Two Southern Miss offensive weapons were included in Conference USA’s preseason team, which was released Monday.
Running back Ito Smith and receiver Allenzae Staggers each made the cut as the lone Golden Eagles.
It’s the latest honor for both players as Smith has been named to the Maxwell Award preseason watch list, while Staggers is included on the Paul Hornung Award preseason watch list.
Smith was fourth in C-USA last year with 112.2 rushing yards per game and finished with 1,459 yards and 17 touchdowns. Sun Herald reporter Patrick Magee recently outlined Smith’s place in USM history.
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Staggers was a go-to target for graduated quarterback Nick Mullens. He led the team with 63 catches, 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns. He had a knack for big-time performances, including his six-catch, 292-yard, three-touchdown performance against Rice. Later in the New Orleans Bowl, Staggers pulled in 11 receptions for 230 yards and a touchdown as USM topped Louisiana 28-21.
Western Kentucky was well represented on this year’s preseason team, with quarterback Mike White earning the Offensive Player of the Year honor and kick returner Kylen Towner named the Special Teams Player of the Year. Rice linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
MGCCC makes cut
Former Gulfport and Mississippi Gulf Coast standout Chris Johnson also made the C-USA’s defensive team.
As a junior last season, Johnson started all 14 games and recorded 43 tackles with 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
2017 C-USA preseason awards
Offensive Player of the Year
Mike White, Sr., QB, WKU
Defensive Player of the Year
Emmanuel Ellerbee, Sr., LB, Rice
Special Teams Players of the Year
Kylen Towner, Sr., KR, WKU
QB Mike White, Sr., WKU
RB Ray Lawry, Sr., Old Dominion
RB Ito Smith, Sr., Southern Miss
OL O’Shea Dugas, Jr., Louisiana Tech
OL Will Hernandez, Sr., UTEP
OL Trey Martin, Sr., Rice
OL Austin Pratt, Sr., UTSA
OL Brandon Ray, Sr., WKU
TE Ryan Yurachek, Sr., Marshall
WR Richie James, Jr., Middle Tennessee
WR Jonathan Duhart, Sr., Old Dominion
WR Allenzae Staggers, Sr., Southern Miss
DL Marcus Davenport, Sr., UTSA
DL Jaylon Ferguson, So., Louisiana Tech
DL Chris Johnson, Sr., WKU
DL Oshane Ximines, Jr., Old Dominion
LB Emmanuel Ellerbee, Sr., Rice
LB Alvin Jones, Sr., UTEP
LB Josiah Tauaefa, So., UTSA
LB Anthony Wint, Sr., FIU
DB Brandon Addison, Sr., Old Dominion
DB Nate Brooks, Jr., North Texas
DB Joe Brown, Sr., WKU
DB Kishawn McClain, Sr., North Texas
K Canon Rooker, Sr., Middle Tennessee
P Jake Collins, Jr., WKU
KR Kylen Towner, Sr., WKU
PR Nacarius Fant, Sr., WKU
LS Matt Bayliss, Sr., UTSA