YSU picked fourth in MVFC preseason poll

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers, OT Justin Spencer and TB Martin Ruiz were named preseason first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference, the league announced on Monday. In the preseason poll, the Penguins were tabbed to finish fourth in the MVFC in 2015.

Besides the first-team trio, DE Terrell Williams and WR Andrew Williams were honorable-mention preseason all-league selections.

Rivers was a first-team All-MVFC honoree as a sophomore last season while Ruiz was a second-team pick for the second consecutive campaign. Spencer was an all-newcomer team honoree after starting all 12 games on the line as a redshirt freshman in 2014. Terrell Williams was a second-team all-conference pick last season while Andrew Williams was an honorable-mention recipient.

Rivers had 14 sacks, the third-most by a player in school history and the most by a Penguin in the regular season in 2014. Of his 14 sacks, 10 came in Missouri Valley Football Conference action. He had 50 tackles on the season, 41 of which came in league play.

Ruiz rushed for 1,320 yards on 265 carries and had 10 touchdowns. In eight MVFC contests, he had 866 yards on 177 attempts and scored four TDs. On eight occasions he went over the 100-yard mark, including five times in MVFC play.

Terrell Williams had the best season of his career finishing with 51 total tackles and 10 sacks playing opposite Rivers. Or note, all 10 of his sacks came in eight MVFC contests as he registered sacks in six contests.

Andrew Williams led the team with 54 catches for 976 yards and six touchdowns. Of his 54 catches, 47 came in conference play and covered 776 yards. In eight league games he averaged 97 yards per game and 16.5 yards per reception. He became a go-to target with six-or-more receptions in each of the final six games of the year.

Spencer started all 12 games at right tackle as a redshirt freshman. He was the team’s offensive lineman of the game on four occasions earning the honor against Duquesne, Saint Francis (Pa.), Southern Illinois and South Dakota. He was just one three offensive lineman to make the MVFC Offensive Newcomer team a year ago.

Four-time defending FCS Champion North Dakota State was picked first with 389 points and 32 of 40 possible first-place votes. FCS national finalist Illinois State was tabbed second with 366 points and the remaining eight first-place votes.

Ahead of YSU in third place was UNI with 300 points while just behind the Guins was South Dakota State at 251. Indiana State was sixth (190), Southern Illinois was seventh (143), Western Illinois was eighth (139), Missouri State was tabbed ninth (91) and South Dakota rounded out the poll (66).

The Penguins play host to the preseason No. 1, No. 2, No. 5 and No. 9 teams while making visits to the No. 6, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 10 squads. YSU will not play UNI for the second straight year before the schedule changes in 2016 and the Panthers return to the Guins’ schedule.

COURTESY: YSU SPORTS INFORMATION

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