The Central Connecticut football team was picked fourth in the annual preseason poll of Northeast Conference coaches and senior linebacker Lorenzo Baker was named Preseason All-NEC. The poll and the all-conference team were both announced during the league's preseason teleconference.
The Blue Devils (4-7, 3-5 NEC) are just one season removed from back-to-back conference titles and the league's coaches expect head coach Jeff McInerney's squad to be in contention again in 2012.
"We are looking forward to this season, we just try to get better every day," McInerney said. "We are in a great league with a lot of great coaches and a great group of student-athletes. We are expecting a lot of good things. The core of this team is tested, have high self esteem and compete at a high level."
Albany was tabbed as the preseason favorite by the poll, followed closely by Duquesne and Bryant. Central was selected fourth ahead of Monmouth, Robert Morris and Wagner. Sacred Heart and Saint Francis (PA) rounded out the group.
For the third season the NEC's nine football members will be competing for the conference title and an automatic bid to the FCS Playoff.
Baker, a senior from Middletown, CT, has been a fixture in the Blue Devil defense his entire career. A 2011 second team All-NEC selection as a junior, Baker is now a 2012 Preseason All-NEC selection. Last season, he led the team with 80 tackles, including 42 unassisted, while also forcing and recovering a pair of fumbles.
Baker has played in every game for the Blue Devils since the beginning of the 2009 season and has been a starter throughout the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Central's 2012 schedule will feature five home games at the newly expanded Arute Field. With the home opener scheduled for September 8, against 2011 Patriot League Champion Lehigh.
The full roster for 2012 will be released next week, as well as updated bios and headshots of all players and members of the coaching staff.
NEC Football Preseason Poll (1st Place Votes)
1. Albany (6 )
2. Duquesne (1)
3. Bryant (2)
6. Robert Morris
8. Sacred Heart
9. Saint Francis (PA)