Charlotte picked to finish last in CUSA preseason poll

Coach Brad Lambert's 49ers are coming off a 1-11 season in which their only win came against conference rival UAB

Kansas State defensive back Walter Neil Jr. breaks up a pass intended for Charlotte wide receiver T.L. Ford II during a game last season (Scott Sewell / USA TODAY Sports)

  The Charlotte 49ers, coming off a 1-11 season, have been picked to finish seventh in the seven-team East Division of Conference USA in a preseason vote conducted by a panel of media members that cover the league.

  Florida Atlantic was the overwhelming choice to win the division, picking up 22 of 26 first place votes in its bid to become the the third program in C-USA history to win back-to-back conference championship games.

  Marshall received the four other first place votes to place second in the preseason East Division poll, followed by Middle Tennessee, Florida International, Western Kentucky and Old Dominion. North Texas, which won the West Division a year ago, is again the favorite in that division with 18 votes, easily outdistancing Louisiana Tech, UAB, Southern Mississippi, Texas-San Antonio, Rice and Texas-El Paso.

  Charlotte’s only win last season came against UAB.

  Coach Brad Lambert’s 49ers placed only one player on the preseason all-conference team, junior defensive back Ben DeLuca.

  A 2017 honorable mention all-CUSA pick, DeLuca led the nation with five forced fumbles last season while averaging 9.3 tackles per game. The two-year starter ranks third in school history withy 170 career tackles, including 102 a year ago.



  1.  Florida Atlantic (22)
  2.  Marshall (4)
  3.  Middle Tennessee
  4.  FIU
  5.  WKU
  6.  Old Dominion
  7.  Charlotte


  1.  North Texas (18)
  2.  Louisiana Tech (4)
  3.  UAB (3)
  4.  Southern Miss (1)
  5.  UTSA
  6.  Rice
  7.  UTEP

(first place votes in parentheses)