FOREST, Va. – Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) football coaches tabbed Guilford College fifth in their annual preseason poll released Friday. The Quakers share the fifth spot with Emory & Henry College in the eight-team ranking. Hampden-Sydney College narrowly grabbed the poll's top position over arch-rival Randolph-Macon College. Third-place Bridgewater College and defending league champion Washington and Lee University were also within four points of the number-one spot.
Coach Chris Rusiewicz's Quakers return 16 starters among 56 letter winners from last year's 5-5 club that shared third place in the league with a 4-3 record. Guilford welcomes back a league-best eight all-conference performers and the loop's top rookie in 2012, sophomore quarterback Matt Pawlowski. Pawlowski passed for 2,443 yards and 15 touchdowns as a 10-game starter a year ago. He completed just below 60 percent of his passes, threw just eight interceptions and rushed for a team-high six scores. Pawlowski returns his leading receiver from last season, classmate Adam Smith, who ranked among the ODAC's best with 65 catches for 874 yards and five touchdowns. He was a Second Team All-ODAC honoree. Senior Faris El-Ali, Guilford's top offensive lineman, earned third-team all-conference recognition for the second straight season in 2012.
Guilford's defense returns five all-league performers, including first-team picks Robert Smith and Satiir Stevenson. Smith, a linebacker, is the ODAC's top returning tackler after making 108 stops as a sophomore, including 14 for loss and 6.5 sacks. Stevenson hauled down 79 ball carriers and picked off a club-high four interceptions as a sophomore safety. He is also one of Guilford's top kick returners. The trio of junior lineman Tyler Eller, junior defensive back Hunter English and senior defensive back Alex Smith garnered Third Team All-ODAC honors in 2012, as did sophomore kicker Tyler Hunt.
Rusiewicz starts his third season on Guilford's sidelines when the Quakers report for camp Aug. 14. The team's first contest is Sept. 7 when Guilford visits crosstown-rival Greensboro College at 1:00 p.m. in the 17th annual Gate City Soup Bowl.