South Dakota State has been picked to finish sixth in the 2012 Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Poll, which was announced Thursday.
Defending national champion North Dakota State gained the top spot, receiving 37 of 38 first-place votes in the poll conducted by league coaches, sports information directors and select media. Northern Iowa, which tied NDSU for the league regular season title a year ago, finished second in the poll, followed by Youngstown State and Illinois State.
Indiana State rounded out the top half of the poll, with SDSU taking sixth. Southern Illinois, South Dakota, Western Illinois and Missouri State completed the poll.
Individually, three Jackrabbit players were recognized on the 2012 Missouri Valley Football Preseason Team. Offensively, senior wide receiver Aaron Rollin and tackle Bryan Witzmann were honored along with defensive back Winston Wright.
Rollin, an honorable mention all-league performer last season, tied for the team lead with 61 receptions last season. The Lee's Summit, Mo., native also gained 906 yards through the air and reccorded a team-best seven touchdowns in 2011.
Witzmann, a junior from Houlton, Wis., also earned honorable mention all-MVFC honors in 2011. He has started all 22 games at left tackle over the last two seasons.
Wright, a junior from Lee's Summit, Mo., was a second-team all-MVFC selection in 2011 after recording a team-best three interceptions from his cornerback position. Wright also notched 57 tackles and a team-best seven pass breakups.
Also recognized on the preseason team was honorable mention selection Andy Mink on the defensive line. A native of Ashland, Neb., Mink racked up 75 tackles, including team-best totals of 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks in 2011.
2012 MISSOURI VALLEY FOOTBALL CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
1. North Dakota State (37) 379
2. Northern Iowa 300
3. Youngstown State 291
4. Illinois State (1) 287
5. Indiana State 228
6. South Dakota State 182
7. Southern Illinois 167
8. South Dakota 97
9. Western Illinois 90
10. Missouri State 69