The CSU-Pueblo football team again has a bullseye on its back. Fort Lewis, meanwhile, will fly a bit more under the radar.
The ThunderWolves received nine of 10 first-place votes and were picked to repeat as league champions when the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll was released Monday. The Skyhawks were picked to finish eighth in the 10-team league, ahead of Western State and conference newcomer Black Hills State, which replaces the departed Nebraska-Kearney.
Colorado Mines, Chadron State, Adams State and Colorado Mesa rounded out the top half of the poll. New Mexico Highlands and Western New Mexico tied for sixth place, while Chadron State received the other first-place vote.
Fort Lewis senior linebacker Phil Odell was the Skyhawks lone selection to the Preseason All-RMAC team. Odell led Fort Lewis in tackles a season ago with 101, including 10.5 tackles for loss. The Show Low, Ariz., native also led the team with three fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
CSU-Pueblo quarterback Ross Dausin was the coaches pick as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. A second-team All-RMAC performer a season ago, Dausin set school records with 1,992 total offensive yards, 1,868 passing yards and 16 touchdown passes last season and is 20-3 in his career as a starter.
NMHU linebacker Jordan Campbell earned the nod as Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Campbell led the RMAC in tackles with 110 a season ago, including a national-best 28.5 tackles for loss also a conference record. Hes been named a Preseason All-American by two different college football publications and was on three All-America lists after last seasons performance.
Colorado Mines punter Taylor Accardi was tabbed Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year. The senior led the nation with an average of 48.5 yards per punt in 2011 and was a first-team Daktronics and D2football.com All-American and is a first-team Preseason All-American in two publications.
The Skyhawks open the 2012 campaign on Sept. 1 in Boulder with an exhibition contest against Cole College. The regular season kicks off Sept. 8, when the Skyhawks host New Mexico Highlands at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.