Abilene-based Hardin-Simmons University has got to love those Glen Rose boys.
Led by a pair of preseason All-Americans, the Hardin-Simmons football team is ranked No. 7 in one preseason NCAA Division III football poll and No. 15 in another.
Quarterback Justin Feaster and safety Michael Tracy, both natives of Glen Rose and former Tigers standouts, have each been named preseason second-team All-Americans by Lindy’s, leading HSU to a No. 7 national ranking in the respected nationwide magazine.
Another largely circulated and respected publication, The Sporting News, ranks Hardin-Simmons No. 15 nationwide, and both expect the Cowboys’ Oct. 3 battle against Mary-Hardin Baylor to be of great significance in the race for both the American Southwest Conference and national titles.
UMHB defeated HSU twice in 2008 - 20-18 in the regular season and 38-35 in the playoffs - in Belton, but will be visiting Abilene in October. Both magazines list it as one of the national games of the year.
Feaster passed for more than 3,000 yards and tossed 31 touchdown strikes last season, numbers that were good enough to make him a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy awarded annually to the best Division III player nationwide. He was also named the ASC Player of the Year. Many analysts suspect he will be up for a slew of postseason awards this year.
Tracy, an All-ASC honorable mention pick a year ago, is also expected to earn his share of honors after being in on 82 stops including 7.5 tackles for loss in 2008. In pass coverage he posted three interceptions, had five passes defensed and two breakups. Tracy also recovered one fumble.
Both Glen Rose natives transferred to Hardin-Siimmons after beginning their college careers in the NCAA Division I-FBS ranks. Tracy started at Texas Tech, while Feaster went from GRHS to North Texas.
The Cowboys, who report for fall training camp on Aug. 15 and open their season at home against Whitworth on Sept. 5, have a total of 13 starters returning from a 9-2 team that reached the playoffs for the fifth time under 20-year head coach Jimmie Keeling. Keeling has also directed HSU to seven conference championships.
Dave Campbell’s 2008 Texas Football Magazine picks Mary-Hardin Baylor to repeat as ASC champs with HSU to again finish second.