Talkin’ SWAC: Anderson earns top preseason honor for 2nd year

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Ben Anderson was a little busy with football camps and a summer job, so he didn’t get to make it to the Birmingham Marriott on Friday morning to hear that he was voted SWAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year a second straight time.

“It shows the attitude Ben has to be nominated as the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year two years in a row,” Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Monte Coleman said. “It shows how his offensive line, the running backs and the whole offense has promoted him to those honors.”

Anderson’s honor was announced at the beginning of the annual SWAC Media Day. The senior also was one of two Golden Lions named to the Preseason All-SWAC team, but was placed on the second team as senior Jerry Lovelocke of Prairie View A&M was named to the first team.

The Preseason Player of the Year awards were voted on separately from Preseason All-SWAC honors, and Lovelocke received more voting points to earn the first-team honor. Alabama State sophomore linebacker Kourtney Berry won the defensive superlative honor.

Anderson has yet to be named postseason All-SWAC Player of the Year, but his latest honor marks a good start to a season in which he can join an elite club of 10,000-yard passers for a college career. He needs 2,984 yards to reach the plateau.

“If you ask Ben, he’d rather have a SWAC championship than the 10,000 yards because he’s that type of team player,” Coleman said. “It’d be huge for the university. It’d be huge for him. It would set him apart from all the other quarterbacks, and there have been some great quarterbacks that have come through. He’s a great ballplayer and I hope he can achieve that. The most important for Ben is that we win.”

UAPB placed one on the first team, redshirt junior linebacker Antonio Jenkins. Coleman said there’s “always disappointment” not more than two Lions made Preseason All-SWAC.

“I figured Me’Kale Carter (junior offensive lineman) would have made it,” Coleman said. Carter attended Media Day along with teammate junior defensive lineman Demarcus Berry, who was academically ineligible last season.

“I nominated Berry,” Coleman said. “… If we go out and do what we’re supposed to do and win ballgames, I can almost assure you we’ll have more than two on the final ballot for All-SWAC.”

The Lions were predicted to finish third in the SWAC’s Western Division with 66 voting points. Defending SWAC champion Southern (95) is picked to repeat, with Prairie View A&M (88) predicted second, Texas Southern (50) fourth and Grambling State (31) fifth.

Alabama State (93) is the favorite in the Eastern Division, followed by Alcorn State (91), Jackson State (72), Mississippi Valley State (40) and Alabama A&M (34).

Sunday’s issue: SWAC football notebook