MTSU football picked second in East; Byard, Barber preseason All-CUSA

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MTSU’s Kevin Byard and T.T. Barber were both voted to Conference USA's preseason first team as announced by the league office on Wednesday. The voting was done by the league's 13 head coaches.

Byard, an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection in 2013 and a two-time Jim Thorpe Watch List honoree, started all 13 games for the Blue Raiders last season collecting a career-best 106 tackles, ranking second on the team, to go with a team-best five interceptions, five pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

A native of Lithonia, Ga., Byard has returned four interceptions for a touchdown in his two seasons at MT, ranking first in schol history. The junior is currently the active NCAA leader in interception return yards (326), which is also an all-time best in Blue Raider football.

Barber, a junior from Colquitt, Ga., led the Blue Raiders and ranked fourth in Conference USA with 119 tackles last season. The first team All-C-USA selection also had a team-best 11.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, three sacks and two forced fumbles.

MTSU was picked to finish second in the East Division behind unanimous selection Marshall. The Blue Raiders had 73 total votes which ranked as the second most in the league and was three more than the 70 they received in year one.

The league's 10th annual Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West divisions, will be held Saturday, Dec. 6.

The Blue Raiders will open the 2014 season at home against Savannah State on August 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.


Offensive Player of the Year
Rakeem Cato, Sr., QB, Marshall

Defensive Player of the Year
James Rouse, Sr., DL, Marshall

Special Teams Player of the Year
Hunter Mullins, Sr., P, UAB

First Team Offense
QB Rakeem Cato, Sr., Marshall
RB Kenneth Dixon, Jr., Louisiana Tech
RB Aaron Jones, So., UTEP
OL Scott Inskeep, Sr., UTSA
OL Chris Jasperse, Sr., Marshall
OL Cyril Lemon, Sr., North Texas
OL Clint Van Horn, Jr., Marshall
OL Mason Y'Barbo, Sr., North Texas
WR Jamarcus Nelson, Sr., UAB
WR Tommy Shuler, Sr., Marshall
WR Jordan Taylor., Sr., Rice
TE Eric Tomlinson, Sr., UTEP

First Team Defense
DL Vernon Butler, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DL Christian Covington, Jr., Rice
DL Ra'Shawde Myers, Sr., Marshall
DL James Rouse, Sr., Marshall
LB T.T. Barber, Sr., Middle Tennessee
LB Evan McKelvey, Sr., Marshall
LB Andrae Kirk, Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB Kevin Byard, Jr., Middle Tennessee
DB Bryce Callahan, Sr., Rice
DB D'Joun Smith, Sr., Florida Atlantic
DB Triston Wade, Sr., UTSA

First Team Special Teams
K Sean Ianno, Sr., UTSA
P Hunter Mullins, Sr., UAB
KR Autrey Golden, Jr., UTEP
PR Kenny Harrison, Sr., UTSA
LS Jesse Medrano, Sr., UTSA

1. Marshall (91)
2. MTSU (73)
3. Florida Atlantic (60)
4. WKU (57)
5. Old Dominion (33)
6. UAB (31)
7. FIU (19)

1. North Texas (66)
2. Rice (65)
3. UTSA (62)
4. Louisiana Tech (38)
5. Southern Miss (24)
6. UTEP (18)


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