People are often scared of the unknown — situations in which they are not familiar with their surroundings. As a result, individuals shy away from the unknown, thus was the case with the 2009 Missouri Valley Football Conference Preseason Football Poll.

Illinois State has a new head coach in Brock Spack, a new staff, a new offense and a new defensive scheme, and the league head coaches, sports information directors and media combated their fears by voting the Redbirds eighth in the preseason poll.

In addition to team projections, senior wide receiver Eyad Salem, senior running back Geno Blow and junior defensive back Kelvyn Hemphill were honored as members of the conference’s preseason first team at the annual MVFC Media Day held in St. Louis. Salem was a 2008 All-MVFC First Team selection after totaling 63 catches on the season, which tied for the fourth-most in school history. The Elgin, Ill., native led the team in receptions (63), receiving yards (843), touchdowns (8) and receiving yards per game (76.6) and ranked second in the MVFC in receptions per game (5.7) and receiving yards per game (76.6).

Blow, the league’s leading active rusher with 1,574 career yards, ranked seventh in the MVFC with 78.2 rushing yards per game in 2008. The Seabrook, Texas, native finished the year with 704 rushing yards and was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 14 after rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns against Murray State. Hemphill rounded out the trio of ISU first-team selections.

The 2008 All-MVFC Honorable Mention selection started nine games and ranked second on the team with 79 tackles, including a team-high 41 solo efforts. The San Antonio, Texas, native missed the final two games of the season with an injury, but ended the season with six tackles-for-loss, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

The Redbirds, who received 90 votes, were only ahead of Indiana State in the conference preseason poll. Illinois State trailed preseason favorite Northern Iowa by 224 votes.

It is more than coincidence that the 2009 MVFC preseason poll was released on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and the historical step by Neil Armstrong.  The idea of man on the moon faced several critics as well, but rather than fearing the unknown – individuals should embrace it.  Season tickets are now available at, or by phone at 309/438-8000.

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