Four NEC Football Teams Receive Votes in TSN Top 25 plus Overtime! Takes a Quick Trip Through Each Team’s Training Camp

The Northeast Conference doesn’t have a representative at the party yet, but four of its teams are knocking on the door. 

The Sports Network released its Preseason Top 25 Poll on Monday, August 15, and Central Connecticut, Albany, Robert Morris, and Duquesne were all listed in the “receiving votes” category.

Fresh off being named the NEC preseason favorite by the league’s head coaches, Central Connecticut totaled 26 points in the Top 25 voting.  Albany received the second-most votes of any NEC team, garnering 10 points.  Steel City rivals Robert Morris and Duquesne also had a small presence.  The Colonials, who represented the NEC in the NCAA FCS playoffs last year, picked up two points while the Dukes earned one.

Robert Morris cracked the Top 25 during the 2010 regular season before a league loss to Bryant knocked the Colonials out of the national rankings.

Defending NCAA champion Eastern Washington garnered 90 first-place votes and topped the voting as the National Preseason No. 1.

NEC member Monmouth’s Week 1 opponent was present in the rankings. D efending Patriot League champion Lehigh, which will visit the Jersey Shore on September 3, is ranked No. 13 heading into the 2011 campaign. 

Two other Opening Day opponents on NEC teams received votes in the Top 25 Poll.  Patriot League member Colgate, which will visit Monmouth on October 8, totaled 75 points in the voting and will open the season against Albany.  Robert Morris will host Pioneer League member Dayton, which garnered 21 points, in its season opener.

Once the regular season begins, the Sports Network will release the Top 25 Poll on a weekly basis every Monday afternoon.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25. 

 View The Sports Network Preseason FCS Top 25


 Training Camp Updates (August 15)

Albany conducted an intra-squad scrimmage on August 13, five days after the opening of camp.  With nearly 85 players taking the field at some point during the day, including five different quarterbacks, sophomore signal caller Buddy Leathley was present after missing the entire spring recovering from injury.  Leathley, who started the final five games of the 2010 season, took numerous snaps in what was a defense-dominated scrimmage.

From “We were inconsistent and the offensive line had too many pass protection breakdowns,” said UAlbany coach Bob Ford, whose team went against each other for 81 plays to conclude the first full week of practice. “The defense is always ahead because the offense takes longer to time up the plays. We have some good players on the defensive line and we came out of it pretty healthy.”


Bryant opened preseason training camp on Thursday, August 11.  The Bulldogs welcomed more than 100 players, including four preseason all-NEC selections, onto campus to prepare for the Bulldogs’ third season as a NEC member.  Bryant will have 23 days from the start of camp until the 2011 season opener at Maine on September 3.

From  “We had a very strong spring, but know that we have a lot of work these next couple weeks of camp before heading to Orono, Maine, ” said Fine. “With a handful of injuries in key spots, we hope that the competition of camp will reveal some underclassmen and newcomers who can make an immediate impact.”

One of those injuries is to senior starting quarterback Michael Croce.  The two-year starter won’t be available for the season opener, but his head coach hopes he will eventually be on the field this season.  In the meantime, Marty Fine and his coaching staff will have to look at other options under center.


Central Connecticut kicked off its preseason regimen on Monday, August 8.  Two days later, a good portion of the roster took some time away from the gridiron to attend the athletic department’s press conference/reception during which a new Blue Devil logo was unveiled.  Much of Week 1 had to do with paperwork and physical performance testing complete.

“The first five days of camp, in the position that I have, I do a lot of administrative work,” said head coach Jeff McInerney entering his sixth season at the helm. 

Acclimation is also a key piece to the opening week of camp with 29 newcomers spending this time by, in the words of McInerney, “learning what it takes to be a Blue Devil.”

On Thursday, August 11, McInerney sat down with and reported on the first few days of camp.  Listen Here.

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Duquesne has been at it for more than a week now.  Head coach Jerry Schmitt welcomed the Dukes back to campus on Sunday, August 7, and they’ve been working ever since.  Heading into its fourth season as a NEC member, Duquesne has a new offensive coordinator.  Pittsburgh native Gary Dunn will likely use the rest of summer to learn more about his personnel, but he won’t be overhauling the Dukes’ offense. 

From In addition, DU will be in its first season under offensive coordinator Gary Dunn, who comes to the Bluff after 14 seasons at Morehead State.  Dunn coached three All-Americans and 21 first team All-Pioneer Football League players, in guiding an MSU offense that regularly ranked among the nation’s FCS leaders in numerous NCAA statistical categories. “Gary has a proven record of success at the FCS level,” said Schmitt. “He’s is great fit for our style of play.”


Monmouth is eight days into preseason training camp having hosted its first practice back on Sunday, August 7.  The Hawks’ first practice in full pads came on Thursday, August 11, and players had their first look at the newly-renovated weight room later that evening. 

Head coach Kevin Callahan summed up the important day using his Twitter account.

From @MUHawksFB twitter feed (Aug. 11): “First practice in pads went well. Great intensity and enthusiasm, need to eliminate some of the mistakes.” … “Weight room renovations completed. Awesome facility! Had our first team workout this pm.”


Robert Morris kicked off its 18th summer of training camp on Tuesday, August 9 at Joe Walton Stadium.  The man for whom the Colonials’ home facility is named was also on hand, and the only head coach Robert Morris has ever known was talking about team chemistry.

From “Every year is a challenge, especially in the Northeast Conference,” head coach Joe Walton said. “We had a group of players that came together last season to do something special, but this group has to form its own identity, and that starts in the locker room. The great thing is we have a group of returning players that have gone through the experience of what it takes to be a championship team, and how we come together and who steps up as leaders will ultimately determine how successful we’ll be.”

The Colonials will have a total of 26 days from the start of camp until Kickoff 2011.  Robert Morris welcomes Dayton to “The Joe” on September 3.


Sacred Heart enters its second week of preseason training camp.  In the days ahead, head coach Paul Gorham will attempt to answer the big question of who will replace Dale Fink as the starter under center.  The Pioneers will have a summertime quarterback competition for the first time in four years now that the NEC’s all-time leading passer had graduated.  So far, the status of the situation remains the same as it did when camp opened on Sunday, August 7.  Luke Wischnowski sits atop the depth chart, but Tim Little is just as likely to be the Opening Day starter.

Sacred Heart looks to have an effective running game this fall, something that can only help whomever is taking the snaps.

From  SHU should be very solid up front on the offensive side of the ball as the squad brings back seven of eight offensive linemen and their starting tight end from 2011.  This sets the stage for increased production from redshirt sophomore Gregory Ibe, (Queens, NY) who rushed for 460 yards and two touchdowns last season while averaging a team high 5.7 yards per carry.  “We have the ability to run the ball,” said Gorham.  “That should help us ease the pressure on our quarterback as we develop our identity as a team.”


Saint Francis (PA) practiced in full pads for the first time on Friday, August 12.  A total of 136 student-athletes, including over 60 freshmen, are in camp with the Red Flash, looking to solidify their spot on the varsity unit.  As the Flash head into Week No. 2, offensive coordinator Ralph DelSardo gives his thoughts on what’s transpired thus far…


Wagner has eight practices in the books and will open up the second week of training camp with a pair of practice sessions on Monday, August 15.  The Seahawks arrived on Grymes Hill on Sunday, August 7 and had their first scrimmage on Saturday, August 13.  Wagner will host a second scrimmage on Friday, August 19, six days before the team breaks camp. provided an up-front look at practiceView Photo Gallery

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