IUP football ranked fourth in AFCA Division II preseason poll
With 13 starters and 35 lettermen overall back from last year’s 13-1 team that won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs, IUP football is ranked No. 4 in the preseason American Football Coaches Association Top 25 Poll released Monday.
The Crimson Hawks earlier this month were also selected as the favorite to repeat as PSAC champs.
IUP received two first-place votes in the AFCA poll.
Defending Division II national champion Texas A&M-Commerce received 13 first-place votes and is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll. West Florida is No. 2, followed by Minnesota State at No. 3.
Fort Hays State and Northwest Missouri State are tied at No. 5. The rest of the top 10 has Harding at No. 7, Ferris State at No. 8, Central Washington at No. 9 and Grand Valley State at No. 10.
The No. 4 ranking is the Crimson Hawks’ best in the preseason since they also were No. 4 in the 1995 poll. The program’s best preseason ranking was No. 2 in 1994.
IUP finished the 2017 season ranked No. 3. It lost to West Florida, 27-17, in the national semifinals.
Lenny Williams Jr., a Sto-Rox graduate, will be the Crimson Hawks starting quarterback for a fourth straight season. He is 30-4 as IUP’s starter and owns 16 program records.
IUP is the only PSAC team ranked in the top 25. Cal (Pa.) is on the fringe, as 89 votes put it at No. 26.
The Vulcans are ranked second behind the Crimson Hawks in the PSAC West poll. They finished 9-3 overall last year and were 5-2 in the division.
Cal returns 10 starters from 2017, a campaign that saw it qualify for the NCAA playoffs.
West Chester is ranked 28th in the new poll.