Football focus ramps up as Tech gets C-USA, national mentions

Monday brought accolades and attention to the Louisiana Tech football team on a conference and national level.

C-USA POLL: Louisiana Tech was picked to finish third in Conference USA’s West Division in a preseason vote conducted by a panel of media members that cover C-USA schools.

The panel forecast a rematch of the 2020 C-USA Championship Game, selecting Marshall and last year’s conference champions, UAB, to win their divisions, respectively.

Louisiana Tech went 5-5 in 2020, 4-2 in C-USA play. The Bulldogs made their seventh-straight bowl appearance at the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Tech returns 55 letter winners, including 17 starters.

UAB was tabbed the preseason favorite in the West Division, followed by UTSA, LA Tech, Southern Miss, Rice, North Texas and UTEP.

FIVE ‘DOGS ON C-USA WATCH LIST: Conference USA released the 2021 preseason watch list, as selected by the league’s 14 head coaches, on Monday. Five student-athletes from each of the conference’s 14 member institutions were recognized as key players to watch ahead of the 2021 season.

Louisiana Tech graduate transfer running back Marcus Williams Jr., senior linebacker Trey Baldwin, junior offensive lineman Joshua Mote, sophomore defensive back Bee Jay Williamson and sophomore punt returner Smoke Harris were named to the 2021 preseason watch list.

Williams transferred to Louisiana Tech from App State where he appeared in 42 games and made six starts, two last season. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native rushed for 2,216 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and had six career-games with 100-plus rushing yards.

Baldwin was named second team all-C-USA and earned a spot on the Phil Steele All-Conference USA third team in 2020. The Orange, Texas, native finished the season second on the team with 85 total tackles, including a team-best 53 solo tackles.

Oak Grove product Mote was an all-Conference USA honorable mention in 2020 and earned a spot on the Phil Steele All-Conference USA Fourth Team. He was part of an offensive front that ranked first in C-USA and second in the FBS in fourth down conversions at 88.9 percent (16-of-18).

Williamson was named first team all-Conference USA by both the league and Phil Steele in 2020. The native of Dallas was third on the team with 56 total tackles, including 32 solo, while also registering 2.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, three interceptions, three pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.

Harris was named second team all-C-USA and Phil Steele All-Conference USA First Team as a punt returner in 2020. During the campaign, he averaged 21.50 yards per return after returning six punts.

GRUBBS GETS NATIONAL NOTICE: Bulldogs’ linebacker Tyler Grubbs was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List as announced by the Maxwell Football Club on Monday.

Grubbs was a 2020 FWAA, ESPN and Freshman All-American. As a true freshman, Grubbs was named first team all-Conference USA by both the league and Phil Steele while also earning a spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman team.

The New Orleans native registered a team-best 99 tackles and finished second on the team in both solo tackles (45) and tackles for loss (9.5) as a true freshman.

PHOTO: by Tom Morris.

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