(WDAM) - Preseason football honors can be as fickle as a non-verbal commitment from a recruit.
Sometimes they come through, sometimes they don’t.
But the University of Southern Mississippi certainly must have every reason to feel pretty salty about the 2019 Preseason All-Conference USA Football Team.
Five Golden Eagles were selected first team, including a wide receiver _ junior Quez Watkins _ who has been suspended from the team since December for academic shortcomings but apparently is on track to play in 2019.
Four USM defenders also were selected among the 13 first teamers named by the league’s 14 head coaches: senior lineman DeMarrio Smith; junior lineman Jacques Turner; junior safety Ky’el Hemby; and junior linebacker Rakeem Boothe.
The five selections tied for the most among C-USA’s teams, while USM’s defensive picks were the most for the Golden Eagles since the 2016 preseason vote when tackle Dylan Bradley, linebacker D’Narius Antoine and defensive back Picasso Nelson Jr. were recognized.
Watkins led the Golden Eagles last season with 72 catches for 889 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games. After leading C-USA with 6 1/2 receptions per game, Watkins earned 2018 first-team conference honors.
Hemby, who led the team with six interceptions, returned as USM’s top tackler with 51 stops.
Boothe finished third with 48 stops, including 10 tackles for loss with four sacks. He added a team-high two fumble recoveries, five quarterback hurries and three pass breakups.
Turner, who was a 2018 first-team all-conference selection, topped USM’s returning linemen with 33 tackles. He finished with 10 tackles for loss, including five sacks, and forced two fumbles.
Smith had 17 tackles and with one tackle for loss (a sack). He blocked a field goal attempt at Auburn University in September.
The league’s 24th football season kicks off Thursday, Aug. 29, and wraps up in C-USA’s 15th annual championship game on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The C-USA media poll, including predicted order of finish, will be released Tuesday.