Photo by Ethan Torres/provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
BELTON- It has begun to be an expected order each year when the ASC Preseason Poll is released: UMHB at No. 1, and league rival Hardin-Simmons at No. 2. Both programs have had their share of successes within the last decade, and together accumulated the 18 total first-place votes in the 2022 version of the poll, which was released Wednesday.
UMHB was picked to repeat as conference champions, though not by a wide margin. The Cru earned 15 first-place votes from league head coaches and sports information directors, and tallied 159 points. HSU was selected No. 2, just 13 points back, with 146, and three first-place votes.
Also surpassing the 100-point mark was No. 3 Howard Payne (118) and ETBU (104).
The complete ASC Preseason Poll is below (Points are earned by each team according to where each voter slotted them in their individual poll):
- UMHB (159)
- Hardin-Simmons (146)
- Howard Payne (118)
- East Texas Baptist (104)
- Southwestern (84)
- Texas Lutheran (78)
- McMurry (62)
- Sul Ross State (37)
- Austin (31)
UMHB opens its season on Sept. 3 in a non-conference duel against No. 11 Muhlenberg in Belton. Notably, the Cru will face the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the ASC poll on the road this season, traveling to HSU on Sept. 24, HPU on Nov. 5, and ETBU on Oct. 8.
The Crusaders also swept the ASC Preseason Awards, as quarterback Kyle King earned the Offensive award, defensive tackle Pete Smith was selected for the Defensive award, and K.J. Miller earned the Special Teams Preseason Player of the Year honor.
King and Miller were each named to the D3football.com Preseason All-America team on Monday as well, with King being selected as a First Team quarterback, and Miller a Second Team returner. Smith is back for his fifth season after playing in all 15 games in 2021, and earning a Third Team All-ASC selection.
Joining the trio on the “Players to Watch” list released by the ASC was defensive end Sante Parker Jr., a team captain this fall, entering his senior season. He recorded 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks a year ago, and is expected to play a key role on the Cru defense, which will have several new starters this season.
The Cru have been picked to win the ASC in the conference’s preseason poll every year dating back to 2010. (Records for preseason polls prior could not be found).