Phil Steele Preseason Honors

August 08, 2012
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 8, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. -- Phil Steele's FCS preseason honors were announced on Wednesday with the ODU Football Monarchs ranking 19th in the preseason poll, punter Jonathan Plisco (Newport News, Va.), defensive tackle Chris Burnette (Baltimore, Md.), and linebacker Craig Wilkins (Washington, D.C.) earning Preseason All-America honors, and eight total Monarchs earning All-CAA preseason nods by the publication.

ODU, who went 10-3 last season, placed second in the CAA with a 6-2 mark, and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs were one of seven CAA teams featured in Phil Steele's top-40 preseason predictions. Last year's national runner-up Sam Houston State was the top preseason pick followed by James Madison at No. 2. Towson came in at No. 8, with New Hampshire at No. 11, and Delaware at No. 12. After Old Dominion at No. 19, Maine was picked at No. 30 and William & Mary at No. 34. Duquesne, who the Monarchs will take on in their season opener on September 1st, came in at No. 37.

Plisco garnered his third preseason All-America honor heading into the 2012 campaign. Earning First Team accolades from Phil Steele, he was also a First Team Preseason All-American by College Sporting News and The Sports Network along with being named among the Top 10 Special Teams Players to Watch this fall.

The left footed punter led the CAA and ranked second in the nation in punting averaging 46.2 yards per punt. Of his 51 punts last year, 20 went the distance of 50 yards or more and 12 were placed inside the opponent 20.

Burnette, a Third Team Phil Steele Preseason All-American, earned his second preseason national honor after being a Third Team Preseason All-American selection by College Sporting News.

A Third Team All-CAA selection a year ago, Burnette totaled 49 tackles (20 solo, 29 assisted), was among ODU's leaders in sacks, and third on the Monarch squad in tackles for loss. Burnette had a career-high eight stops in the inaugural CAA game in week four with #6/7 Delaware and also made five stops in week one against Campbell and week seven against CAA Champion #17/23 Towson. On special teams, he helped ODU rank number one in the nation in blocks with three and has totaled five blocked kicks in his career.

Wilkins was named First Team All-CAA and First Team All-State by The Roanoke Times as he collected 111 tackles (58 solo, 38 assisted), including 14.5 tackles for loss to lead the ODU defense. Wilkins became the first Monarch to record over 100 tackles in a season and posted double figure stops in four games including a career-high 17 tackles against Hampton. The senior co-captain also made 13 tackles against Towson and 11 tackles against #10 James Madison and Richmond. He also added 3.5 sacks, a pair of interceptions, three pass break-ups, five defended passes, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble last season. Averaging 8.5 tackles per game, Wilkins ranked 12th in the league in the category .

Joining Plisco, Burnette, and Wilkins with Phil Steele's Preseason First Team All-CAA honors were quarterback Taylor Heinicke (Atlanta, Ga.), and corner Eriq Lewis (Washington, D.C.). Second Team Preseason All-CAA recipients went to wide receiver Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.) and offensive linemen David Born (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Robbie Duncan (Sterling, Va.).

Heinicke is one of 20 student-athletes on the Walter Payton Award List Watch List for the FCS' top individual honor. As a true freshman, Heinicke was the College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Year, CFPA Freshman Performer of the Year and winner of the CFPA Quarterback Award and Runner-up for the Jerry Rice Award by The Sports Network, awarded to the National Freshman of the Year He was named to the Sports Journal All-Freshman Team as well as a Third Team All-CAA honoree, two-time National Freshman of the Week by The Sports Network and three-time CAA Rookie of the Week. Heinicke took over quarterback duties for the Monarchs in the second half of ODU's Oct. 1st contest with #20 UMass and finished out the 2011 campaign completing 211 of his 307 passes with 25 touchdowns with just one interception.

Lewis, a Second Team All-CAA honoree and a member of the inaugural Jerry Rice Watch List for the FCS' most outstanding freshman, led ODU with five interceptions and became the first Monarch with more than one interception in a game. Lewis posted 41 tackles, a team-leading nine pass break-ups and 14 passes defended along with three forced fumbles. He ranked among the top-10 in interceptions among FCS defenders and was the top freshman in the CAA in the category. Lewis also ranked third in league in fumbles forced.

Mayers picked up First Team All-CAA last season as he led the receiving corps with 62 catches for 698 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 11.3 yards per catch and 58.2 receiving yards per game to rank sixth in the CAA and averaged 5.17 receptions per game to rank third in the league. Through ODU's 32 total games played, Mayers has registered 100 or more yards of receiving six times, which included a career-high and school record 166 yards receiving against CAA champion Towson.

Born and Duncan helped ODU to rank fifth nationally and lead the CAA in scoring offense at 36.69 points per game as well as the Monarch offense rank 10th nationally among FCS schools and lead the highly competitive CAA in total offense averaging 439.08 yards per contest. Both seniors were a part of an offensive line, which allowed the Monarchs to average 168.15 yards of rushing offense, third in the league, and 270.92 yards of passing offense, second in the league and 18th in the country.

To view Phil Steele's Preseason FCS information, click here.