Football Picked Ninth In Sports Network Preseason Poll

Aug. 21, 2002

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville University has been picked ninth in the 2002 Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Preseason Top 10 Poll. The Dolphins, which finished last season ranked ninth after finishing 6-5 and losing to No. 1 Dayton in the Pioneer Football League Championship game, spent 11 weeks ranked in the top 10 last year, rising as high as No. 2 on Oct. 1, 2001.

JU returns eight starters on offense, including Sports Network Preseason All-American Kevin Womble, a junior tackle, while returning just three starters on the defensive side of the ball. Despite losing 25 seniors to graduation from a team that posted the program's first winning season, Gilbert is excited about the Dolphins' outlook for 2002. "I love the enthusiasm and talent level of this group," said Gilbert. "I have never looked forward to a season so much."

The Dolphins, which were picked to repeat as PFL South Division champions in a vote by league coaches, captured the 2001 PFL South Championship with a perfect 3-0 mark in league play in their first season in the league. No. 1 Dayton, which won the PFL North last season and won the inaugural PFL Championship Game, was chosen as the nation's top I-AA mid-major program. Duquesne claimed the No. 2 ranking in the preseason poll after finishing the 2001 season in the No. 4 position. In the No. 3 spot was Sacred Heart, which finished No. 1 last year with a perfect 11-0 record, followed by Robert Morris and St. Peter's to round out the top five. Albany was chosen at No. 6 followed by San Diego, Monmouth, Jacksonville and Drake, respectively.

JU will face its toughest schedule ever in 2002 with five scholarship opponents, three of four Pioneer Football League games away from home, a stretch of four consecutive away games in the middle of the season and more than 8,200 miles of travel. The Dolphins are 11-10 all-time against similar non-scholarship opponents and posted their first two wins over scholarship programs last year.

The Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Top-10 poll includes the 26 programs of the MAAC, NEC and Pioneer Football League, which play at a non-scholarship or limited scholarship level. An updated poll, which is based on the votes of selected media members and I-AA mid-major sports information directors, will be announced each Monday during the regular season. The team voted first in the final I-AA mid-major poll will be the recipient of the Sports Network Cup, to be awarded on Dec. 19, 2002, at the 16th Annual College Football Awards in Chattanooga, Tenn.

2002 Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Preseason Top-10 Poll

(First-place votes in parentheses)

Team 2001 Points Final Record 2001 Rank 1. Dayton (10) 10-1 213 2 2. Duquesne (3 8-3 182 4 3. Sacred Heart (10) 11-0 177 1 4. Robert Morris 6-3 154 5 5. St. Peter's 10-1 119 3 6. Albany 7-3 99 8 7. San Diego 6-3 87 6 8. Monmouth 7-3 66 7 9. Jacksonville 6-5 60 9 10. Drake 5-5 36 NR

Others receiving votes: Morehead State, Fairfield, Davidson