Fordham Opens Season at No. 12 in FCS Coaches Poll

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Fordham senior tight end Dan Light
Fordham senior tight end Dan Light

Aug. 5, 2014

FCS Coaches Poll

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Fordham begins the 2014 season among the elite teams in the nation after coming in at No. 12 in the FCS Coaches Poll on Monday.

The Rams, who were picked as the unanimous favorite by opposing teams in the Patriot League preseason poll last week, earn the No. 12 position after finishing in the top 10 in both the FCS Coaches Poll and Sports Network Top 25 last season. The Sports Network rankings will be released later this week.

Fordham comes off a historic season where it finished 12-2 overall and made the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Rams feature a senior-laden roster that has received plenty of preseason accolades. Quarterback Mike Nebrich and wide receiver Sam Ajala are both candidates for the Walter Payton Award as the Most Outstanding Player in the FCS, while linebacker Stephen Hodge is up for the Buck Buchanan Award as the Top Defensive Player in the nation. Nebrich and Hodge were the Patriot League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively, last season, and carry those same titles for the preseason. All three players are all Preseason All-America selections along with tight end Dan Light and offensive lineman Mason Halter. Seven others joined the group as Preseason All-Patriot League picks including wide receivers Tebucky Jones and Brian Wetzel, placekicker Michael Marando, defensive linemen DeAndre Slate and Brett Biestek, defensive back Ian Williams and punter Joe Pavlik. Linebacker Austin Hancock and defensive backs Jordan Chapman and Levon Williams were also All-Patriot League picks last season as the Rams return all but two of their 17 All-League players. Fordham will be in search of its first Patriot League title since 2007.

In preseason magazines covering the FCS, the Rams were ranked No. 8 by both Sporting News and Lindy's, and came in at No. 13 in Athlon.

Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State earned the top spot in the FCS Coaches Poll, followed in order by Eastern Washington, Southeastern Louisiana, New Hampshire and Montana in the top five.

Patriot League teams will face off against three opponents listed in the preseason FCS Coaches Poll. No. 12 Fordham will play at No. 13 Villanova on Sept. 6, Lehigh goes to No. 4 New Hampshire on Sept. 13 and Lafayette heads to No. 22 William & Mary on Sept. 20. Fordham and Lehigh each won the matchup at home last season, while Lafayette won at William & Mary in 2012.

The Patriot League football season kicks off on Aug. 30 with five teams in non-League action. The first Patriot League games will be played on Sept. 27 when Fordham visits Holy Cross and Georgetown heads to Colgate. The winner of the Patriot League title receives the League's automatic berth to the FCS playoffs, which begin on Nov. 29.

For the full top 25, view the FCS Coaches Poll