Conference USA state schools Houston and Memphis, along with private colleges including Rice, SMU and Tulsa, each landed two student-athletes apiece on the 14-member team. Marshall, Southern Miss and UTEP, all state schools, and Tulane, a private school, each had one member each on the All-Academic team.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane is the West Division champion this season while the Cougars of UH, the Tigers of UM, the Owls of RU and the Golden Eagles of USM are all bowl eligible. Tulsa is playing East Carolina for the C-USA title and bid to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, while Rice has accepted a bid to the Texas Bowl, just across town in Houston. Southern Miss is taking a two-hour trip to "The Big Easy" to play in the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
Marshall's offensive guard Matt Altobello, a graduate student, has a perfect 4.0 gpa as a Master's student in the Math Education program. A native of Keyser in the Mountain State, Altobello started every game this season for the Thundering Herd. He was a leader for a unit that leads C-USA in sacks allowed with just 13 sacks in 12 games played. Altobello is one of 14 seniors at MU this year who are either in graduate school or going to graduate this December/next May.
In Altobello's junior season in 2007, he saw action in several games as a reserve offensive guard. The majority of his playing time came late in the season, as Altobello saw significant playing time against Southern Miss, Rice, ECU and UAB, helping the Herd to win three of its final five games after a 0-7 start. In 2006 for the 5-7 Herd, he appeared in eight games as a reserve offensive lineman.
Altobello was a standout at Keyser (W.Va.) High School where he was a two-time Class AA All-State offensive lineman. He also lettered in baseball twice and basketball for one season. Being a good student is not just a recent revelation, as Altobello was a member of the Keyser H.S. National Honor Society, serving as President, and he was the senior class's Vice-President. He is the son of Jerome and Beverly Altobello. He graduated from Marshall in May with a B.S. in Elementary Education.
Brandon Patterson of Memphis receives his second consecutive C-USA All-Academic Team honor as a graduate student also. The free safety recently received the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honor as an MBA student with a 3.54 gpa. Fellow Tiger, and fellow grad student, Brandon Pearce was also named to the All-Academic Team. The offensive lineman owns a 3.53 gpa and is currently working towards a Master's in English Literature.
Among the underclassmen, sophomore tight end/wide receiver James Casey of Rice lands on the All-Academic Team after joining Patterson on the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team. Casey set a RU school record with 208 yards receiving against Memphis. He set a C-USA single-season record for receptions with 104 this season. Casey is a triple major in Economics, Managerial Studies, and Sport Management with a 3.84 gpa. Owl teammate Andrew Sendejo receives his second consecutive All-Academic Team honor as a Sport Management major with a 3.59 gpa. On the field, he leads Rice in tackles with 90.
Mitch Enright of SMU was named to the All-Academic Team after capturing a 3.99 gpa as a Management major. Sophomore Mustang teammate Pete Fleps also represents SMU on this year's squad. The linebacker is a Marketing major with a 3.54 gpa. He notched 23 tackles in one game at Navy, which ranks as the fourth-most ever in a game by a C-USA player.
Quarterback Case Keenum of Houston joins fellow Cougar Jake Ebner on the All-Academic Team. Keenum is a red-shirt sophomore and owns a 3.23 gpa in Kinesiology. He is leading the nation in passing yardage (4,768) and the conference in touchdown passes (43). Cougar teammate Ebner, a senior defensive tackle and a two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VI First-Team selection, is a double major in Marketing and Finance. The Friendswood, Texas native tied for second on the team with two fumble recoveries and two passes broken up while maintaining a 3.54 gpa.
Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis captures his first All-Academic team accolade as a Business major with a 3.69 gpa. The red-shirt freshman is the first freshman QB to start the season at Southern Miss since 1991. Davis broke nine school single-game records and five single-season marks including most passing yards in a game (461) and most rushing touchdowns in a contest (5).
Andre Anderson of Tulane adds to his list of academic honors a C-USA All-Academic Team member. The junior running back was twice named the Tulane Student-Athlete of the Week this season as a Computer Information Science major with a 3.43 gpa. He was leading C-USA in rushing prior to suffering a season-ending injuring in mid-October.
The Golden Hurricane placed a pair of seniors on the All-Academic Team. Moton Hopkins was named Tulsa's 2008 Homecoming King and carries a 3.37 gpa as a Communication major. Senior quarterback David Johnson also represents the Golden Hurricane as an Exercise Sports Science major, with a minor in Education. Johnson was the only C-USA quarterback named as a semi-finalist for the 2008 Davey O'Brien Award, which goes to the top collegiate quarterback in the nation, and has led the nation in pass efficiency the entire season (66.1 percent). The Portland, Ore. native owns a 3.92 gpa.
Filling the last slot on the roster is Cameron Raschke of UTEP. The junior left guard has been an integral part of an offensive line which has helped UTEP rank 19th nationally in passing efficiency (146.4 yards per game). Raschke is an Occupational Therapy major with a 3.66 gpa.
2008 CONFERENCE USA FOOTBALL ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM (schools in alphabetical order)
Jake Ebner/Houston/Senior/3.54/Double major in Marketing and Finance
Matt Altobello/Marshall/Graduate/4.00/Masters in Math Education
*Brandon Patterson/Memphis/Graduate/3.45/Masters in Business Administration
Brandon Pearce/Memphis/Graduate/3.53/Masters in English Literature
James Casey/Rice/Sophomore/3.84/Triple major in Economics, Managerial Studies,Sport Management
*Andrew Sendejo/Rice/Junior/3.59/Sport Management
Austin Davis/Southern Miss/R-Freshman/3.69/Business
Andre Anderson/Tulane/Junior/3.43/Computer Information Science
David Johnson/Tulsa/Senior/3.92/Exercise Sports Science; minor in Education)
Cameron Raschke/UTEP/Junior/3.66/Occupational Therapy
* - Repeat Selection