Credit: Florida A&M Sports Information
NORFOLK, Va. (July 20) – The Florida A&M Rattlers football team has been picked to finish fourth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, while six Rattlers earned preseason All-MEAC honors, voted on by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors, announced today by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The defending MEAC Champion Norfolk State Spartans have been tabbed to win the conference once again as they tallied 11 first place votes and 454 points, while South Carolina State has been selected to finish second with four first place votes and 432 points. Bethune-Cookman was picked to finish third with three first place votes and 417 points, while FAMU finished with two first place votes and 354 points. Hampton was picked to finished fifth with one first place vote and 268 points, followed North Carolina A&T with 216 points for a sixth place finish. Morgan State was tabbed to finish seventh with 198 points, followed by Howard with 188 points for a predicted eighth place finish. Rounding out the cast of MEAC finishers is North Carolina Central with 116 points for a ninth place finish, followed by Delaware State with 78 points and picked to finish 11th is Savannah State with 73 points.
North Carolina A&T running back Mike Mayhew was named the MEAC Preseason Player of the Year, whereas Howard linebacker Keith Pough was named the MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
FAMU had five Rattlers to earn first team preseason All-MEAC honors with four of them being from Tallahassee and one Rattler to earn second team All- MEAC honors.
Leading the Tallahassee connection is senior offensive lineman Steven Robinson, who started in 11 games at right guard for the Rattlers last season. Joining him on the first team is senior defensive lineman Padric Scott, who finished last season with 21 tackles and five tackles for loss.
Rounding out the cast of Tallahassee natives are defensive backs John Oye Ojo and Devontae Terry Johnson. Senior safety Ojo finished last season as the team’s fifth-leading tackler with 38 and snagged four interceptions on the year, while sophomore cornerback Johnson finished last season with four interceptions to lead the Rattler secondary as he tallied 31 tackles on the season.
Rounding out the cast of Rattler first teamers is Jacksonville, Fla., native senior punter Brandon Holdren, who finished the last season with 2,331 yards on 58 boots to averaging 40.2 yard per punt.
Fellow Jacksonville native sophomore quarterback Damien Fleming earned second team preseason All-MEAC honors. Flemin stepped in and took over as the starting quarterback for FAMU in the fifth game of the season. Fleming finished last season with 1,335 yards passing as he completed 110 passes in 180 attempts with nine TDs and two interceptions.
Accompanied by captains Damien Fleming and Brandon Hepburn, Taylor said he has a good feeling about this years team. Speaking from the full contingency of MEAC head football coaches, who sat at the head table during the press luncheon, Taylor expressed his confidence in his players. “We all agree up here that this will likely be the most competitive year in the history of MEAC football. We look forward to a very competitive year. We’ve got some great coaches up here,” Taylor said.
Taylor was also proud of the fact that his players were dedicated and focused as evidenced by his players that were present at the luncheon. “We are excited about our returning players. We put Damien Fleming in during a game in Atlanta, where we were behind 33-17, and he led the team back, with the final score being 38-33 and he hasn’t looked back since. I’ve been around a long time, 38 years….he ranks right up there with some of the best of them. Brandon Hepburn completed his degree this Spring in biochemistry. He was selected to go out to California to present his research on a cure for cancer. He was our leading tackler from last year and we’re very proud of him,” Taylor added. The Rattler football team graduated 15 players in the Spring commencement ceremonies.
FAMU will open their 2012 campaign against Tennessee State in the 14th Annual John Merritt Classic in Nashville, Tenn., at LP Field on Saturday, Sept. 1 in a 6 p.m. CST start.
The Rattlers will open MEAC play on Saturday, Sept. 15 as they will host the Hampton University pirates at Bragg Memorial Stadium in the annual FAMU Hall of Fame game, in a 6 p.m. EST.