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Augie Selected Third Overall in Preseason Coaches' Poll



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BURNSVILLE, Minn. – Augustana was selected third overall and first in the South Division in the 2011 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll released Wednesday by the conference office.

The Vikings received four first-place votes in the South Division edition of the poll.

Defending NSIC- and national-champion Minnesota Duluth was picked as the preseason favorite in both the overall poll and North Division. The Bulldogs garnered 11 first-place votes in the overall poll and five in the North Division.  St. Cloud State was second in the overall poll.

UMD boasts the NSIC North Division Offensive Preseason Player of the Year in quarterback Chase Vogler and North Division Defensive Preseason Player of the Year in linebacker Rob Huberty. Winona State running back Rayon Simmons is the South Division Offensive Preseason Player of the Year, while Wayne State defensive end Richard Daniel was picked as the South Division Defensive Preseason Player of the Year.

Augustana quarterback Josh Hanson and defensive back Dan O'Keefe were cited as preseason players to watch.

Hanson, the reliable signal caller for a potent Viking offense, returns in 2011 for his junior campaign at Augustana. An All-NSIC South Division second team and Don Hansen All-Central Region third-team pick a year ago, Hanson led the NSIC with 227.8 passing yards and 283.6 yards of total offense per game in 2010. He guided the Vikings to a school-record 11 wins and their first appearance in the NCAA playoffs in more than 20 years. Despite missing a pair of games with an injury last season, Hanson completed 166 of 285 passes for 2,295 yards and 23 touchdowns. While his arm served as a major catalyst for the Viking offense, his legs were responsible for 518 yards and four touchdowns. Hanson wrapped the 2010 season with 2,813 yards of total offense.

O'Keefe, a defensive secondary staple, is back for his senior season in 2011 after registering a glowing year in 2010. O'Keefe started all 13 games at safety and was placed on the All-NSIC South Division first
team. Additionally, The Don Hansen Football Committee placed him on its All-Central Region first team and All-America honorable-mention squad. O'Keefe logged 57 tackles a year ago and snatched six interceptions. His efforts did not go unnoticed as he was placed on the 2011 Consensus Draft Service Preseason All-America list.

Augustana, which is ranked sixth nationally in a pair of preseason polls, is coming off the best season in program history. A year ago, the Vikings recorded a school-record 11 wins (three more than the previous
record), captured a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division title and made their first playoff appearance since 1989. Augustana also hosted and won its first playoff game by defeating Grand Valley State on Nov. 27 at Kirkeby-Over Stadium before falling to eventual national-champion Minnesota Duluth. The Vikings finished with an overall record of 11-2 and were 9-1 in the NSIC.

Augustana returns eight All-NSIC performers from the 2010 squad. On Offense, Hanson, tight end Isaac Jorgensen (19 catches, 266 yards) and lineman Aaron Esselink are back. The defensive secondary of Nick Andreas (77 tackles), Zac Kallas (23 tackles, eight interceptions) also return. Kallas and O'Keefe have already been placed on preseason All-America squads. Defensive lineman Ben Wardell (52 tackles, five sacks) shores up a sturdy first line of defense. Kicking specialist Drew Behrens, who set a school record for field goals with 16 last season, will be a junior in 2011.

Mike Aldrich's team reports to fall camp Aug. 13. The program will hold media day on Aug. 23 at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.

The Vikings open the 2011 season at home on Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. in a non-conference clash with UMD. Midco Sports Network is set to telecast the contest.

Courtesy: Tim Gerszewski
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