MT Picked Third at SBC Media Days

July 23, 2003 · MT Media Relations

NEW ORLEANS, La. - In the annual preseason football poll voted on by the Sun Belt Conference head coaches and media relations directors, Middle Tennessee was picked third with a total of 131 votes. Defending champion North Texas was selected to repeat as league champs, while New Mexico State was picked second.

The Mean Green received 20 of a possible 24 first place votes with New Mexico State (2), Middle Tennessee and Idaho gaining the remaining four votes.

Individually, Blue Raider seniors Brandon Westbrook and Robert Billings were selected to the SBC's preseason team. Westbrook, a two-time first team All-SBC pick, was on the Outland Watch List a year ago and is coming off another solid campaign. The Cumming, GA, native registered a record 108 knockdowns in 2002 to go along with a cumulative grade of 75.9 percent.

Billings, who ranked 17th nationally in punting last year and No. 1 in the Sun Belt, was a unanimous selection for the league's top punter. The Collierville, TN, native, who averaged 42.6 yards a punt in 2002, enters the 2003 season ranked second in career average, eighth in career punting yards, and ninth in punting attempts.

The Sun Belt also debuted its first-ever "fun poll" and the Blue Raiders came away with numerous honors. The Blue Raiders were voted as having the league's "Best Band", "Most Animated Coach", "Playing in the Best Game in First Two Seasons", and tying for the league's "Best Press Box Food" with Arkansas State. The "Best Game" was the Blue Raiders' 2001 win over Idaho, 70-58, where numerous NCAA records were set. The food in the press box for all Blue Raider games is provided by Davy Crockett's Roadhouse in Murfreesboro.

The Blue Raiders will report to camp on July 31 and will go through a mandatory five-day acclimatization period before starting practice on Aug. 7. The annual Football Fan Day is scheduled for Aug. 16 from 12-2 PM in Floyd Stadium.

Preseason Poll
1. North Texas - 186 (20)
2. New Mexico State - 160 (2)
3. Middle Tennessee - 131 (1)
4. Arkansas State - 112
5. Louisiana-Lafayette - 98
6. Utah State - 75
7. Idaho - 59 (1)
8. Louisiana-Monroe - 43

Preseason Team
OL - Trevor Hutton, Utah State
*OL - Kimani Jones, Arkansas State
OL - Jake Scott, Idaho
OL - Brandon Westbrook, Middle Tennessee
*OL - Nick Zuniga, North Texas
TE - Chris Cooley, Utah State
QB - Brian Lindgren, Idaho
WR - Fred Stamps, Louisiana-Lafayette
WR - Mack Vincent, Louisiana-Monroe
RB - Patrick Cobbs, North Texas
*RB - Eric Higgins, New Mexico State

DL - John Bradley, Arkansas State
DL - Brandon Kennedy, North Texas
*DL - Joe Olivo, New Mexico State
DL - Corey Williams, Arkansas State
*LB - Taylor Casey, North Texas
LB - Maurice Sonnier, Louisiana-Monroe
LB - Cody Spencer, North Texas
*DB - Jonas Buckles, North Texas
*DB - Jonathan Burke, Arkansas State
*DB - Chris Harris, Louisiana-Monroe
*DB - Craig Jones, North Texas

*PK - Dario Aguiniga, New Mexico State
*P - Robert Billings, Middle Tennessee
RS - Ja'Mel Branch, North Texas

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year - Patrick Cobbs, RB, North Texas
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year - Brandon Kennedy, DT, North Texas

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