Belton, Texas – The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team has been picked to successfully defend its national title with the Cru holding down the #1 spot in the Preseason Top 25 Poll released on Monday (July 10th). This will be the first time UMHB has entered a season ranked #1 in the country by

The Cru took 16 of the 25 first-place votes in balloting of coaches, Sports Information Directors and media members from across the country and totaled 606 points to nab the top spot. Mount Union is picked second with 570 total points and three first-place votes. Wisconsin-Whitewater grabbed four first-place votes and 561 total points for third, national runner-up Wisconsin-Oshkosh took the remaining two first-place votes and 556 total points for fourth place and St. Thomas rounds out the top five with 507 total points. UMHB will face a pair of highly ranked opponents during the 2017 season. Linfield College is picked ninth with 401 total points and American Southwest Conference rival Hardin-Simmons is picked 12th with 315 total points. East Texas Baptist totaled seven points to give the ASC three programs receiving mention in the poll.

“It is an honor to be ranked #1 in the country in this preseason poll and it is a compliment to all of our players and coaches,” Cru Head Coach Pete Fredenburg said. “We have to replace some very good football players from last season, but we are excited about the team we have coming back. We are looking forward to the upcoming season and we always have high expectations for our program.”

The Cru finished the 2016 season at 15-0 and topped Wisconsin-Oshkosh 10-7 in the Stagg Bowl to win its first national championship. UMHB expects to return six offensive and six defensive starters from that team, along with 40 total letter winners this season. The Cru will open the 2017 season at home against ASC opponent Sul Ross State on September 9th at 6:00 PM.