JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Working off a ground-breaking 2021 season, the ETSU football team landed No. 11 on the Stats Perform Preseason Top 25, the university announced Tuesday.
ETSU football racked up a total of 750 points in the first poll of the 2022 campaign and was one of three SoCon schools that made the list. The Bucs scored as the league’s preseason favorite with its No. 11 ranking. Chattanooga trailed closely behind at No. 12, and Mercer — who ETSU defeated in the conference title game last season — earned No. 23.
The Buccaneers saw their first outright conference title in 53 years after winning the SoCon championship in November. This season, the team returns with 37 lettermen, including seven starters on both sides of the ball and 10 players who earned preseason all-conference honors in late July.
Another returning player includes senior running back Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.), who was selected as the SoCon Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after the Blue and Gold finished last season with an overall record of 11-2 and a 7-1 mark in league play.
The ranking puts high expectations on first-year head coach George Quarles. The Bucs hired Quarles away from his role as offensive coordinator at Southern Conference rival Furman late last year after Randy Sanders walked away from the job following the team’s first playoff win since 1996.
Sanders had two seasons remaining on his contract but announced he would retire after compiling a 26-17 record over four seasons and taking the team to two playoff appearances.
Quarles produced a conference-leading offensive attack while at Furman, which made two FCS playoff appearances during his tenure there.
Reigning FCS National champion North Dakota State snagged No. 1 in the preseason poll, with South Dakota State, Montana, Montana State and Missouri State rounding out the top five.
Last season, the Bucs finished at No. 9 in the final Stats Perform Top 25 Poll.
The Buccaneers’ 2022 season is set to launch on Sept. 1 when they take on Mars Hills at Greene Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Call the ETSU ticket office at 423-439-3878 or click here to purchase tickets, which will be available to the general public starting Aug. 15 at 10 a.m. For more information, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football tab.