The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team is picked to win the American Southwest Conference Championship in the league’s 2017 Preseason Coaches and Media Poll, making it 15 straight years for UMHB to be the choice to win the league. The Cru picked up 27 of the 30 first-place votes and totaled 297 points in balloting of the ASC head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members. Hardin-Simmons is the pick to finish second with 272 total points and the Cowboys also received the other three first-place votes. East Texas Baptist is picked third with 214 total points, Sul Ross State totaled 201 points for fourth place and Louisiana College is picked fifth with 156 points. ASC affiliate Southwestern University is picked sixth with 129 points, just ahead of fellow affiliate member Texas Lutheran University’ s 126 total points. McMurry is the pick at #8 with 122 points, Belhaven University is picked ninth with 82 points and Howard Payne University rounds out the poll with 52 total points.
UMHB took two of the three Preseason Player of the Year honors with quarterback T.J. Josey claiming Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors and defensive tackle Haston Adams taking Preseason Defensive Player of the Year kudos. Josey is returning to quarterback after catching 52 passes for 1,063 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The junior from Angleton High School, served as UMHB’s #3 quarterback his freshman season. Adams, a senior from Beckville High School, was an All-American last season. He posted 53 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last season. Adams also returned two fumbles for touchdowns.
Hardin-Simmons senior kick returner/wide receiver Alex Bell was voted ASC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.
The Cru won the NCAA Division III National Championship last season with a 10-7 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh in Stagg Bowl XLIV. UMHB expects to return 40 lettermen and six starters on both sides of the ball from that team. The Cru kicks off the 2017 season with a 6:00 PM home game against Sul Ross State on September 9th. UMHB finished 15-0 overall and was 6-0 in ASC play. The Cru has won at least a share of 14 of the last 15 ASC titles and has advance to at least the Second Round of the NCAA Division III National Championships in each of the last 13 seasons.