East Central University was picked in a tie for second place as the Great American Conference released its preseason football coaches’ poll on Tuesday from the league office in Russellville, Ark.

Henderson State was picked first after posting a 6-4 record and finishing second in the GAC. The Reddies closed the 2011 season with a win over league-champion Ouachita Baptist, handing OBU its only conference loss. HSU scored 57 points and received four first-place votes.

ECU, which finished 8-3 in 2011 and went 6-2 in GAC play, was tied with OBU in the preseason poll for second place. Each team totaled 54 points as ECU picked up three first-place votes while OBU ended up with the remaining two.

Harding was fourth with 42 points and Arkansas Tech followed in fifth with 29. The four remaining teams – Arkansas-Monticello, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Southern Arkansas and Southwestern Oklahoma State – were tied for sixth as each totaled 22 points.

ECU’s defense features the past two conference defensive players of the year in Jason Catchings (2011 GAC Defensive Player of the Year) and Armonty Bryant (2010 Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Year). Catchings posted 71 tackles with a team-leading 13 for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2011 while Bryant had 12.5 sacks.

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