Henderson lone Gator on Preseason Coaches All-SEC first team

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Florida defensive back CJ Henderson knocks a pass away from LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson during last year's game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/ The Gainesville Sun]

Special to Gatorsports.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. —Cornerback CJ Henderson is the only Florida player on the 2019 Preseason Coaches All-Southeastern Conference Football First-Team.

Making the second team were running back Lamical Perine, defensive end Jabari Zuniga, linebacker David Reese II and specialists Evan McPherson (kicker) and Tommy Townsend (punter).

Alabama placed a league-leading 16 representatives, the SEC announced Thursday. Georgia was second with 10 representatives, while Auburn and LSU each had nine.

This marks the 17th consecutive year of the SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team. Nine schools had at least one First Team All-SEC representative, including a conference-best nine from Alabama.

Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.

Henderson appeared in and started all 13 games throughout the season for the Gators, regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the entire country after totaling 38 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, three sacks, and two interceptions. The Miami, Fla. native also tallied a team-high seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles en route to garnering Coaches All-SEC Second Team accolades following the season.

Perine appeared in all 13 contests and recorded one start last season, leading the team with 134 carries, 826 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He additionally caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown, as he ranked first on the Gators in total yards (996) and second in scoring (48). Perine, a native of Mobile, Ala., was one of three players (Jordan ScarlettFeleipe Franks) who scored at least five rushing touchdowns in 2018, marking the first time Florida has accomplished the feat since 2010.

Zuniga appeared in and started all 13 games a season ago for the Gators as he totaled 45 total tackles, 11.0 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries. The Marietta, Ga. native earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors last fall following Florida’s win vs. Colorado State after he posted a career-best 2.5 sacks, five tackles and a QB hurry.

Reese II, despite missing the first three games of the season due to an ankle injury he sustained during fall camp, finished second on the team in tackles (77) and also recorded 2.5 tackles-for-loss and one fumble recovery in 2018. The senior linebacker led the Gators with 11 tackles in their win over LSU and was named to the Bednarik Award & Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch lists during the season for his efforts.

Townsend finished the 2018 season averaging 45.4 yards per punt, as he totaled 2,315 yards on 51 punts. The Orlando, Fla. native booted 14 punts of over 50 yards and registered 24 punts inside of the 20-yard line. Against LSU, he recorded a career-long 71-yard punt, which was the seventh-longest punt in Florida football history. The redshirt senior also recorded an 18-yard gain on a fake punt in Florida’s comeback win over Vanderbilt en route to being named Second Team All-SEC by Athlon Sports and being a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award. Townsend was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.

McPherson went 17-for-19 (89.5%) on field goals and ranked tied for sixth nationally and led all freshmen in field goal percentage in 2018. Among kickers with at least 15 attempts, he ranked tied for fifth nationally and went a perfect 3-for-4 on kicks 40 yards or longer and a perfect 11-for-11 on kicks between 20 and 29 yards. McPherson was the Gators’ primary kickoff specialist, netting 64.1 yards per kickoff and had a touchback percentage of 55%, while leading the Gators in scoring with 101 points. One of the 20 Lou Groza Award semifinalists, the Fort Payne, Ala. native was also named a True Freshman All-American by 247Sports.

The SEC begins its 2019 season Saturday, Aug. 24 when Florida takes on Miami at 7 p.m. ET in Orlando.

2019 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Team (* – ties)

First Team Preseason All-SEC

OFFENSE
TE
Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

OL
Andrew Thomas, Georgia
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama*
Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, Missouri*
Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn*

C
Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU

WR
Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt

QB
Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

RB
D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Najee Harris, Alabama AP
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

DEFENSE
DL
Raekwon Davis, Alabama
Derrick Brown, Auburn
Rashard Lawrence, LSU
Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

LB
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
Cale Garrett, Missouri

DB
CJ Henderson, Florida
Grant Delpit, LSU
J.R. Reed, Georgia
Trevon Diggs, Alabama*
Kristian Fulton, LSU*

SPECIAL TEAMS
PK
Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia P
Braden Mann, Texas A&M

RS
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

Second Team Preseason All-SEC

OFFENSE
TE
Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt

OL
Damien Lewis, LSU
Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
Solomon Kindley, Georgia
Isaiah Wilson, Georgia

C
Darryl Williams, Mississippi State

WR
Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
Bryan Edwards, South Carolina

QB
Jake Fromm, Georgia

RB
Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
Lamical Perine, Florida

AP
Lynn Bowden, Kentucky

DEFENSE
DL
Jabari Zuniga, Florida
Marlon Davidson, Auburn
Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
Nick Coe, Auburn

LB
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
David Reese II, Florida

DB
Xavier McKinney, Alabama
Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
DeMarkus Acy, Missouri
Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State

SPECIAL TEAMS
PK
Evan McPherson, Florida

P
Tommy Townsend, Florida

RS
Jashaun Corbin, Texas A&M*
Marquez Callaway, Tennessee*

Third Team Preseason All-SEC

OFFENSE
TE
Charlie Woerner, Georgia

OL
Yasir Durant, Missouri
Ben Cleveland, Georgia
Matt Womack, Alabama
Marquel Harrell, Auburn*
Mike Horton, Auburn* C
Drake Jackson, Kentucky

WR
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Lynn Bowden, Kentucky*
Justin Jefferson, LSU*

QB
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M

RB
Larry Rountree, Missouri
Kylin Hill, Mississippi State AP
Jashaun Corbin, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DL
McTelvin Agim, Arkansas
Chauncey Rivers, Mississippi State
Tyler Clark, Georgia
LaBryan Ray, Alabama*
Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt*
Jordan Elliott, Missouri*

LB
Michael Divinity, LSU
T.J. Brunson, South Carolina*
Darrell Taylor, Tennessee*
Jacob Phillips, LSU*

DB
Daniel Thomas, Auburn
Nigel Warrior, Tennessee
Shyheim Carter, Alabama
Kamren Curl, Arkansas*
Jaycee Horn, South Carolina*
Javaris Davis, Auburn*

SPECIAL TEAMS
PK
Tucker McCann, Missouri*
Anders Carlson, Auburn*

P
Zach Von Rosenberg, LSU

RS
Lynn Bowden, Kentucky

18 COMMENTS

  1. “Among kickers with at least 15 attempts, he ranked tied for fifth nationally and went a perfect 3-for-4 on kicks 40 yards or longer …” I did not know 3 for 4 constituted perfection. I better sign up for a math class at one of the local elementary schools.

    I bet we will have many more players on this post-season lists, when it counts.

  2. The teams we play shouldn’t even bother to practice the week of our games. We obviously don’t have any talent. I am sure every team we play will beat us easily with their all universe super stars versus our normal everyday players. I mean, look how LSU dominated us last year, and that’s all you need to know.

    • So let me get this straight — we are a Top-10 preseason team in everybody’s poll except, naturally, Dooley’s, and at the same time are a team of no-names. Fine, I can think of a ton of major league teams that have been in the same position over the years but still won it all. Snubs are sometimes the best motivation of all. I bet who ever came up with this one even has us losing to “bye week(s)”. I knew there was going to be a penalty for having the temerity to beat the hell out of Michigan!

  3. Question has anyone compared pre season to post season rosters? As Sparky said post season is all that matters. SHP math is a strong suit for me and I was wondering the same thing. Maybe they were talking about the kick ruled out that may have been in.

  4. Here is something that CDM said the other day quoted on this site. K Toney I believe is averaging over 10 yds per touch combined avg pass/rush 2018, 2017 is a little lower. Yet his overall yardage is lower because he is spreading the wealth so to speak but it is not a fluke one play stat. Perine is a little lower with more touches. Here is my point and likely one the team and coach has. IF everyone (not likely) has a average over some threshold we’ll say 8 yards. individually they won’t have those eye popping numbers that some have where they are the only or go to guy. BUT as a team if they are all that capable there won’t be that significant drop off when that ‘go to’ person leaves or is injured. Of course these are averages but T Cleveland rec 11.8 yds. Now there are players that average less but my point being if we have 3 or 4 players that cumulatively average over 10 yards a play as a total offense they will do extremely well just maybe not always as an individual. This may be why we see some players go elsewhere. But if you look at a players individual stats like Toney and they have a lower than average # total touches but a high average in yards per touch that says a lot of that individual. As CDM said maybe Toney should have the ball on every down.

    • G65, that is much more in depth, but my thought exactly. I would rather have multiple guys making plays than having to depend solely on certain players. The one complete dis that comes to mind is Marco Wilson. And at least one of our receivers deserved mention. Hope Marco goes out there and earns honors when it counts!

  5. Marco was just left off because he missed last season.

    We have guys who aren’t on the list but should have huge years: Van Jefferson, Trevon Grimes, Jonathan Greenard, Amari Burney, Kadarius Toney, Malik Davis.

    I don’t get Kellen Mond as the third team QB. Mond and Franks had very similar passing and rushing stats, with the same number of passing (24) and rushing (7) touchdowns. The glaring difference? Mond threw nine interceptions. Feleipe only threw six.

    I think its hilarious that for all their supposed star ratings and talent, these lists aren’t exactly overflowing with Georgia players. In the apparent opinion of SEC coaches, the purported roster parity between Alabama and Georgia is a myth.

  6. The Coaches All-SEC seems to mirror the writer’s poll that came out of the SEC media days, neither giving this Gator team any love. Again, as with that previous poll, it seems that our loaded receiver corps is comprised of no-talent journeymen, and Marco Wilson must have forgotten how to cover anyone at corner. The absence of Gator players on these teams is odd, particularly for a preseason top 10 team. Either the top 10 ranking is an overestimation of this team’s ability, or our players are better than they are being credited for. Which is it?

    • I think in absolute context, WGN, it’s the latter. I think also, in some sportswriter’s minds (some more local than not) we should have hired somebody flashy like Chip Kelly, therefore Dan Mullen’s players must be just as mediocre as he. Although that sounds like some wild eyed conspiracy theory, it’s not meant to be — but it is my opinion.

      But on the positive side, look at it this way: They’re saying our players are just as good as Vanderbilt’s!

  7. you can be one of the twenty best players in the country at your position and still not make the first team or maybe even the second, because the SEC is like two major conferences combined. and then you have politics to promote players from lesser programs like south Carolina ahead of deserving players on other teams in hopes of generating fan interest for the games since teams would be underdogs. likewise, you get the famous parable of the talents, rewards are disproportionate at the top in nature, like or not. hopefully some players will find this useful towards building or maintaining a reputation, other than that its just an opinion of the newspaper which really isn’t their strength.

  8. I’m not surprised that the writer’s poll and coaches poll are similar because most coaches are probably very busy this time of year, therefore they delegate the task to a staff member. This staff member who may or may not be a coach takes the safe route and mimics the writer’s poll. I still feel our players have been slighted by both polls and I hope they feel that way and use it as extra motivation to be as good as they can possibly be. An ESPN person stated on Pat’s Podcast, that he gave only a 10% chance that Bama and Jawga would “NOT” be meeting in the SEC championship. That was kind of a slap to FL, LSU and the rest of the SEC. I believe I would take the “field” on that wager.