IRVING, Texas — Thundering Herd tight end Ryan Yurachek was one of 29 players named to the All-Conference USA preseason team, as selected by the 14 head coaches from within the conference.
This is the second straight season that Yurachek has been named to the all-conference preseason team, but, after being joined by three teammates last year, he is the lone Marshall representative on the 2017 preseason team.
Yurachek, a 6-foot-3 senior, enters his final campaign for the Herd with a streak of 29 straight games with at least one reception. Yurachek is the team’s active leader in career receptions with 89, receiving yards with 864, and receiving touchdowns with 16.
As a junior Yurachek earned his second straight all-conference honorable mention, hauling in 28 receptions for 298 yards and five touchdowns.
Reigning Conference USA champion Western Kentucky led all teams with seven selections to the preseason squad. The Hilltoppers, who visit Joan C. Edwards Stadium on November 11, also claimed two of the top-3 individual awards.
WKU senior quarterback Mike White was named preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while senior kick returner Kylen Towner was selected as preseason Special Teams Player of the Year. Rice senior linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee was named preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Old Dominion and Texas at San Antonio both claimed four spots on the preseason team, while Rice, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Texas at El Paso and Middle Tennessee each had two selections. Along with Marshall, Florida International also had just one selection.
On Tuesday, the conference releases its preseason media poll, with Western Kentucky picked to win the East Division and Louisiana Tech chosen atop the West Division, both receiving 20 first place votes.
The Thundering Herd took home one first place vote and were ranked fourth among seven teams in the East Division. Marshall was just 3-9 overall last fall, including 2-6 in Conference USA.
On December 2, for the 13th consecutive year, the East Division and West Division champions will meet in the Conference USA championship game.
2017 Conference USA preseason team
QB — Mike White, Sr., WKU
RB — Ray Lawry, Sr., Old Dominion
RB — Ito Smith, Sr., Southern Miss
OL — O’Shea Dugas, Jr., Louisiana Tech
OL — Will Hernandez, Sr., UTEP
OL — Trey Martin, Sr., Rice
OL — Austin Pratt, Sr., UTSA
OL — Brandon Ray, Sr., WKU
TE — Ryan Yurachek, Sr., Marshall
WR — Richie James, Jr., Middle Tennessee
WR — Jonathan Duhart, Sr., Old Dominion
WR — Allenzae Staggers, Sr., Southern Miss
DL — Marcus Davenport, Sr., UTSA
DL — Jaylon Ferguson, So., Louisiana Tech
DL — Chris Johnson, Sr., WKU
DL — Oshane Ximines, Jr., Old Dominion
LB — Emmanuel Ellerbee, Sr., Rice
LB — Alvin Jones, Sr., UTEP
LB — Josiah Tauaefa, So., UTSA
LB — Anthony Wint, Sr., FIU
DB — Brandon Addison, Sr., Old Dominion
DB — Nate Brooks, Jr., North Texas
DB — Joe Brown, Sr., WKU
DB — Kishawn McClain, Sr., North Texas
K — Canon Rooker, Sr., Middle Tennessee
P — Jake Collins, Jr., WKU
KR — Kylen Towner, Sr., WKU
PR — Nacarius Fant, Sr., WKU
LS — Matt Bayliss, Sr., UTSA
Offensive Player of the Year: Mike White, Sr., QB, WKU
Defensive Player of the Year: Emmanuel Ellerbee, Sr., LB, Rice
Special Teams Player of the Year: Kylen Towner, Sr., KR, WKU
2017 Conference USA preseason media poll
1. Western Kentucky (20); 2. Middle Tennessee (4); 3. Old Dominion (3); 4. Marshall (1); 5. Florida Atlantic; 6. Florida International; 7. Charlotte.
1. Louisiana Tech (20); 2. UTSA (7); 3. Southern Miss (1); 4. North Texas; 5. Rice; 6. UTEP; 7. UAB.
(Indicates first place votes).