Nine members of Howard University’s football squad are among honorees of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s three 25-member All-Conference preseason teams.
The announcement, made Friday during the conference’s media day and luncheon, paid tribute to linebacker Marcellus Allison (second team), wide receivers Kyle Anthony (second team) and Jequez Ezzard (first team – wide receiver; second team – return specialist), defensive back Bryan Cook (second team), center James Holmon (first team), placekicker Dakota Lebofsky (third team), defensive lineman Aaron Motley (third team), quarterback Caylin Newton (second team), and offensive lineman Tyrone Ramsey (first team).
In addition, head coach Mike London and his squad were chosen to finish second in the league.
Ezzard (College Park, Ga.) headlined the day by being named an All-MEAC preseason honoree twice as a wide receiver and return specialist. Last season, the Georgia native was selected to the 2017 All-MEAC first team and 2017 Phil Steele’s FCS All-Conference first team. He ranked among the top deep threats in the country, averaging 26.3 yards per reception, while leading Howard in all-purpose yards. Ezzard finished his sophomore campaign as the league leader in receiving yards per game (81.4).
Holmon (Augusta, Ga.) and Ramsey (Detroit) joined Ezzard on the All-MEAC Preseason first team. A year ago, both Bison powered one of the nation’s top offenses, averaging 446 yards per game, which finished 13th in the country. They provided the much-needed protection that helped HU finish second in the nation in passing yards per completion (18.37) while leading the conference in total offense and rushing yards per game (215.5).
In June, Newton (Atlanta) was named to the HERO Sports Preseason All-American third team after winning the 2017 MEAC and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Rookie of the Year awards. Additionally, he became the first freshman in MEAC history to surpass 3,000 yards of total offense (3,185) while averaging 289.5 yards of offense per outing. The Atlanta product led the league in scoring as he combined for 25 touchdowns en route to leading Howard to its best finish and record since 2012.
Anthony (Miramar, Fla.) also made the preseason second team after being selected to the 2017 All-MEAC third team and 2017 Phil Steele’s FCS All-Conference second team a year ago. He ranked among the conference leaders in multiple categories, including receptions (7th) and receiving yards per game (3rd).
Defensively, Allison (Durham, N.C.) and Cook (Cincinnati) claimed spots on the league’s second unit.
Allison played all 11 games a year ago and registered a season-high six tackles (five solo) in the victory over UNLV (Sept. 2). The Tar Heel native also posted four tackles on the road at Richmond (Sept. 16) and South Carolina State (Oct. 28).
Cook was chosen to the 2017 All-MEAC second team and 2017 Phil Steele’s FCS All-Conference second team after winning MEAC Defensive and Rookie of the Week. He had three pass breakups in the red zone for a defense ranked fifth in the conference for Red Zone stops. The Cincinnati product finished his rookie campaign with 36 tackles (28), five pass breakups, four interceptions, and a tackle for loss.
Despite playing nine games a year ago, Motley (Highland Springs, Va.) registered a team-high five sacks, three quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, and pass breakup. His best game of the season came in the homecoming victory over Morgan State (Oct. 21) where he posted two sacks.
Lebofsky (Overland Park, Kan.) made his contributions on special teams; thus, earning him a spot on the All-MEAC Preseason Third Team. The Kansas native drilled five field goals, including a 44-yard field goal at Delaware State (Oct. 14).
North Carolina A&T State’s Lamar Reynard and North Carolina Central’s Davanta Reynolds were named MEAC offensive and defensive preseason Players of the Year, respectively.
A year ago, the Bison finished 7-4 overall and 6-2 in league play, including a 43-40 victory at Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe UNLV.
After a successful 2017 campaign, Howard was picked second in the conference behind the reigning league champions, NCAT.
Below are the 2018 MEAC preseason predictions:
2018 MEAC Preseason Order of Finish (first-place votes)
North Carolina A&T State (19)
• N.C. Central
• Florida A&M (1)
• Norfolk State
• S.C. State
• Savannah State
• Morgan State
• Delaware State
All votes were submitted by the MEAC’s 10 head football coaches and sports information contacts.
On Sept. 1, London and the Bison open their 2018 slate at Ohio. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.