(STATS FCS) – Charleston Southern was selected 14th in the 2017 STATS FCS Top 25 as announced on Monday afternoon. The ranking marks the second consecutive season CSU has earned a spot in the FCS’ main preseason media poll.
CSU is the only Big South Conference team in the STATS poll and is the highest ranked team from the state of South Carolina. Defending national champion James Madison was installed as the preseason favorite, receiving 134 of 163 first-place votes. North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State, and Eastern Washington round out the top five.
CSU was ranked 16th in the Athlon Sports Preseason FCS Top 25 poll released in early June.
The recognition continues a trend for the Buccaneers as CSU has earned a spot in a preseason top-25 poll published by a national media outlet. The Bucs first cracked the preseason polls in 2015 when they were picked 24th by Sporting News.
The Bucs are coming off back-to-back Big South titles and return 16 starters from a 2016 squad that beat three ranked teams en route to a second consecutive playoff appearance. Leading the way on the sidelines in his first season as head coach will be Mark Tucker, CSU’s quarterback’s coach for the last four years. Tucker has been an integral part of the Bucs’ rise to prominence, as the program has rolled up 35 wins since 2013, becoming a fixture in the national polls.
Among CSU’s primary returners is senior Anthony Ellis, who was named Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight time. Ellis led the league in sacks and tackles for loss in 2016, earning him All-America honors from STATS FCS, the Associated Press, and Hero Sports. Ellis is joined on the preseason all-conference team by linebackers Solomon Brown and Zane Cruz, cornerback Shadarius Hopkins, wide receiver Kameron Brown and offensive lineman Frank Cirone.