MARQUETTE, Mich. – Northern Michigan University Football is predicted to finish seventh in the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. Entering the second year under Head Coach Kyle Nystrom, the team looks to take things to another level.
The offense will be led by defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Back of the Year, senior Jake Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East). Mayon finished 2017 with 1,377 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and enters his senior year just 1,127 yards away from setting the school record for rushing yards in a career at Northern Michigan.
Also returning to the offense will be sophomore quarterback Ryan Johnson (De Pere, Wis./Ashwaubenon). Johnson started eight games as a true freshman and finished his rookie season with nine touchdown throws while completing 60% of his passes. Junior Ryan Knight (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Eastern) paced the receivers with 31 receptions and five touchdowns. Sophomore Dan Van Effen (Escanaba, Mich.), Tanner Kruzel (Boyne City, Mich.) and Dallas Dixon (Phoenix, Ariz./Tolleson) all added two touchdown receptions and in addition to Dallas Dixon (Phoenix, Ariz./Tolleson), look to add more offensive firepower.
Defensively, 2017 saw tremendous strides in year one under Nystrom's guidance. The defense allowed ten fewer points than 2016. The team allowed 70 fewer rushing yards per game and reduced their total yards allowed per game by 50 yards. Despite one fewer game, the 2017 squad also recorded more sacks.
Junior Troy Mayon (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield East) finished last season third on the team with 79 tackles and three fumble recoveries. Sophomore John McMullen (Kankakee, Ill.) paced the squad with 4.5 sacks.
Leading the GLIAC preseason poll was Grand Valley State University with 61 total votes and six first-place votes. Ferris State University finished second with 56 votes and two first-place votes. Last season's champion, Ashland University, saw one first-place vote and 54 total votes.
Northwood University, Saginaw Valley State University and Wayne State University each received 35 votes and tied for fourth. The Wildcats earned 20 votes to finish seventh, ahead of Michigan Technological University, 19 votes, and Davenport University, nine votes.
Northern Michigan starts the season September 1 at McKendree University. They host University of Texas Permian Basin for their first home game September 8. The GLIAC schedule opens September 15 with the Wildcats hosting preseason favorite Grand Valley State.
The complete results of the poll are listed below:
1. Grand Valley State - 61 (6)
2. Ferris State - 56 (2)
3. Ashland - 54 (1)
T4. Northwood - 35
T4. Saginaw Valley - 35
T4. Wayne State - 35
7. Northern Michigan - 20
8. Michigan Tech - 19
9. Davenport - 9