Northern Michigan University picked 7th in GLIAC football poll

Northern Michigan University’s Tyshon King scores a touchdown against McKendcree on Sept. 7, 2019, in the Superior Dome in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — With the 2021 season less than a month away, the Northern Michigan University football team just may be able to sneak up on the GLIAC if its coaches are any indication in the preseason poll.

NMU was picked Monday to finish seventh in the eight-team conference in the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, finishing with 15 points, five ahead of last-place Northwood. Those predictions may look a little bleak for the ‘Cats, but they have some quality players who might prove the doubters wrong.

Most polls, like this one, are based much on the results of the past season, which in this case would be the 2019 campaign after last year’s fall season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And in 2019, the Wildcats struggled to 0-8 conference and 1-9 overall marks.

NMU’s leading rusher in 2019, All-GLIAC honorable mention honoree Tyshon King, is back after a 647-yard season two years ago. Also back is senior running back Deandre Caldwell, who has rushed for 756 yards and two touchdowns over the course of his career.

Northern Michigan University's Benjamin Loutsis catches a pass from Ryan Johnson for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' game against McKendree at the Superior Dome in Marquette on Sept. 7, 2019. Defending on the play is McKendree's Jhaidyn Brown. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Wide receiver Benjamin Loutsis also returns for NMU. He was tied for the team lead in receiving TDs, total receptions and receptions per game in 2019. The offensive line has several veterans and will be led by center Jay Young, who was All-GLIAC Honorable Mention in 2019.

On the other side of the ball, senior safety Brady Hanson is back after leading the team in forced fumbles, interceptions and pass breakups. He also picked up 78 tackles, which tied him with fellow returnee Antonio Howard Jr.

Jacob Dudeck will anchor the defensive line as he finished 2019 with 24 tackles, 11 of them solo. He also had 1 1/2 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.

Arguably, the biggest returning star for NMU is kickoff returner Tyquan Cox, who led the ‘Cats in all-purpose yards in 2019. He also ran a kick back for a 99-yard touchdown, the first for Northern since 2016.

2019 champion Ferris State also took first in this preseason poll with 49 points and seven first-place votes.

Grand Valley State was next after a fourth-place finish in 2019, while Wayne State was picked third after its runner-up campaign in 2019.

The rest of the picks starting with the fourth spot are Saginaw Valley State, Michigan Tech, Davenport, NMU and Northwood.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.


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