Conference USA Celebrates 2012 Football Media Day in Irving

by BoCarter | Posted on Thursday, July 26th, 2012

SMU head coach June Jones knows Conference USA is packed with football talent in 2012.
That’s why when he glanced at several of the standouts present at 2012 CUSA Media Day July 25 in Irving, he liked what he saw but realized SMU has a tough hill to climb to make a school-record fourth consecutive bowl appearance this season.
“Yes, there are some great players in this conference,” he noted, “and I have one of the best with me today (Wednesday) in (RB) Zach Line. He has been a major reason for our success the last three seasons.”
Line, blushing a little from the solid praise during one of the live online segments of media day, also is pumped about his senior season after being consensus All-CUSA the last two seasons and all-conference as a freshman in 2009.  “We’re excited and know we have a challenging schedule early,” Line explained, “but this team is working extremely hard and has worked hard since right after our bowl win (27-9 over Pittsburgh in the 2012 BBVA Compass Bank Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.). The seniors know how much effort is involved, and we really like to play marquee opponents like Baylor, TCU and Texas A&M.” Jones also expressed pleasure in the support given the program in recent months again by the SMU administration and new director of athletics Rick Hart. “When our staff first came to SMU,” the head coach related, “it was a case of knowing that we could win on the football side. We just had to change the mindset of everyone to accepting that we could win and be successful at SMU.” His SMU RB standout (seventh nationally in individual rushing with 122.4 yards per game and a league-most 17 rushing touchdowns in 10 games before being sideline against Navy with three contests remaining) was just one of a number of nationally-know stars from CUSA as the league looks to equal or improve on five bowl contestants and two teams with 12 wins (13-1 Houston, winner over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl, and defending champion 12-2 Southern Miss). The SMU coach feels the Ponies should be back in postseason contention in ’12 with the arrival of former Texas QB Garrett Gilbert. “Garrett ran the ball more often at Texas the last two years than we expect him to run the ball here,” Jones stated. “Our offense does stress more passing, and he has proven that he can throw accurately as well as run. We’re very glad he came here this year.”
Some of the others who could be key to their Conference USA contenders’ chances and on the dais at media day are:  DB Damon Magazu of East Carolina returns as only secondary starter for the Pirates. Her already has a game-winning pass interception against Atlantic Coast Conference power NC State as a freshman in 2009 and can play both strong and free safety. He already has All-CUSA recognition and a heart resume’.  OL Jacolby Ashworth of   is a 6-4, 300-pound earth mover for the Cougars, started all 14 games (13 wins) and provided excellent protection for the nation’s leading passing yardage team (450.1 yards per game), Ashworth also aided UH to a NCAA-best 599 total offense yards each outing and a 49.3 scoring average.  WR Aaron Dobson of Marshall is yet another pre-2012 All-CUSA performer with outstanding credentials. He paced the Thundering Herd in receiving last season with 49 catches for 668 yards and 12 TDs (second in the circuit) while he was MVP in Marshall’s 20-10 win in the Beef `O’ Brady’s Bowl over FIU with a pair of TD receptions.
LB Akeem Davis of Memphis has a chance to help pace the Tigers back to some of the 1970s-1990s glory days. He was second on the squad with 78 tackles (57 solos) in 2011 and also played extensively at nickleback in the five DB schemes. He also forced turnovers in four consecutive games at one point.
TE Luke Willson of Rice is a professional baseball standout in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and 2012 John Mackey Award watch list participant. He had a big hand in the Owls’ 2011 offense with 29 catches for 313 yards and three TD snares. He was a second team All-CUSA choice during 2011.
WR Tracy Lampley of Southern Miss is one of the nation’s premier all-purpose yards’ producers after excelling in multiple categories as a junior. He had 1,798 total yards – 463 rushing, 574 receiving, 356 on punt returns, and 405 kick return yards. He finished the regular campaign with 200-yards-plus showings against both Memphis (251) and Houston (240).  QB Ryan Griffin of Tulane is a sterling senior from Westlake Village, Calif., with some of the top three-year passing numbers in Green Wave history. He enters 2012 with 591-of-1002 passing (59 percent completion rate), 6,255 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions. He also has one reception for a 15-yard TD.  DB Dexter McCoil of Tulsa is a three-year starter with 37 career games and a bucketful of individual honors. The all-conference defender and All-America candidate already holds the Golden Hurricane school record with career 13 interceptions to complement 225 tackles and 18 pass deflections. He is a preseason watch list candidate for both the Nagurski and Thorpe Awards.  OT CHRIS HUBBARD of UAB is another one of the most underrated interior line prospects in the countries and earned a starting spot as a sophomore. He quickly has ascended as the leader of a revamped Blazers’ offensive front after starting all 12 games a year ago and offsetting All-CUSA OT Matt McCants.  RB Latavius Murray of UCF has lived up to expectations for the Bulls after gaining 549 yards on 98 carries with eight TDs in ’11 with on a pass-first offense. Murray balanced his rushing prowess with 17 catches for 242 yards and could be even more dangerous in that aspect this fall. He had five receptions against SMU in 2011.
QB Nick Lamaison of UTEP is another golden prospect from California with a rifle arm and signalcalling wits to match. Though he missed his final three games with an injury, he still completed 130 of 224 passes for 1,718 yards and 12 TDs and passed for 365 yards in the 2011 opener against Stony Brook – the most by a Miners’ QB since 1986.
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