Southwest Texas State, situated in San Marcos, 30 miles south of Austin on I-35, isn't the state's most renowned school, but it's one of the fastest-growing, with 15,500 students, and counting. Among other things, it's the alma mater of President Lyndon Johnson, and it's the only school in the state boasting a spring-fed river running through its campus. It won the Lone Star Conference title last year and then went on to its first-ever Division II championship. And it shows no sign of slacking off. The Bobcats have seven starters returning on both offense and defense, most notably All-Conference Linebacker Cyril Friday, Receiver David Vela (44 catches, 971 yards. 11 TDs), and soccer-style Placekicker Neal Neunhoffer, who made 70 of 71 PATs. But the Bobcats, who ranked first in the nation in scoring offense (37.5 points per game), have to hope that senior Ron Jacoby can replace Quarterback Mike Miller, the school's leader in career total offense (6,249 yards), a nominee for a Rhodes scholarship and a 12th-round draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs. (He was offered a contract after the minicamp, but decided that pro football wasn't for him.)
The Bobcats' season will come to a head on Nov. 13 when they meet conference rival Abilene Christian. The Wildcats retain 18 starters from a squad that went 8-2 last season, but among the missing are Quinton Smith, ranked 13th in the country among receivers, with 49 catches for 863 yards and seven TDs, and All-Conference Offensive Tackle Kris Hansen. However, Abilene Christian is set at quarterback with the aptly named Loyal Proffitt, the Freshman of the Year in the conference last season for this kind of Proffitteering: 139 completions in 272 attempts for 2,306 yards and 16 TDs. Proffitt's principal target will be Steve Parker, the reigning Division II high hurdles champion (best time: 13.63). Center Grant Feasel (6'7", 260 pounds), who has a 3.52 grade-point average in pre-dent, anchors the offensive line.
In the East, Shippensburg State (12-1) has proved that Pennsylvania football doesn't mean just Penn State and Pitt and that Danny Marino isn't the only quarterback in the state who sets records. Red Raider Quarterback Tim Ebersole, the No. 3 passer in the nation and ECAC Division II Player of the Year in '81, completed 130 of 217 passes for 1,851 yards and 20 TDs. He also rushed for 326 yards and seven TDs. Ebersole will again have Ed Noon (46 catches, 816 yards, 12 TDs) as his favorite target. Noon also rushed for 199 yards and even passed for a touchdown. In addition, he's a three-time Pennsylvania Conference triple jump (48'9") and two-time long jump (24'½") champion. Set your watches: Third-and-10 is Noontime. Coach Vito Ragazzo, who was named Division II Coach of the Year in 1981, loses five starters on defense, but he'll still have the last laugh. The Red Raiders have their leading tackier back, a 6'2", 210-pound senior who had 150 stops. Name: Richard Pryor.
It was no laughing matter when the Northern Michigan Wildcats (11-1) got on their plane to their Division II semifinal playoff game at Southwest Texas, and star sophomore Quarterback Tom Bertoldi got off. He went back home for an appendectomy. Bertoldi had completed 164 of 331 passes for 2,454 yards and 15 touchdowns and was third in the nation in total offense. Backup Steve Preston did the best he could but the Wildcats lost 62-0 to Southwest Texas. Thirteen starters have graduated, but Fullback George Works, the leading scorer in the nation last year with 126 points (all on touchdowns) and 210 carries for 1,049 yards, is among those returning, as, of course, is Bertoldi.
It didn't take long for mania to build in Carrollton, Ga. (pop. 14,078). The prefab program at West Georgia College, which was undefeated in its inaugural Division III regular season—the first for the school since it dropped the sport in 1958—has all 22 starters back. The Braves started from scratch in '81. After students voted to allow the program to be funded by activity fees, tryouts were scheduled, 300 players showed up, and Coach Bobby Pate said "O.K. you made it" to 115 of them. Uniforms were ordered, home games were played at the local high school stadium and a nearby McDonald's catered press-box meals. Quarterback David Archer, who transferred from Georgia where he was a defensive back, completed 54 of 129 passes for 958 yards and nine TDs and rushed for eight more and will lead the Braves again.
Widener College (13-0), the defending Division III champion, comes off its first undefeated season in 27 years. It has the best winning percentage in college football the past 10 years (95-9, .913). But the Pioneers have a long row to hoe, having lost 13 starters. At least, virtually the entire offensive line returns, which will mean smooth sailing for star Running Back Jerry Irving (1,137 yards on 183 carries and 11 TDs).
Dayton (12-2), the 1980 Division III champ and one of its big powers—some say it's too big, because the Flyers were a Division I school until six years ago—will have to fill holes at defensive tackle, end and linebacker, but its offensive backfield is back intact; Quarterback Jon Vorpe (105 of 207 for 1,629 yards and 10 TDs), Tailback Greg Bazany (101 carries for 423 yards despite sitting out nine games with a broken ankle) and Fullback Tom Haner (86 carries for 321 yards and 15 TDs).
Tight End Pete Metzelaars (6'8", 240 pounds), who was Mr. All-Everything at Wabash—40 catches for 603 yards and five TDs last season, athletic and academic All-America in football and basketball, MVP of the Division III-champion basketball team and possessor of the highest career field-goal percentage (72.4%) in NCAA history—is now Mr. All-Gone. Quarterback David Broecker will try to pick up where Metzelaars left off, and he might be able to do it. Last season Broecker passed for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 432 yards and four more TDs. He's also a dean's list student in economics.
Alfred (N.Y.) University (10-1) has suffered only two losing seasons in 18 years. The Saxons expect to excel once more, thanks to one of the best defenses in Division III. In three games last year, Alfred held its opponents to minus yards rushing. Overall, the Saxons allowed an average of just 65.6 yards rushing while winning all 10 regular-season games before losing 13-12 to Montclair (N.J.) State in the first round of the playoffs.
The man whose toe spelled the difference in that game, Dan Deneher, returns along with 14 starters to the Indians, who went 10-2 last season. Deneher, who's No. 1 in his Marine Reserve class, made 27 of 32 PATs and 15 of 25 field goals and set school marks for most field goals and most points for a kicker in a season.
In the NAIA, don't look for the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys, the South Dakota Tech Hard-rockers, the Washburn (Kans.) Ichabods, or the Montana Tech Orediggers to make the playoffs, although if they did it would be headline writers' heaven. Instead, look for the defending Division I champion Elon Fighting Christians led by Quarterback John Bangley and All-America Linebacker Stanley Tootoo, to prevail again. And keep your eye on Moorhead (Minn.) State, which is situated two miles from Fargo, N.D. in a football hotbed. Three nationally ranked colleges (Moorhead State, North Dakota State and Concordia College) and three top high schools (Moorhead, Fargo Shanley and Fargo South) are located in the Twin Town area. Moorhead State's Dragons (10-1-1) are paced by Quarterback Dennis Eastman (106 of 209 for 1,618 yards and 17 TDs), Running Back Jerry Allen (1,252 yards on 227 carries and eight TDs), Tight End Gregg Veldman (15.9 yards per catch) and Flanker Mike Howard (34 catches for 705 yards and 10 TDs). The 6'3" Howard also started on Moorhead's basketball team, which went to the '82 NAIA playoffs. Offensive Guard Pat Cox, who has a 3.7 GPA in geography, holds the offensive line together. Six starters are gone from the defense that recorded six shutouts—five of them in a row.
In Division II, defending co-champions Concordia (Minn.) and Austin (Texas)—the title game ended in a 24-24 tie—are both in rebuilding years. Findlay (Ohio), the national champion in '79, has 16 starters back and will be well tested in the tough Hoosier-Buckeye Conference. But the battle for the national title figures to be a holy war between the Lutherans—Pacific and Cal.