CARROLLTON, Ga. - Coach David Dean and his West Georgia Wolves have the goal of exceeding expectations in 2018. The Wolves were picked for the third spot in the annual Gulf South Conference Preseason Football Poll, released Thursday by the league office in Birmingham.

“Well, I was surprised that we were picked that high, with the number of guys we lost off last year’s team. It’s a credit to our kids.” said Dean. “Hopefully we’re going to finish higher than that. That’s our goal.”

Defending titlist West Alabama topped this year’s preseason poll, earning six first place votes. The second spot belongs to reigning Super Region 2 champion West Florida, which earned the other three first place ballots. UWG was voted third, followed by Delta State, Valdosta State, and Florida Tech. Rounding out the poll are North Greenville, Mississippi College, and Shorter.

Votes were cast by each of the nine head football coaches in the GSC. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

Beyond the preseason poll, GSC coaches tabbed five West Georgia standouts as members of the Preseason All-Gulf South Conference Football Team. Two UWG seniors selected from the offensive side, as running back Devontae Jackson and tackle Quentin Stanford added to their career resumes. Three UWG defensive stars made the list, with junior end Chad Price, junior linebacker Korie Rogers, and senior safety Montrell Pardue each earning a spot on the team.

Jackson has been an All-Conference performer in each of his first three seasons at West Georgia, and stands poised to become the second 5,000-yard all-purpose man in school history this season. Last year, Jackson went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second time in his career and was named as one of 10 finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which goes to the top player in Division II football. 

Stanford is the second-most decorated UWG player on this list, as he was named First Team All-GSC at the conclusion of the 2017 season and a Second Team honoree in 2016. The senior lineman is the next in a long line of outstanding offensive linemen to don the red and blue. Stanford started one game as a freshman in 2015, and has started every game in his sophomore and junior seasons. 

Pardue and Price were both Second Team All-GSC honorees in the 2017 season, helping lead one of the top defenses in the nation. Pardue is the leading returning tackler for the Wolves, as he had 82 stops last season. He had 9.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, four pass breakups and six passes defended as a junior. Price had 42 tackles, including a team-leading 10.5 for a loss, and he was among the conference leaders in sacks with 7.5. 

Rogers was third on the team in tackles with 75 last year from his linebacker spot. He was a ball hawk, tying for the team lead in interceptions with three and he also had three pass breakups and six passes defended. 

“I think we probably should have some more guys (selected), but again, I’d rather them be recognized at the end of the year," Dean said. "That means they had outstanding seasons for us.”

The 2018 West Georgia team reports Saturday for the beginning of preseason camp, with the first practice slated for Monday. The Wolves open the 2018 season on September 1 at home against the Catawba Indians. The Wolf Walk on that afternoon will take place at 12:30, with kickoff from University Stadium is set for 2 p.m. To secure your spot for each of the six regular season home games in University Stadium this fall, make sure to visit the UWG Athletics Ticket Portal to purchase your season tickets. 

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