The Jacksonville State football team is ranked No. 7 in the STATS FCS Preseason Top 25, which was released on Monday.
The No. 7 ranking is another Top 10 preseason pick for the defending Ohio Valley Conference Champions. The Gamecocks were picked seventh in the Sporting News' FCS Preseason Poll, fourth in the Athlon poll and ninth in the FCS Coaches Poll earlier this summer.
The Gamecocks, who ran through the OVC with a perfect 8-0 record and posted a 10-2 overall mark in 2014, are just ahead of No. 8 Chattanooga, who they will face to open the season in Chattanooga on Sept. 5.
Season tickets are on sale in the JSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at www.JSUGamecockSports.com. To order by phone, call (256) 782-8499.
The Gamecocks finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the nation and earned a bye to the second round of the FCS Playoffs. The No. 2 ranking tied the 2010 team for the highest in the school's Division I history. The No. 7 ranking by the Sporting News is the second highest preseason ranking JSU has received at the FCS level, behind only last year's No. 6 ranking in The Sporting News Preseason Poll.
The Gamecocks lost leading rusher DaMarcus James but return seven starters on an offense that produced a school-record 510.8 yards per game, including quarterback Eli Jenkins (1,870 yards and 12 touchdowns passing, 813 and six touchdowns rushing) and wide receiver Josh Barge (56 catches for 919 yards and four touchdowns). Also back on offense are running backs Troymaine Pope (715 yards, six touchdowns) and Miles Jones (652, seven touchdowns).
JSU also returns nine starters on defense, including tackleDevaunte Sigler, OVC defensive player of the year, and All-American cornerback Jermaine Hough.
The Gamecocks will host five games in Burgess-Snow Field this fall, starting with their home and Ohio Valley Conference opener against Tennessee State on Sept. 19. They will host Mississippi Valley State on Oct. 3 before getting back to OVC play. JSU will finish the season with three of its last four games at home, Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 31, Southeast Missouri on Nov. 14 and Murray State on Nov. 21.
The Gamecocks reported for fall camp last week and will practice in full pads for the first time on Tuesday.
JSU is one of two OVC teams in the STATS Preseason Top 25, with Eastern Kentucky ranked No. 17. Eastern Illinois is the first team out, missing the 25th spot to McNeese State by just nine votes. Below is the full poll.
2015 STATS FCS Preseason Top 25
1. North Dakota State (0-0)
2. Illinois State (0-0)
3. Sam Houston State (0-0)
4. Villanova (0-0)
5. Coastal Carolina (0-0)
6. Eastern Washington (0-0)
7. Jacksonville State (0-0)
8. Chattanooga (0-0)
9. New Hampshire (0-0)
10. UNI (0-0)
11. Montana State (0-0)
12. James Madison (0-0)
13. Montana (0-0)
14. Youngstown State (0-0)
15. Liberty (0-0)
16. South Dakota State (0-0)
17. Eastern Kentucky (0-0)
18. Richmond (0-0)
19. Southeastern Louisiana (0-0)
20. Fordham (0-0)
21. Indiana State (0-0)
22. Idaho State (0-0)
23. Harvard (0-0)
24. Stephen F. Austin (0-0)
25. McNeese State (0-0)
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information)
The Gamecocks held their 4th practice of fall camp on Monday. JSU will go full pads on Tuesday.