Football Tabbed Third; Six Blue Devils Named Preseason All-NEC

Football Tabbed Third; Six Blue Devils Named Preseason All-NEC

The Central Connecticut football team was picked third in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll at the league's 2019 Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium it was announced on Wednesday. The Blue Devils also had six players named to the Preseason All-Northeast Conference Team revealed during the day's festivities.

CCSU opens the 2019 season at Fordham on Saturday, August 31. Central will host Merrimack for its home-opener at Arute Field on Saturday, September 7, at 6:00 p.m. Single-game and season tickets for CCSU home games can be purchased HERE.

The Blue Devils were tabbed third in the preseason poll after finishing third in the league standings in 2018. Duquesne was a unanimous choice as the conference's preseason favorite. CCSU closes out the regular-season on the road against the Dukes on Nov. 23. 

Central's offense, which led the conference in scoring and yardage last season, had four players named to the Preseason All-NEC Team, including three offensive linemen. Seniors J'Von Brown and Cole Phelps, along with junior Connor Mignone return to anchor a unit that piled up over 432 yards per game last season to rank 29th among FCS squads. The veteran unit also ranked seventh nationally in sacks allowed. Mignone and Brown were both All-NEC First Team picks last season, while Phelps was on the Second Team.  Brown enters the season having been named to the Athlon FCS Preseason All-America Team after earning Second Team Stats All-America honors as a junior. Mignone, who earned All-America honors as a rookie, and Phelps, a two-year starter, will anchor the line with Brown for a squad that averaged 223.6 yards on the ground to rank 21st nationally last season.  

Junior Tyshaun James rounded out CCSU's preseason offensive selections and returns at wide receiver after collecting a team-high four receiving touchdowns. He played in all 11 games last year and had 20 catches and averaged nearly 11 yards a reception. 

Senior defensive back Tajik Bagley and junior defensive back DJ Exilhomme represented the CCSU defense on the league's preseason team. Bagley, an All-NEC First Team pick in 2018, was fourth on the team in tackles with 50 and was second on the team with nine pass break-ups as a junior. As a returner, Bagley averaged 22.0 yards on kickoff returns and 13.1 yards on punt returns. He took a punt back 82 yards for a touchdown against Columbia last season.

Exilhomme emerged as a sophomore and was named to the All-NEC First Team after leading the team in tackles with 74 tackles. He also added four forced fumbles, an interception and five pass break-ups.

The Blue Devils were represented by first-year head coach Ryan McCarthy and seniors Tajik Bagley and J'Von Brown at the league's ceremonial kickoff event. Central finished third in the league a season ago with a 4-2 mark. The Blue Devils went 6-5 overall to post a second straight winning record for the first time since 2009-10.

CCSU opens the 2019 season at Fordham on Saturday, August 31. Central will host Merrimack for its home-opener at Arute Field on Saturday, September 7, at 6:00 p.m. Single-game and season tickets for CCSU home games can be purchased HERE.

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