promising newcomers. I’m looking forward to summer camp and the battle for positions. There are challenges ahead, but lots to give me hope for this season.”
The MEAC also announced its 2014 preseason all-conference teams and players-of-the-year today. Wide receiver Milton Williams III (sr.) is the only Delaware State player selected to the preseason All-MEAC First Team.
Williams, a 2013 All-MEAC and HSRN Black College First Team selection, was tops in the MEAC in receptions (5.3 pg) and receiving yards (80.7 pg) last season. He had league-highs of 58 catches for 888 yards, and was tied for second in the conference with five receiving touchdowns a year ago. Williams had five 100-yard receiving games in 2013.
Delaware State defensive tackle Rodney Gunter (sr.), wide receiver ‘Bo” Ceravolo (r-jr.) and offensive tackle Jerron Searles (r-so.) were selected to the preseason All-MEAC Second Team. Gunter, a 2013 All-MEAC First Team and 2014 SportsNetwork FCS Preseason All-America second team selection, recorded 43 total tackles (21 solo), including 10.5 behind the line-of-scrimmage and a team-high 4.5 sacks last season.
Ceravolo was third on the Hornets with 31 receptions for 326 yards and one touchdown in 2013. Searles was starting right tackle in all 11 games in his right season on the active roster at DSU last season.
Hornet running back Dae-Hon Cheung (jr.) is a preseason All-MEAC Third Team pick. Cheung led the team with 361 rushing yards on 83 carries (4.2 ypc) in 2013.
DSU cornerback Ronald “J.R.” Robinson is also an All-MEAC Preseason Third Team selection. Robinson was tied for the team lead with three interceptions, while recording eight pass deflections and five break ups last season.
Howard University quarterback Greg McGhee (sr.) was selected as the MEAC’s 2014 Preseason Offensive Player-of-the-Year; while Norfolk State linebacker Lynden Trail (r-sr.) was voted as the top defensive player.
The Hornets report for preseason camp on Aug. 3.
DSU will open the 2014 season with four non-conference games, beginning Aug. 30 against Monmouth University. Game time is 1 p.m. in West Long Branch, N.J.
The following week (Sep. 6 @ 6 p.m.), the Hornets will visit Delaware in the sixth meeting between the state’s two Division I football programs.
Delaware State will play its home opener on Sep. 13, when last year’s FCS national runner-up Towson visits Alumni Stadium for a 2 p.m. contest.
After a trip to Philadelphia to take on FBS Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Sep. 20, the Hornets will welcome Savannah State to Alumni Stadium on Sep. 27 for their 2014 MEAC opener. Game time is 6 p.m.
Delaware State will play host to North Carolina A&T in the annual homecoming contest on Oct. 18, Hampton (Oct. 25) and Florida A&M (Nov. 15) at Alumni Stadium this season.
MEAC 2014 PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1-Bethune-Cookman 480 points; 2- South Carolina State 457; 3-North Carolina A&T 338; 4-Howard (309); 5-Delaware State (229); 6-Norfolk State (225); 7-Hampton (200); 8-North Carolina Central 187; 10- Morgan State (148)
**Florida A&M and Savannah State are not eligible for post-season competition in 2014, therefore is not listed in this year’s predicted order of finish.