The Youngstown State football team had four offensive player named preseason first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference, the league announced on Thursday. YSU was tabbed to finish third in the MVFC's preseason poll.
Senior tailback Jamaine Cook, senior center Mark Pratt, junior offensive guard Chris Elkins and junior quarterback Kurt Hess were all named preseason all-conference. Sophomore linebacker Teven Williams was on the honorable-mention list.
In the team standings, defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State received 37 of 38 first-place votes and was the overwelming preseason favorite to win the conference. UNI was second with 300 points, YSU third with 291 and Illinois State fourth with 287. Only 13 points separated the second and fourth-place team's in the league.
Indiana State was fifth, South Dakota State sixth, Southern Illinois was seventh, MVFC newcomer South Dakota was eighth, Western Illinois was ninth and Missouri State was 10th.
Hess and Cook will be looking to repeat as first-team All-MVFC selections this season. Cook rushed for 1,386 yards on 271 carries and scored 13 touchdowns a year ago. Hess set a school record with 26 touchdown passes while completing 186-of-287 attempts for 2,460 yards.
Pratt was a second-team selection last year in his first year with the program after transferring from Snow Junior College. Elkins was an honorable-mention league pick in 2011. Both players started every game last season.
Williams started the final eight games of the campaign and led the team with 67 total tackles.
YSU was last picked third in the preseason poll in 2008. This year's preseason ranking shows marked improvement for the program. The Penguins were tabbed eighth out of nine in 2011, seventh out of nine in 2010 and sixth out of nine in 2009.
The Penguins were 6-5 overall last year and were 4-4 in the Missouri Valley. The four losses were by a combined 17 points. One of the four wins came in November at top-ranked North Dakota State.
YSU reports to camp later today. The Penguins will hold their first practice on Friday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.
For ticket information contact the YSU Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1978.