Smith leads seven Rattlers named to Phil Steele MEAC preseason teams
Special to the Outlook
Florida A&M University football placed seven student-athletes on Phil Steele’s 2020 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Preseason teams announced last Friday.
Xavier Smith (wide receiver/AP), Keenan Forbes (offensive lineman), Markquese Bell (defensive back), Chris Faddoul (punter) and Christian Mastramico (long snapper) were tabbed to the first team, while Derrick Mayweather (linebacker) and David Manigo (wide receiver) earned second and third honors, respectively.
Smith, who was selected to the College Football America Yearbook’s FCS Preseason Starting Lineup, College Sports Journal Preseason FCS All-American Team and Hero Sports Preseason All-American Second Team, will look to build off his phenomenal sophomore season. He led the MEAC in receiving yards (1,159) and receptions (77). Smith was the only receiver in the MEAC to go eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark last season and was also second in the MEAC in TD receptions (11). In addition, Smith ranked fifth nationally in receiving yards per game, ninth in receptions per game, ninth in receiving yards and 16th in receiving touchdowns.
Forbes, who was named to the HERO Sports Preseason All-American Third Team, was a key member of an offensive line who did a phenomenal job in pass protection, giving up a league low eight sacks through 11 games.
Bell, who was selected to the College Sports Journal Preseason FCS All-American Team, had a remarkable 2019 campaign, which landed him as a MEAC First-Team selection and Hero Sports Sophomore Honorable Mention All-American. Bell tied for the league lead in interceptions (5) and had 38 solo tackles (61 total) with five tackles for loss.
Faddoul, who was selected to the College Football America Yearbook’s FCS Preseason Starting Lineup, College Sports Journal Preseason FCS All-American Team and Hero Sports Preseason All-American First Team, has been one of the most consistent punters over the past two years in NCAA Division I FCS. As a sophomore, he led the country in punting and during his junior campaign, the Wesley Chapel, Fla. native finished second in that category.
Last season, Faddoul showcased his powerful leg all season long by averaging 46.0 yards per punt. He registered 40 punts for 1,841 yards, with 19 punts placed inside the 20-yardline, with only five touchbacks. In addition, Faddoul had a season-long punt of 72 yards on Oct. 20 in an overtime win over nationally-ranked North Carolina A&T State.
Mastramico, earning his first preseason honor, played in all 11 games as a long snapper. On special teams, Mastramico snapped the football on 51 punts and 15 field-goal attempts last season.
Mayweather played in all 11 games last season and was third on the team in tackles with 42, including 16 solo stops. In addition, he registered 4.0 tackles for a loss of 12 yards and a half of a sack for two yards. Also, Mayweather finished with two interceptions (South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T State), one quarterback hurry, one pass breakup and one safety.
Manigo played in eight games last season and finished second on the team in receptions (41), yards (575), yards per catch (14.02), touchdowns (5) and yards per game (71.88).