The Jacksonville State football team is ranked No. 9 in the FCS Preseason Coaches Poll, which was released on Wednesday.
The No. 9 ranking is another Top 10 preseason pick for the defending Ohio Valley Conference Champions. The Gamecocks were picked seventh in the Sporting News' FCS Preseason Poll and fourth in the Athlon poll earlier this summer.
The Gamecocks, who ran through the OVC with a perfect 8-0 record and posted a 10-2 overall mark in 2014, are just ahead of No. 10 Northern Iowa in the poll. The Gamecocks and No. 8 Chattanooga will open the season in Chattanooga on Sept. 5.
Season tickets, as well as tickets to JSU's second game of the year at Auburn on Sept. 12, are on sale in the JSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at www.JSUGamecockSports.com. To order by phone, call (256) 782-8499.
The Gamecocks finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the nation and earned a bye to the second round of the FCS Playoffs. The No. 2 ranking tied the 2010 team for the highest in the school's Division I history. The No. 7 ranking by the Sporting News is the second highest preseason ranking JSU has received at the FCS level, behind only last year's No. 6 ranking in The Sporting News Preseason Poll.
The Gamecocks lost leading rusher DaMarcus James but return seven starters on an offense that produced a school-record 510.8 yards per game, including quarterback Eli Jenkins (1,870 yards and 12 touchdowns passing, 813 and six touchdowns rushing) and wide receiver Josh Barge (56 catches for 919 yards and four touchdowns). Also back on offense are running backs Troymaine Pope (715 yards, six touchdowns) and Miles Jones (652, seven touchdowns).
JSU also returns nine starters on defense, including tackle Devaunte Sigler, OVC defensive player of the year, and All-American cornerback Jermaine Hough.
The Gamecocks will host five games in Burgess-Snow Field this fall, starting with their home and Ohio Valley Conference opener against Tennessee State on Sept. 19. They will host Mississippi Valley State on Oct. 3 before getting back to OVC play. JSU will finish the season with three of its last four games at home, Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 31, Southeast Missouri on Nov. 14 and Murray State on Nov. 21.
The Gamecocks report for fall camp on Thursday and start practice on Friday.
JSU is one of three OVC teams in the Athlon Poll, with Eastern Kentucky ranked No. 17 and Eastern Illinois No. 25. Below is the full poll.
Preseason FCS Coaches Poll (August 5, 2015)
1. North Dakota State (24)
2. Illinois State
4. Sam Houston State
5. Coastal Carolina
6. Eastern Washington
7. New Hampshire
9. Jacksonville State
10. Northern Iowa
11. Montana State
13. James Madison
15. South Dakota State
16. Youngstown State
17. Eastern Kentucky
19. Southeastern Louisiana
20. Indiana State
23. McNeese State
24. Idaho State
25. Eastern Illinois