The UW–Platteville football team is ranked eighth in the 2014 D3football.com preseason Top 25 poll.
The Pioneers are coming off one of the best seasons in school history as they went 10–2 and advanced to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Division III Championships.
UW–Platteville returns nine defensive starters, including D3football.com third-team All-American defensive back Rob Austin and second-team all-region defensive end Andrew Robinson, and six starters on the offensive side of the ball.
As a junior, Austin led the WIAC and ranked 33rd in the nation with 17 passes defended. He totaled 14 pass breakups and three interceptions and earned first-team All-WIAC honors.
Robinson led the conference with 10 sacks a year ago as a junior and ranked 40th in the country for his nine solo and two assisted sacks. He totaled 17 tackles for a loss and made 43 stops, earning first team All-WIAC honors.
On offense, coach Mike Emendorfer, the 2013 WIAC Coach of the Year, must replace third-team All-American and West Region Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback John Kelly, who set four single season school records.
Kelly completed 303 passes for 3,626 yards and 36 touchdowns while totaling 3,881 total yards of offense and will leave a large hole to fill, but the Pioneers do return plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Senior Bryce Corrigan is the likely successor to Kelly at quarterback. As a junior Corrigan completed 57-of-87 passes for 508 yards, six TDs and two interceptions while playing in nine games. As a sophomore Corrigan completed 212-of-300 passes for 2,144 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions after season-ending injuries to senior Nick Anderson and Kelly, who was the backup in 2012.
Among the six-returning offensive starters are first-team All-WIAC selections senior right guard Jayson Eddy and senior wide receiver Trevor Whitehead, as well as second-team all-conference senior left guard Brian Johnson.
Eddy and Johnson anchored an offensive line that has only allowed seven sacks all year and ranks first in the country with 3.20 tackles for a loss allowed per game.
Whitehead finished second on the team with 81 receptions for 1,017 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns.
The WIAC has three members in the top-25 for the second straight season and the third time in poll history.
Defending national champions, UW–Whitewater, got all 25 No. 1 votes, while UW–Oshkosh was picked 18th.
The poll, in its 12th season, is voted on by a panel of 25 coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country, and is published weekly during the season. The first weekly poll will be conducted on Sept. 7, following the first weekend of games.
The Pioneers open the 2014 campaign on Sept. 6 at Buena Vista.