Still On Top: Defending champion Blazers headline Preseason National Football Rankings

Shane Thomas | The Valdosta Daily TimesValdosta State quarterback Rogan Wells (11) looks downfield during the NCAA Division II National Championship game against Ferris State Dec. 15, 2018, in McKinney, Texas.

VALDOSTA –– The defending national champion Valdosta State football team is ranked number one according to a number of football magazines and websites, heading into the 2019 season. Junior quarterback Rogan Wells, along with senior offensive lineman Adonis Sealey and senior defensive lineman Joe Mozone were tabbed preseason All-America selections.

Valdosta State, who had its first undefeated season in program history at 14-0 in 2018, won its fourth national title in 14 years with a thrilling 49-47 victory over Ferris State (Mich.) at McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney, Texas, in December.

VSU led the nation in scoring average at a VSU and Gulf South conference record 52.0 points per game, while setting numerous school and conference records.

Heading into the 2019 season, the Blazers return a number of key players on both sides of the ball and look forward to the fall campaign under new head coach Gary Goff.

Returning this season under center is Wells, the 2018 Harlon Hill Award national runner-up, who had an outstanding sophomore campaign as he threw for five touchdowns tying the national title game record and caught a touchdown for six scores for a new championship game record in 2018. A talented group of running backs and wide receivers complement Wells on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side of the ball, six starters return for the Blazers as the team led the nation in 2018 with six interceptions for touchdowns and 18 total interceptions for the season.

Looking at the preseason magazines, Street & Smith’s has the Blazers as the top team nationally, followed by 2018 runner-up Ferris State, Minnesota State is third, followed by Notre Dame College (Ohio), who gave VSU all it could handle in the national semifinals last season. Lenoir-Rhyne, who VSU also played in the playoffs in 2018, rounds out the top five. West Georgia sits 16thin the poll, while West Alabama is 20th and Wingate rounds out teams from Super Region Two in the poll.

NCAA.com also has the Blazers at the top spot in its Incredibly Early Top Ten as seen by Wayne Cavadi for the website. Cavadi has VSU at No. 1, followed by Ferris State, Notre Dame (Ohio), Minnesota State and Northwest Missouri State rounds out the top five. The College Football Today website has the Blazers at the top spot with Ferris State at No. 2, followed by Notre Dame (Ohio) at No. 3, along with Ouachita Baptist at No. 4 and Tarleton State (Texas) rounds out the top five. West Georgia is seventh, while Florida Tech is 25th.

Lindy’s Magazine also has the Blazers at No. 1, followed by Ferris State, Notre Dame (Ohio), Minnesota State and Northwest Missouri State rounds out the top five. West Georgia sits 23rd as the only other GSC team in the poll. Along with the rankings by Lindy’s, Wells was named a Lindy’s Preseason First Team All-America selection. Sealey earned second team honors as did Mozone. Lindy’s and Street & Smith’s magazines are on newsstands now.

The College Football Yearbook also has the Blazers on top, followed by Ferris State, Lenoir-Rhyne, Notre Dame College and Minnesota State round out the top five of its poll. West Georgia is 19thin the poll and West Alabama is 24th, with Florida Tech coming in at 28th. Sealey was named to the College Football Yearbook Preseason All-America team.

The Blazers open the 2019 season in defense of its title at Albany State on Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. The 2019 home slate begins on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium against Ohio Dominican. VSU has five home games this season as the team went a perfect 8-0 at home last season.

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