Fordham QB Mike Nebrich
Aug. 11, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Fordham will open the season in the top 15 of both major national polls after coming in at No. 11 in The Sports Network FCS top 25 on Friday.
The Rams, who were picked as the unanimous favorite by opposing teams in the Patriot League preseason poll last week, earned the No. 12 position in the FCS Coaches Poll last week. They finished in the top 10 of both national rankings in 2013.
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.
Eastern Washington edged three-time defending national champion North Dakota State for the top spot in The Sports Network FCS top 25. Southeastern Louisiana, New Hampshire and Montana completed the top five in order.
Patriot League teams will face off against three opponents listed in the preseason FCS polls. No. 11/12 Fordham will play at No. 12/13 Villanova on Sept. 6, Lehigh goes to No. 4/4 New Hampshire on Sept. 13 and Lafayette heads to No. 19/22 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 rankings, view the Sports Network FCS Top 25