Eagles #1 in The Sports Network FCS Poll - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Eagles #1 in The Sports Network FCS Poll

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By Eastern Washington University Athletics

They'll have to prove it on the field, but for now, the Eastern Washington University football team is No. 1 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivison.

The Eagles, led by a trio of national awards candidates, have been selected No. 1 by The Sports Network in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision preseason poll of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors announced on Friday (Aug. 8).

This is fourth time in five seasons Eastern has earned a No. 1 ranking by The Sports Network. Eastern finished the 2010 season No. 1 and as NCAA Division I champion. Eastern also was ranked No. 1 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Three-time defending champion North Dakota State was ranked No. 2, while four Eagle opponents in 2014 are ranked in the top 25. Sam Houston State, Eastern’s season-opening opponent on Aug. 23, is ranked 17th.

A trio of Big Sky Conference foes are also ranked – Montana is No. 5, Montana State is 18th and Northern Arizona is 23rd. EWU’s three playoff opponents from a year ago are all ranked in the top 13 – Jacksonville State (No. 6), South Dakota State (No. 10), Towson (No. 13). Northern Iowa, a team Eastern will face in 2015 and 2016, is ranked ninth.

Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, entering his seventh season at the helm and 11th overall at EWU, has a team picked by three national publications as the preseason No. 1 team in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision – Lindy’s, Sporting News and Athlon. In the coaches poll released Aug. 4, the Eagles were second behind NDSU. Also, the Eagles were picked to repeat as Big Sky Conference Champions after last year’s perfect 8-0 campaign.

Junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and sophomore wide receiver Cooper Kupp have been selected as preseason first team All-America selections, and both are candidates for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in FCS. Senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin is a second team preseason All-American and is on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player.

Also earning preseason All-America honors are senior running back Quincy Forte (third team) and junior offensive tackle Clay DeBord (third team).

The Eagles finished the 2013 season 12-3 and a perfect 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time in school history. Eastern opened the season with a 49-46 victory over 25th-ranked Oregon State, and went on to advance to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the third time in four years.

Adams, the 2013 runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, was one of 33 All-Americans from 2013 to be selected to the preseason team. He passed for 4,994 yards and 55 touchdowns -- which both rank third all-time in an FCS season -- and rushed for 605 yards and four touchdowns for the Eagles. Formerly from Pasadena, Calif., his 5,559 yards of offense were the second-most in FCS history.

Kupp was the lone sophomore selected among the 31 first team selections, and was one of just five sophomores overall. He accounted for numerous school, conference and FCS records in 2013 with a sensational debut season of 93 catches for 1,691 yards and 21 touchdowns. The 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., was selected as the recipient of the Jerry Rice Award given by The Sports Network to the top freshman in FCS, and was first team selection on all nine FCS All-America teams.

Hamlin was also an All-American last season and is a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award given by TSN to the top defensive player in FCS. The 2009 graduate of Timberline High School in Lacey, Wash., received his sixth year because of two previous seasons wiped out because of injuries, and finished the 2013 season with 140 tackles to rank fourth in school history. He enters the 2014 season with 361 career tackles, just 71 from the school record of 432 set by 2010 Buchanan Award winner J.C. Sherritt (2007-10).

Forte, who is from Fairfield, Calif., earned third team All-Big Sky honors as a sophomore in 2013 on a team deep at the running back position. He averaged 6.7 yards per carry in finishing with 1,208 yards and 11 touchdowns, including performances of 202 and 190 yards in the FCS Playoffs.

DeBord, a 2011 graduate of Asotin (Wash.) High School, earned second team All-Big Sky honors a year ago after starting 14 games at left offensive tackle. He helped Eastern set Big Sky and school records with 592 points, 83 touchdowns and 8,002 yards of offense in the 2013 season. As a team, EWU led FCS in passing efficiency (school record 182.6), and fourth in total offense (533.5 per game), fourth in passing (349.8), 41st in rushing (183.7) and seventh in scoring (39.5).


Team (First-place votes)

2013 Record

Points

Previous Rank

1.

Eastern Washington Eagles (82)

12-3

3589

3

2.

North Dakota State Bison (62)

15-0

3540

1

3.

Southeastern Louisiana Lions (2)

11-3

3300

6

4.

New Hampshire Wildcats (1)

10-5

3090

5

5.

Montana Grizzlies

10-3

2817

8

6.

Jacksonville State Gamecocks

11-4

2634

10

7.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

12-3

2461

7

8.

McNeese State Cowboys

10-3

2277

11

9.

Northern Iowa Panthers

7-5

2197

NR

10.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits

9-5

2154

13

11.

Fordham Rams

12-2

2139

9

12.

Villanova Wildcats

6-5

2072

NR

13.

Towson Tigers

13-3

1999

2

14.

Chattanooga Mocs

8-4

1647

23

15.

Tennessee State Tigers

10-4

1448

17

16.

Eastern Illinois Panthers

12-2

1375

4

17.

Sam Houston State Bearkats

9-5

1345

14

18.

Montana State Bobcats

7-5

1170

20

19.

William & Mary Tribe

7-5

1151

NR

20.

Richmond Spiders

6-6

963

NR

21.

Furman Paladins

8-6

802

22

22.

Bethune-Cookman Wildcats

10-3

475

16

23.

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

9-3

429

15

24.

Youngstown State Penguins

8-4

405

18

25.

Maine Black Bears

10-3

330

12

Others receiving votes: Southern Illinois 305, Liberty 223, South Carolina State 219, Delaware 213, Wofford 186, James Madison 180, Samford 142, Cal Poly 112, Southern Utah 100, Princeton 81, Charleston Southern 53, Harvard 43, Central Arkansas 36, Alcorn State 34, Lehigh 25, Gardner-Webb 22, Sacred Heart 14, Lafayette 13, Southern 12, North Carolina A&T 7, Northwestern State 6, Illinois State 6, Alabama State 6, Western Illinois 5, Missouri State 5, Penn 5, Sacramento State 4, Eastern Kentucky 2, Stony Brook 2, Prairie View A&M 2, San Diego 1, Indiana State 1, Duquesne 1. ... The Sports Network FCS Top 25 Voters - The Sports Network: Aaron Corrill; Craig Haley; Brandon Lawrence; Phil Sokol; Kevin Spiegel. Big Sky Conference: Brian Berger; Brad Bugger; Eric Burdick; Dave Cook; Paul Grua; Dave Guffey; Jeremy Hoeck; Mick Holien; Jon Kasper; Doug Kelly; Bill Lamberty; Mike Lund; Fritz Neighbor; Ryan Powell; Mike Robles; Steve Schaack; Randy Scovil; Mitch Strohman; Denise Thompson. Big South: Zeke Beam; Joe Cashion; Mike Cawood; Matt Harmon; Chris Lang; Marc Rabb; Mark Simpson; Greg Viscomi; Todd Wetmore; Alan York. CAA Football: Lizzie Barlow; Scott Burns; Pete Clawson; Shane Donaldson; Glenn Frazer; Adam Gutes; Matt Jones; Dean Kenefick; Allen Lessels; John Martin; Tyson McHatten; Mike Murphy; Chris Rash; Andrew Santillo; Scott Selheimer; Kevin Tresolini. Ivy League: Rick Bender; Eric Dolan; Chris Humm; Craig Larson; Dan Loney; Craig Sachson. Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: Thomas Grant; Bill Hamilton; Brian Holloway; Chris Hooks; Dennis Jones; Kendrick Lewis; Matt Michalec; Ty Miller; St. Claire Murraine; Patricia Porter; Dan Ryan; Michael Stambaugh; Jay Walker; Maurice Williams; Brent Woronoff. Missouri Valley Football Conference: Bryan Boettcher, John Bohnenkamp; Todd Golden; Jeremy Hoeck; Jason Hove; Todd Hefferman; Ace Hunt; Dom Izzo; Mike Kern; Rick Kindhart; Jeff Kolpack; John Lock; Colin McDonough; Patrick Osterman; Trevor Parks; Ryan Perreault; Randy Reinhardt; Jeff Schwartz; Mike Williams; Terry Vandrovec. Northeast Conference: Barry Beal; John Beisser; Brian Cleary; Spencer Kowitz; Tad Maurey; Ralph Ventre, Jim Waggoner. Ohio Valley Conference: Neal Bradley; John Brush; Michael Clark; Wallace Dooley; Jeff Honza; Brad Kirtley; Alex Mitchell; Rich Moser: Brian Nielsen: Karl Park: Mike Parris: Ryne Rickman; Kyle Schwartz: Greg Seitz. Patriot League: Charles Bare; Joe DiBari; Matt Dougherty; Keith Groller; Kevin Herr; Mike Joseph; Phil LaBella; Steve Lomangino; Eric Malanowski; Matt Markus; John Painter, Ryan Sakamoto. Pioneer Football League: Mark Brumbaugh; Cody Bush; Jack Cronin; Mike Ferraro; Ted Gosen; Ricky Hazel; Doug Hauschild; Paul Oren; Ty Patton; Matt Schabert; Jason Williams; Ryan Wronkowicz. Southern Conference: Jay Blackman; Jordon Bruner; Brian Gargone; Keith Jarrett; Joey Mullins; Hunter Reid; Todd Shanesy; Adam Smith; Brent Williamson. Southland Conference: Jason Barfield; Louis Bonnette; Matthew Bonnette; Jamie Bustos; Rand Champion; Kemmler Chapple; James Dixon; Alex Hickey; Calhoun Hipp; Doug Ireland; David McCollum; Shane Meling; Teddy Renois; Kyle Rogers; huntsvilleitemsports@gmail.com. Southwestern Athletic Conference: Jasher Cox; Ros Dumlao; Jennifer Jones; Zena Lewis; Darrell Orand; Wesley Peterson; Andrew Roberts; Je''Kel Smith. Other Representatives: Rolf Bertulies; Brian Brennan; Josh Buchanan; Kevin Marshall; Jim Seman.

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