The Youngstown State football team placed three players on the Missouri Valley Football Conference's preseason all-league squad. Junior tailback Jamaine Cook (Cleveland, Ohio), junior offensive tackle Andrew Radakovich (Steubenville, Ohio) and sophomore punter Nick Liste (Niles, Ohio) were all named to the team, which was released by the MVFC announced on Monday.
In the team race, YSU was selected to finish eighth following a 3-8 and 1-7 campaign last year. UNI, the outright conference champion in 2010, was picked to repeat as the conference's top team. The Panthers received 29 first-place votes. North Dakota State was second while Southern Illinois was third. The Bison received six first-place votes while the Salukis had one.
The next three spots in the pre-season poll were tightly contested, as four points separated South Dakota State (172), Illinois State (169) and Indiana State (168).
Last year's playoff participants were UNI, North Dakota State and Western Illinois. In last season' preseason poll, the Panthers were picked fourth, the Bison sixth and the Leathernecks eighth.
The last three pre-season favorites (NDSU-2008, UNI-2009, SIU-2010) did not win the league, but a preseason favorite has claimed the league crown 13 times (in 25 previous polls).
Cook has received much recognition in the offseason. He is one of 20 members of the preseason Watch List for the Walter Payton Award and is a third-team preseason All-America pick by The SportsNetwork.
Cook had a breakout campaign in 2010 as a sophomore. A second-team All-MVFC selection, he rushed for 1,276 yards on 241 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. In eight games of MVFC action, Cook had 973 yards on 199 attempts and scored eight touchdowns. He ranked 13th in the FCS in rushing yards per game (116.0 a game).
Radakovich protected MVFC Freshman of the Year Kurt Hess's blindside during the season and helped pave the way for Cook to have a solid season. Radakovich started all 11 games at left tackle last year as the Guins established a school mark by average 412.2 yards per game.
Liste had an outstanding redshirt freshman season in 2010. An honorable-mention and all-newcomer team pick, Liste had 41 punts for 1,698 yards, an average of 41.4 per boot. He had six kicks of 50 yards or longer, including a career-best 69 at Missouri State, and 21 that were more than 40 yards
The Penguins are set to report to camp on Friday, August 5 with the first practice of the 2011 squad set for Saturday, August 6. YSU opens the season on Friday, Sept. 2 at Michigan State. The contest will be televised on the Big Ten Network and carried on 570 WKBN AM. For ticket information contact the YSU Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1978.