Courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/CMU Athletics
Seven Chippewas Earn Phil Steele Preseason All-MAC Honors
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Seven members of the Central Michigan football have been named to Phil Steele’s 2013 Preseason All-MAC Team, highlighted by first team honorees wide receiver Titus Davis, offensive tackle Jake Olson, and linebacker Shamari Benton.

Davis will provide CMU with one of the conference’s top offensive weapons in 2013. A year ago, the Second Team All-MAC selection topped CMU with 860 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns, and a 71.7 receiving yards per game average despite missing time due to injury. His eight scores equaled his total from 2011 and rank tied for sixth on the CMU single season charts while his yardage total has him just outside the top 10 in the Chippewas’ record book. Davis’ 20.0 yards per reception average led the MAC and ranked No. 1 in the nation among receivers with more than 40 catches. With 16 receiving touchdowns in just 24 career games, Davis ranks tied for sixth in the CMU record book.

Olson started the first two games of the 2012 season at right tackle before suffering a season ending injury. In 2013, he is expected to slide over to the starting left tackle spot vacated by All-American Eric Fisher, who was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Olson has 26 career starts to his credit.

Benton topped the team in solo tackles (54) and fumble recoveries (2) a year ago and was CMU’s leading tackler in seven of 13 games. He also ranked second on the team, No. 7 in the MAC, and 24th nationally with 126 total tackles. Benton ended the 2012 season on a high note, earning Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Lineman of the Game honors for spearheading a defensive effort that held a potent Western Kentucky offensive attack to just 21 points.

Center Nick Beamish (2nd team), running back Zurlon Tipton (3rd team), linebacker Justin Cherocci (3rd team), and safety Avery Cunningham (4th team) were also recognized on Phil Steele’s All-MAC preseason teams.

In his first season of collegiate action, Beamish started all 13 games at center, earning CMU Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He was a key part of an offense that averaged 6.2 yards per play, second best in the MAC, produced nearly 400 yards of offense per game, and scored 30 more points in 10 games. Beamish also helped anchor an offensive line that allowed just 15 sacks, which ranked No. 17 nationally.

In 2012, Tipton burst onto the college football scene, putting together one of the greatest rushing seasons in Central Michigan football history. His 1,492 rushing yards, the most by a Chippewa running back in 16 years, are fourth all-time in the CMU single season record book and ranked No. 13 in the nation. Tipton was a regular in the end zone in 2012. His 19 rushing and 20 total touchdowns are tied for the second most ever by a Chippewa and his average of 12.0 points scored per game ranked him No. 15 in the NCAA in 2012. He finished the season strong, recording seven straight 100-yard games, including a 101-yard effort in Central Michigan’s win over Western Kentucky in the 2013 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. For his standout season, Tipton’s earned CMU’s Herb Deromedi Most Valuable Player Award and was named Second Team All-MAC.

Cherocci, CMU’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, led the team and ranked fifth in the MAC and 19th nationally with 132 total tackles last season. He was also the nation’s leader in assisted tackles with 89. A starter of all 13 games, Cherocci recorded double digit stops in seven games and was CMU’s leading tackler in six.

A two-year starter, Cunningham will provide CMU with a veteran presence in the defensive secondary in 2013. In the starting line-up for all 13 games in 2012, he finished fourth on the team with 88 tackles and tallied six tackles for loss, four pass break-ups, two sacks, two interceptions, a team-high two forced fumbles, and one blocked kick.

CMU opens the 2013 season on the road against Michigan on Saturday, Aug. 31.