Earlier this week, HERO Sports announced their Top 25 FCS preseason poll for the 2020 season. Among the 25 teams, Illinois State sits in the No. 12 spot.
Accompanying the Redbirds are four other Missouri Valley Conference foes, including North Dakota State, who leads the preseason poll after taking home the title last season. Rounding out the top three are the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, followed by Northern Iowa. Southern Illinois settles in at No. 22 spot, rounding out the five MVC teams that were selected.
Coaching in his 11th year at ISU, Brock Spack posts a 84-50 record (627.). Reaching the FCS playoffs five times, Spack's most recent appearance came last season. The Redbirds were knocked out by NDSU in the quarterfinals in a low scoring 9-3 game.
The Redbirds lose several key players from last season, most notable being running back James Robinson. Robinson led the Redbirds last season with 1,899 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
Also leaving from offensive line is guard Adam Solomon. On the defensive end, safety Luther Kirk, who made an impact with 89 tackles, and linebacker Ty DeForest are the primary departure for the Redbirds.
While losing key players from last season, players like James Proctor and Drew Himmelman journey into their senior years taking on a leadership role for the offense. Devin Taylor and Romeo McKnight step up to do the same on defense.
Returning for his sixth year behind center is quarterback Brady Davis, whose 2019 season was cut short due to a torn ACL. Davis along with many Redbirds make their return to the field in 2020 after sustaining season-ending injuries in 2019. Taylor Grimes, Andrew Edgar and Proctor join Davis in entering 2020 season healthy after an injury riddled 2019 campaign.