SAN ANTONIO - Tarleton Football is picked to finish fifth in the Lone Star Conference preseason poll at the LSC Football Media Day at the Marriott Riverwalk in San Antonio.
The Texans received 130 votes from the media, head coaches, and sports information directors in the conference. The Texans are coming off a 6-6 season in 2017 where they went 4-4 in the LSC and were selected to play in the Corsicana Bowl, the fifth bowl game in school history. Head coach Todd Whitten is returning 40 lettermen from last year's roster, including seven offensive starters and six defensive starters.
"We're excited about this season," said Whitten. "For me, I think more so than the previous two. I feel very blessed to be able to coach these guys. We've made improvement over each of the past two seasons. Each of the last two years, we've had small senior classes. I really think that to challenge for championships, and the championship teams that I've coached, have had really strong senior classes. That's one of the reasons I'm so excited because we'll have 30 seniors this year."
Last season, Tarleton averaged 29.9 points per game while giving up 27.7 points to opponents. The Texans averaged 370.8 yards per game and returns running back Xavier Turner, who represented the Texan offense at LSC Media Day. Turner accounted for 942 yards and 13 touchdowns, including 11 rushing scores.
Defensively, the Texans had 22 sacks and 12 interceptions last season. Tyrell Thompson, the defensive representative at LSC Media Day, led the Texans with 4.5 sacks and had 10 tackles for loss.
"Our first goal is to have a winning season and then keep stacking some wins up and have a chance to qualify for the playoffs," Whitten added.
Last year's Division II National Champion, Texas A&M-Commerce, is picked to finish first in the conference with 201 votes, while Midwestern State follows in second with 200 votes. Eastern New Mexico is third with 142 votes and Angelo State is picked right above Tarleton in fourth at 136 votes.
Texas A&M-Kingsville is picked sixth (104), West Texas A&M in seventh (73), while UT Permian Basin is eighth (57) and Western New Mexico is ninth (37).
In addition to the preseason rankings was the naming of the league's Offensive and Defensive Preseason Players of the Year. Midwestern State quarterback Layton Rabb was voted the Offensive Preseason Player of the Year while Angelo State's Markus Jones was named the Defensive Preseason Player of the Year.
Tarleton will open the 2018 season at home on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. against Delta State at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville.