North Dakota State has been picked to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference crown in 2012. NDSU is the defending national champion and shared the league title with UNI last year. The Bison received the top spot, earning 37 of 38 first-place votes, in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
The Bison return six starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that went 14-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference last year.
UNI is picked second as the Panthers earned 300 total points to edge Youngstown State (291) and Illinois State (287) in the voting. The Panthers represented the league in the playoffs last year and compiled a 10-3 overall record and 7-1 league slate. UNI has been ranked in the Top 25 in 94 consecutive polls.
Indiana State is fifth in this year’s poll, with 228 points, while South Dakota State (182) and Southern Illinois (167) follow closely behind. Newcomer South Dakota clocks in at No. 8 in the pre-season poll with 97 points, followed by Western Illinois (90) and Missouri State (69).
A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 14 times (in 26 previous polls). UNI was picked to win the league last season.
2012 Valley Football Preseason Poll
Team (first-place votes) — Points
1. North Dakota State (37) — 379
2. UNI — 300
3. Youngstown State — 291
4. Illinois State (1) — 287
5. Indiana State — 228
6. South Dakota State — 182
7. Southern Illinois — 167
8. South Dakota — 97
9. Western Illinois — 90
10. Missouri State — 69
2012 Missouri Valley Football Preseason Team
Name, School Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown / High School
QB- Kurt Hess, YSU 6-3 230 Jr. Dayton (Ohio) Chaminade-Julienne
RB- Shakir Bell, INS 5-8 185 Jr. Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central
Jamaine Cook, YSU 5-9 215 Sr. Cleveland (Ohio) Midpark High
FB- Jordan Neukirch, ILS 6-2 225 Jr. Algonquin (Ill.) Huntley High
WR- Aaron Rollin, SDSU 6-1 210 Sr. Lee's Summit (Mo.) West High
Tyrone Walker, ILS 5-11 190 Sr. Indianapolis (Ind.) Cardinal Ritter
TE- MyCole Pruitt, SIU 6-3 241 So. St. Louis (Mo.) Kirkwood High
OL- Chris Elkins, YSU 6-4 290 Jr. Beaver Falls (Pa.) High
Jimmy Holtschlag, WIU 6-5 300 Sr. Quincy (Ill.) Notre Dame
FN Lutz, INS 6-3 290 Sr. W. Lafayette (Ind.) Lafayette Harrison
Mark Pratt, YSU 6-3 295 Sr. Tooele (Utah) High
Bryan Witzmann, SDSU 6-7 300 Jr Houlton (Wis.) Somerset High
PK- Tyler Sievertsen, UNI 6-2 185 Jr. Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kennedy High
DL- Kenneth Boatright, SIU 6-4 244 Sr. Bolingbrook (Ill.) Midland Lutheran
Ben Obaseki, INS 6-3 260 Sr. Washington (Ind.) High
Nate Palmer, ILS 6-2 235 Sr. Chicago (Ill.) Simeon High
Kayon Swanson, SIU 6-1 282 Sr. Southfield (Mich.) High
LB- Aaron Archie, INS 6-0 235 Sr. Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
Evan Frierson, ILS 6-2 240 Sr. Washington (D.C.) H.D. Woodson
Tyler Starr, USD 6-5 236 Jr. Little Rock (Iowa) George-Little Rock
Jacolby Washington, INS 6-1 235 Sr. Deltona (Fla.) Deltona Trinity Christian
DB- Colten Heagle, NDSU 5-10 200 Jr. Appleton (Wis.) Kimberly High
Varmah Sonie, UNI 5-9 166 Sr. Burnsville (Minn.) Apple Valley
Marcus Williams, NDSU 5-11 195 Jr. Minneapolis (Minn.) Hopkins High
Winston Wright, SDSU 5-10 185 Jr. Lee's Summit (Mo.) Blue Springs South
P- Lucas Hileman, INS 6-1 195 Sr. Anna (Ill.) Anna-Jonesboro High
RS- Steve Strother, SIU 5-8 170 Sr. Culpepper (Va.) Eastern View
Honorable Mention (minimum of five votes):
QB Matt Brown (Illinois State); WR Will Powell (South Dakota); TE Matt Thayer (Missouri State); OL Misha Danilov (UNI); OL Billy Turner (North Dakota State); OL Tim Ross (South Dakota); PK Kevin Robb (South Dakota); DE Cole Jirik (North Dakota State); DL Andy Mink (South Dakota State); DL Dwight Harris (Western Illinois); LB Teven Williams (Youngstown State); LB Andrew Beisel (Missouri State); LB Travis Beck (North Dakota State); DB Kieron James (Western Illinois); DB Garrett Scott (UNI); P Cole Zwiefelhofer (South Dakota); RS Ryan Smith (North Dakota State).