Aug. 3, 2004
2004 Patriot League Preseason Poll
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2004 NCAA Division I-AA Tournament finalist Colgate University is expected to win its third-straight Patriot League title and take another shot at the national playoffs, according to the preseason voting of the League's coaches and sports information directors.
Individual accolades were awarded to Colgate Sr. RB Jamaal Branch (Mashpee, Mass.), Fordham Sr. DB Tad Kornegay (Trenton, N.J.) and Soph. PK Micah Clukey (St. Augustine, Fla.). Branch, a unanimous 2003 first-team All-American and the Walter Payton Award winner, was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while Kornegay is the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and Clukey is the Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year, a new award in 2004.
The Raiders, who posted a 15-1 overall record in 2003 (7-0 in League play), received the maximum 12 first-place votes to compile 72 points in the preseason poll. Coaches and SIDs were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Colgate, which tied Fordham for the 2002 PL crown before going undefeated in League play in 2003, earned the No. 4 seed in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The Raiders downed fifth-seeded Massachusetts (19-7), Western Illinois (28-27) and Florida Atlantic (36-24) before falling to second-seeded Delaware (40-0) in the National Championship contest.
Lehigh, 8-3 overall last year (6-1 PL), received the other two first-place votes and eight out of 10 possible second-place votes to finish second in the preseason poll with 59 points. The Mountain Hawks won or shared four-straight League championships from 1998 to 2001.
Fordham (9-3, 4-3 PL), which tied Bucknell (6-6, 4-3 PL) for third in the 2003 final standings, finished third in the 2003 preseason poll with 51 points, followed by the Bison in fourth place with 40 points. The Rams, who handed Colgate its only PL loss in the last two seasons, shared the 2002 PL crown with CU. It was Fordham's first PL title since joining the League in 1989.
Lafayette (5-6, 2-5 PL) placed fifth in the preseason poll with 26 points while Georgetown (4-8, 1-6 PL) and Holy Cross (1-11, 1-6 PL) tied for sixth place in the poll, each with 23 points.
Branch, who set the NCAA Division I-AA single-season records for rushing yards (2,326) and rushing TDs (29) last year, will try to capture his second-straight PL Offensive Player of the Year award. Top challengers in the preseason voting included Colgate Sr. QB Chris Brown (Rockledge, Fla.), Lehigh Sr. TE Adam Bergen (Seaford, N.Y.), Lafayette Sr. RB Joe McCourt (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Colgate Sr. WR Luke Graham (Hamilton, N.Y.).
Kornegay, who led the League in passes defended (19) and was one of the top tacklers among PL defensive backs (71), edged a talented group for the PL Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honor. Other preseason standouts on the defensive side of the ball include Fordham Sr. DL Aki Jones (Jamaica, N.Y.), Bucknell Sr. LB Kevin Ransome (Bear, Del.), Fordham Sr. LB NaQuinton Gainous (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Colgate Sr. LB Antrell Tyson (Decatur, Ga.).
Clukey, who was named PL Freshman of the Year in 2003 after leading the League's kickers in scoring during the regular-season with 80 points, gained the nod in the Special Teams Preseason Player of the Year voting over Colgate Jr. PK Lane Schwarzberg (Winter Haven, Fla.), Bucknell Jr. return specialist Dante Ross (Groton, Conn.), Bucknell Soph. PK Ryan Korn (Shirley, N.Y.) and Lafayette Jr. return specialist Larry Johnson (Waldorf, Md.).