RUSTON, La (Louisiana Tech Athletics) – Conference USA released the 2022 preseason watch list, as selected by the league’s 11 head coaches, on Monday. Five student-athletes from each of the conference’s 11-member institutions were recognized as key players to watch ahead of the 2022 season.
Louisiana Tech redshirt sophomore kicker Jacob Barnes, sophomore linebacker Tyler Grubbs, junior wide receiver Smoke Harris, senior offensive lineman Joshua Mote and redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Keivie Rose were named to the 2022 preseason watch list.
Barnes has already garnered preseason laurels from Phil Steele and Athlon Sports in 2022. He ranks 10th among the nation’s active career leaders in field goal percentage (0.829). Barnes went 12-17 (.810) in field goal attempts in 2021, which was the second-most accurate mark in the C-USA. Barnes has been perfect on PATs in his two seasons with the Bulldogs, going 72-72 while knocking down 29 of 35 field goal attempts in his career.
Grubbs, a two-time All-Conference USA and All-Louisiana selection, has started all 22 of his games as a Bulldog and led the team in total tackles (99 and 97) in each of his first two seasons. The 247Sports freshman All-American selection finished in the top five last season in C-USA tackles per game (8.1) and also led the team in tackles for loss (10.0) while registering a season-high 13 tackles against SMU. Grubbs was also recently named first-team preseason All-Conference USA by Athlon Sports and collected second-team All-Conference USA honors from Phil Steele. The New Orleans, La., native has been one of the best linebackers in the nation since bursting onto the scene in 2020. His career mark of 8.91 tackles per game ranks second nationally among all active players. He is also among the FBS active career leaders in solo tackles per game, ranking 19th with 4.05.
Harris, another All-Conference USA selection and All-Louisiana selection last season made nine starts at wide receiver while appearing in all 12 games. He was Tech’s most explosive threat on offense and special teams finishing second in all-purpose yards (955) in 2021. Harris led the Bulldog offense in receptions (71), receiving yards (756), and receiving touchdowns (6) while posting at least three receptions in every game and finishing with 195 punt return yards on 22 attempts. Harris also recently picked up preseason All-CUSA honors from Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.
Mote garnered All-Conference USA preseason honors from Athlon Sports and Phil Steele as well. He was named All-Conference USA honorable mention in both 2020 and 2021. Last season he started all 12 games and helped anchor an offensive front that ranked in the top half of the conference in scoring offense (28 ppg), passing offense (262.6 ypg), passing touchdowns (22) and completion percentage (.602). The Oak Grove, La., product is the Bulldogs’ active career leader in starts with 26.
Rose was named honorable mention All-Conference USA last season. The native of Henderson, Texas, registered 25 total l tackles (11 solo, 14 assists), with 4.0 tackles for loss and a sack in 2021. He also posted four quarterback hurries and two pass breakups in addition to registering a tackle in nine of 12 games, highlighted by four tackles in the season finale at Rice.
The C-USA slate opens on Saturday, Aug. 27, and the league’s 18th Conference USA Football Championship Game is scheduled for the first week in December.
In the recent C-USA preseason poll, LA Tech was selected to finish ninth. UTSA was the favorite, garnering 14 first-place votes, while UAB followed in second with eight first-place votes. Rounding out the top three was Western Kentucky.
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
- UTSA (14)
- UAB (8)
- Florida Atlantic
- North Texas
- Middle Tennessee
- Louisiana Tech
The Sonny Cumbie era grows closer with the season opener scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 1 in Columbia, Mo., against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium for a game televised on ESPNU.
The Bulldog’s home opener will kick off a five-game home slate during 2022 with a matchup against SFA on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. on ESPN3. The remaining four home games will feature C-USA opponents UTEP (Oct. 8), Rice (Oct. 22), Middle Tennessee (Nov. 5), and UAB (Nov. 6). It was recently announced that Homecoming will be on Oct. 22 against Rice at 2 p.m.