The Conference USA coaches’ poll has named five Golden Eagles to the league’s preseason team, the conference announced in a press release Monday.
Southern Miss tied for second in the C-USA West last year, and was picked by the media poll to finish second again for 2019.
Last year, the only USM player chosen for a preseason honor was kicker Parker Shaunfield. This year, Southern Miss and North Texas lead the conference with five selections, followed by Charlotte and Marshall with four.
On the offensive side, the Golden Eagles have one player chosen, wide receiver Quez Watkins. Watkins earned first-team all-conference USA honors after the redshirt junior led the Golden Eagles with 72 catches for 889 yards and nine touchdowns. He also led the league in receptions per game with 6.5
For defense, linebacker Racheem Boothe, defensive back Ky’el Hemby, and linemen Demarrio Smith and Jacues Turner were named to the preseason team. The Golden Eagles defense ended the year third nationally for total defense (278.4 ypg).
Redshirt junior Hemby led the league with six interceptions and was second in total tackles for the Golden Eagles.
Last season, redshirt junior linebacker Boothe had 48 stops with 10 for a loss and four sacks. He recorded two fumble recoveries, five quarterback hurries and three pass breakups.
Smith ended the season with 17 tackles, one for loss, one sack and blocked a field goal attempt at Auburn.
Turner, a first-team All-Conference USA selection last year, returns after leading the Golden Eagles with 33 tackles. Ten of those for loss along with five sacks. The redshirt junior also added two forced fumbles, tied for second in C-USA per game.
Southern Miss will open at home against Alcorn State at 6 p.m. Aug. 31. The game will be available on ESPN plus. The league’s conference championship game is set for Dec. 7.
Conference USA Football Coaches Preseason Awards
Offensive Player of the Year: Mason Fine, Sr., QB, North Texas
Defensive Player of the Year: Sage Lewis, Sr., LB, FIU
Special Teams Players of the Year: Jonathan Cruz, So., K, Charlotte
- QB -Mason Fine, Sr., North Texas
- RB - Spencer Brown, Jr., UAB
- RB - Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
- OL - Levi Brown, Sr., Marshall
- OL - Josh Dunlop, Sr., UTSA
- OL - Derron Gatewood, Sr., UTEP
- OL - Sosaia Mose, Sr., North Texas
- OL - Miles Pate, Sr., WKU
- TE - Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
- WR - Rico Bussey, Jr., Sr., North Texas
- WR - Adrian Hardy, Jr., Louisiana Tech
- WR - Quez Watkins, Jr., Southern Miss
- DL - Channing Hames, Sr., Marshall
- DL - LaDarius Hamilton, Sr., North Texas
- DL - Alex Highsmith, Sr., Charlotte
- DL - Garrett Marino, Sr., UAB
- DL - DeMarrio Smith, Sr., Southern Miss
- DL - Jacques Turner, Jr., Southern Miss
- LB - Khalil Brooks, Sr., Middle Tennessee
- LB - Sage Lewis, Sr., FIU
- LB - Racheem Boothe, Jr., Southern Miss
- DB - Reed Blankenship, Jr., Middle Tennessee
- DB - Ky’el Hemby, Jr., Southern Miss
- DB - Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
- DB - Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
- K - Jonathan Cruz, So., Charlotte
- P - Alvin Kenworthy, Sr., North Texas
- KR - Brett Winnegan, Sr., UTSA
- PR - Maurice Alexander, Sr., FIU
- LS - Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall