The McKendree Bearcats were picked to finish fifith in the Great Lakes Valley Conference for the 2014 season.
The conference released its preseason poll Friday in conjunction with the third annual GLVC Football Kickoff, which was held on the McKendree campus at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts in Lebanon.
McKendree earned its spot by posting a 4-6 overall record and a 3-4 mark in the final GLVC standings for 2013.
The Bearcats have 41 lettermen back from last year's squad, including 18 total starters. Coach Mike Babcock, who enters his second season at the helm of the McKendree program, will return eight defensive starters, six offensive starters and four special teams standouts from a year ago.
Senior linebacker Bryce Colvin and junior quarterback Isaac Fisher joined Babcock as participants in the 2014 GLVC Kickoff. This GLVC version of Media Day has evolved into a social media event, with players and coaches engaged in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr interaction. This was the first year that two players from each squad were invited to the event.
All nine of the GLVC's head football coaches participated in the poll, and coaches were not allowed to vote for their own programs. McKendree received a total of 32 points in the voting, just behind Missouri S & T (38 points) and league newcomer Southwest Baptist University (28 points).
The University of Indianapolis, which claimed its second straight GLVC football title in 2013, was the unanimous choice to repeat atop the conference standings with eight first-place votes and 64 points. Truman State University was next in second place with 56 points, followed by St. Joseph's College in third place with 50 points. St. Joseph's received the other first-place nod.
Lincoln University, which joins the GLVC along with Southwest Baptist as associate members of the conference, grabbed 27 points in the poll. Quincy University (15 points) and William Jewell College (14 points) rounded out the voting.
McKendree will open its 2014 season at home against Ferris State University. Kickoff for the non-conference contest at Leemon Field is set for 7 p.m.