RICHARDSON, Texas – The American Southwest Conference announced the preseason information for the 2021 fall football season on Thursday, ranking McMurry University seventh in a poll of the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
The War Hawks also had two players on the ASC Preseason Players to Watch list, including junior running back Dee Robinson and senior linebacker Josh Smith. Twelve other players made the list from around the conference.
“After gaining some confidence in the spring with some quality, hard-fought victories, our expectations and excitement level are at an all-time high,” said McMurry head coach Jordan Neal, who enters his third season. “With excellent senior leadership, experience across the board and the addition of a great freshman and transfer class, we believe that our program will only continue to improve. We look forward to competing hard in the always-tough American Southwest Conference, and we believe that a lot of great things are in store for the War Hawks in 2021.”
A two-year starter at running back, Robinson looks to make an impact as the only running back on the watch list. He finished with 82 carries for 265 yards and three touchdowns in five games last season. The Rice, Texas product also ranked seventh in the ASC for all-purpose yards with 96.0 per game.
Meanwhile, Smith returns on the defensive side as a four-year letterman. The linebacker from Bossier City, Louisiana had 36 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, a QB hurry and a fumble recovery in four games last year, while also becoming the first McM player since 2000 to earn all-conference honors for four straight seasons. Smith has a chance to make history in 2021 by becoming the first conference athlete to win five-straight years of honors. He also ranks fifth in all-time career tackles at McM with 297.
In the poll, defending conference champion Mary Hardin-Baylor is the preseason favorite after receiving 196 votes and 17 of 20 first-place votes. They are followed closely by last year’s runner-up Hardin-Simmons with 179 votes and two first-place votes.
East Texas Baptist (153 votes) had the other first-place vote and ranks third in the preseason poll. Texas Lutheran (140) was picked fourth, followed by Belhaven (115), Howard Payne (95) and the War Hawks (69).
The newest ASC member, Austin College, enters the preseason ranked eighth with 62 votes. Southwestern (54) and Sul Ross State (41) round out the rankings.
McMurry begins play on Saturday, Sept. 4 with a non-conference matchup at Trinity (Texas) in San Antonio. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. The home opener is set for Sept. 11 against Howard Payne with a 1 p.m. start time.