Published July 29, 2014
Five thoughts on the Missouri Valley's preseason poll/team, which was released Tuesday.
1. The Missouri Valley's preseason all-conference team might as well be called the "2013 postseason all-conference team, minus graduating seniors," which is why it's no big deal that Youngstown State only had one player make the first team. (You can see the full results here.)
2. YSU had three players make the first team after last season, OL Chris Elkins, punter Nick Liste and kick returner Andre Stubbs, and three others made second team: QB Kurt Hess, RB Martin Ruiz and LB Teven Williams. Three others earned honorable mention: TE Nate Adams, FB Carson Sharbaugh and DL Kyle Sirl.
Of those nine, five were seniors (Elkins, Liste, Hess, Sharbaugh and Sirl) and another got kicked off the team before spring ball (Williams).
That left Stubbs (who made the preseason first team), Ruiz (who earned preaseason honorable mention because he's stuck behind two RBs that earned first team last year) and Adams (who wasn't going to get any votes because Southern Illinois' MyCole Pruitt gobbled them all up).
3. Long snapper Nathan Gibbs also earned preseason honorable mention — he's one of two guys I voted for, along with Stubbs — but there are a bunch of guys who could easily end up earning all-conference honors by the end of the year. They just don't have enough name recognition yet.
4. I voted YSU fifth in the preseason poll, behind North Dakota State (duh), Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and Southern Illinois. YSU ended up placing fourth, just ahead of SIU. That sounds about right. I would have voted YSU fourth, but the Penguins' defense looked really rough in the spring game and it continues to cloud my judgment.
5. YSU catches a break this fall by not having to play Northern Iowa. The Penguins do have to play South Dakota State and North Dakota State on the road, but the rest of the conference schedule is manageable. Going 5-3 wasn't good enough last year, but it should be this year.
For the sake of transparency, here's my preseason all-conference ballot
Teams: 1. North Dakota State, 2. Northern Iowa, 3. South Dakota State, 4. Southern Illinois, 5. Youngstown State, 6. Illinois State, 7. Missouri State, 8. South Dakota, 9. Western Illinois, 10. Indiana State.
QB: Austin Sumner (SDSU)
RB: David Johnson (UNI), Zach Zenner (SDSU)
WR: Jason Schneider (SDSU), Zach Vraa (NDSU)
TE: MyCole Pruitt (SIU)
OL: Robert Booker (MSU), Jack Rummells (UNI), Zack Johnson (NDSU), Zack Cooley (MSU), Richard Galbierz (MSU)
LS: Nathan Gibbs (YSU)
PK: Thomas Kinney (SIU)
DL: Connor Underwood (INS), Xavier Williams (UNI), Kyle Emanuel (NDSU), Cole Langer (SDSU)
LB: Pat Meehan (ILS), Carlton Littlejohn (NDSU), Auston Johnson (SDSU), Kevin Kintzel (WIU)
DB: Colten Heagle (NDSU), Caleb Schaffitzel (MSU), Martinez Davis (WIU), Christian Dudzik (NDSU)
P: Ben LeCompte (NDSU)
RS: Andre Stubbs (YSU)