CBSSports.com 2012 Preseason All-MAC Team

Alex Carder looks to lead Western Michigan to a MAC title in 2012. (US Presswire)

With the season quickly approaching CBSSports.com's Eye On College Football Blog unveils its All-Conference Teams. Today we take a look at the MAC.

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Alex Carder, Western Michigan - Carder is coming off a junior season in which he completed 66% of his passes for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns, which was good enough to earn him a selection to the All-MAC second team. This season he's bound to move up to the first team as the best passing quarterback in the conference. He'll also be looking to lead the Broncos to a MAC title.

Also considered: Carder may be the best quarterback in the conference, but not by much. Players like Ohio's Tyler Tettleton, Miami's Zac Dysert and the Toledo duo of Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin will push him for the spot.

Running Backs

Branden Oliver, Buffalo - Of the running backs returning for another season in the MAC, none rushed for more yards than Oliver last season. He finished the season with 1,395 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Bulls as a sophomore. He may only be 5-foot-8, but at 204 pounds he's not an easy man to bring down. If Buffalo is going to return to a bowl game this season, it will be Oliver leading them there.

Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green - Samuel was the Freshman Player of the Year in the MAC last season even though he only played in nine games, and for good reason. Not only did he rush for 844 yards and 5 touchdowns during his first season, but he did so while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Now a year older and stronger, he'll be looking to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2012.

Also considered: Akron had a tough season in 2011, but freshman running back Jawon Chisholm was definitely a bright spot. Then there's Ball State's touchdown machine Jawhan Edwards, who reached the end zone 11 times last season.

Wide Receivers

<img style=Nick Harwell" data-canon="Nick Harwell" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_PLAYER" id="shortcode0">, Miami (Ohio) - Five receivers passed the 1,000-yard mark in the MAC lasts season, and Harwell is the only one returning to campus this fall. Harwell was Zac Dysert's favorite target last season, finishing the year with 97 receptions for 1,425 yards and 9 touchdowns. Numbers that were good enough to earn Harwell a spot on the MAC's first team as only a sophomore.

Bernard Reedy, Toledo - Reedy spent the 2011 season as the second option in Toledo's passing attack behind Eric Page, but when the Rockets did go to him he had no problem producing. Reedy finished the season with 758 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns while averaging 19 yards per reception.

Martel Moore, Northern Illinois - Northern Illinois is a team that looks to run the ball first, but when the Huskies do go to the air, Moore is the man they're looking for. With a new starter at quarterback and running back in DeKalb this season, the senior will likely improve on the numbers that saw him catch 47 passes for 747 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.

Also considered: Other receivers bound to be on the end of quite a few passes this season are the Central Michigan duo of Titus Davis (18.8 YPC in 2011) and Cody Wilson, along with Buffalo's Alex Neutz and Akron's Keith Sconiers.

Tight End

Garrett Hoskins, Eastern Michigan - While there aren't a lot of great pass-catching tight ends in the MAC, Hoskins provides the biggest threat to defenses. He caught only 22 passes last season, but averaged 14.9 yards per reception and had 3 touchdowns. While he's seldom the first target, he's an option that quarterback Alex Gillett knows he can rely on when needed.

Also considered: Ohio's Jordan Thompson may see his role expand in Ohio's passing attack this season as the Bobcats work in a couple new starters in the receiving corps. The same can be said for Bowling Green's Alex Bayer, who proved reliable as a sophomore in 2011.

Offensive Tackles

Brian Winters, Kent State - Winters was named to the MAC's second team following the 2011 season after making the third team as a sophomore. Given the trend there, it's only natural the 6-foot-6, 294-pound left tackle would move up to the first team as a senior.

<img style=Nick Speller" data-canon="Nick Speller" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_PLAYER" id="shortcode0">, Massachusetts - If you break up the Massachusetts nickname of Minutemen, you would get "minute men." Well, let's get one thing clear, there is nothing minute about Nick Speller. After starting 10 games as a freshman at Syracuse, the 6-foot-5, 334-pound Speller transferred to UMass and has been blocking the sun there ever since.

Also considered: There are plenty of strong bookends in the MAC, with Western Michigan's Terry Davisson and Dann O'Neill, the Central Michigan duo of Eric Fisher and Jake Olson, and Miami's Brad Bednar being just a few.

Offensive Guards

Eric Herman, Ohio - Herman was a MAC second team selection as a junior in 2011. He helped open holes for an Ohio rushing attack that averaged 197 yards per game last season, and at 6-foot-4 and 319 pounds, it's hard to keep him from doing anything he wants.

Jon Lechner, Ohio - As hard as it is to keep Eric Herman from taking you out of a play, meet his fellow guard, the 6-foot-5, 332-pound Jon Lechner. That's a large man, and Lechner's size and ability combined with Eric Herman is why Ohio has the best interior offensive line in the league.

Also considered: Both Northern Illinois' Logan Pegram and Ball State's Jordan Hansel nearly made the cut on the first team, and just because they didn't doesn't mean they aren't extremely good at what they do. The same can be said for Bowling Green's Dominic Flewellyn.

Center

Zac Kerin, Toledo - Kerin made the MAC second team following his 2011 season with the Rockets, and begins the 2012 season on the Rimington Trophy watch list, given out to the best center in all of college football. He's also one of only two offensive line starters returning from an offense that scored 42.2 points per game last season.

Also considered: Ohio nearly got three offensive lineman on the first team thanks to center Skyler Allen, but Kerin just edged him out. Eastern Michigan's Andrew Sorgatz isn't far behind the both of them either.

DEFENSE

Defensive Ends

Sean Progar, Northern Illinois - Progar tied for the Northern Illinois team lead with 5.5 sacks in 2011, and it helped get him named to the MAC's second team. While that sack total isn't extremely high, it doesn't truly show the amount of pressure he put on quarterbacks, as he also had 9 quarterback hits. Whether or not the quarterback has gotten rid of the ball, being hit still feels the same, and they'll all be aware of where Progar lines up in 2012.

Tremayne Scott, Ohio - Like Progar, Scott found himself on the MAC's second team following the 2011 season. He only had 3.5 sacks and a quarterback hit last season, but he was also able to make 62 tackles last season. Which isn't a total to be overlooked from the defensive end position.

Also considered: Progar's teammate at NIU, Alan Baxter, nearly made his way onto the team as well. There's also Western Michigan's Paul Hazel and Freddy Bishop, Toledo's T.J. Fatinikun and Kent State's Jake Dooley.

Defensive Tackles

<img style=Roosevelt Nix" data-canon="Roosevelt Nix" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_PLAYER" id="shortcode0">, Kent State - Forget being one of the best defensive tackles in the MAC, Roosevelt Nix may be one of the best tackles in the country by the time his career is done. As a sophomore in 2011 Nix was named to the MAC's first team after picking up 4.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss while putting another 5 hits on quarterbacks and breaking up 3 passes. That's a pretty disruptive defensive tackle right there.

Chris Jones, Bowling Green - Chris Jones was also named to the MAC's first team as a defensive tackle last season, and will be looking to be on it again this season. The senior finished the 2011 season tied for the league lead in sacks with 8.5. He had 14 total tackles for a loss and 47 tackles overall.

Also considered: Ball State's Nathan Ollie is another MAC DT that can get after the quarterback, finishing the 2011 season with 6 sacks of his own. There's also Miami's Austin Brown.

Linebackers

Khalil Mack, Buffalo - Mack didn't make a lot of tackles from the linebacker position last season, but he sure wreaked a lot of havoc in backfields. Of his 65 tackles last season, 20.5 of them were for a loss and 5.5 were quarterback sacks. He also did all this as a sophomore and was named first team All-MAC.

Dwayne Woods, Bowling Green - Woods also played his way onto the MAC's first team in 2011, and for good reason. He led Bowling Green with 111 tackles (nearly 40 more than his closest teammate), with 14 of those tackles for a loss and he also intercepted a pass. 

Travis Freeman, Ball State - There is no player currently in the MAC that had more tackles than Freeman did last season. The middle linebacker finished his junior year with 134 tackles. He also had 4 sacks and intercepted a pass which led to him being named to the MAC's second team.

Luke Batton, Kent State - Batton led the Golden Flashes with 102 tackles last season, including 7 for a loss and also broke up 3 passes from the middle linebacker position. He's also a leader on one of the best defenses in the conference.

Also considered: Batton's teammate at Kent State C.J. Malauulu has a name that's hard to pronounce and is nearly as hard to block. There's also Miami's Pat Hinkel, Eastern Michigan's Justin Cudworth, and UMass linebacker Perry McIntyre.

Cornerbacks

Travis Carrie, Ohio - Carrie was a MAC second team selection last season even though he led the conference in interceptions with 4. He also broke up another 13 passes while finishing the season with 49 tackles.

<img style=Dayonne Nunley" data-canon="Dayonne Nunley" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_PLAYER" id="shortcode0">, Miami - Nunley may be a bit undersized at only 5-foot-8, but opposing quarterbacks pick on him at their own risk. He was named to the MAC's first team as a sophomore in 2011 after intercepting 3 passes, breaking up another 3, and finishing the year with 58 tackles, including 8 for a loss. So he may not be big, but he's not afraid of contact.

Also considered: Buffalo's Najia Johnson was a few interceptions away from breaking onto this first team. Eastern Michigan's Marlon Pollard raised some eyebrows as a sophomore last season and could open even more eyes in 2012.

Safeties

Johnnie Simon, Western Michigan - The backfield, the line of scrimmage, in coverage, these are the places you're going to find Simon during a typical game. While he technically plays the rover position in Western Michigan's scheme, he has the size of a safety and the game of a beast. Simon finished the 2011 season with 114 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. He was everywhere.

Jahleel Addae, Central Michigan - Addae was a MAC first teamer last season after leading Central Michigan with 107 tackles.  He also proved adept in pass coverage, finishing the season with 4 interceptions and breaking up another 4 passes.

Also considered: Toledo's Jermaine Robinson proved himself to be a bit of a ballhawk in 2011, finishing with 3 interceptions and 12 passes defended. There's also Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward who finished with 100 tackles and was second team All-MAC as only a sophomore.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Matt Weller, Ohio - Inside of 40 yards, Matt Weller is pretty much a sure thing. He converted 19-20 field goals from inside 40 yards and put 48 of his 49 extra point attempts through the uprights. Things do get a bit sketchy from distance, however, as Weller made only 6 of his 14 attempts from more than 40 yards.

Also considered: Northern Illinois' Mathew Sims isn't as reliable as Weller, but he's not exactly a slouch. There's also Central Michigan's David Harman who drilled 13 of his 16 field goal attempts last season.

Punter

Brian Schmiedebush, Bowling Green - With Temple leaving for the Big East, that means no punter in the MAC averaged more yards per punt than Schmiedebush's 45.3 average in 2011. Brian also put 18 of those punts inside the 20-yard line and had 11 taken as a fair catch.

Also considered: Ball State's Scott Kovanda may not have quite the distance on his punts as Schmiedebush, but he was more prolific at burying teams with 22 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Kick Returner

BooBoo Gates, Bowling Green - His birth name is Jerry, but he's called BooBoo and the truth is he probably doesn't care what you call him on special teams as he's usually running by you. Gates finished last season tied for the league lead with 25.8 yards per kick return, including one he took to the house.

Also considered: Northern Illinois' Tommylee Lewis deserved serious consideration for the top spot, as he averaged 25.2 yards per return last season and returned 2 kicks for touchdowns. Honestly, I think the deciding factor here was the name BooBoo is slightly better than Tommylee. But not by much.

Punt Returner

Demarius Reed, Eastern Michigan - Reed only returned 13 punts for Eastern Michigan last season, but he took one of those returns back for six points and averaged 12.8 yards per return. He'll likely see morem opportunities in 2012.

Also considered : Unfortunately, two lightning bolt punt returners graduated in Jordan White and Eric Page, but Ohio's Travis Carrie may provide some excitement on special teams this season.

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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