(STATS) - Last season was the year for the FCS wide receiver. This season might be the year of the FCS wide receiver.
Eastern Washington senior Cooper Kupp led the way on the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team, announced Monday. He's been named a first-team All-American for three consecutive seasons, and last year he became only the second wide receiver to earn the national offensive player of the year award.
South Dakota State junior Jake Wieneke rejoined Kupp as the other the preseason wide receiver after also being selected to the STATS All-America first team last season.
The preseason squad is 99 players deep spread across three teams. All 13 conferences and 63 schools had selections, and they included seven wide receivers who earned a form of All-America honors last year. It's such a big season of top wide receivers that 11 of the 14 who surpassed 1,000 receiving yards last year, as well as the next three on the final national receiving chart, are back to damage defenses again.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kupp caught 114 passes for 1,642 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior - leading the nation in each category. On pace to hold all the major receiving records in FCS history, he already owns 18 school, eight Big Sky Conference and seven NCAA records.
"I'd be shocked if you could show me a better receiver at any level in the country," Eastern Washington coach Beau Baldwin said.
The 6-4, 210-pound Wieneke was second nationally in receiving yards (1,472), a total he grabbed off 72 receptions with 11 touchdowns. His 20.4 yards per catch ranked fourth in the nation.
Kupp and Wieneke were two of 13 returning first-team All-Americans named to the preseason squad. Every conference had at least one first-team selection, and overall 46 players who gained STATS All-America honors in December return this season.
Also returning to the first-team offense were Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins, running backs Chase Edmonds from Fordham and Kade Harrington of Lamar, The Citadel fullback Tyler Renew and Chattanooga offensive linemen Corey Levin.
Harrington led the FCS in rushing yards (2,092) and Edmonds paced in touchdowns (25), while Jenkins fueled Jacksonville State to the national championship game. They finished second, fourth and sixth, respectively, behind Kupp in voting for STATS offensive player of the year.
Duquesne linebacker Christian Kuntz and The Citadel cornerback Dee Delaney returned to the first-team defense - they were 11th and 16th in voting for the STATS defensive player of the year.
William & Mary place-kicker Nick Dorka, Indiana State long snapper Joshua Appel, Southern kick returner Willie Quinn and North Carolina A&T punt returner Khris Gardin were named to the first-team special teams again.
The rest of the preseason first-team offense consisted of Drake tight end Eric Saubert and offensive linemen Erik Austell of Charleston Southern, Julie'n Davenport of Bucknell, Casey Dunn of Jacksonville State and Zach Johnson of North Dakota State.
Also on the first-team defense were defensive linemen Keionta Davis of Chattanooga, P.J. Hall of Sam Houston State, Derek Rivers of Youngstown State and Karter Schult of Northern Iowa; linebackers Andrew Ankrah of James Madison, Dylan Cole of Missouri State and Nick DeLuca of North Dakota State; and defensive backs Casey DeAndrade of New Hampshire, David Jones of Richmond and Donald Payne of Stetson.
Completing the first-team special teams were Cornell punter Chris Fraser and all-purpose back John Santiago of North Dakota.North Dakota State, which has won the last five FCS national championships, was one of four teams to boast four preseason All-Americans. The others were Charleston Southern, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State.
Among FCS conferences, the Missouri Valley had the most All-America selections with 16. CAA Football (13) and the Southern Conference (11) also reached double figures.
They were followed by the Big Sky with nine, Ohio Valley with eight, Southland with seven, Big South and Patriot League with six each, Mid-Eastern Athletic with five, Ivy League, Northeast and Southwestern Athletic with four each, and Pioneer League with three. Coastal Carolina, which is transitioning to the FBS as an FCS independent, also had three All-Americans.
STATS FCS PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM=
QB - Eli Jenkins, senior, 6-2, 205, Jacksonville State
RB - Chase Edmonds, junior, 5-9, 196, Fordham
RB - Kade Harrington, senior, 5-9, 190, Lamar
FB - Tyler Renew, senior, 5-11, 217, The Citadel
WR - Cooper Kupp, senior, 6-2, 210, Eastern Washington
WR - Jake Wieneke, junior, 6-4, 210, South Dakota State
TE - Eric Saubert, senior, 6-4, 242, Drake
OL - Erik Austell, junior, 6-3, 285, Charleston Southern
OL - Julie'n Davenport, senior, 6-7, 315, Bucknell
OL - Casey Dunn, senior, 6-3, 285, Jacksonville State
OL - Zack Johnson, senior, 6-4, 329, North Dakota State
OL - Corey Levin, senior, 6-5, 305, Chattanooga
DL - Keionta Davis, senior, 6-4, 260, Chattanooga
DL - P.J. Hall, junior, 6-1, 280, Sam Houston State
DL - Derek Rivers, senior, 6-5, 255, Youngstown State
DL - Karter Schult, senior, 6-2, 265, Northern Iowa
LB - Andrew Ankrah, junior, 6-4, 234, James Madison
LB - Dylan Cole, senior, 6-1, 236, Missouri State
LB - Nick DeLuca, senior, 6-3, 245, North Dakota State
LB - Christian Kuntz, senior, 6-1, 220, Duquesne
DB - Casey DeAndrade, senior, 5-11, 212, New Hampshire
DB - Dee Delaney, junior, 6-1, 191, The Citadel
DB - David Jones, senior, 6-1, 187, Richmond
DB - Donald Payne, senior, 6-1, 217, Stetson
PK - Nick Dorka, junior, 6-0, 180, William & Mary
P - Chris Fraser, senior, 6-2, 211, Cornell
LS - Joshua Appel, senior, 6-2, 250, Indiana State
KR - Willie Quinn, graduate, 5-5, 145, Southern
PR - Khris Gardin, junior, 5-7, 158, North Carolina A&T
AP - John Santiago, sophomore, 5-9, 170, North Dakota
QB - Case Cookus, sophomore, 6-4, 200, Northern Arizona
RB - Kendell Anderson, senior, 5-9, 200, William & Mary
RB - Tarik Cohen, senior, 5-6, 173, North Carolina A&T
RB - De'Angelo Henderson, senior, 5-8, 205, Coastal Carolina
FB - Joe Protheroe, junior, 6-0, 225, Cal Poly
WR - Josh Barge, senior, 6-1, 178, Jacksonville State
WR - Emmanuel Butler, junior, 6-3, 210, Northern Arizona
WR - Justin Watson, junior, 6-3, 210, Penn
TE - Dallas Goedert, junior, 6-5, 245, South Dakota State
OL - Mitch Kirsch, senior, 6-6, 300, James Madison
OL - Javarius Leamon, senior, 6-7, 310, South Carolina State
OL - Brandon Parker, junior, 6-7, 279, North Carolina A&T
OL - Mark Spelman, senior, 6-3, 280, Illinois State
OL - Anton Wahrby, senior, 6-5, 300, Wofford
DL - Pat Afriyie, junior, 6-2, 235, Colgate
DL - Anthony Ellis, junior, 6-1, 245, Charleston Southern
DL - Caleb Kidder, senior, 6-5, 275, Montana
DL - Tanoh Kpassagnon, senior, 6-7, 275, Villanova
DL - Greg Menard, junior, 6-2, 240, North Dakota State
LB - Kourtney Berry, senior, 6-0, 215, Alabama State
LB - Omar Howard, senior, 6-0, 231, Richmond
LB - Mike Needham, junior, 6-4, 210, Southern Utah
LB - Folarin Orimolade, senior, 5-11, 240, Dartmouth
LB - James Rentz, senior, 6-2, 245, Sacred Heart
DB - LeRoy Alexander, senior, 6-0, 195, Youngstown State
DB - Mike Basile, junior, 6-1, 200, Monmouth
DB - Trey Robinson, senior, 6-1, 212, Furman
DB - Tremon Smith, junior, 6-0, 185, Central Arkansas
PK - Lance Geesey, senior, 5-10, 180, Saint Francis
P - Keith Wrzuszczak, junior, 5-11, 194, Eastern Kentucky
LS - Joseph Smith, senior, 6-3, 200, Charleston Southern
KR - Lorenzo Jerome, senior, 6-0, 195, Saint Francis
PR - Ellis Onic II, junior, 5-6, 163, Northern Colorado
AP - Darius Hammond, senior, 5-10, 192, Charleston Southern
QB - KD Humphries, senior, 6-3, 225, Murray State
RB - Corey Avery, junior, 5-10, 190, Sam Houston State
RB - Derrick Craine, senior, 5-10, 205, Chattanooga
RB - Darius Victor, senior, 5-8, 227, Towson
FB - Lorenzo Long, senior, 5-9, 210, Wofford
WR - Brian Brown, senior, 6-1, 198, Richmond
WR - Brendan Flaherty, senior, 6-2, 200, Holy Cross
WR - Anthony Warrum, senior, 6-2, 190, Illinois State
TE - Phazahn Odom, graduate, 6-8, 245, Fordham
OL - Kyle Avaloy, senior, 6-5, 330, Illinois State
OL - Armando Bonheur, senior, 6-3, 300, Samford
OL - Sam Ekwonike, senior, 6-2, 350, Coastal Carolina
OL - Justin Lea, junior, 6-4, 295, Jacksonville State
OL - Timon Parris, junior, 6-5, 310, Stony Brook
OL - Bret Treadway, senior, 6-3, 280, Lamar
DL - Isaiah Golden, junior, 6-2, 335, McNeese State
DL - Javancy Jones, senior, 6-2, 230, Jackson State
DL - Ebenezer Ogundeko, junior, 6-3, 255, Tennessee State
DL - Patrick Ricard, senior, 6-3, 285, Maine
LB - Sam Denmark, junior, 6-1, 230, Abilene Christian
LB - Chad Geter, graduate, 6-2, 253, Gardner-Webb
LB - Darius Leonard, junior, 6-3, 200, South Carolina State
LB - Nakevion Neslie, senior, 5-11, 220, Chattanooga
LB - Brett Taylor, junior, 6-2, 230, Western Illinois
DB - Jamerson Blount, senior, 6-0, 180, Samford
DB - Xavier Coleman, senior, 5-11, 190, Portland State
DB - Jihaad Pretlow, senior, 5-11, 195, Fordham
DB - Taylor Reynolds, senior, 6-0, 190, James Madison
PK - Zak Kennedy, sophomore, 6-0, 160, Youngstown State
P - Alex Knight, senior, 6-1, 199, Southeast Missouri
LS - James Fisher, junior, 6-2, 212, North Dakota State
KR - Devin Brown, senior, 5-8, 170, Coastal Carolina
PR - Christian Searles, junior, 5-9, 178, Dayton
AP - Martez Carter, junior, 5-8, 175, Grambling State
AP - Justice Shelton-Mosley, sophomore, 5-10, 170, Harvard