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With UND picked seventh in first Missouri Valley poll, Fighting Hawks captain says you have to earn respect

"You know, preseason rankings ... is what it is," UND senior safety and captain Jordan Canady said. "You have to earn respect. We knew joining this that this would happen. We have to go out and prove it to everybody, so we're looking forward to the opportunities coming up."

092919 S GFH UNDFB TravisToivonen KyleHergel01.jpg
UND wide receiver Travis Toivonen (11) celebrates a touchdown with UND offensive lineman Kyle Hergel (61) during a football game against the Eastern Washington Eagles in the first half at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 28. James Snook / Special to the Grand Forks Herald

The Missouri Valley Football Conference released its preseason poll for the spring season, and the Fighting Hawks were picked to finish seventh in the league.

That didn't seem to concern the team's leaders.

"You know, preseason rankings ... is what it is," UND senior safety and captain Jordan Canady said. "You have to earn respect. We knew joining this that this would happen. We have to go out and prove it to everybody, so we're looking forward to the opportunities coming up."

North Dakota State was picked No. 1 in the poll, followed by Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Illinois State, Southern Illinois and South Dakota. After UND, league coaches selected Youngstown State eighth, while Missouri State and Western Illinois tied for ninth. Indiana State has opted not to play this spring.

UND didn't land any players on the preseason all-conference teams, although Canady, offensive lineman Ryan Tobin and linebacker Jaxson Turner were selected as honorable mentions.

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"The media doesn't really know what we're about, so we just have to keep going day-by-day with our operations and go like we're going to win the conference," Tobin said.

UND opens the season at home against Southern Illinois on Sat., Feb. 20, at the Alerus Center. The game is scheduled for a noon kickoff and will be aired on MidcoSN.

"I think the competition in the Missouri Valley is a lot better, and I think winning there will mean a lot more and gain a lot more respect," Turner said. "I'm excited for the challenge."

Canady has started 28 games at safety in his career and enters the season as the team's leading returning tackler with 87. The New Berlin, Wis., native ranks fifth in UND's Division I history with four career interceptions.

Tobin, a senior, has started all but three games over his career, with all of those games coming at left guard.

Turner finished last season sixth on the team in tackles with 44 and second with 4.5 sacks, despite missing some time with injuries. The Esko, Minn., native enters the season with 11 career sacks, placing him fourth in UND’s DI era.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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