McNeese Cowboys football ranked No. 24 by Athlon Sports
The first of several football preseason publications released its 2017 Football Championship Subdivision preseason top 25, and the McNeese Cowboys are at No. 24 in the Athlon Sports Preseason FCS Top 25 poll, which was released recently.
Coming off a 6-5 campaign in 2016, the 12th consecutive year to post a winning season, McNeese looks to have the tools it needs to contend for a Southland Conference championship and perhaps, a national title run.
Offensively, the Cowboys return 97 percent of its offensive yards production (4,695 yards out of 4,854) that includes Southland Conference and Louisiana Newcomer of the Year, quarterback James Tabary, who threw for 3,036 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.
Also returning are the team’s top three rushers: Ryan Ross (601 yards, 5 touchdowns), Justin Pratt (457, 5 touchdowns) and Lawayne Ross (218, 2 touchdowns), who was moved to an H-back/tight end in the spring, while David Hamm, who missed the 2016 season after running for 251 yards and a score in 2015, will rejoin the team.
McNeese will return the bulk of its receiving corps, including the top five on the leaderboard, Darious Crawley (41 catches, 701 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Kent Shelby (40-509, 5 touchdowns), Kylon Highshaw (31-421, 3 touchdowns), Parker Orgeron (29-373, touchdown), and Tavarious Battiste (15-289, a touchdown in five games played). Patterson High alum and McNeese senior DeonDre Skinner also returns as a tight end.
The Cowboys added former LSU center Andy Dodd following the spring semester to help strengthen the offensive line.