MEMPHIS – Opening day of the 2018 football season is still 102 days away, but Tiger fans looking to get fired up about the upcoming season can find it in the preseason Athlon Sports Magazine soon-to-be on a bookstore shelf near you. Memphis with 13 preseason honorees on the national magazine’s all-conference teams.
The Tiger offense had seven players earn preseason honors, led by first team honors for Darrell Henderson, Joey Magnifico and Trevon Tate. Patrick Taylor and Drew Kyser earned second team honors while Damonte Coxie and Sean Dykes earned third team nods.
On defense, Curtis Akins and TJ Carter lead the Tiger pack with first team honors. Defensive lineman O’Bryan Goodson earned second team honors and outside linebacker Austin Hall grabbed third team honors.
On special teams, Tony Pollard grabbed first team honors at kick returns, while John Williams earned second team honors at punt returner.
Curtis Akins / Linebacker / 6-2 / 235 / R-Senior / Byhalia, Miss./Byhalia HS
First Team Defense: Akins has appeared in 32 career games at Memphis with 17 starts. The Byhalia, Miss., product led Memphis with 88 total tackles last year, adding 4.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He recorded double-digit tackles in two games (vs Navy and at UCF in the AAC Championship game).
T.J. Carter / Defensive Back / 5-11 / 180 / Sophomore / Nashville, Tenn./Stratford HS
First Team Defense: T.J. Carter earned a trio of freshman All-America honors last year (ESPN.com, Football Writers Association of America and USA Today). Starting all 11 games as a true freshman, Carter led the Tigers with five interceptions and finished fifth on the team with 69 total tackles. The AAC Rookie of the Year, Carter also added 11 pass breakups, two fumbles recoveries and forced one fumble. He recovered a fumble on his first career snap and finished the year as a second team all-conference defensive back in a poll of league coaches.
Damonte Coxie / Wide Receiver / 6-3 / 200 / R-Sophomore / Reserve, La./East St. John
Third Team Offense: In his first season on the playing field, Coxie appeared in all 13 games, finishing with 21 catches for 323 yards and three touchdowns. He scored his first career touchdown in the Tigers’ first game at UCF, then added scores at Tulsa and scored his first Liberty Bowl touchdown against East Carolina.
Sean Dykes / Tight End / 6-2 / 230 / Junior / Houston, Texas/Manvel HS
Second Team Offense: Memphis had two of the four tight ends on the 2018 preseason Athlon list with Sean Dykes earning second team offensive honors from the preseason magazine. Dykes appeared in all 13 games last season and finished with 15 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns. In the AAC Championship game, Dykes put up his first career 100-yard receiving day, finishing with three catches for 161 yards. His fourth quarter touchdown from Riley Ferguson in a comeback win at Houston was the go-ahead score for Memphis, who trailed 38-35 when he scored with 1:28 left in the final quarter. In two years, Dykes has appeared in 23 games.
O’Bryan Goodson / Defensive Line / 6-1 / 300 / Sophomore / Batesville, Miss./South Panola HS
Second Team Defense: Goodson appeared in 12 games in his true freshman campaign, making 10 starts. He finished with 28 total tackles, including four tackles for loss, and recorded one forced fumble and one pass defense.
Austin Hall / Outside Linebacker / 6-2 / 215 / R-Junior / Collierville, Tenn./Collierville HS
Third Team Defense: Hall has started and appeared in 24 career games in his first two seasons at Memphis. In 2017, he finished with 84 tackles, which ranked second on the team, and added three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He also broke up eight passes and recorded eight tackles for loss, which also ranked second on the team. He was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team and was named the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week and the Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week following Memphis’ win over Navy that saw him finish with 10 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one pass breakup.
Darrell Henderson / Running Back / 5-9 / 200 / R-Junior / Batesville, Miss./South Panola HS
First Team Offense: Henderson comes in to the season after putting up the first 1,000-yard rushing season since 2009 last year, finishing with 1,154 yards and nine rushing TDs in 2017. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry and 96.2 rushing yards per game last season. He also added 12 catches and two touchdowns. The Batesville, Miss., native has appeared in 25 games over his first two seasons, missing just one game, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, due to injury. His 1,636 career rushing yards heading in to 2018 is just 334 yards shy of the career top 10 at Memphis (10th-Terdell Middleton, 1973-76).
Drew Kyser / Center / 6-5 / 300 / Senior / Opelika, Ala. /Opelika HS
Second Team Offense: Kyser stepped in to the Memphis starting lineup as a true freshman and has started 38 of 39 career games at center for the Tigers. He helped block for a Memphis offense that ranked seventh in the country with 335.0 ypg and a rushing offense that averaged 197.1 ypg.
Joey Magnifico / Tight End / 6-4 / 235 / R-Junior / Cordova, Tenn./St. Benedict HS
First Team Offense: Magnifico has appeared in 26 consecutive games at Memphis after redshirting the 2015 season. The Memphis native has 30 catches for 365 yards and five touchdowns in his two seasons at Memphis and earned second team all-conference honors from the AAC coaches last year after his blocking work with a Tiger offensive unit that ranked second in the nation in scoring (45.5 ppg).
Tony Pollard / Kick Returner / 6-0 / 208 / R-Junior / Memphis, Tenn./Melrose HS
First Team Kick Returner: Pollard was named a Walter Camp All-American after leading the country with 40.0 yards per return and four kickoff return touchdowns as a sophomore in 207. The junior is expected to take on a bigger role in the Memphis offense this season, and his versatility should keep defenses on their toes as he comes in with 65 catches for 834 yards and six touchdowns and 61 rushes for 389 yards and three touchdowns. The Memphis native has appeared in all 26 games over the first two years of his career.
Trevon Tate / Offensive Line / 6-4 / 295 / Senior / Houston, Texas/North Shore HS
First Team Offense: Senior offensive lineman Trevon Tate leads the pack on offense on the first team. The senior from Houston, Texas has appeared in 39 career games at Memphis, with 34 starts, most of them at the left tackle position. He has started 24 straight games at Memphis and could be eying former teammate Gabe Kuhn’s career for starts (51). Tate was named a first-team, all-conference lineman in a vote of the American Athletic Conference coaches at the end of last season.
Patrick Taylor / Running Back / 6-3 / 223 / Junior / Humble, Texas/Atascocita HS
Second Team Offense: Taylor has appeared in 25 of 26 games in two seasons at Memphis. In 2017, he had 157 rushes for 866 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also added 19 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. He scored a career-best four touchdowns in the comeback road win at Houston, and scored two touchdowns against both SMU and ECU. He posted four 100-plus yard rushing games, including three straight at the end of conference play and in the AAC Championship game.
John “Pop” Williams / Punt Returner / 5-9 / 172 / Junior / Destrehan, La./Destrehan HS
Second Team Punt Returner: Pop Williams has appeared in 24 games dating back to his true freshman season at Memphis. Also a member of the Tigers’ wide receiving corps, Williams has 12 catches for 145 yards in 2017. On punt returns, Williams recorded 18 returns for 102 yards (5.7 ypr average), with a season-long return of 23 yards in the season-opener against UL Monroe.
The University of Memphis will begin its 2018 season with a home game on September 1st against Mercer. Season tickets are on sale now and fans who have not yet renewed their season tickets have until June 1st to renew their 2017 seats, or the seats will be released and made available for purchase by the public. To renew your tickets or to purchase new seats, call the Memphis Ticket Office at 901-678-2331 or log on HERE.