Southern Miss

2 Southern Miss standouts land on preseason All-Conference USA team

Southern Miss receiver Allenzae Staggers picks his way through the Charlotte defense as Jeff Gemmell and Anthony Butler move in for the tackle at M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Staggers was named to the Conference USA’s preseason team Monday.
Southern Miss receiver Allenzae Staggers picks his way through the Charlotte defense as Jeff Gemmell and Anthony Butler move in for the tackle at M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Staggers was named to the Conference USA’s preseason team Monday. ttisbell@sunherald.com file

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.

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.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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

Offense

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

Defense

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

Special Teams

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

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