Eight Wildcats were selected to the Southland Conference preseason all-conference football team. Three student-athletes were selected to the first-team offense, three to the second-team offense and two to the second-team defense.
“The fact that so many of our players earned preseason honors is special because it solidifies us as a team in this conference,” head coach Ken Collums said. “It shows that we aren’t just a walk-over team in this conference, it shows that we add to the high level of play in this conference and deserve to be here.”
Senior wide receiver Cedric Gilbert, senior offensive lineman Codey Funk and sophomore running back De’Andre Brown were all selected to first-team offense. Gilbert amassed 38 receptions for 667 yards and a team-high seven receiving touchdowns. As a freshman, Brown rushed for 993 yards and nine touchdowns. Brown had a three touchdown game against Ava Maria and a career high 171 rushing yards in ACU’s 52-35 win over Central Arkansas. His 96.2 rushing yards per game ranked second in the conference last season.
Senior tight end Jamie Walker, junior kicker Nik Grau and sophomore offensive tackle Riley Mayfield were voted to the second-team offense. Walker collected 11 catches for 111 yards and three touchdowns in all twelve games for ACU. Grau was 14 for 17 in field goal makes and made a season long 42-yard field goal. His 82.4 make percentage was fourth in the Southland.
Senior punt return specialist Jonathan Epps and sophomore middle linebacker Sam Denmark round out the Wildcats’ eight on the second-team defense. Epps did a little bit of everything last year for ACU. On offense, he had four receptions for 97 yards and a score. On defense, he grabbed two interceptions, scoring on one, and 25 solo tackles. On punt return, he returned 21 kicks for 469 yards, averaging out for 22.3 yards a return. Epps was second on the team in all purpose yards with 933 yards, trailing Brown who had 1,238 yards.
“In the end though, it’s nice to get these awards, but it is preseason awards,” Collums said. “No one has played a down or snapped a ball yet. I want to see who steps up and proves they can play in this conference. What you can do on the field is better than any preseason honor out there.”