Jackrabbits picked second in MVFC
ST. LOUIS — South Dakota State has been picked to finish second in the 2013 Missouri Valley Football Conference race, according to a preseason poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors that was released Monday.
In addition, four Jackrabbit players were named to the MVFC Preseason Team.
The Jackrabbits, who placed second in the league last season with a 6-2 record en route to a 9-4 overall mark and berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, tallied 323 points in the poll. Defending league champion and two-time defending national champion North Dakota State was a unanimous first-place selection, garnering all 39 first-place votes for 390 points. Northern Iowa (269), Illinois State (264) and Youngstown State (253) rounded out the upper half of the 10-team league.
Headlining South Dakota State's four selections to the preseason all-league team were returning first-team honorees Bryan Witzmann and Zach Zenner. A senior offensive tackle, Witzmann has started all 35 of the Jackrabbits' games over the last three seasons. Zenner, meanwhile, set a league single-season record for rushing yards during the 2012 season, totaling an FCS-best 2,044 yards in 13 games.
Joining Witzmann and Zenner on the preseason team were defensive end Doug Peete and linebacker T.J. Lally, who both were second-team all-MVFC selections a year ago. Peete led the squad with 13.5 tackles for loss and shared the team lead with six sacks a season ago. Lally put together a strong redshirt freshman season in 2012, ranking second on the team with 107 tackles and also sharing the team lead with six sacks.
The Jackrabbits, coached by John Stiegelmeier, open fall camp Aug. 5. SDSU's season opener is slated for Aug. 31, when the Jackrabbits host Butler (Ind.) in a 6 p.m. game at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.