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College football: Five Bulldogs earn spots on C-USA Preseason Watch List

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By Ashley Springer, Louisiana Tech Associate Director of Strategic Communications 

RUSTON – Conference USA released the 2021 preseason watch list, as selected by the league’s 14 head coaches, on Monday. Five student-athletes from each of the conference’s 14 member institutions were recognized as key players to watch ahead of the 2021 season.

Louisiana Tech graduate transfer running back Marcus Williams Jr., senior linebacker Trey Baldwin, junior offensive lineman Joshua Mote, sophomore defensive back BeeJay Williamson and sophomore punt returner Smoke Harris were named to the 2021 preseason watch list.

Williams transferred to Louisiana Tech from App State where he appeared in 42 games and made six starts. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native rushed for more than 500 yards in each of his four seasons played (2017-20).

He finished his App State career with 2,216 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and had six career-games with 100-plus rushing yards. Williams appeared in eight games with two starts as senior in 2020, registering 503 rushing yards on 68 attempts for three touchdowns.

Baldwin was named second team all-C-USA and earned a spot on the Phil Steele All-Conference USA third team in 2020. The Orange, Texas, native finished the season second on the team with 85 total tackles, including a team-best 53 solo tackles. Baldwin posted a career-high 18 tackles, including 14 solo, at UTSA on Oct. 24.

His 18 tackles tied for the 11th most nationally in the season, while his 14 solo tackles ranked second in the nation. He ranked first in C-USA and 11th in the FBS in solo tackles with 5.9 per game and was third in the conference in tackles per game at 9.4.

Baldwin registered 7.0 tackles for loss, including 1.0 sacks, five pass breakups, one interception and one quarterback hurry during the 2020 campaign.

Mote was an all-Conference USA honorable mention in 2020 and earned a spot on the Phil Steele All-Conference USA Fourth Team. He was part of an offensive front that ranked first in C-USA and second in the FBS in fourth down conversions at 88.9 percent (16-of-18).

The native of Oak Grove helped the offense rank fourth in C-USA and 53rd in the FBS in red zone offense at 84.6 percent (33-of-39). Mote assisted the offense in averaging 315.8 yards of total offense, including a 216.6 passing yard average and a 99.2 rushing yard average.

Williamson was named first team all-Conference USA by both the league and Phil Steele in 2020. The native of Dallas, Texas, was third on the team with 56 total tackles, including 32 solo, while also registering 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, three interceptions, three pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.

Williamson recorded two interceptions against UAB and forced a fumble at the goal line to give LA Tech the game-winning possession. He registered multiple tackles in every game of the 2020 campaign.

Harris was named second team all-C-USA and Phil Steele All-Conference USA First Team as a punt returner in 2020. During the campaign, he averaged 21.50 yards per punt return after returning six punts for 129 total yards.

The native of St. Francisville had a career-long 60-yard punt return at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 23). Harris totaled 463 all-purpose yards which was the third most on the team.

The Conference USA slate opens on Saturday, Aug. 28, and the league’s 17th Conference USA Football Championship Game is scheduled for the first week in December.

Louisiana Tech opens the 2021 season at Mississippi State on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 3 p.m. Tech will then open a three-game home stretch against Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. inside Joe Aillet Stadium.

Season tickets for the 2021 Louisiana Tech football season are on sale now. Fans can purchase season tickets online at LATechSports.com/tickets or by calling the LA Tech Ticket Office at (318) 257-3631.

OFFENSE

QB          Grant Wells, RS Fr., Marshall

QB          Bailey Zappe, GS, WKU

RB           Frank Gore, Jr., Fr., Southern Miss

RB           Sincere McCormick, Jr., UTSA

RB           DeWayne McBride, So., UAB

RB           D’Vonte Price, Sr., FIU

RB           Marcus Williams, Jr., GS, Louisiana Tech

WR         Jason Brownlee, Jr., Southern Miss

WR         Jacob Cowing, So., UTEP

WR         Jarrin Pearce, RS Sr., Middle Tennessee

WR         Brandon Robinson, RS Sr., Florida Atlantic

WR         Bradley Rozner, RS Jr., Rice

WR         Jyaire Shorter, RS So., North Texas

WR         Victor Tucker, RS Sr., Charlotte

OL           Shea Baker, RS Jr., Rice

OL           Jacob Brammer, RS Jr., North Texas

OL           Spencer Burford, Sr., UTSA

OL           Bobby DeHaro, RS Jr., UTEP

OL           D’Mitri Emmanuel, RS Sr., Charlotte

OL           Arvin Fletcher, RS Sr., Southern Miss

OL           Lyndell Hudson, Jr., RS So., FIU

OL           Alex Mollette, RS Sr., Marshall

OL           Joshua Mote, Jr., Louisiana Tech

OL           Jordan Palmer, Jr., Middle Tennessee

OL           Nick Saldiveri, RS So., Old Dominion

OL           Cole Spencer, RS Jr., WKU

OL           Kadeem Telfort, RS Jr., UAB

OL           Khalique Washington, Sr., Southern Miss

OL           Isaac Weaver, Sr., Old Dominion

OL           Nick Weber, RS Jr., Florida Atlantic

DEFENSE

DL           Praise Amaewhule, RS So., UTEP

DL           Evan Anderson, Fr., Florida Atlantic

DL           Jamare Edwards, RS Jr., Marshall

DL           Jordan Ferguson, RS Jr., Middle Tennessee

DL           Elijah Garcia, RS Sr., Rice

DL           Jaylon Haynes, Sr., UTSA

DL           DeAngelo Malone, Sr. WKU

DL           Antonio Moultrie, RS Jr., UAB

DL           Dion Novil, Sr., North Texas

DL           Davon Strickland, RS So., FIU

DL           Markees Watts, Sr., Charlotte

LB           Trey Baldwin, Sr., Louisiana Tech

LB           KD Davis, Jr., North Texas

LB           Tyler Murray, RS Sr., Charlotte

LB           Jordan Young, Sr., Old Dominion

DB          Reed Blankenship, Sr., Middle Tennessee

DB          Richard Dames, Sr., FIU

DB          Zyon Gilbert, Sr., Florida Atlantic

DB          Steven Gilmore, Jr., Marshall

DB          Joe Joe Headen, Sr., Old Dominion

DB          Dy’Vonne Inyang, Sr., UTEP

DB          Antwon Kincade, Sr., WKU

DB          Kristopher Moll, Sr., UAB

DB          Naeem Smith, Sr., Rice

DB          BeeJay Williamson, So., Louisiana Tech

DB          Rashad Wisdom, Jr., UTSA

SPECIAL TEAMS

K             Briggs Bourgeois, RS Jr., Southern Miss

K             Jonathan Cruz, Sr., Charlotte

K             Brayden Narveson, RS So., WKU

K             Nick Rice, Sr., Old Dominion

P             Lucas Dean, Jr., UTSA

P             Kyle Greenwell, Jr., UAB

P             Matt Hayball, RS Jr., Florida Atlantic

P             Tommy Heatherly, Sr., FIU

P             Kyle Ulbrich, RS Jr., Middle Tennessee

PR           Justin Garrett, RS Sr., UTEP

PR           Smoke Harris, So., Louisiana Tech

PR           Talik Keaton, RS So., Marshall

LS            Nate Durham, RS Jr., North Texas

LS            Campbell Riddle, Jr., Rice

— Featured photo by Tom Morris

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