The College Sports Journal Staff have put their collective heads together to release our 2019 preseason Top 25 for the upcoming FCS season. CSJ’s voter rolls are comprised of our five FCS football writers that have been following and covering FCS football for years.
North Dakota State Bison
The defending champs were a unanimous selection by the five members of the voting panel. The Bison have earned this spot until proven otherwise.
Eastern Washington Eagles
Last Seasons runner up starts in the same spot. The Eagles are primed for a return trip to Frisco and a Walter Payton favorite in Eric Barriere.
James Madison Dukes
The Dukes return 20 starters plus Rashad Robinson and will be looking to return to Frisco for the third time in four years. Curt Cignetti takes over for Mike Houston who left for ECU.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Is this the year the Jackrabbits finally get over the hump and make the trip to Frisco? Taryn Christion is graduated, but the Jacks still return a strong roster led by Pierre Strong on offense and Christian Rozeboom on Defense
UC Davis Aggies
Dan Hawkins had UC Davis ready to play from the opening whistle in 2019 and the Aggies came within 80 seconds of a semifinal berth. Keelan Doss is gone, but Jake Maier is still there. Expectations are high in Northern California this year.
Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Jacksonville State comes into 2019 in a familiar position: favored in the OVC and in the top 10. Is this the year they get over the recent playoff disappointments? With players like Zerrick Cooper and Josh Pearson the opportunity is there.
Maine Black Bears
Initially picked in the 2018 CAA poll to finish 8th, the Black Bears roared through the competition to win the CAA and make the FCS semifinals. . Joe Harisymiak has moved on to the FBS, but Maine returns a solid foundation that should compete for the CAA title once again.
Weber State Wildcats
Weber State was shocked on its home field by Maine a year after blowing a big lead at James Madison in the playoffs. The Wildcats should be in the hunt for the Big Sky and return one of the best running backs in the country, Josh Davis.
Wofford is again floating at the back of the top ten with their unique triple option offense that gives opposing defenses fits. The Terriers again look like the top team in a crowded Southern Conference in 2019
Montana State Bobcats
The Bobcats picked up a playoff win in 2018 over Incarnate Word but will look to go farther in 2019 with a strong returning team.
Princeton ran through its 2018 schedule unbeaten and rarely challenged. The Tigers have their eyes set on another unbeaten season; and its not out of reach.
The defending Southland champs look strong again in 2019 and could surprise some people and make a long run in the playoffs. Quarterback Chase Fourcade is an excellent player and a great leader and he will be leaned on if the Colonels are going to make that run.
Curt Cignetti has moved on to James Madison, but the Phoenix are still in good hands with the elevation of previous defensive coordinator Tony Trisciani to head coach. On offense, the Phoenix return Davis Cheek and Jaylan Thomas to complement a strong defense that led the team to the playoffs in 2018.
Illinois State Redbirds
Illinois State needs to figure out what they are in 2019. The Redbirds entered each of the last two seasons with a lot of promise, only to falter down the stretch and miss the playoffs. Dynamic running back James Robinson may be the best back in the FCS and will look to drag the team kicking and screaming to the playoffs on his back.
Tom Flacco leads a potent Tigers offense into 2019 looking for bounce back from an embarrassing first round playoff loss to Duquesne. The Tigers have a strong offense, but their under rated defense cannot be overlooked. Look for Towson to challenge for the CAA title all season.
Colgate dominated not only the Patriot league in 2018 but also the CAA, going 3-0 against teams from the power conference including a playoff win over James Madison. The Raiders ultimately fell to eventual National Champion North Dakota State. Another Patriot League title and playoff seed are in sights for Colgate in 2019
Kennesaw State Owls
We don’t know what to expect from Kennesaw State after the “OGs” departure to graduation, included Mr. Everything Chandler Burks. The Big South is getting strong but its yet to be seen if anyone can take the title from the Owls.
Southeast Missouri State Redhawks
The Redhawks, led by Buck Buchanan award winner Zach Hall arrived on the national scene in 2018 with an 8-3 regular season record including a convincing win over perennial OVC power Jacksonville State. Can SeMo take the next step into the top 10 in 2019?
Furman was hurt by its out of conference schedule in 2018 where they lost two games by wide margins and had another cancelled due to weather. The Paladins went 6-2 in conference but ultimately missed the playoffs due to the early losses.
Northern Iowa Panthers
Northern Iowa snuck into the playoffs in 2018 where they won in the first round before bowing out in the second. Expectations are always high for the Panthers who feel they should be a playoff team or better every year. 2019 is no different, but do the Panthers have the horsepower to get there?
Yale had an uneven football season in 2018, but had a strong recruiting class. Can Yale elevate themselves in the Ivy this year?
Sam Houston State Bearkats
Sam Houston had a down year in 2018 after the graduation of stud quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe. The Bearkats will look to bounce back in a strong Southland conference battle where they were projected 4th in the conference for 2019.
North Carolina A&T Aggies
North Carolina A&T won its second straight Celebration Bowl in 2018 as well as beat FBS ECU. The Aggies should be the class of the MEAC field once again.
Central Arkansas Bears
Central Arkansas seemed to be heading toward another playoff berth in 2018 before losing three straight games late in the season. THe Bears will look to bounce back and return to the playoffs in 2019.
East Tennessee State Buccaneers
The Buccaneers nearly won the SoCon in 2018 and made the playoffs. In 2019, ETSU should again compete for the Southern Conference title.
Others Receiving Votes: Montana, Indiana State, Duquesne, Delaware, Chattanooga, San Diego, New Hampshire
Voter Panel: Charles Burton, Kent Schmidt, Jamie Williams, Preston Adams, Ben Schleiger
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He's witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners. Reach him at: