Wayne State College has been picked to finish 12th overall and sixth in the South Division in the Preseason NSIC Football Coaches Poll released Monday morning by the league office in Burnsville, Minnesota. Listed as Wildcat Players to Watch this season are senior quarterback Zach Osborn and sophomore linebacker Tyler Thomsen.
WSC received 81 points overall and 17 points in the South Division poll in voting conducted by league coaches. Last season, the Wildcats tied for 11th overall in the NSIC with a 3-8 record and were 2-5 in the NSIC South to tie for fifth place.
Minnesota State edged Minnesota Duluth as the preseason favorite in the NSIC. MSU received 213 points and four first-place votes compared to UMD’s 209 points and seven first-place votes. Rounding out the top five teams overall are Bemidji State with 184 points and two first-place votes, Augustana at 172 points and one first-place vote and Sioux Falls with 171 points and the final two first-place votes.
Winona State was sixth with 165 points followed by MSU Moorhead (137), Southwest Minnesota State (129), Northern State (121) and St. Cloud State (101).
Upper Iowa (86) edged Wayne State (81) for 11th place with Concordia-St. Paul a distant 13th with 54 points. Minot State (51), University of Mary (29) and Minnesota Crookston (17).
In the NSIC South Division preseason poll, Minnesota State garnered 48 points and six first-place votes. Augustana edged Sioux Falls for second 38-35 with both teams receiving one first-place vote. Winona State was a close fourth at 34 points followed by Southwest Minnesota State (30), Wayne State (17), Upper Iowa (14) and Concordia-St. Paul (8).
Wayne State’s Offensive Player to Watch is quarterback Zach Osborn. A 6-1, 195 pound senior from Harlan, Iowa, Osborn threw for 2,666 yards and 25 TD’s last season while completing 224-405 passes. He ranked sixth last season in the NSIC in total offense per game (279.6 yards) and was ninth in the league in passing yards per game (242.4).Osborn enters this season ranked second in school history in numerous passing categories trailing only Silas Fluellen (2006-09), including total offense yards (9,128), touchdown passes (71) and passing yards (8,415).
The Wildcat Defensive Player to Watch this season is sophomore linebacker Tyler Thomsen. The 6-1, 220 pounder, a graduate of Fremont Bergan HS, ranked second on the team last year in total tackles as a redshirt freshman with 66 while appearing in all 11 games with nine starts. He had 42 solo stops and ranked third on the team in tackles for loss with three for 18 yards. Thomsen also had one fumble recovery, one break-up and one quarterback hurry.
Wayne State will open the 2017 football season on Thursday, August 31 at Northern State in a 6 p.m. contest. The Wildcats’ home opener is scheduled for Saturday, September 9th against the University of Mary at 6 p.m.