Sports Network Preseason Poll Ranks Penn in Top 20

Philadelphia – The University of Pennsylvania football team enters the 2004 campaign ranked in the top-20 as the Sports Network announced its preseason poll this week, ranking Penn No. 19. Senior Duvol Thompson earned individual accolades, earning second-team preseason All-American honors as announced by the Sports Network earlier this week.

The Red and Blue were, for the second-straight season, the highest ranked Ivy League team in the poll. Harvard was the only other Ancient Eight squad that managed to break the top-25, ranking No. 25. Another of Penn’s 2004 opponents bolstered a top-20 ranking as Villanova ranks No. 4 heading into the fall. The Quakers have not faced the Wildcats since October 10, 2002.

“We like to think we run a pretty good program and the ranking let’s us know that our fellow Division I-AA programs recognize the success in recent history,” Head Coach Al Bagnoli commented.

Thompson’s selection to the preseason All-American team was a first for the Calumet City, Ill. native. He was one of five Ivy Leaguers to be honored and of that elite group, one of only two on the defensive side of the ball. Yale led the Ancient Eight with two selections.

The Thornton Fractional North grad is coming off an All-Ivy junior season where he recorded 43 tackles (26 solo), intercepted one pass and broke up seven more. Thompson ranked fifth on the team in tackles and led the Quakers in defensive break ups. He also performed kick return duties for the Red and Blue in 2003, leading the team with a 31.4 yard-per-return average. Thompson returned five kicks for a total of 157 yards, registering a season-long 43-yard return against Bucknell on Oct. 11.

“Duvol has had a terrific career at Penn. He has been tremendous since his freshman year and has been a letterwinner since then as well. He has gotten better every season,” Bagnoli praised. “He is an exceptional coverage cornerback and the thing we like about him is not only his coverage skills but that he is also a great run defender. He will really be a leader on the defensive side of the ball for us this year.”

To view the entire 2004 Sports Network Preseason Poll, click here.

Penn finished the 2003 season as the only undefeated team in I-A or I-AA with a 10-0 overall record and a 7-0 Ivy League mark. The Red and Blue ended the campaign ranked 12th in I-AA after becoming the first team in 10 years to capture back-to-back Ancient Eight crowns, as well as just the second team in League history to post back-to-back perfect Ivy seasons. The Quakers will begin defense of their 13th Ivy League banner on the West Coast at the University of San Diego on Sept. 18.

Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications