CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern placed three players on the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team, announced Monday. Senior defensive end Anthony Ellis earned a spot on the first team, while redshirt junior linebacker Solomon Brown was a second team selection. Redshirt senior offensive lineman Frank Cirone rounded out the group on the third team.
The Bucs had three of the Big South's seven selections to the STATS FCS team. Joining CSU was Monmouth defensive back Mike Basile, and Liberty long snapper Hunter Winstead, place kicker Alex Probert, and defensive end Juwan Wells.
Ellis, the Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, returns to pace a CSU defense that finished among the tops in the NCAA in total defense. The Apopka, Fla. native was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award in 2016. Ellis earned All-America recognition from STATS, the Associated Press and Hero Sports last season, and was tabbed a 2017 preseason All-American by Athlon's earlier this summer.
He led the Big South with 16.0 tackles-for-loss and 7.0 sacks -- the second player in Big South history to record two seven-sack seasons. He tallied 45 tackles (26 solo) with eight quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. A dominant edge rusher who often commands double teams, Ellis recorded a tackle-for-loss in all but one game and had four multiple tackle for loss efforts, including 3.5 in the Buccaneers' win at No. 24/25 Liberty on Nov. 12. He recorded a sack in six of 10 appearances last season, including four in a three-game span.
Brown joined Ellis as a disruptive force on the defensive side of the ball for the Buccaneers on his way to earning HERO Sports Sophomore All-American and STATS FCS All-American nods. He led the Bucs in total tackles (70) and finished second in the Big South in tackles for loss (14.5) and sixth in sacks (4.5).
Cirone battled through injuries last season to start nine games and helped CSU finish sixth in the NCAA in rushing (266.5 ypg). The redshirt senior from Naples, Fla. was a 2016 Big South First Team selection and helped the Bucs total 500-plus yards in offensive four times and 30-plus points six times.
All 13 conferences and 55 schools had selections. The Missouri Valley Football Conference had the most with 17, while CAA Football was second with 14, the Big Sky third with 11 and the Ohio Valley and the Southland tied for fourth with 10 each. Among schools, South Dakota State led the way with six selections, North Dakota State and Sam Houston State had five each and 2016 FCS champion James Madison four.
Charleston Southern reported for fall camp on Sunday afternoon. The Bucs open their practice slate on Tuesday night at 7:55 p.m.