|Charlotte 49ers football has work to do in C-USA race|
|Expected to pull up the rear in East Division|
|Published Wednesday, July 24, 2019 11:22 am|
|CHARLOTTE SPORTS INFORMATION|
|Charlotte 49ers defensive end Alex Highsmith is one of a school-record three players to earn preseason all-Conference USA accolades. Charlotte finished last in the seven-team C-USA East Division in preseason media polling.|
The Charlotte 49ers aren’t expected to do much in Will Healy’s first season as head coach.
The 49ers were predicted to bring up the rear in the preseason Conference USA East Division order of finish compiled by league media. Healy takes over a program that went 5-7 last season under former coach Brad Lambert and has overhauled it to reflect more emphasis on offense.
Marshall was the media pick to finish first in the seven-team East Division, followed by Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee, last year’s division champ. Western Kentucky and Old Dominion also finished ahead of Charlotte. North Texas is the predicted winner of the West Division, followed by Southern Mississippi.
A school-record three 49ers were named preseason all-conference, with sophomore kicker Jonathan Cruz voted Special Teams Player of the Year.
Redshirt senior defensive end Alex Highsmith and senior running back Benny LeMay were also named to the defense and offense squads.
Cruz, who earned C-USA All-Freshman last year by connecting on 17 field goals, set school records for made field goals of 40 yards or longer with eight and 50 yards or more (three). His game-winning 56-yard field goal at Florida Atlantic was the longest in C-USA and second longest in FBS last year.
Highsmith, who earned first team all-conference in 2018, broke the school single-season record with 17.5 tackles for loss and a career-best 60 tackles. He added 3.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and a team-high eight quarterback hurries. Highsmith, who earned a grade of 90.6 in run defense from Pro Football Focus, has been named to the Chuck Bednarik Award watch list, which goes to college football’s top defender.
LeMay, a Butler High graduate, earned second team all-CUSA honors in 2018, was the league’s No. 2 rusher and 20th in FBS with 1,243 yards, becoming only the second 49ers runner to top 1,000 yards and 100 yards per game in a season.
LeMay was second in C-USA and 26th in the nation in all-purpose yards (1,525; 127.1 yards per game) with 11 rushing touchdowns, the most by a 49er at the FBS level.
|I've very recently been around the Charlotte Football program, and these guys aren't finishing last in ANYTHING! Not being biased or naive, but this coaching staff is the real deal, and they have PLAYERS in the program! We'll be down to support them this season and we will be suiting up for the 49er's NEXT SEASON!|
|Posted on August 20, 2019|
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