Football Ranked in Preseason Top 20 by Two Magazines

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Muhlenberg football team was ranked in the Division III preseason top 20 by two national magazines, Sporting News and Lindy’s Sports.

In addition, senior tight end Michael Long was named a first-team preseason All-American in both publications.

The Mules went 8-3 last year, winning at least seven games for the fourth straight year and earning their 10th postseason berth in the last 14 seasons

Michael Long Sporting News, which had Muhlenberg ranked 18th, wrote “A team to watch closely is Muhlenberg (8-3), which has 17 starters returning. Tight end Michael Long had 47 catches a year ago, receiver Cody Geyer topped 1,000 yards and quarterback Nick Palladino is back to throw to them. On defense, linebacker Jeremey Thomas and end Greg DeLade combined for 32 sacks [actually tackles for loss].”

In ranking the Mules 19th, Lindy’s noted that they “return 11 All-Centennial Conference players including the league’s Rookie of the Year [Palladino] at QB.”

Wis.-Whitewater and Mount Union, who have combined to win the last nine national championships, were ranked 1-2, respectively, in both polls. Centennial Conference rival Johns Hopkins was ranked eighth by Lindy’s and 16th by Sporting News.

The preseason rankings are the first for Muhlenberg since 2008, when it appeared as high as No. 7 in the Sporting News poll. The Mules went on to go 9-2 and win the CC championship that year, rising to a program-best No. 2 in one national poll during the season.

Long (right) is coming off a season in which he was named to the All-America third team after recording the second-most catches ever by a Mule tight end. He was the second-leading receiver and a blocking tight end on a prolific Muhlenberg offense that averaged more than 34 points and 400 yards per game.

Also named to the All-Centennial Conference, All-South Region and All-ECAC South first teams, Long ranked eighth among Division III tight ends in receptions, and he set a CC record for tight ends with 11 catches in a 27-7 win at Juniata. His catches were important ones, too: Of the 47 receptions, 32 went for first downs, including 13 on third down and one on fourth down.

Long, who will enter his senior season with 75 career catches (just 11 short of the school record for tight ends), also was a big contributor on special teams. He returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown against McDaniel and blocked a field goal himself against Moravian.

Muhlenberg will put its preseason ranking to the test when it opens up the 2014 season at Wilkes – coached by former Mule assistant Trey Brown – on Saturday, September 6. The CC opener is at home the following weekend against Franklin & Marshall, one of two CC teams to beat the Mules last year.