The U of M, Crookston football team was picked to finish 16th in the 2012 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll announced Tuesday by the league office. UMC seniors Richard Haley (RB, Detroit, Mich.) and Tevin Kellum (DB, Detroit, Mich.) were selected as 2012 NSIC Players to Watch for the Golden Eagles.
Minnesota Duluth (217 votes) was selected to finish first in the league with nine first-place votes. UMD advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2011 NCAA Division II Playoffs after winning the National Championship in 2010. St. Cloud State University (211 votes) was picked to finish second in the NSIC and received six first-place votes while Minnesota State University, Mankato (197 votes) was slated third in the poll and notched one first-place vote. Winona State University (175 votes) and Augustana College (169 votes) round out the top five in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The Golden Eagles picked up 17 votes in the poll as they were picked 16th after finishing the 2011 season with a 1-10 (0-10 NSIC) mark. UMC was slated to finish eighth in the new incarnation of the NSIC North Division which includes UMD, SCSU, Bemidji State University, University of Mary, Northern State University, new member Minot State University and Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
Minnesota, Crookston will be under new leadership in 2012 as Paul Miller takes the reins after previously serving as offensive coordinator for the Golden Eagles. In addition, UMC will also have new offensive and defensive coordinators in 2012. Jeff Cheek takes over the offense under Miller after serving as an offensive quality control assistant at Fresno State University and before that at his alma mater, Boise State University. On the defensive side of the ball, Ty Knott steps in after serving as secondary coach for Texas Southern University. Prior to that, Knott was the director of player development for the San Francisco 49ers.
Haley was selected as UMC’s Offensive Player to Watch after setting the University of Minnesota, Crookston single-season rushing record as a junior with 1,556 yards on 305 carries with eight touchdowns. He also surpassed the mark for rushing attempts in a season for a Golden Eagle player. Haley was selected to the NSIC North Division All-Conference First Team Offense in his first season at UMC after transferring from Grand Rapids Community College. In addition, he was named a Beyond Sports College Network (BSN) Pre-Season All-America Second Team pick heading into the 2012 campaign. He averaged 141.5 yard per game and 5.1 yards per carry to lead the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference a season ago. In addition, he was second in the conference in all-purpose yards with 1,631.
Kellum, who came with Haley to UMC for Grand Rapids Community College, was selected UMC’s Defensive Player to Watch after amassing 71 tackles from the defensive backfield a season ago to place second on the University of Minnesota, Crookston squad in that category. His 71 tackles also ranked him among the top in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in that category. In addition, he racked up 2.5 tackles for loss for a net of 10 yards and five pass breakups in his first season with the Golden Eagles.
Page 2 of 2 - St. Cloud State quarterback Phillip Klaphake was named the NSIC North Offensive Preseason Player of the Year while Huskies’ defensive back Marvin Matthews was selected the NSIC North Defensive Preseason Player of the Year. Winona State running back Rayon Simmons was named the NSIC South Offensive Preseason Player of the Year while Augustana linebacker Austin Luecke was selected NSIC South Defensive Preseason Player of the Year.
The Golden Eagles will open NSIC play Aug. 30 against Winona State on the road.