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SWAC Football Preseason Roundup: MVSU’s Nelson, Knight Take Top Honors; Jaguars And Bulldogs Predicted Division Winners
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Southwestern Athletic Conference selected its 2006 Preseason All-Conference Football Team with Mississippi Valley State quarterback Aries Nelson and linebacker Tyler Knight taking top honors. The team was selected by nominations and votes from the member schools’ coaches and sports information contacts.
Nelson, the 2004 SWAC Newcomer of the Year, completed the 2005 season with an outstanding campaign. As a junior, he passed for 2,942 yards and 17 touchdowns (third in SWAC) while guiding the Delta Devils to their first winning season in nine years.
He also ran for 254 yards and six touchdowns. He was named Offensive Player of the Game in the Chicago Football Classic and SWAC Offensive Player of the Week twice.
Tabbed as the 2005 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, Knight garnered 125 total tackles (43 solo) with 17.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. He tallied 19 tackles, a forced fumble and three quarterback hurries against Southeastern Louisiana and totaled 16 stops (five solo), one sack, and two pass breakups against Alabama State.
Knight was also named a 2006 Sports Network I-AA Preseason All-American.
In the predicted order of finish poll, Alabama A&M was chosen to repeat as Eastern Division champion. A 2005 participant in the SWAC Championship Game, the Bulldogs garnered 11 first-place votes en route to 81 total points.
Mississippi Valley State was second with 77 points (six first-place votes) while Alcorn State was chosen third with 48. Jackson State (4th with 34 pts.) and Alabama State (5th with 30 pts.) round out the Eastern Division.
In the Western Division, Southern (eight first-place votes) edged out Grambling State (nine first-place votes) 79 points to 78 points. Prairie View A&M was selected third with 42 points while Arkansas-Pine Bluff (37 pts.) and Texas Southern (32 pts.) were selected fourth and fifth, respectively.
All ten member institutions had at least one player receive all-conference review. Grambling State (six first-team selections) and Mississippi Valley State (five first-team selections) had the most players selected for the all-conference teams with nine players chosen.
Alabama A&M had seven preseason selections (five first-team) while Texas Southern, with one first-team selection, saw six players receive accolades. Prairie View received five preseason selections while Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff each had four.
Alabama State received three while Alcorn State and Jackson State each garnered one selection.
NOTE: For more information on the SWAC’s Preseason teams and predicted order of finish, log on to www.swac.org.