TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology football team has been picked to finish second in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings this season, in a preseason poll of league coaches released on Thursday.
Rose-Hulman received 84 poll points and three first-place votes for the No. 2 selection in the preseason poll. Defending league champion Franklin picked up six first place votes and 87 poll points.
Both Rose-Hulman and Franklin have received notoriety in NCAA Division III top 25 polls this season. Rose-Hulman is ranked No. 19 in the NCAA Division III "Starting Lineup" in the College Football America Yearbook and No. 20 in Street & Smith's 2018 College Football Preview. Franklin has also received top 25 accolades from multiple organizations.
Individually, Rose-Hulman senior Mike Riley has been named in a preseason All-American in the College Football America Yearbook, Street & Smith's Preview, by D3football.com and on the Podyum Preseason All-America Team. Riley was named as one of four defensive ends on the Street & Smith's Division III All-America Team after a stellar 2017 season. He led all NCAA Division I, II and III football players with 17 sacks during the 2017 regular season and was chosen a first-team NCAA Division III Associated Press Little All-America Team selection. He was a finalist for the 2017 Cliff Harris Award as the nation's top defensive player, earned honorable mention D3football.com All-American honors, and was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Most Valuable Player.
Rose-Hulman finished 8-2 in 2017 and appeared in the 2016 NCAA Division III Playoffs for the first time in program history as part of an 8-3 season.
Eighth-year head coach Jeff Sokol returns an experienced crew featuring four returning first-team all-conference players after the team's second-place finish in the HCAC last season. Projected returnees who earned first-team all-league honors last year include Riley; safety John Kirby; offensive lineman Lucas Leiner; and HCAC rushing champion Garrett Wight. The offense also returns its starting quarterback in honorable mention all-league honoree Andrew Dion along with four members of the offensive line.
The 2018 HCAC champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs, which begin on Nov. 17.
Rose-Hulman has a high profile season opener, traveling to No. 1 ranked Mount Union to face the defending national champions on Sept. 1. The home opener is Sept. 8 against Rhodes College.
2018 HCAC FOOTBALL PRESEASON POLL
|Finish||Team||First Place Votes||2017 Overall Record||2017 HCAC Record|
|3||Mount St. Joseph||68||6-4||5-3|