Last season was the year for the FCS wide receiver. This season might be the year of the FCS wide receiver.
Eastern Washington senior Cooper Kupp led the way on the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team, announced Monday. He's been named a first-team All-American for three consecutive seasons, and last year he became only the second wide receiver to earn the national offensive player of the year award.
South Dakota State junior Jake Wieneke rejoined Kupp as the other the preseason wide receiver after also being selected to the STATS All-America first team last season.
The preseason squad is 99 players deep spread across three teams. All 13 conferences and 63 schools had selections, and they included seven wide receivers who earned a form of All-America honors last year. It's such a big season of top wide receivers that 11 of the 14 who surpassed 1,000 receiving yards last year, as well as the next three on the final national receiving chart, are back to damage defenses again.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kupp caught 114 passes for 1,642 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior - leading the nation in each category. On pace to hold all the major receiving records in FCS history, he already owns 18 school, eight Big Sky Conference and seven NCAA records.
"I'd be shocked if you could show me a better receiver at any level in the country," Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said.
The 6-4, 210-pound Wieneke was second nationally in receiving yards (1,472), a total he grabbed off 72 receptions with 11 touchdowns. His 20.4 yards per catch ranked fourth in the nation.
Kupp and Wieneke were two of 13 returning first-team All-Americans named to the preseason squad. Every conference had at least one first-team selection, and overall 46 players who gained STATS All-America honors in December return this season.
Also returning to the first-team offense were Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins, running backs Chase Edmonds from Fordham and Kade Harrington of Lamar, The Citadel fullback Tyler Renew and Chattanooga offensive linemen Corey Levin.
Harrington led the FCS in rushing yards (2,092) and Edmonds paced in touchdowns (25), while Jenkins fueled Jacksonville State to the national championship game. They finished second, fourth and sixth, respectively, behind Kupp in voting for STATS offensive player of the year.
Duquesne linebacker Christian Kuntz and The Citadel cornerback Dee Delaney returned to the first-team defense - they were 11th and 16th in voting for the STATS defensive player of the year.
William & Mary place-kicker Nick Dorka, Indiana State long snapper Joshua Appel, Southern kick returner Willie Quinn and North Carolina A&T punt returner Khris Gardin were named to the first-team special teams again.
The rest of the preseason first-team offense consisted of Drake tight end Eric Saubert and offensive linemen Erik Austell of Charleston Southern, Julie'n Davenport of Bucknell, Casey Dunn of Jacksonville State and Zach Johnson of North Dakota State.
Also on the first-team defense were defensive linemen Keionta Davis of Chattanooga, P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State, Derek Rivers of Youngstown State and Karter Schult of Northern Iowa; linebackers Andrew Ankrah of James Madison, Dylan Cole of Missouri State and Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State; and defensive backs Casey DeAndrade of New Hampshire, David Jones of Richmond and Donald Payne of Stetson.
Completing the first-team special teams were Cornell punter Chris Fraser and all-purpose back John Santiago of North Dakota.North Dakota State, which has won the last five FCS national championships, was one of four teams to boast four preseason All-Americans. The others were Charleston Southern, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State.
Among FCS conferences, the Missouri Valley had the most All-America selections with 16. CAA Football (13) and the Southern Conference (11) also reached double figures.
They were followed by the Big Sky with nine, Ohio Valley with eight, Southland with seven, Big South and Patriot League with six each, Mid-Eastern Athletic with five, Ivy League, Northeast and Southwestern Athletic with four each, and Pioneer League with three. Coastal Carolina, which is transitioning to the FBS as an FCS independent, also had three All-Americans.
|FIRST TEAM OFFENSE|
|QB - Eli Jenkins, senior, 6-2, 205, Jacksonville State|
|RB - Chase Edmonds, junior, 5-9, 196, Fordham|
|RB - Kade Harrington, senior, 5-9, 190, Lamar|
|FB - Tyler Renew, senior, 5-11, 217, The Citadel|
|WR - Cooper Kupp, senior, 6-2, 210, Eastern Washington|
|WR - Jake Wieneke, junior, 6-4, 210, South Dakota State|
|TE - Eric Saubert, senior, 6-4, 242, Drake|
|OL - Erik Austell, junior, 6-3, 285, Charleston Southern|
|OL - Julie'n Davenport, senior, 6-7, 315, Bucknell|
|OL - Casey Dunn, senior, 6-3, 285, Jacksonville State|
|OL - Zack Johnson, senior, 6-4, 329, North Dakota State|
|OL - Corey Levin, senior, 6-5, 305, Chattanooga|
|FIRST TEAM DEFENSE|
|DL - Keionta Davis, senior, 6-4, 260, Chattanooga|
|DL - P.J. Hall, junior, 6-1, 280, Sam Houston State|
|DL - Derek Rivers, senior, 6-5, 255, Youngstown State|
|DL - Karter Schult, senior, 6-2, 265, Northern Iowa|
|LB - Andrew Ankrah, junior, 6-4, 234, James Madison|
|LB - Dylan Cole, senior, 6-1, 236, Missouri State|
|LB - Nick DeLuca, senior, 6-3, 245, North Dakota State|
|LB - Christian Kuntz, senior, 6-1, 220, Duquesne|
|DB - Casey DeAndrade, senior, 5-11, 212, New Hampshire|
|DB - Dee Delaney, junior, 6-1, 191, The Citadel|
|DB - David Jones, senior, 6-1, 187, Richmond|
|DB - Donald Payne, senior, 6-1, 217, Stetson|
|FIRST TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS|
|PK - Nick Dorka, junior, 6-0, 180, William & Mary|
|P - Chris Fraser, senior, 6-2, 211, Cornell|
|LS - Joshua Appel, senior, 6-2, 250, Indiana State|
|KR - Willie Quinn, graduate, 5-5, 145, Southern|
|PR - Khris Gardin, junior, 5-7, 158, North Carolina A&T|
|AP - John Santiago, sophomore, 5-9, 170, North Dakota|
|QB - Case Cookus, sophomore, 6-4, 200, Northern Arizona|
|RB - Kendell Anderson, senior, 5-9, 200, William & Mary|
|RB - Tarik Cohen, senior, 5-6, 173, North Carolina A&T|
|RB - De'Angelo Henderson, senior, 5-8, 205, Coastal Carolina|
|FB - Joe Protheroe, junior, 6-0, 225, Cal Poly|
|WR - Josh Barge, senior, 6-1, 178, Jacksonville State|
|WR - Emmanuel Butler, junior, 6-3, 210, Northern Arizona|
|WR - Justin Watson, junior, 6-3, 210, Penn|
|TE - Dallas Goedert, junior, 6-5, 245, South Dakota State|
|OL - Mitch Kirsch, senior, 6-6, 300, James Madison|
|OL - Javarius Leamon, senior, 6-7, 310, South Carolina State|
|OL - Brandon Parker, junior, 6-7, 279, North Carolina A&T|
|OL - Mark Spelman, senior, 6-3, 280, Illinois State|
|OL - Anton Wahrby, senior, 6-5, 300, Wofford|
|DL - Pat Afriyie, junior, 6-2, 235, Colgate|
|DL - Anthony Ellis, junior, 6-1, 245, Charleston Southern|
|DL - Caleb Kidder, senior, 6-5, 275, Montana|
|DL - Tanoh Kpassagnon, senior, 6-7, 275, Villanova|
|DL - Greg Menard, junior, 6-2, 240, North Dakota State|
|LB - Kourtney Berry, senior, 6-0, 215, Alabama State|
|LB - Omar Howard, senior, 6-0, 231, Richmond|
|LB - Mike Needham, junior, 6-4, 210, Southern Utah|
|LB - Folarin Orimolade, senior, 5-11, 240, Dartmouth|
|LB - James Rentz, senior, 6-2, 245, Sacred Heart|
|DB - LeRoy Alexander, senior, 6-0, 195, Youngstown State|
|DB - Mike Basile, junior, 6-1, 200, Monmouth|
|DB - Trey Robinson, senior, 6-1, 212, Furman|
|DB - Tremon Smith, junior, 6-0, 185, Central Arkansas|
|PK - Lance Geesey, senior, 5-10, 180, Saint Francis|
|P - Keith Wrzuszczak, junior, 5-11, 194, Eastern Kentucky|
|LS - Joseph Smith, senior, 6-3, 200, Charleston Southern|
|KR - Lorenzo Jerome, senior, 6-0, 195, Saint Francis|
|PR - Ellis Onic II, junior, 5-6, 163, Northern Colorado|
|AP - Darius Hammond, senior, 5-10, 192, Charleston Southern|
|QB - KD Humphries, senior, 6-3, 225, Murray State|
|RB - Corey Avery, junior, 5-10, 190, Sam Houston State|
|RB - Derrick Craine, senior, 5-10, 205, Chattanooga|
|RB - Darius Victor, senior, 5-8, 227, Towson|
|FB - Lorenzo Long, senior, 5-9, 210, Wofford|
|WR - Brian Brown, senior, 6-1, 198, Richmond|
|WR - Brendan Flaherty, senior, 6-2, 200, Holy Cross|
|WR - Anthony Warrum, senior, 6-2, 190, Illinois State|
|TE - Phazahn Odom, graduate, 6-8, 245, Fordham|
|OL - Kyle Avaloy, senior, 6-5, 330, Illinois State|
|OL - Armando Bonheur, senior, 6-3, 300, Samford|
|OL - Sam Ekwonike, senior, 6-2, 350, Coastal Carolina|
|OL - Justin Lea, junior, 6-4, 295, Jacksonville State|
|OL - Timon Parris, junior, 6-5, 310, Stony Brook|
|OL - Bret Treadway, senior, 6-3, 280, Lamar|
|DL - Isaiah Golden, junior, 6-2, 335, McNeese State|
|DL - Javancy Jones, senior, 6-2, 230, Jackson State|
|DL - Ebenezer Ogundeko, junior, 6-3, 255, Tennessee State|
|DL - Patrick Ricard, senior, 6-3, 285, Maine|
|LB - Sam Denmark, junior, 6-1, 230, Abilene Christian|
|LB - Chad Geter, graduate, 6-2, 253, Gardner-Webb|
|LB - Darius Leonard, junior, 6-3, 200, South Carolina State|
|LB - Nakevion Neslie, senior, 5-11, 220, Chattanooga|
|LB - Brett Taylor, junior, 6-2, 230, Western Illinois|
|DB - Jamerson Blount, senior, 6-0, 180, Samford|
|DB - Xavier Coleman, senior, 5-11, 190, Portland State|
|DB - Jihaad Pretlow, senior, 5-11, 195, Fordham|
|DB - Taylor Reynolds, senior, 6-0, 190, James Madison|
|PK - Zak Kennedy, sophomore, 6-0, 160, Youngstown State|
|P - Alex Knight, senior, 6-1, 199, Southeast Missouri|
|LS - James Fisher, junior, 6-2, 212, North Dakota State|
|KR - Devin Brown, senior, 5-8, 170, Coastal Carolina|
|PR - Christian Searles, junior, 5-9, 178, Dayton|
|AP - Martez Carter, junior, 5-8, 175, Grambling State|
|AP - Justice Shelton-Mosley, sophomore, 5-10, 170, Harvard|