College football is upon us and members of the PSAC West are ready to get things kicked off this week.
The shape of this season for PSAC West teams begins up front with two elite squads in Gannon and Slippery Rock. The two programs shared a portion of the PSAC West title a year ago, but Gannon comes into the 2015 season as the favorite to win the league.
Gannon is led by senior running back Brock Jones. Jones, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound back from Ohio, ran for 162.8 yards per game last year and has wound up on multiple preseason All-American lists. His 1,628 yards on the ground a year ago set a new school record. Not to be outdone, the Knights also return starting signal caller Liam Nadler. Nadler holds several school records and is the program’s career leader in attempts (1,123), completions (665), yards (8,519) and touchdowns (58). Gannon went 9-2 a year ago.
Slippery Rock will also look to compete for a league title, returning 21 starters from last year’s team, including freshman of the year Marcus Martin at defensive end. Martin led the league in sacks and tackles for loss with 16 sacks. Offensively running back Shamar Greene should pace The Rock. Greene spent most of last year as the nation’s leading rusher, finishing the year with 1,482 yards.
Mercyhurst returns as a team on the rise this season. The Lakers return running back Brandon Brown-Dukes, a senior who has made an impact since stepping on the field as a freshman. He has 15 100-yard games in his career and can go off at any time.
Cal U will have some new faces on the field this fall but one big familiar face will return on the defensive line when Jawan Turner lines up for the Vulcans. He’s a threat to get after opposing backs when he’s out there. Offensively junior Garry Brown should lead the way after catching passes for more than 1,100 yards last year.
IUP is hoping to get back into the national spotlight and they’ll ride the legs of sophomore running back Luigi Lista-Briza. As a true freshman Lista-Briza ran for 846 yards and 10 TDs.
Rounding out the coaches poll was Seton Hill, Edinboro and Clarion.
Clarion and Lock Haven get the season started on Thursday at 6 p.m.