Belton, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team has been picked to successfully defend its American Southwest Conference Championship in the league’s 2015 Preseason Coaches and Media Poll. The Cru picked up 17 of the 18 first-place votes and totaled 107 points in balloting of the ASC head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members to earn preseason favorite honors for the 13th straight season. Hardin-Simmons is the pick to finish second with 81 total points and the Cowboys also received the other first-place vote. Louisiana College was the choice at third with 79 total points and East Texas Baptist was picked fourth with 50 total points. Howard Payne was picked fifth with 34 total points and Sul Ross State rounded out the poll with 27 total points. Belhaven University and McMurry University are both joining the ASC as provisional members in 2015 and were not eligible for the ASC Preseason Poll.
UMHB defensive end Teidrick Smith was voted ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Smith, a junior from Hallettsville High School, was ASC Defensive Player of the Year and ASC Defensive Lineman of the Year last season. He posted 47 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, a conference-best 9.0 sacks and added an interception return for a touchdown. Smith is the fifth straight UMHB player to claim ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors and the ninth overall.
Louisiana College quarterback Easton Melancon was voted ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 2,973 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore last season. Hardin-Simmons kick returner Jessie Ramos took ASC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year honors. Ramos returned one kickoff for a touchdown last season and averaged 22.9 yards per return.
The Cru returns 51 lettermen from a team that went 11-1 overall and 5-0 in the ASC last season. UMHB welcomes back six offensive starters and seven defensive starters from a team that won its 12th ASC championship in the last 13 years and advanced to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the 11th straight year.