Belton, TX – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team has been unanimously picked to successfully defend its American Southwest Conference Championship in the league's 2012 Preseason Coaches and Media Poll. The Cru picked up all 24 first-place votes and totaled 192 points in balloting of the ASC head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members to earn preseason favorite honors for the tenth straight season. Louisiana College is the pick to finish second with 157 total points. Hardin-Simmons University was the choice at third with 149 total points and East Texas Baptist was picked fourth with 98 total points. Texas Lutheran was picked fifth with 97 total points, finishing just one point behind East Texas Baptist. Mississippi College was the choice in sixth place with 90 total points, Sul Ross State claimed 43 total points as the choice at #7 and Howard Payne is picked to finish eighth with 38 total points.
UMHB linebacker Javicz Jones was voted ASC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year. Jones, a senior from Morton Ranch High School in Katy, set a school and conference single-season record with 141 tackles last season and added 12.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Jones also returned a fumble for a touchdown against Howard Payne, intercepted two passes, forced two fumbles and blocked a kick while earning South Region Defensive Player of the Year honors. He is just the sixth player in league history to earn Preseason Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons.
Cru quarterback LiDarral Bailey was selected ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Bailey, a senior from Bremond High School, threw for a school-record 1,862 yards and 17 touchdowns and ran for 740 yards and 13 more touchdowns. He spearheaded the ASC's highest-scoring offense at 43.4 points per game and earned Honorable Mention All-Conference honors last season.
Texas Lutheran place-kicker Allen Cain was voted ASC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.
The Cru returns 46 lettermen from a team that went 12-1 overall and 8-0 in the ASC last season. UMHB welcomes back seven offensive starters and four defensive starters from a team that won its ninth ASC championship in the last ten years and advanced to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the eighth straight year. The Cru will open fall camp on August 13th, and will kick off the 2012 season at home against Kean (N.J.) University on September 8th at 6:00 PM.