FOREST, Va. – Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football coaches picked Guilford College sixth in their preseason poll Tuesday. The Quakers received 16 points in the seven-team ratings.
Emory & Henry College earned five of seven first-place votes and 32 points, six points in front of second-place Randolph-Macon College, the defending league champion. The Yellow Jackets collected one first-place vote, as did Hampden-Sydney College, which was tabbed fourth, three points behind third-place Washington and Lee University. Bridgewater College (20 points) rounded out the top five and Shenandoah University rounded out the rankings in seventh.
Guilford head coach Chris Rusiewicz enters his seventh season on the Quakers' sidelines with 13 starters among 52 letter winners from last year's 4-6 club (1-6 ODAC). The team welcomes back First Team All-ODAC offensive lineman Ty Shwallon, who moves from right tackle to left tackle for his senior season. Senior running back Hunter Causey was a 1,000-yard rusher and a second-team all-league pick after assuming the starting role vacated by a season-ending injury to 2015 First Team All-ODAC all-purpose back De'Eric Bell. Bell, the third-leading rusher in school history, is five rushing touchdowns shy of the Quakers' career standard set by Josh Schow in 2015.
Senior Karsten Miller started all 10 games at quarterback in 2016, his first season with the Quakers. He earned Third-Team All-ODAC honors and completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,248 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall. Miller's top target, sophomore slotback Tyriek Russell, returns after catching a league-leading 79 passes for 862 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. Russell was named the ODAC's 2016 Rookie of the Year.
While eight starters are back on offense, just three return on the defensive side of the ball. Senior free safety Julian Cuthbertson was a Second Team All-ODAC honoree last year and anchors a veteran secondary. Other defensive starters include senior linebacker Nathan Campbell and sophomore defensive back Reggie Williams.
Sophomore Harrison Kiser assumed starting punter duties last fall after a season-ending injury to Chase Mitchell in week two. He may also see some action at kicker as a sophomore. Mitchell has a clean bill of health and will contend for the starting punter's spot. Bell, a 2015 D3football.com All-America return specialist, boosts Guilford's special teams.
Guilford opens its 10-game slate September 2 at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. The contest with the two-time defending USA South Athletic Conference champions kicks off a four-game road trip that also includes stops at NCAA Division I-AA (nonscholarship) foes Davidson College (September 16) and Jacksonville University (September 30). The Quakers' home and league-opener is October 7 versus Hampden-Sydney at 1:00 p.m.
2017 ODAC Preseason Football Coaches' Poll (First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Emory & Henry (5) 32 points, 2. Randolph-Macon (1) 26, 3. Washington and Lee 24, 4. Hampden-Sydney (1) 21, 5. Bridgewater 20, 6. Guilford 16, 7. Shenandoah 8.