MACOMB, Ill. - Junior offensive linemen Jimmy Holtschlag (Quincy/Notre Dame) represented Western Illinois on the preseason Missouri Valley Football Conference team. The Leathernecks were picked to finish ninth in a vote by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media members, as announced on Thursday (Aug. 2).
Holtschlag enters his junior year with 17 career starts, but missed playing time during the final weeks of 2011 due to an injury. He was voted Honorable Mention All-MVFC last season as he saw action at tackle and both guard positions.
Harris and James joined Holtschlag on the Honorable Mention list last season. Harris has started 28 times in his career with 26 consecutive. He led the defense with three sacks, in addition to his 5.5 tackles for a loss and 37 total stops. James (26 career starts) led the team with 10 pass breakups - seven deflections and team-high three interceptions.
Looking to rebound from a 2-9 record last year (1-7 in MVFC play), Western received 90 points in the poll. Defending national champion North Dakota State received 37-of-38 first-place votes, 379 points, to earn the preseason nod. Northern Iowa (300) and Youngstown State (291) were picked second and third, respectively.
Illinois State (287 points) received the other first-place vote but finished fourth. Indiana State (228), South Dakota State (182), Southern Illinois (167), league newcomer South Dakota (97), Western and Missouri State (69) rounded out the poll.
The Leathernecks open practice on Friday (Aug. 3) and play host to Butler in the season-opener on August 30th. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Season and single-game tickets can be purchased by calling (309) 298-1190 or online at www.GoLeathernecks.com.