|RMU Selected Sixth in NEC Preseason Coaches Poll|
Moon Township, Pa. - According to a poll of Northeast Conference (NEC) head coaches, the Robert Morris University football team has been selected to finish sixth in the NEC in 2012.
Defending NEC co-champion Albany, the conference's representative in the 2011 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs, was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the poll. The Great Danes, who posted an overall record of 8-4 last year, including 7-1 in the NEC, garnered six of the nine first-place votes.
Slated to finish second and third, respectively, in the league in 2012 are Duquesne (9-2, 7-1) and Bryant (7-4, 5-3), both of whom also received first-place votes. Central Connecticut State (4-7, 3-5) and Monmouth (5-6, 4-4) were positioned in fourth and fifth place in the poll. Following RMU in the poll are Wagner (4-7, 4-4), Sacred Heart (5-6, 3-5) and Saint Francis (2-9, 1-7).
Robert Morris returns 17 starters and 39 overall letterwinners from a season ago. Among the returnees include a pair of Colonials that were named to the All-NEC Preseason Team in senior defensive back Cameron Chadwick (Vista, Calif. / College of Canyons) and senior defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, Pa. / Mars Area). RMU joined Albany and Bryant as one of only three schools to place at least two student-athletes on the defensive side of the preseason squad.
In his first season with the Colonials in 2011, the 6'1" 215-pound Chadwick posted a team-high 80 tackles, including 32 of the solo variety. He averaged 8.25 tackles per game within conference play, including posting a team season-best 16 takedowns in RMU's game at eventual champion Albany. Chadwick also intercepted a pass, returning it 39 yards, to help set up a game-tying Colonial touchdown in a 23-20 victory at Monmouth.
Nearhoof earned his second straight All-NEC First Team honor in 2011 after ranking among the top six in the league in both sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (12.5) despite missing the final two games of the campaign with an injury. He contributed 60 tackles overall, including 24 solo stops, while adding two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups. Nearhoof, a two-time Academic All-American, enters 2012 as RMU's active leader in career tackles (137), tackles for loss (23) and sacks (16).
Robert Morris will also welcome back senior quarterback Jeff Sinclair (Natrona Heights, Pa. / Highlands), a 2010 All-NEC First Team honoree who has started 27 career games under center for the Colonials. While completing 116 passes for 1,373 yards last season, Sinclair showcased his versatility by notching career highs in rushing yards (231) and rushing touchdowns (six). Entering the 2012 season Sinclair ranks fifth in career completions (322), passing yards (4,121) and touchdown passes (42) as well as tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns (14) in RMU history.
RMU will have no time to ease into its season as the Colonials open the 2012 campaign by traveling to the Fargodome to face defending FCS national champion North Dakota State. The Colonials will face the Bison, ranked No. 1 in the College Sporting News preseason poll, Saturday, Sept. 1, at 7:00 p.m. Robert Morris will then play its home and NEC opener the following week as it hosts defending champion Albany Sept. 8 at Noon.
Led by the only head coach in the history of the program in Joe Walton, RMU opens its 19th intercollegiate football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Joe Walton Stadium.
2012 NEC Preseason Coaches Poll
(first-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Albany (6)
2. Duquesne (1)
3. Bryant (2)
4. Central Connecticut State
6. Robert Morris
8. Sacred Heart
9. Saint Francis