Illinois State is the lone Land of Lincoln team appearing in the preseason FCS national rankings.
Brock Spack's Redbirds land at No. 9 according to HERO Sports and No. 12 according to Athlon in the preseason Top 25.
Much of the favorable outlook for ISU rests with preseason All-Americans James Robinson (running back) and Drew Himmelman (offensive lineman) along with a solid defense and positional depth.
ISU is coming off consecutive 6-5 seasons that failed to garner the Redbirds a postseason invitation.
"The Redbirds haven’t lived up to preseason hype in recent years, but something tells us this is the year they get over the hump," reads the HERO Sports prediction. "With roughly 16 starters returning, Illinois State has the experience and talent to improve its consistency from September to November and be a threat in the playoffs once again."
The Athlon report states, "The Redbirds disappointed last season despite an FBS win over Colorado State. Quarterback Brady Davis and running back James Robinson (1,290 yards, 12 TDs) return from a team that boasted talented underclassmen. Offensive linemen rarely come bigger than 6'10" left tackle Drew Himmelman."
Last season was the first since 2011 that no Illinois schools qualified for the FCS playoffs.
Former ISU quarterback Tre Roberson continues to emerge as a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball in the Canadian Football League.
Not only does Roberson lead the CFL with five interceptions, but the Indianapolis native is the lowest targeted boundary defender (cornerback) in the league.
Roberson has both an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a TD this season.
Saluki hall of fame
Southern Illinois University recently announced its eight-member hall of fame class, which includes two Saluki football greats.
Karlton Carpenter and Craig Coffin will be honored in mid-October in conjunction with SIU's homecoming in Carbondale.
Carpenter played running back from 1995-98, setting the school's career rushing mark with 3,181 yards. As a senior, he set the school single-season rushing record with 1,892 yards, including 10-straight games with 100+ yards. He was named Third-Team All-American and the Gateway Conference Offensive Player of the Year. A two-time All-Conference pick, Carpenter finished his career second in rushing touchdowns with 26. Carpenter currently resides in Chicago.
The placekicker on four NCAA Playoff teams from 2003-06, Coffin set both the school and conference record for career scoring with 379 points. He made nearly 80 percent of his career field goal attempts (50-of-63) and broke the league's single-season record by making 66-of-66 extra points in 2004. Coffin was a two-time All-American and two-time All-Conference selection. He lives in Pensacola, Florida and is a manager for Hiller Systems.