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CFB: UNI Ranked No. 3 in MVFC Preseason Poll

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The University of Northern Iowa football team has been tabbed as the No. 3 team in the Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Poll, it was announced today by the league office.

The No. 3 ranking marks the 29th year in a row that the Panthers have been voted in the top-five in the MVFC preseason polls. Three-time defending National Champions North Dakota State took the top spot while South Dakota State finished in second.

UNI, NDSU and SDSU all received first place votes with UNI finishing with seven. UNI finished the 2013 season 7-5 overall, reaching as high of a national ranking as No. 4 after starting the season on a four-game winning streak. The Panthers spent seven weeks ranked in the top-15 and received votes from both polls the remaining five.

Youngstown State came in behind UNI in the voting process, finishing fourth in the preseason poll while Southern Illinois rounded out the top-five.

The MVFC also released the 2014 MVFC Preseason Team, with six Panthers earning spots. David Johnson, Jack Rummells, Xavier Williams and Makinton Dorleant lead the way with first team votes, while Sawyer Kollmorgen and Kevin Vereen Jr. both got honorable mention nods.

Johnson has been raking in the preseason awards this summer after being named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List, given to the top FCS offensive player each year. He was also named a preseason All-American by The Sports Network and was added to the College Football Performance Awards Running Back Watch List.

The Clinton, Iowa native will start the season ranked fourth all-time at UNI in career-rushing, tied for fourth in career-rushing touchdowns and as just one of three players in UNI history to record at least 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing in a career. He finished the 2013 season with 1,286 yards on the ground and added 393 yards receiving for 1,679 all-purpose yards.

Rummells joined Johnson on the preseason All-American first team, earning his first preseason All-America recognition. He started all 12 games for UNI during the 2013 season, helping to create holes in the opposing defensive line, allowing the UNI running back crew to gain 1,962 yards on the ground last season.

Kollmorgen, who started nine games for the Panthers last season at quarterback before suffering a concussion, is now ranked on four different all-time lists for UNI. He is eighth in completions, seventh in completion percentage, 10th in career yards and eighth in career touchdowns.

Williams has also gotten a few preseason nods including his first team MVFC preseason pick and being named to the Sports Network preseason All-American defensive second team. He finished third on the team in tackles in 2013 with 74, including 5.5 sacks.

Dorleant was a newcomer to the MVFC last season, but quickly grew as a strong cornerback in the league. He started all 12 games and finished the season with 54 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups.

The Panthers will begin fall camp on Aug. 4 with the season kicking off on Aug. 30 against in-state foe Iowa. The game is set to begin at 11 a.m.

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