Steele releases preseason All-MAC team (updated)

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Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann was named to Phil Steele's preseason All-MAC team on Wednesday. (Scott Walstrom – NIU Media Services)

It's May 19, which means it must be time for ridiculously early preseason football all-conference teams, plus a dash of way-too-early criticism of said preseason picks.

Phil Steele is the first one on deck. He released his preseason All-MAC team Wednesday, with some curious choices.

Steele has a first through fourth team and an honorable mention team. Only one Huskie – running back Chad Spann – appears on the first team. The only three players on the second team are quarterback Chandler Harnish, left tackle Trevor Olson and linebacker Alex Kube.

Just to make this clear, NIU's defense last year was first in the MAC total defense, third in scoring, third in rushing defense, tied for second in sacks, second in opponent first downs and returns nine regular starters. Yet out of 24 available spots to put an NIU defender on the first and second teams, Steele found a place for only one.

For the record, I think Steele does an outstanding job of previewing the BCS conferences and the top level teams, but when it comes to the non-BCS schools, he leaves a lot to be desired.

Steele's third team includes NIU wide receiver Landon Cox, Tommy Davis at both kick returner and punt returner, defensive end Sean Progar and cornerbacks Chris Smith and Patrick George.

On the fourth team you'll find right guard Joe Pawlak, linebacker Pat Schiller (who might miss a significant part of the season, if not the entire season because of a torn knee ligament), safety Tracy Wilson and punter Josh Wilber. Update 1:23 p.m: I'm told that Schiller is ahead of schedule in his rehab and could be back for the conference portion of the schedule, if not sooner.

Only one Huskie was named honorable mention, and it was running back Jasmin Hopkins. Steele clearly likes that signing.

Here are Steele's teams in full, with a couple of comments from me:

First Team Offense

QB Zac Dysert, Miami (Ohio) 16 INTs, 12 TDs, 10th in the MAC in passing efficiency in 2009, but has a world of potential

RB Bernard Pierce, Temple Easy choice

RB Chad Spann, NIUAlso an easy choice

WR Eric Page, Toledo MAC teams have at least two more seasons of chasing him around

WR LaVon Brazill Ohio He torched NIU last year in Athens

WR Robert Arnheim Western Michigan, Not the best WR on his own team

TE Vaughn Charlton Temple What? He played QB last year and is now a first team tight end? What?

C Colin Miller, Central Michigan Great center, no-brainer

OG Colin Madison, Temple

OG Peter Bittner, Buffalo

OT Anthony Parker, Western Michigan

OT Brandon Brooks, Miami (Ohio)

KR James Nixon, Temple

PR LaVon Brazill, Ohio


First Team Defense

DE Adrian Robinson, Temple 12 sacks last year, arguably the best DE in the MAC

DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple

DT Almondo Sewell, Akron He's still here?

DE Robert Eddins, Ball State

LB Noah Keller, Ohio Keller's been one of the best in the conference for a long time now

LB Nick Bellore, Central Michigan So has he

LB Cobrani Mixon, Kent State I'm naming my first kid Cobrani, with a built-in nickname of Cobra

LB Elijah Joseph, Temple

CB Josh Pleasant, Kent State, His 11 pass breakups were second in the MAC last season

CB Domonic Cook, Buffalo

SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, Temple

FS Brian Lainhart, Kent State

K Matt Weller, Ohio

P Matt Rinehart, Kent State Apparently if you're named Matt, you're a good kicker/punter in the MAC. Good news for incoming NIU freshman Mathew Sims? Or does he need both T's?


Second Team Offense

QB Chandler Harnish, NIU

RB MiQuale Lewis, Ball State Yep, he's back for another season

RB Eugene Jarvis, Kent State

WR Juan Nunez, Western Michigan He's the best wideout on his team

WR Armand Robinson, Miami (Ohio)

WR Tyshon Goode, Kent State Only a sophomore

TE Ben Thayer, Eastern Michigan

C John Palumbo, Temple

OG Phillip Swanson, Western Michigan

OG Mike Ward, Akron

OT Darius Morris, Temple

OT Trevor Olson, NIU

KR Eric Page, Toledo

PR Delano Green, Temple


Second Team Defense

DE Monte Simmons, Kent State

DT Ernie Hodge, Ohio

DT Sean Murnane, Central Michigan

DE Dak Notestine, Ohio

LB Alex Kube, NIU

LB Archie Donald, Toledo

LB Brian Wagner, Akron

LB Jerrell Wedge, Miami (Ohio)

CB Brandon Stephens, Miami (Ohio)

CB Manley Waller, Akron

SS Davonte Shannon, Buffalo

FS Anthony Kokal, Miami (Ohio)

K Ian McGarvey, Ball State

P Ben Armer, Western Michigan


Third Team Offense

QB Spencer Keith, Kent State

RB Ike Nduka, Buffalo

RB Aaron Winchester, Western Michigan

WR Landon Cox, NIUAfter Page, the best WR pro prospect in the conference. He's only third team because of his numbers, not his skill, ability, size, speed, hands, etc.

WR Jordan White, Western Michigan

WR Terrence McCrae, Ohio

TE Madaris Grant, Ball State

C Ben Bojicic, Bowling Green

OG Jeff Maddux, Central Michigan

OG Michael Switzer, Ball State

OT Joe Flading, Ohio

OT Corey Woods, Akron

KR Tommy Davis, NIU

PR Tommy Davis, NIU


Third Team Defense

DE Hasan Hazime, Akron

DT Quinton Rainey, Kent State

DT Marcellis Williamson, Ohio

DE Sean Progar, NIUHe won't be here at season's end

LB Amara Kamara, Temple Best name in the conference, hands down

LB Davyd Jones, Ball State

LB Justin Winters, Buffalo

LB Matt Berning, Central Michigan

CB Chris Smith, NIU

CB Patrick George, NIU

SS Gerald Moore, Ohio

FS Doug Wiggins, Western Michigan

K A.J. Principe, Buffalo

P Scott Kovanda, Ball State


Fourth Team Offense

QB Chester Stewart, Temple. No offense to Stewart but it needs to be said. Anyone who calls the MAC the conference of quarterbacks this year doesn't know what they're talking about.

RB Willie Geter, Bowling Green

RB Dwayne Priest, Eastern Michigan

WR Jeremy LaFrance, Akron

WR Briggs Orsbon, Ball State

WR Jamal Rogers, Miami (Ohio)

TE Danny Noble, Toledo

C Kevin Kowalski, Toeldo

OG Joe Pawlak, NIU

OG Nick Clemens, Western Michigan

OT Rocky Weaver, Central Michigan

OT Mike VanDerMeulen, Toledo

KR Eric Williams, Ball State

PR Charlie Todd, Ball State


Fourth Team Defense

DE Stafford Gatling, Ohio

DT Kevin Alvarado, Bowling Green

DT Brandon Slater, Eastern Michigan

DE Freddie Bishop, Western Michigan

LB Pat Schiller, NIU

LB Mike Thomas, Akron

LB Travis Freeman, Ball State

LB Dorian Wood, Kent State

CB Charlie Todd, Ball State

CB Josh Thomas, Buffalo

SS Sean Baker, Ball State

FS Tracy Wilson, NIU Are we sure Steele didn't accidently flip-flop the third and fourth team safeties?

K Brandon McManus, Temple

P Josh Wilber, NIU


Honorable Mention Offense

QB Phil Bates, Ohio

RB Morgan Williams, Toledo

RB Jasmin Hopkins, NIU

WR Rod Streater, Temple

WR James Green, Toledo

WR Jalil Carter, Akron

TE Jordan Thompson, Ohio

C Chris Anzevino, Kent State

OG Eric Herman, Ohio

OG Nate Williams, Miami (Ohio)

OT Tyler Donahue, Bowling Green

OT Jordan Jerrold, Buffalo

KR Anthony Bowman, Kent State

PR Leneric Muldrow, Kent State


Honorable Mention Defense

DE Zach Williams, Kent State

DT Alex Johnson, Toledo

DT Chris Jones, Bowling Green

DE Doug Westbrook, Toledo

LB Steven Means, Buffalo

LB Dex Jones, Western Michigan

LB Eugene Fells, Bowling Green

LB Jamail Berry, Western Michigan

CB Marquise Liverpool, Temple

CB Daxton Swanson, Toledo

SS Dan Hartman, Kent State

FS Steven Jackson, Ohio

K Freddy Cortez, Kent State

P Brett Hartmann, Central Michigan

So what does everybody think?


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Will NIU football win the MAC this season?