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Conference USA announces 2019 preseason awards

With the release of C-USA’s preseason team, we’re one step closer to the start of football season.

Indiana v Florida International Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

With just 45 days remaining until FIU and UAB kick off Conference USA’s season on August 29th, the offseason is nearly in the rear view mirror. Today the conference brass released this season’s pre-season awards, bringing us one step closer to kickoff.

Voted on by the conference’s head coaches, there are few surprises on the award winner list or all-conference team.

The illustrious North Texas quarterback Mason Fine was pegged as C-USA Offensive Player of the Year. Fine enters the 2019 season with 9,417 passing yards, the national leader in active career passing yards.

Florida International’s Sage Lewis stepped into a full time starting linebacker role last year after a few key departures left the position in flux. Lewis faced the challenge so well that he was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Lewis broke three program records last year, including most tackles in a season (132), most solo tackles in a season (83), and most pass breakups in a single game (4).

Lastly, Jonathan Cruz was named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year. Cruz was stellar as a freshman last year, converting on 77% of his field goal attempts. The sophomore turned heads last year when he nailed a game-winning 56 yard field goal against FAU.

The pre-season all conference team was pretty well distributed, with only Rice and Old Dominion failing to land a player on the team. Southern Miss leads the way with five selections, while UNT and Marshall both boasted four selections.

The coaches’ selections pretty much align with Underdog Dynasty’s preseason position reviews, with the exception of FIU. We had the Panthers at the top of our position rankings, but C-USA coaches only voted two FIU players onto the all-conference team.

Offensive Player of the Year

Mason Fine, Sr., QB, North Texas

Defensive Player of the Year

Sage Lewis, Sr., LB, FIU

Special Teams Player of the Year

Jonathan Cruz, So., K, Charlotte

Offense

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

Defensive

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

Special Teams

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