DALLAS – Conference USA released the 2023 preseason watch list, as selected by the league’s nine head coaches on Friday. Five student-athletes from each of the conference’s nine member institutions are recognized as key players to watch ahead of the 2023 season, along with an outstanding academic performer.
Peasant led the team last year with 777 rushing yards on 182 attempts and nine touchdowns. The Pensacola, Fla., native also had 28 receptions and two scores.
Rutledge, who made the CUSA All-Freshman team last season, had six starts as a true freshman in 2022. Out of Royston, Ga., Rutledge played 550 snaps and graded out a winner by the coaches nine times in 11 games.
Cook, who benches 500 pounds, started all 13 games a year ago and earned first team all-conference honors by PFF College. The Water Valley, Miss., product had a career season in 2022 with 9.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, five hurries and a blocked kick.
Ross, a second team all-conference pick in 2022, was one of just six players on the team to start every game last year. Ross, out of Macon, Ga., was second on the team with 77 tackles, including 3.0 TFLs, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a school record 20 pass breakups.
Rankin led the team in scoring a year ago with 93 points while connecting on 16 of 19 field goals and all 45 extra points. The Alcoa, Tenn., native had a stretch where he hit 11 consecutive field goals which went down as the second longest streak in school history.
Curtis, who earned Freshman All-American honors by College Football News, started 12 games. Curtis was fifth on the team with 55 stops to go with two TFLs, a sack, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
The Blue Raiders will begin the 2023 season on the road against nationally ranked Alabama on Sept. 2. Preseason camp will get started on Aug. 2 with the opening practice.