Midwestern State is picked to finish third in the race for the Lone Star Conference championship when the league released its annual preseason poll of coaches, sports information directors and selected media Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs, who garnered 89 total points, open the season on Saturday, Sept. 5 against Truman State at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Defending postseason champ Angelo State collected 17 first-place votes totaling 142 points as the favorites to claim the 2015 league title.
Senior quarterback Kyle Washington repeated as the LSC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 3,236 yards and 34 touchdowns and rushing for 911 yards in nine more scores last season.
Texas A&M-Commerce received four first-place votes for 111 points after claiming its first LSC title in 24 years in 2014 on the way to a Heart of Texas Bowl win over East Central (Okla.) to close the year with a 9-3, mark.
Senior defensive lineman Toni Pulu garnered preseason defensive player of the year accolades posting 53 tackles including 19 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks a season ago.
The Lions were followed by MSU (89), Tarleton State (85), West Texas A&M (82), Eastern New Mexico (57) and Texas A&M-Kingsville (22).
MSU returns 14 starters off of last season's 6-4 squad which finished second in the LSC with a 5-2 league record. The Mustangs took losses to Angelo State and Tarleton State in the Lone Star Conference Playoffs after upending regular season champion Texas A&M-Commerce as part of a three-game regular season winning streak.
Eight starters are back off of an offense which churned out 493.7 yards per game including the bulk of the receiving corps led by junior Statron Jones (26 rec., 492 yds, 6 TD) and junior running back Dante Taylor (106 att., 677 yds, 6 TDs).
Other offensive returners include senior wideout Arsenio Phillips, junior wideout Breion Evans, senior tight end Derek Lockhart, senior offensive lineman Case Winkler, junior offensive lineman Joel Onyia and sophomore offensive lineman John Rowell.
Senior safety Marqui Christian leads a group of four starters back on the defensive side of the ball after leading the Mustangs with 81 tackles in eight games last season.
Fellow caption Daniel Laudermilk chipped in 68 stops from the linebacker position while Herb Whitehurst and Dominque Williams anchor the secondary.
SEASON TICKETS: Midwestern State season tickets are on sale now at the cost of $60 to attend five home games. Order your tickets by Aug. 17 and receive two free Welcome Back Dinner tickets. To order your tickets, call the MSU Ticket Office at 940-397-4779 or by stopping by the Athletic Offices located in D.L. Ligon Coliseum, room 134.
LONE STAR FOOTBALL FESTIVAL TICKETS: Tickets for MSU's Lone Star Football Festival matchup with Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 19 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington are available at the cost of $25 for adults and $10 for students at www.msumustangs.com/festivaltickets.
WELCOME BACK DINNER: The Ninth Annual Midwestern State Athletics Welcome Back Dinner featuring NFL Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboy Charles Haley is set for Sunday, Aug. 23 at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Reserve your seat by submitting $70 for a student-athlete sponsorship. A limited number of complete tables accommodating six people with sponsor acknowledgement remain available and can be purchased for $300. Additional seats are available for $50. For more information, contact Sheri Mummert at (940) 397-4779.