Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
RICHARDSON, Texas- The UMHB football team enters the 2023 season as the favorite to win the American Southwest Conference title, per the ASC Preseason Poll, which was released on Monday afternoon.
Conference head coaches and sports information directors from postseason-eligible schools voted in the poll.
The Cru picked up 13 of the 14 first-place votes, and tallied 97 points after posting a 12-2 record in 2022. Hardin-Simmons came in No. 2 in the poll, with one first-place vote and 83 points. Howard Payne was selected No. 3, coming off a 7-3 campaign last season, and ETBU rounded out the top four, with 54 points. Texas Lutheran, McMurry, and Austin College rounded out the poll.
Per the press release from the ASC, Sul Ross State will not count in the conference standings and is “ineligible for both the ASC and NCAA Championships due to the Lobos reclassifying to NCAA Division II.”
UMHB was also represented in the conference’s Preseason Player of the Year awards, as linebacker Durand Hill earned the ASC’s Defensive Preseason Player of the Year and returner Matthew Jackson received the Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year honor. Howard Payne quarterback Landon McKinney earned the ASC’s Preseason Offensive Player of the Year award.
Hill, who was voted Preseason All-America by D3football.com, comes off a 2022 season in which he earned both D3football.com and Associated Press All-America honors. As a sophomore, he had 124 tackles, 71 solo tackles, and 8.5 tackles for loss.
Jackson, who broke the record for the longest punt return in program history with his 95-yard sprint for a touchdown against Texas Lutheran last season, averaged 23.11 yards per punt return in 2022. He also tallied 230 kick return yards.
Both Hill and Jackson were also UMHB’s two representatives on the ASC’s “Players To Watch” list.
ASC Preseason Poll
- UMHB (13)–97 points
- Hardin-Simmons (1)–83 points
- Howard Payne–67 points
- East Texas Baptist–54 points
- Texas Lutheran–44 points
- McMurry–26 points
- Austin–21 points
UMHB kicks off its 2023 season at UW-River Falls on Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. CT.