Chuck Landon: Lists point to Herd as top team in C-USA
Is Marshall the team to "watch" in Conference USA?
Just check the 17 college football watch lists for the 2013 season.
Conference USA had 40 players chosen from its reconfigured membership of 14 schools.
And which C-USA school led the way?
The Herd had eight honorees sprinkled among the watch lists, followed by East Carolina with six and Tulsa five.
Marshall star quarterback Rakeem Cato led the way being named to the Walter Camp, Maxwell, Davey O'Brien and Manning award watch lists. Then, there's slot receiver Tommy Shuler on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, tight end Gator Hoskins on the John Mackey Award Watch List and punter Tyler Williams on the Ray Guy Watch List.
Finally, during the first practice of preseason camp Monday morning at Edwards Stadium it was announced that senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor was named to the Ted Hendricks Award Watch List.
If you're scoring at home, that's five Marshall players on eight different watch lists. And, yes, that easily out-distanced the Conference USA competition.
Following East Carolina and Tulsa, which will leave C-USA to join the American Athletic Conference after this season, were Louisiana Tech with four honorees; Rice, Tulane, UAB and Middle Tennessee State with three apiece; FAU, two; and UTEP, Southern Miss and UT-San Antonio with one each.
First-year members North Texas and FIU were shut out.
Here's a breakdown of the award watch lists:
Walter Camp: Marshall's Cato and Rice defensive back Phillip Gaines.
Maxwell: Cato, Louisiana Tech running back Kenneth Dixon and Tulsa running back Trey Watts.
Davey O'Brien (quarterbacks): Cato.
Biletnikoff (wide receivers): Marshall's Shuler; William Dukes, FAU; Keyarres Garrett, Tulsa; Ryan Grant, Tulane; Justin Hardy, East Carolina; and Jordan Leslie, UTEP.
John Mackey (tight ends): MU's Hoskins and FAU's Nexon Dorvilus.
Ray Guy (punters): MU's Williams, East Carolina's Trent Tignor and UAB's Hunter Mullins.
Doak Walker (running backs): Orleans Darkwa, Tulane; Dixon, La Tech; Jordan Parker, Middle Tennessee; Darrin Reaves, UAB; Watts, Tulsa.
Lou Groza (place-kickIng): Cairo Santos, UTEP; Chris Boswell, Rice; Warren Harvey, East Carolina; and Ty Long, UAB.
Rimington (centers): Shutout.
Outland (interior linemen): East Carolina's Will Simmons.
Nagurski (defense): Tulsa's Shawn Jackson and Marco Nelson.
Thorpe (defensive backs): Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee; Gaines, Rice; Nelson, Tulsa; and Deron Wilson, Southern Miss.
Butkus (linebackers): Derrell Johnson, East Carolina.
Bednarik (defense): Shutout.
Lombardi (defensive line, linebackers): I.K. Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech.
Manning (quarterbacks): MU's Cato, UTSA's Eric Soza and Middle Tennessee's Logan Kilgore.
Hendricks (defensive ends): Marshall's Jeremiah Taylor and Louisiana Tech's Enemkpali.
Those 40 players ought to make Conference USA worth watching this season.
But which school is the most watchable of all?
None other than Marshall.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Email him at email@example.com.