Gamecocks Ranked 22nd In TSN Preseason Top 25

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The Jacksonville State football team is ranked No. 22 in The Sports Network’s Preseason FCS Top 25 College Football Poll, the organization announced on Monday.

The defending Ohio Valley Conference tri-champion Gamecocks, picked to finish second in the OVC this season by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, are the second-ranked team in the league. Preseason favorite Eastern Kentucky, who shared the league title with JSU and Tennessee Tech a year ago, is ranked 18th in the Preseason Top 25.

It marks the fourth-straight season that the Gamecocks have been in TSN’s Preseason FCS Top 25 and returns them to the rankings for the first time since Oct. 31 of last season, when they capped a school-record 40-straight weeks in the polls.

Under 12th-year head coach Jack Crowe, the Gamecocks return as much offensive firepower as anyone in 2012. They have two starting quarterbacks returning in senior Marques Ivory, who is back for his fifth season after an injury in the second quarter of last year’s opener postponed his senior campaign, and junior Coty Blanchard, who led the OVC in passing efficiency as the starter after Ivory’s injury.

They will be behind a line that returns all but one starter from a year ago, including Preseason All-OVC selection Tori Mobley and 2011 Preseason All-OVC pick Odie Rush, who returns after a an injury sidelined him a year ago. That experienced line will also be making a path for senior tailback Washaun Ealey, a Preseason All-American by TSN that became JSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 last season.

Back on the outside are the Gamecocks top three receivers in terms of yards from last year. Seniors Alan Bonner, Trey Smith and Kevyn Cooper each had over 250 receiving yards last year.

JSU will be young on defense after losing seven starters after last season. Senior DiMetrio Tyson anchors the Gamecock defensive front, while junior Rashad Smith, the team’s leading tackler last season, leads JSU in the middle. Sophomore safety Pierre Warren and senior linebacker Nick Johnson are JSU’s other two returning starters on defense.

Murray State was one spot out of the Top 25, leading five OVC schools in the Others Receiving Votes category.

The Gamecocks open at Arkansas on Sept. 1, in a 6 p.m. game before a Sept. 8 home opener vs. Chattanooga. That game will also kickoff at 6 p.m. After an open date on Sept. 15, JSU will face EKU on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m. in Richmond, Ky., to start conference play.

Team (First-place votes), 2011 Record
1. Sam Houston State Bearkats (79), 14-1
2. North Dakota State Bison (59), 14-1
3. Georgia Southern Eagles (6), 11-3
4. Montana State Bobcats (3), 10-3
5. James Madison Dukes (3), 8-5
6. Appalachian State Mountaineers (1), 8-4
7. Towson Tigers, 9-3
8. Old Dominion Monarchs, 10-3
9. Northern Iowa Panthers, 10-3
10. Wofford Terriers, 8-4
11. Montana Grizzlies, 11-3
12. Eastern Washington Eagles, 6-5
13. Youngstown State Penguins (1), 6-5
14. New Hampshire Wildcats, 8-4
15. Delaware Blue Hens, 7-4
16. Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 11-2
17. Stony Brook Seawolves, 9-4
18. Eastern Kentucky Colonels, 7-5
19. Illinois State Redbirds, 7-4
20. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, 6-5
21. Maine Black Bears, 9-4
22. Jacksonville State Gamecocks, 7-4
23. Indiana State Sycamores, 6-5
24. Central Arkansas Bears, 9-4
25. Harvard Crimson, 9-1

Others receiving votes: Murray State 292, Northern Arizona 259, Norfolk State 222, Chattanooga 191, Liberty 150, South Carolina State 137, Bethune-Cookman 134, McNeese State 127, Grambling State 87, Tennessee Tech 77, Portland State 73, North Dakota 68, Alabama State 66, Jackson State 63, Southern Illinois 63, William & Mary 59, Southern Utah 54, Georgia State 49, Furman 43, Albany 39, Richmond 31, Villanova 30, Penn 16, Duquesne 14, South Dakota State 10, San Diego 9, Elon 9, Drake 8, Holy Cross 7, Prairie View A&M 6, South Dakota 6, Alabama A&M 4, Southeast Missouri 4, Georgetown 3, Idaho State 3, Sacramento State 3, Cornell 2, Bryant 1, Eastern Illinois 1, Jacksonville 1, Missouri State 1, Samford 1, UT Martin 1, The Citadel 1, Western Illinois 1 

Courtesy The Sports Network Media Relations