No surprise: Valdosta State begins year at No. 1

When you’re the defending national champions and have your starting QB, two 1,000-yard rushers and three starting WRs coming back, then you’re likely going to start the next season at No. 1.

That’s exactly where Valdosta State will begin this season.

The Blazers, who won their final 10 games on the way to the Division II national title last year, are the No. 1 team in the American Football Coaches Association preseason poll, released Monday.

Valdosta State, which went 12-2 last year, received

Valdosta State and coach David Dean will begin the season where they ended last year: At No. 1. (Photo by Marvin Gentry / US PRESSWIRE)

Valdosta State and coach David Dean will begin the season where they ended last year: At No. 1. (Photo by Marvin Gentry / US PRESSWIRE)

26 of the 32 first-place votes for 766 points to beat out Minnesota State-Mankato, which had three firsts and 726 points. West Texas A&M, which had one first , was third at 707 points. Northwest Missouri State also had a first and 616 points for fourth and Winston-Salem State, which lost to Valdosta State in last year’s national title game, was fifth with 599 points.

The 2013 season marks the third time in the history of the poll that the Blazers will open the season at No. 1 and is the 21st time overall that VSU has been tabbed the top team in the country. The 21 weeks in the top spot are second-most among all NCAA Division II teams since the poll began prior to the 2000 season.

Fort Valley State earned four votes, but isn’t ranked.

Valdosta State has many offensive weapons.

  • QB Cayden Cochran enters this season with 3,658 career passing yards and 34 career TD passes (both eighth in school history), despite only 16 career starts. Cochran threw 26 TD passes and rushed for 11 TDs in 2012.
  • RB Cedric O’Neal had 1,198 yards rushing and 14 TDs.
  • RB Austin Scott had 1,030 yards rushing and nine scores.
  • WR Gerald Ford caught 69 passes for 1,026 yards and 13 TDs despite missing a game.
  • WR Seantavious Jones had 51 catches for 922 yards and 13 scores.
  • WR Regginald Lewis had 58 catches for 736 yards and four TDs.

On a downside for the Blazers, they have to replace all five offensive linemen.

14 comments Add your comment


August 25th, 2013
6:30 pm

Excellent coverage. With VSU being the state’s only defending national champion and only pre-season #1, it is well deserved. Hope the coverage of in-state teams other than UGA and GT continues and expands.

Viking fan

August 21st, 2013
10:19 am

good job Andy…thanks.

Viking fan

August 21st, 2013
10:18 am

Sorry Hotdawg!
The Wildcats are the third team in town.
Yes, Georgia Southern is also #1 and deserves some print from AJC. 2nd biggest school in State per students.

Andy Johnston

August 21st, 2013
10:11 am

GATA, I hope to hit all of the state schools in this blog throughout this season. You should see a strong state presence here, including Georgia Southern.