Appalachian State will take a large percentage of the Southern Conference’s preseason all-league team to ECU for the teams’ noon football opener on Sept. 1.
Long a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) power, the Mountaineers finished 8-4 overall in 2011 and were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Maine.
At the Southern Conference preseason media day in Spartanburg, S.C., on Thursday, the league’s 10 head coaches picked Jerry Moore’s 24th Appalachian team to finish second, behind Georgia Southern. In the media vote, the Mountaineers were third, behind Georgia Southern and Wofford.
But in the vote for all-conference, Appalachian placed a league-best 10 players on the first- and second-teams:
First-team picks: junior quarterback Jamal Jackson (North Atlanta High), senior linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough (Decatur, Ga., Cedar Grove) and defensive back Demetrius McCray (Covington, Ga. Newton).
Mountaineers on the second unit: sophomore offensive lineman Kendall Lamm (Charlotte Butler), junior wide receivers Andrew Peacock (Northern Durham) and Tony Washington (High Point Andrews), sophomore defensive lineman Ronald Blair (Greensboro, Ga., Greene County), senior linebacker Brandon Grier (West Charlotte), senior defensive back Troy Sanders (Chester, S.C.) and senior punter Sam Martin (Fayetteville Ga., Starr’s Mill).
ECU, 5-7 overall and 4-4 in Conference USA last season, had three players picked for the preseason all-CUSA team: junior offensive guard Will Simmons (Ahoskie Hertford), senior nose tackle Michael Brooks (Roxboro Bartlett Yancey) and senior linebacker Jeremy Grove (Frederick, Md., Gov. Thomas Johnson).
The Pirates also announced earlier this week that they have passed the 20,000 mark in season ticket sales for the sixth straight season.
In addition to the opener, ECU will have home games against UTEP (Sept. 29), Memphis (Oct. 13), Navy (Oct. 27), Houston (Nov. 3) and Marshall (Nov. 23).
Appalachian visited ECU to start the 2009 season. The Pirates held on for a 29-24 win after racing to a 17-0 after one quarter and 29-7 after three quarters.
Elon, which opens at UNC on Sept. 1 (12:30 p.m.), was picked to finish seventh in the Southern Conference vote.
The Phoenix, coached Jason Swepson, finished 5-6 overall and 3-5 in the Southern last season.
On the Elon staff is Ron Mattes, the former Virginia standout blocker and father of N.C. State offensive lineman R.J. Mattes.