TUSKEGEE, Ala. – After their second consecutive NCAA Division II playoff appearance and an SIAC championship in 2014, Tuskegee is ranked in two preseason football polls entering the 2015 season.
Tuskegee (9-3, 7-0 SIAC) in 2014 is ranked 22nd in the Lindy’s Sports NCAA Division II Football Preseason Top 25 poll, and 24th in The Sporting News NCAA Division II Football Preseason Top 25 poll. The Golden Tigers are the lone representative in the poll from the SIAC in either poll, and are the lone HBCU representative in the Lindy’s Sports poll. They are joined by fellow HBCU member, Virginia State, in The Sporting News top 25 (23rd).
The last two playoff opponents for Tuskegee appear in both polls, with West Georgia ranked second in Lindy’sand eighth by The Sporting News. The University of North Alabama appear at fifth in Lindy’s and 16th in The Sporting News.
Tuskegee returns nine starters off the 2014 squad, including a pair of preseason All-America candidates on defense. Senior Jewell Ratliff was named First Team Preseason All-America by USA College Football, while Julian Morgan earned Honorable Mention honors from the same publication. The Golden Tigers return several of their top performers on defense, including Co-Freshman of the Year in the SIAC – Osband Thompson – and All-SIAC selection, Michael Robinson.
The top returning players on defense combined for 279 tackles and 13.5 sacks, while also recording 11 interceptions on the season. The team returns one of the best pass rushers in the conference in 2014, in Morgan, with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Golden Tigers return quarterback Kevin Lacey, along with three other starters. Lacey returns after throwing for 1,278 yards in split duty during the 2014 season, and he is also the leading returning rusher for the team with 405 yards. Tuskegee also returns several receivers for 2015, who combined for 71 receptions. Among those returning is SIAC All-Conference performer, on special teams,Devozea Gaines.
Tuskegee opens the season at home against Clark Atlanta on September 5 inside Cleve L. Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium.
Courtesy: Tuskegee Athletics