Four Football Players Named Preseason All-America


Liberty's Kevin Fogg and Richard Wright, Gardner-Webb's Hudson Smith and Coastal Carolina's Quinn Backus were among the 98 players named to the Sports Network FCS Preseason All-America listing, which was released earlier today.

Wright was a first-team selection at long snapper, while Fogg was a second-team honoree as a kickoff return specialist.  Smith was a second-team selection at long snapper, with Backus receiving third-team honors at linebacker.

A total of 59 FCS programs had players named to the Sports Network FCS Preseason All-America teams (first, second and third), with 22 programs having multiple selections.  Two-time defending NCAA FCS national champion North Dakota State led all programs with five All-Americans on the preseason honors list.

Wright, Liberty's three-year starter at long snapper, is a two-time Big South First-Team All-Conference honoree (2011 and 2012) and was named a College Sporting News Fabulous Fifty FCS All-America first-team selection in 2011.  Wright has worked with many decorated players during his three years at Liberty, including All-America kicker Matt Bevins, plus all-conference punters Mike Larsson and Grant Bowden and kicker John Lunsford.

Last year, Wright snapped for both Lunsford and Bowden, helping the pair of first-year players earned Big South second-team all-conference accolades.

Fogg suffered a non-contact injury following four games of action in 2012, leading up to Liberty's Big South opener against Gardner-Webb and missed the rest of the season.  However, the Raleigh, N.C., native was given an additional year of eligibility when the NCAA approved his medical hardship waiver earlier this year.

Through four games in 2012, Fogg was one of Liberty's special teams and defensive leaders. The cornerback ranked third on the team with 18 tackles and was leading the Flames with 13 solo stops.  He also had recorded 2.0 tackles for a loss, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.  Fogg was also the Flames' top return specialist.  He was leading the team with 11 kickoff returns for 254 yards (23.1 average yards per return) and nine punt returns for 94 yards (10.4 average yards per return).

Fogg spotlighted his early season special teams' efforts with a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown against No. 24 Norfolk State.  It marked the fourth special teams return for a touchdown of his career.

In 2011, Fogg was a consensus All-America first-team kickoff return specialist after leading the country in kickoff return average (33.5 yards per return) and three returns for a touchdown.  He was one of only two Division I players in the country in 2011 (FCS or FBS) to return three kickoffs for a touchdown.  He was named a first-team All-American by the Sports Network, College Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation.  Fogg was a Sports Network FCS Preseason All-America first-team honoree last year as a kickoff return specialist.

Smith also excels as a starting tight end for the Runnin' Bulldogs, and has seen time as a starter at both defensive end and running back during his time in Boiling Springs.  The 6-foot-1, 250-pound standout is a two-time All-Big South Conference selection as a long snapper, and was also a preseason All-America at the position in 2011 (College Sporting News).

An excellent blocker on offense, Smith caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown last season and collected three special teams tackles (two solo).  He helped punter Bo Lindsey rank in the top-20 nationally in yards per attempt, with Lindsey earning 2012 All-Big South honors as a result.  In 2010 Smith posted 11 carries for 35 yards at running back and combined for 23 total tackles (nine solo), a fumble recovery, 4.0 tackles for loss and a half sack between time at defensive end and special teams coverage units. He had five special teams stops in 2011.

Smith is part of one of the nation's top tight end groups, teaming with first-team All-Big South tight end Seth Cranfill (6-4, 235, R-Jr.), veteran Don Manning (6-1, 262, R-Sr.) and newcomer Mike Estes (6-4, 245, R-Fr.).  Smith is currently serving as president of Gardner-Webb's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and is currently enrolled as a graduate student in the Godbold School of Business at Gardner-Webb.  He graduated with an undergraduate degree in business administration in December, 2012.

Backus is coming off a record-setting 2012 campaign.  He was named third team All-America by The Sports Network, Big South Defensive Player of the Year and first team All-Big South.  The Greenwood, S.C., native set a league record by being named Big South Defensive Player of the Week five times in one season.  He additionally set a CCU record with 139 tackles, which ranks second on the Big South single-season list.  Backus ranked 16th in the nation and second in the league with 10.69 tackles per game.  He was the only player in the nation ranked among the NCAA top 30 in tackles to have at least 100 tackles (139), 5.0 tackles for loss (8.0), 2.0 sacks (2.5), two interceptions (2), two pass breakups (4), two forced fumbles (3) and two fumbles received (2).