MARYVILLE, Tn. - The USA South Athletic Conference released its 2010 Preseason Coaches Poll on Tuesday at the league's annual Football Media Day hosted by Maryville College. The Battling Bishops, under the direction of third-year head coach Mark Henninger, were picked to defend their 2009 league title, the program's second in the past three seasons.
Last fall, Henninger's Bishops turned in an 8-3 overall record and 7-0 league mark en route to his first USA South Coach of the Year honor. Wesleyan returns 62 players from that squad, including seven All-Conference selections. Leading the way is returning All-Region performer Carmeron Deaver on the offensive line.
Henninger’s biggest task this season will be replacing the league’s 2009 Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in the form of quarterback Bo Jordan and defensive lineman LeeRon Boykin. With a strong running game that features former Offensive Rookie of the Year Teron Bush and a defense that returns seven starters, the Bishops, however, are poised to make a run at their third title in the past four seasons.
"We're excited about the direction we're heading this fall," said Henninger as he addressed the media. "We have some definite holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but our coaching staff has worked hard to secure a solid recruiting class."
Wesleyan received five of eight first place votes for 45 points in the balloting. Averett University finished second in last year's standings and second in the balloting with 41 points and two first place votes. Christopher Newport University, six-time USA South champions, placed third in the poll with 40 points and the remaining first place vote, while Ferrum College was fourth with 28 points.
The bottom half of the preseason poll featured a tie between Greensboro College and Maryville College with 21 points, Shenandoah University with 20 points and Methodist University with eight points.
The Bishops kick off their 2010 slate on Sept. 4 at Salisbury University. Wesleyan then travels to Hampden-Sydney College the following weekend, and after the team's bye week, will open its home scheduled on Sept. 25 versus first-time opponent LaGrange College.
For the third straight season, all 2010 home games will be played at the Northern Nash Football Complex.
2010 USA SOUTH ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PRESEASON FOOTBALL POLL
1. North Carolina Wesleyan (5) 45 pts.
2. Averett (2) 41 pts.
3. Christopher Newport (1) 40 pts.
4. Ferrum 28 pts.
5. Greensboro 21 pts.
5. Maryville 21 pts.
7. Shenandoah 20 pts.
8. Methodist 8 pts.