Athletic Media Relations
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Georgia Southern University landed four players on the preseason all-Southern Conference football teams.
All four Eagles were named to the first team, as announced at the 2008 Southern Conference Football Rouser.
Led by second year head coach Chris Hatcher, the Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches, and third by the SoCon Sports Media Association. Georgia Southern returns 13 starters off last year’s 7-4 team (4-3 SoCon) that finished one game shy of sharing the league title and receiving the automatic berth to the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Senior defensive end Larry Beard (Fairburn-Sandy Creek), senior defensive back Chris Covington (Lawrenceville-Brookwood), senior kicker Jesse Hartley (Tallahassee, Fla.-Lincoln) and junior defensive back Carson Hill (Milledgeville-Baldwin County) represented Georgia Southern on the preseason squad. Last year Beard and Covington (Sports Media Association/Second Team by coaches) earned first team honors from the SoCon Sports Media Association while Hartley was a second team pick. Beard and Covington were named to the coaches’ all-SoCon second team.
Beard recorded 32 tackles last year playing in all 11 games. He recorded six tackles for a loss, four sacks, four pass break-ups and three fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown (South Dakota State). Beard has recorded 78 tackles during his first three years, including 13.5 for a loss.
An honorable mention all-America pick last season, Covington ranked among the national leaders in interceptions last year, his first on defense, recording four (91 return yards). He led the Eagles recording 66 tackles, including five for a loss, in 11 games. The senior defensive back broke up four passes and forced two fumbles.
Hartley set a record converting 47 straight extra points in as many attempts last year. Another honorable mention all-America pick last season, he also tied a Georgia Southern record hitting 17 field goals (in 24 attempts). Among the national leaders Hartley finished seventh in field goals (1.6 per game) and 16th in scoring (8.9 points per game).
Hill intercepted three passes (36 return yards) while recording 33 tackles last year in just seven games. During the Eagles’ 38-35 win at Appalachian State, Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury but is expected to be ready for this year. Hill made four tackles for a loss, broke up five passes and forced a fumble.
Georgia Southern tallied 44 points in a close race for spots 2-6 in the preseason poll. Defending national champion Appalachian State received eight first-place votes totaling 64 points. Elon received the other first-place vote and finished with 47 points. Wofford (45), the Eagles (44), Furman (41) and The Citadel (37) ranked in the top six, respectively. Chattanooga (19), Western Carolina (17) and league newcomer Samford (10) rounded out the poll.
According to the SoCon Sports Media Association the Eagles moved up a spot to third. ASU tallied 29-of-30 first-place votes for 268 points. Elon was next with 215 points, followed by the Eagles — who received the other vote for first place — totaling 191 points. Wofford (185), Furman (158), The Citadel (148), Chattanooga (83), Western Carolina (53) and Samford (49) rounded out that poll.