August 7, 2014
The reigning defensive player of the year in the Northern Sun is projected to maintain his prestigious status for a second straight season. University of Mary All-American linebacker Grant Singer today was named the 2014 NSIC North Division Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in a vote of league head coaches. In the 2014 preseason poll by the Northern Sun coaches, the Marauders are projected to finish ninth overall in the 16-team NSIC standings and fifth in the North Division. Minnesota Duluth is the coaches' selection as the preseason favorite in the NSIC overall and in the NSIC North. Minnesota State was the second choice overall and the top pick for the South Division. Winona State claimed third in the overall poll, followed by St. Cloud State, Sioux Falls, Augustana, Southwest Minnesota State, Bemidji State and U-Mary. Northern State is tenth, followed by Upper Iowa, Concordia - St. Paul, Wayne State, MSU Moorhead, Minot State and Minnesota Crookston. Projected to follow UMD in the North Division are SCSU, BSU, NSU, U-Mary, MSUM, Minot State and UMC. The South division projected standings are Minnesota State, WSU, USF, Augie, SMSU, UIU, WSC and CSP. The NSIC also recognized Singer and fellow senior Elby Pope as the Marauders 2014 defensive and offensive players to watch, respectively. The 2013 NSIC Co-Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in tackles and finishing towards the top in sacks and tackles for loss, Singer was selected to the American Football Coaches Association All-American team. The 6-1, 210 pound native of Turtle Lake, N.D., is a two-time All-NSIC North first team selection and a three-time conference defensive player of the week, including twice last season. Singer posted 118 tackles in 2013, including 54 solo stops. A big play producer, he was second in the NSIC in tackles for loss (16.5), third in fumble recoveries (3), fourth in sacks (7.5) and eighth in interceptions (3). Singer ranked 20th in the NSIC in tackles and 22nd in tackles for loss. In addition to AFCA honors, he was an All-American honorable mention selection by BSN and Don Hansen and was a Daktronics first team and Don Hansen second team all-region selection. He was also a Cliff Harris Award finalist, which honors the top small college defensive player. An outstanding student, Singer is a 2013 Capital One Academic All-District selection and a two-time NSIC All-Academic choice. Singer, chosen for the 2014 Sporting News Preseason All-American team, is tied for second in U-Mary history with 255 tackles and his 36.5 tackles for loss is third all-time. While he probably won't match the 410 career tackles posted by Toby Schweitzer, Singer does have a chance to catch John Oyloe's record total of 41 tackles for loss. The last Marauders student-athlete to earn NSIC football preseason defensive player of the year status was Shawn Melland in 2008. A wide receiver and punt returner, Pope enters his third season as a starter for the Marauders. Twice he has earned All-NSIC North first team honors as a receiver (2012-13) and last year also claimed first team recognition as a kick returner. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., Pope was 10th in the NSIC with 46 receptions for 614 yards and four touchdowns. He was second in the Northern Sun in punt return average (13.6) and led the league in punt return yardage. Pope was named the NSIC Special Teams Player of the Week last season after scoring the game-winning touchdown at Wayne State on a punt return. It was the first punt returned for a score by the Marauders since before beginning NCAA play in 2006. Pope caught 63 passes for 977 yards and seven scores as a sophomore. He is now sixth all-time at U-Mary with both 119 receptions and 1,733 yards in his career. The Marauders finished last season 6-5 to tie for fifth in the overall NSIC standings and tied for third in the North Division with a 4-3 record. It was U-Mary's first winning record since 2007 and Myron Schulz's last season after 15 seasons at the helm and 24th year on the coaching staff out of the 26 seasons the Marauders have played football. The U-Mary football program is now under the direction of first year head coach Josh Kotelnicki. The former University of North Dakota defensive coordinator and student athlete both played and coached at UND under former Marauders head coach Dale Lennon, who now directs the Southern Illinois University program. The Marauders return 38 letter winners from last season, including 13 starters (seven on offense, six on defense). Fifteen seniors will lead the Marauders when the team reports to camp next week. Players report August 12 and the first on the field practice is set for August 14. The season opener is set for Sept. 6 when the Marauders host the Mustangs of Southwest Minnesota State University at the newly-renovated MDU Resources Bowl. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m.