HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs and all 13 conferences. Today, we present … the Pioneer Football League.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country with HERO Sports.
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(NOTE: Team-by-team previews in this conference are below)
NAMES TO KNOW
THE NFL PROSPECT: TE Adam Trautman, Dayton
Trautman is ranked the No. 6 small-school pro prospect by Draft Scout. The 6-foot-6 tight end caught 41 passes for 604 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: WR Michael Bandy, San Diego
The HERO Sports Preseason First Team All-American had 88 receptions for 1,698 yards and 14 TDs in 2018.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: DB Will Warner, Drake
The HERO Sports Preseason Second Team All-American snagged eight interceptions a season ago.
SUM IT UP: San Diego has had three straight 8-0 records in the PFL standings. But the 2018 season saw a much more competitive race. The Toreros narrowly beat Dayton 36-34 and edged Davidson 56-52 in a game that saw USD down 31-7 in the second quarter. Drake and Stetson also stepped up their game and finished 6-2 in the conference. With some key departures on USD's roster, expect several teams to push the Toreros for the conference title.
THE FAVORITE: San Diego – While there are some big names gone, the Toreros still have a ton of tremendous players back. They need to find a new quarterback, but the weapons on offense are strong, and the defense should improve with six of the top 11 tacklers back. Until someone knocks them off, the Toreros are the favorites.
THE THREATS: Davidson, Stetson, Drake – Davidson gave USD a real scare in a crazy game last year. This team has 14 starters returning on offense and defense, and every single offensive touchdown is back from the 2018 squad that ranked second in the FCS with 44.9 points per game. Davidson looks to be a big-time contender in 2019. The same could be said for Stetson and Drake. Stetson has 19 starters coming back on offense, defense and special teams. Drake has a new quarterback, but the main weapons return on offense, and the defense has star players back on a unit that ranked in the Top 10 in the FCS last year.
THE DARK HORSES: Marist, Dayton – Both of these teams went 5-3 in the conference in 2018. Two of Marist's losses came by five points or less. And with eight starters back on offense, this could be a tough opponent once again. Dayton pushed USD last year and has some strong offensive firepower this season as well.
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