Preseason All-MAC Prospectus Team of 2018, Season Predictions

With MAC Media Day one week away, it’s time to present the Preseason All-MAC Prospectus Team of 2018 along with my divisional predictions.

Since this is my first time ever doing these on MAC Prospectus, I’ve decided to put my little spin on the project. It’s still just a simple-looking list with three teams of 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players and some special teams players. I’ve also added a few categories for top offensive and defensive players, top coach and some other ones that I’ll let you know about later. These aren’t categories that I’m really relying on things I’ve read and the college football community has shared around, these are some categories I came up with and felt like these other groups deserve some attention.

On offense, each team will have 11 total players: a quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end and five offensive linemen.

Many publications will post a group of 15 offensive linemen together for three teams worth (or 20 for four teams) of talent, but in here, I’ve decided to make things more position-specific by listing three left tackles, three left guards, and so on through the right side. The reason for this is because I want to avoid the 15 slots to be taken up by, say, 10 total players from two different position groups (left tackle and center).

The defensive side of the ball will field two defensive tackles, two defensive ends, middle and weak-side linebackers, one hybrid player, two cornerbacks, a strong safety and a free safety. Again, trying to be more position-specific here.

After the special teams section lists off a few players, the Award section will show my picks for the traditional year-end awards — Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, Freshman, Coach — and a few others that I added, too. Here are the extras found on my list:

The Newcomer of the Year Award goes out to the player who has made (or in this case, who will make) the biggest contribution to his team in the same year he entered into the program. Since comparing offensive players to defensive players is impossible, I’ve split them up between offensive and defensive newcomers.

The Comeback Player of the Year Award goes out to the player to best bounce back from a shortened season the year before, probably by an injury.

The Coordinator of the Year Award goes out to the top coordinator of the season. This doesn’t include recruiting coordinator, just on-field coordinators.

Introducing the Preseason All-MAC Prospectus Team of 2018

Potential Standings Prediction

One thing to keep in mind here is that just because there are only two divisional champions listed here, that doesn’t mean I don’t think low of the other 10 teams. For more context in how I view these teams heading into 2018, I’ve decided to add degrees of variance next to each team listed, ranging from low to medium to high.

The two teams I have picked to win their respective divisions are NIU out of the West and Buffalo out of the East.

MAC West MAC East
1 NIU (med) Buffalo (high)
2 Toledo (high) Ohio (med)
3 EMU (high) Miami (high)
4 WMU (high) BGSU (high)
5 CMU (med) Akron (med)
6 Ball State (low) Kent State (low)

The Huskies have proven themselves to always be the center of attention of the yearly divisional races, even in the years when they weren’t the best team out of the West. This year, NIU’s quarterback situation is favorable with Marcus Childers entering his second year as a starter with an experienced, talented group of receivers to throw to behind a proven offensive line led by Max Scharping, Nathan Veloz and Jordan Steckler. Plus, the defense is always lethal and Smith is just a junior.

Buffalo’s got a lot of pieces at the top of its depth chart — Tyree Jackson, Anthony Johnson, James O’Hagan, Khalil Hodge and Chuck Harris, namely — but can Buffalo make enough changes for this to become the perfect storm? If Buffalo can at least show some improvements running the ball and stopping the run on defense, then there’s plenty of talent in important positions to with the crucial in-league games. [Buffalo absolutely needs to see improvement in these areas for the Bulls to punch their ticket to Detroit.]

High-variance teams: Bowling Green, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami, Toledo, Western Michigan

BGSU should look very different with new blood coming in at wide receiver, quarterback Jarrett Doege only a sophomore and Carl Pelini taking over the defense. The program’s seen some talented recruiting classes over the years too, so they’re bound to break through in some fashion. EMU’s defense should repeat as having another stellar year, but the offense is up in the air. Miami, Toledo, WMU should all contend for divisional and league titles, but they each need strong defensive performances throughout the year. Of the trio, Miami’s the best bet to have another strong year on defense, but Toledo could explode on offense (again) if quarterbacks and running backs play cooperate.

Medium-variance teams: Akron, Central Michigan, NIU, Ohio

Two very different groups of teams here. NIU and Ohio are both popular picks to win their respective divisions (I have Ohio second in the East, but I don’t feel that strongly about it), then Akron and Central Michigan are both here as my fifth-place picks for the East and West. I don’t see NIU or Ohio slipping any further than second place in their divisions this year and I don’t see Akron or CMU getting up to third place in their divisions since they both have questionable offenses.

Low-variance teams: Ball State, Kent State

Both Ball State and Kent State finish last out of the West and East. Both programs have made enough changes over the offseason in terms of signing classes, playbooks and coaching staffs, but I’ll wait and see how these teams play in September before I start drinking the Kool-Aid on them. Even if they have some exciting plays early on, there’s a good chance these teams are still the cellar dwellers through 2018, but that certainly doesn’t have to be the case when we re-examine these squads entering 2019.

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