University of Delaware Football Picked No. 5 in The Sports Network Pre-Season Poll
August 15, 2011
Photo: Andrew Pierce (Courtesy of Mark Campbell)
PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Delaware football squad will start this season not far off from where they finished the ultra-successful 2010 campaign.
The Blue Hens, who went 12-3 a year ago and advanced all the way to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national championship game for head coach K.C. Keeler, earned a No. 5 national ranking in The Sports Network Pre-Season Top 25 poll announced Monday afternoon.
The rankings, widely regarded as the official FCS Top 25 poll, were selected by a group of sports information directors from FCS institutions and the media members who cover their teams.
Delaware, which returns 13 starters from last year’s squad that earned a share of the CAA title, will take part in its first scrimmage of the pre-season Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 4 p.m. at Delaware Stadium. The full scrimmage is free and open the public.
“As I’ve said many times, we don’t put too much stock in the pre-season rankings,” said Keeler, who has led the Blue Hens to the national championship game three times in his nine season at Delaware. “Certainly the voters have taken into account our success from last season. Our guys are working hard in the pre-season but we still have a long way to go to become the kind of team we think we can be.”
Eastern Washington, which ended last season ranked No. 1 in the final pre-season regular season rankings and knocked off Delaware 20-19 in the national title game, earned the pre-season top spot as the Eagles earned 3,377 points and received 90 of the 140 first place votes.
Appalachian State was ranked No. 2 with 3,142 points and 14 first place votes while William & Mary, which shared the Colonial Athletic Association title with Delaware a year ago, was third with 3,110 points and 20 first place votes. Georgia Southern, whom the Hens knocked off in the national semifinals last December, was fourth with 3,095 points and 11 first place votes while Delaware as at No. 5 with 2,806 points and two first place votes.
The CAA put three teams in the Top 10 and seven in the Top 25. In addition to William & Mary, Delaware, New Hampshire was voted No. 10, Villanova, James Madison, and Richmond came in at No. 13, 14, and 15 respectively, and Massachusetts was ranked No. 25. In addition, Rhode Island, Maine, and Old Dominion also received votes.
Montana State was picked No. 6 followed by Northern Iowa, Wofford, Jacksonville State, and New Hampshire in the Top 10. North Dakota State was at No. 11 followed by Montana, Lehigh, Villanova, James Madison, Richmond, Stephen F. Austin, Central Arkansas, Southern Illinois, McNeese State, Chattanooga, Liberty, South Carolina State, Sacramento State, and Massachusetts. A total of 45 other schools received votes.
The Hens return seven pre-season All-Americans in sophomore running back Andrew Pierce, senior offensive linemen Gino Gradkowski, Rob McDowell, and Shea Allard, senior tight end Colin Naugle, and senior defensive end Michael Atunrase. In addition, Pierce, Gradkowski, McDowell, Atunrase, and junior linebacker Paul Worrilow all earned pre-season All-CAA honors.
The Hens’ season opener is set for Sept. 3 at Navy with the home opener scheduled for Sept. 10 vs. West Chester. Great season ticket packages, discounted ticket packs, and single season tickets are currently available. Go to the “Tickets” banner on the Delaware athletics website at www.bluehens.com for more information on how to order.
The Sports Network Pre-Season Top 25 Poll:
1. Eastern Washington, 3,377 points (90 first place votes); 2. Appalachian State 3,142 (14); 3. William & Mary, 3,110 (20); 4. Georgia Southern, 3,095 (11) 5. DELAWARE, 2,806 (2); 6. Montana State, 2,623; 7. Northern Iowa, 2,452; 8. Wofford, 2,357; 9. Jacksonville State, 2,208; 10. New Hampshire, 2,205 (1); 11. North Dakota State, 1,720; 12. Montana, 1,668; 13. Lehigh, 1,351; 14. Villanova, 1,262; 15. James Madison, 1,247; 16. Richmond, 987; 17. Stephen F. Austin, 969; 18. Central Arkansas, 961; 19. Southern Illinois, 934; 20. McNeese State, 701; 21. Chattanooga, 672; 22. Liberty, 630; 23. South Carolina State, 628; 24. Sacramento State, 587; 25. Massachusetts, 519.
Other CAA Teams with votes: Rhode Island, Maine, Old Dominion.