The Central Connecticut football team was tabbed fourth in the 2017 Northeast Conference Football Preseason Coaches' Poll it was announced on Thursday at league's Social Media Day held at MetLife Stadium. Four Blue Devils were also named to the Preseason All-NEC Team.
Senior wide receiver Joey Fields and junior K.J. Smith return on the Central offense and led the quartet of Preseason All-NEC honorees. Senior linebacker Randall Laguerre and senior defensive back Jevon Elmore earned Preseason All-NEC honors and will help anchor the CCSU defense.
Head coach Pete Rossomando is set to begin his fourth season at the helm of the Blue Devils. Central returns a total of 18 starters, including eight on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
Fields returns after leading the Blue Devils with 46 receptions on the season, good for 732 yards and six touchdowns. He had a catch in every game and at least five catches in a game six times, including each of the last five games. He caught 28 balls in the final five games of the season.
Smith played in 11 games as a sophomore and hauled in 38 catches for 489 yards and three touchdowns. He had a four-catch, 120-yard game at Penn last season and collected at least three catches in eight games.
Leading the returnees on defense will be Laguerre who earned All-NEC First Team honors as a junior. Laguerre produced one of the best defensive seasons in school history, registering 116 total tackles in 11 games, leading the league in that category. He averaged 10.5 tackles per game and had 10 or more tackles in a game six times, including a season-high 14 against Wagner. He did not have fewer than seven tackles in a game all season and also recovered two fumbles, an interception and a pair of sacks.
Elmore returns for Central after missing last season. He earned STATS FCS All-America Third Team honors in 2015 after compiling 71 tackles, including three for a loss. He played in all 11 games and was second on the team in interceptions with two, and posted an impressive 16 pass break-ups on the year, leading the NEC and finishing second in the country in that category.
Duquesne collected four first-place votes and was tabbed the league's preseason favorite.
Central kicks off the 2017 on Friday, Sept. 1, at Syracuse. CCSU's home opener will take place on Saturday, Sept. 9, vs. Fordham.
COMPLETE PRESEASON POLL
1. Duquesne (4)
2. Saint Francis (1)
3. Wagner (2)
4. Central Connecticut
5. Sacred Heart
7. Robert Morris
First-place votes in parentheses ( ).