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Kennesaw State’s Bryson Armstrong (42) and Kareem Taylor team up to tackle Kent State running back Xavier Williams last season. Armstrong on Tuesday was named the Big South Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for an unprecedented third time.

Kennesaw State linebacker Bryson Armstrong was selected as the Big South Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the third time.

The former Kell High School standout became the first player in conference history to earn the preseason honor for a third time. The 5-foot-11, 212-pound senior was a consensus Football Championship Subdivision All-American in 2019, leading the Owls with 95 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 3½ sacks, and being named the conference’s defensive player of the year after the season.

Armstrong said it was an honor and gave all the credit to the people that helped him get to this point.

“I’m thankful for all the great teammates and coaches that I’ve had,” Armstrong said via videoconference Tuesday during the conference’s virtual media day.

While Armstrong earned the biggest defensive prize during Tuesday, the Kennesaw State defense may have been given a big chip for its shoulders heading into the new season. After finishing third in the FCS in total defense and returning seven starters, Armstrong was the only member of the defense selected for preseason first-team honors.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Owls had four first-teamers, including three members of the offensive line — Chris Dye, Jake Lassiter and William Nana Fabu. The fourth member was Isaac Foster, who will run behind the trio who helped Kennesaw State lead the FCS in rushing at 342 yards per game last season.

Four Owls earned honorable mention — defensive back Demetrius Pettway, punter Nicholas Jones, running back Shaquil Terry and Foster, who also earned honorable mention at both kick and punt returner.

OWLS FAVORED IN BIG SOUTH

Kennesaw State was named the overwhelming favorite to make it three conference titles in four years.

The Owls earned eight of 12 first-place votes, easily outdistancing Monmouth, Charleston Southern, Campbell, Hampton and Gardner-Webb. North Alabama is continuing its transition from Division II and is not eligible to win the conference title.

The conference poll was done in June and did not reflect the decisions Monmouth and Hampton made against playing fall sports this season.

Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said he appreciated the conference accolades, but he, his assistants and the players are not really caught up with what is said prior to the season.

“With our program right now, our goal is to finish on top at the end,” Bohannon said. “We want to finish in the right spot at the end of the season.”

Kennesaw State has won 15 of its last 16 conference games by an average margin of 26.8 points per game.

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