The DII football preseason Power 10: West Florida is ready to defend its crown

The wait is sort of over: the 2021 DII soccer season is lower than a month away. It is time to focus our consideration on some rankings.

REMEMBER WHEN?: A glance again on the splendidly odd 2020-21 DII season

It has been a very long time coming. There was soccer performed in 2020, but it surely wasn’t the way in which we all know DII soccer. There was an try at fall ball and a number of other conferences held mini four- or five-game spring seasons, however with out the DII soccer championship, it merely did not really feel proper.

Now, camps are opening, preseason All-American lists are being launched and we’re lower than 4 weeks away from opening weekend starting Sept. 2. 

Last 2021 Energy 10 rankings: Males’s and ladies’s hoops | Baseball | Softball

For these new to my Energy 10 rankings, you will need to bear in mind: these are my rankings, and mine alone. I put together the Energy 10 rankings for males’s and ladies’s basketball, softball and baseball, and now, soccer as that is the inaugural rankings. I’ve taken perception from coaches, SIDs and insiders and paired it with what the choice committee tends to have a look at come event time — power of schedule, win-loss proportion and stats of that nature — to provide you with a good model of the highest 10. We’ll revisit the Energy 10 each Monday all through the season, updating it with the outcomes of every weekend.

Effectively, DII soccer followers — you have waited lengthy sufficient. Away we go.

The DII soccer preseason Energy 10

No. 1 West Florida
It’s been some time because the Argonauts took the soccer area. Right here’s a fast refresher: they’re the defending nationwide champions. Austin Reed is again beneath heart and in case you forgot, he threw for 523 yards and 6 touchdowns within the 2019 DII soccer championship sport. His two essential targets are gone, however he has loads of weapons in vast receivers Ka’Ron Ashley and Rodney Coates in addition to DI switch David Durden who might problem for newcomer of the yr. Senior D’Anthony Bell leads a proficient protection that ought to assist in opposition to the Argos’ brutally robust schedule. 

No. 2 Lenoir-Rhyne

Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Dareke Younger might discover his approach onto NFL draft boards with one other strong season.

The Bears performed a four-game spring schedule, shedding within the South Atlantic Convention championship sport to Tusculum. New head coach Mike Jacobs received his ft moist, and we have been launched to freshman operating again Dwayne McGee who ran for 511 yards in 4 video games. Huge receiver Dareke Younger is an All-American candidate and quarterback Grayson Willingham is a confirmed winner. Defensive lineman Dan Louba and linebacker Jon Ross Maye are two of one of the best at their respective positions within the SAC, which can assist navigate what has turn into one of many hardest conferences in DII soccer.

No. 3 Ferris State
You merely can’t have a prime 5 with out the Bulldogs. Ferris State has been to the DII semifinals in three of the previous 4 seasons with the lone outlier being a two-point loss within the 2017 nationwide quarterfinals. Head coach Tony Annese has accomplished it with totally different quarterbacks, all of whom have been very profitable, and hopes the pattern continues this yr with switch Mylik Mitchell from Kent State. He’ll have loads of returning weapons in vast receivers Sy Barnett and Xavier Wade in addition to Marvin Campbell and Tyler Minor at operating again, a duo that mixed for 1,509 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2019. 

No. 4 Slippery Rock

Slippery Rock Athletics
Henry Litwin is a preseason DII football All American.
Henry Litwin is likely one of the premier vast receivers in DII soccer.

Roland Rivers III, the 2019 Harlon Hill profitable quarterback, is rather a lot to switch. However The Rock has a number of transfers and in-house choices that — whoever earns the beginning job — could have loads of returning weapons to assist him out. That features a pair of potential All-American vast receivers in Henry Litwin and Jermaine Wynn, Jr. in addition to thrilling speedster ​​Cinque Sweeting. They may also have to switch a big a part of their operating sport from 2019 — additionally Rivers III who ran for 700 yards and 9 touchdowns — however have some attention-grabbing items that ought to not solely fill the void, however probably enhance it. With All-American Chad Kuhn main the protection, The Rock could have loads of alternative to rack up wins in a troublesome PSAC.

No. 5 Minnesota State
The Mavericks have been 2019 runners up, however that is really a testomony to this system that Todd Hoffner has constructed. Minnesota State loses operating again Nate Gunn and vast receiver Shane Zylstra — who have been two of one of the best at their positions in all DII for 2 years operating — and nonetheless return sufficient fireplace energy for a top-5 rating. It is a group that hasn’t misplaced a sport in NSIC play since 2016. Quarterback JD Ekowa is again and might be protected by probably the greatest offensive strains in DII, which may also enable a few of the new faces at operating again to develop. Senior linebacker Jack Leius is again to guide one of many stingiest defenses in all DII for 3 years operating, yearly discovering itself within the prime 10 in each scoring and whole protection. 

6. Texas A&M-Commerce
The Lions have merely been a mannequin of consistency since reaching the DII soccer championship event yearly since 2015, one of many longest energetic streaks within the nation. This yr they return three potential All-People and needs to be within the hunt for the LSC title as soon as once more. Amon Simon anchors an skilled offensive line to guard quarterback Miklo Smalls who had an amazing 2019 totaling over 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns. Dominique Ramsey is an athletic do-it-all kind participant that may harm opponents on protection, within the return sport and generally even on offense. 

NFL DRAFT: Take a look at the DII gamers chosen in 2021

7. Northwest Missouri State

Northwest Missouri State Athletics
Braden Wright of Northwest Missouri State football
Braden Wright hopes to guide Northwest Missouri State again to the DII soccer championship.

What’s a prime 10 checklist with out Northwest Missouri State? The Bearcats gained three titles through the Mel Tjeerdsma period and three extra beneath Adam Dorrel and now head coach Wealthy Wright is in search of his flip. With the dynamic Braden Wright beneath heart — and the thrilling Imoni Donadelle at receiver — and All-American candidate Sam Roberts main the all the time robust Bearcats protection — he could have his likelihood. As all the time, navigating by means of the MIAA is not any straightforward activity, however Northwest Missouri is equipped for a giant run. 

8. Colorado Faculty of Mines
This can be a bit excessive however there are three explanation why: quarterback John Matocha, operating again Michael Zeman and vast receiver Josh Johnston. We all know that RMAC soccer goes to be stuffed with shootouts, and with three potential All-American on the key positions, the Orediggers are arrange properly to win some ways, even when it’s a 56-55 thriller. The Nov. 6 showdown with CSU Pueblo is not going to solely have convention and playoff implications, but it surely may be probably the greatest video games of your entire season.

9. Valdosta State

Valdosta State Athletics
Valdosta State should contend for the DII football championship.
A brand new-look Blazers group seems to be to contend for the DII soccer championship.

The Blazers could have a brand new look in 2021. Gone is Rogan Wells, however Ivory Durham is greater than able to take over at quarterback. Durham could be very athletic and tremendous fast and has taken loads of snaps over the previous two seasons, together with hooking up with Wells on a memorable landing within the Blazers’ 2018 nationwide championship victory. He’ll have loads of weapons returning in receivers Lio’undre Gallimore and Kenny Benjamin and a pair of landing machines at operating again in Jamar Thompkins and Seth McGill. The GSC is hard, however Valdosta is all the time prepared. 

10. Notre Dame (OH)
Brandon Nicholson and Jimmy Burchett return to carry down one of many hardest offensive strains in DII. That’s an enormous benefit as a result of Chris Brimm and Devanaire Conliffe have confirmed to be an thrilling quarterback-to-receiver combo. There might be a brand new operating again to hold the rock, however as we’ve seen up to now, the Falcons are a operating again manufacturing unit. Notre Dame swept by means of its five-game spring schedule in dominating style, outscoring opponents 289-77 — a whopping 57.8 factors per sport. Keep watch over switch Tyris Dickerson from Jap Kentucky. He may very well be the following large rusher out of South Euclid, Ohio. 

Simply missed, in alphabetical order:

Bowie State: This roster is loaded with elite expertise. Quarterback Ja’rome Johnson ought to lead the same old high-scoring offense, however the protection has potential All People in Joshua Pryor and Demetri Morsell to paved the way.

CSU Pueblo: The ThunderWolves all the time have probably the greatest defenses within the RMAC, a giant weapon in opposition to the high-octane offenses out west. The addition of operating Michael Roots, a participant of the yr candidate, is super.

FAQ: How the DII soccer championship works | Most titles in DII historical past

UIndy: Ten starters return on offense, together with the two-headed monster of Tori Clinton and Al McKellar within the backfield. The duo has rushed for 4,054 yards and 44 touchdowns over the previous two full seasons. 

Lindenwood: Don’t be stunned to listen to quarterback Cade Brister’s identify among the many Harlon Hill finalists main the potent Lions offense. Linebacker Drew Seers is a preseason favourite for defensive participant of the yr. 

DON’T MISS: Sustain with the newest DII sports activities information proper right here

Ouachita Baptist: The Tigers are perennially one of many premier defenses in DII and may proceed that pattern with senior returners in any respect three ranges. Defensive finish Dameyun McDonald is an absolute beast. 


Keep watch over these two groups. They don’t seem to be prime 10 proper now, however we wouldn’t be stunned in the event that they discover their approach into the dialog later within the season. 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: A whole information to the Harlon Hill Trophy

Grand Valley State: Bizarre listening to one of many winningest groups in DII historical past be known as a sleeper, isn’t it? However the Lakers have only one event look up to now three years. There’s a ton of returning expertise right here and the Lakers needs to be within the hunt for the GLIAC title as soon as once more. 

Virginia Union: Khalid Morris and Charles Corridor, an thrilling QB-to-WR combo, ought to make this group loads of enjoyable to observe, and rack up some vital wins alongside the way in which. 

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