Two Tigers Nab PreSeason Honors May 12, 2006 at 2:34 AM CDT - Updated July 26 at 2:36 PM U of M Free Safety Wesley Smith has been picked as the Sporting News Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year in Conference USA. The Senior from Oxford, Mississippi, is a 3-time All C-USA First Teamer. Smith had an Interception and a sack last season, and is the Tigers leading returning tackler with 82-stops in 2005. He entered last season on the Jim Thorpe award watch list, which honors the Nation's top Defensive Back. The Sporting News also tabs the Tiger punter Michael Gibson as First Team All-Conference USA. Last season as a Junior, Gibson averaged almost 45-yards per punt. Memphis was among the Nations' leaders in Net punting average as few of Gibsons' punts were returned. The Tupelo native is expected to make a strong push for the Ray Guy Award, signifying the Nations' Leading Punter. The Tigers open their Season at Ole Miss September 2nd.