Three Bears Recognized on Valley Football Preseason Team
ST. LOUIS -- The Missouri Valley Football Conference released its preseason all-conference team and preseason poll Monday (July 20) at its annual Media Day festivities.
Three Bears were named to the Missouri Valley Football Preseason Team, including Clay Harbor (Sr., TE, Dwight, Ill.), David Arkin (Jr., OG, Wichita, Kan.) and honorable mention selection Cody Kirby (Jr., QB, Rogers, Ark.).
Based on a poll of head coaches, media representatives, and sports information directors, the Bears were picked seventh in the nine-team league. Defending champion Northern Iowa, which comes to Plaster Field for a regionally-televised game on Sept. 26, is the league’s preseason favorite, picking up 26 of the 36 first-place votes and 314 total points. Southern Illinois received nine first-place votes and 281 points and was placed second, followed by South Dakota State (231), North Dakota State (206), Western Illinois (174), Youngstown State (171), Missouri State (111), Illinois State (90), and Indiana State (42).
Missouri State was also picked seventh in the 2008 league preseason poll, but tied for sixth place with a 3-5 MVFC record.
“We are excited about the season,” said fourth-year head coach Terry Allen. “I am happy for Clay (Harbor) and David (Arkin) on being named to the preseason all-conference team, and I know Cody Kirby will be motivated as well. The league is strong from top to bottom, and I think it will be a wide open race.”
Harbor, a preseason All-America pick by several agencies, snagged 40 receptions for 457 yards in 2008 for the Bears, both tops on the squad, and earned Associated Press FCS All-America second-team honors. Harbor is a two-time, first-team All-MVFC pick as well as twice being recognized on the AP All-America list. The senior-to-be finished sixth in the conference in 2008 in receptions per game (3.64) and receiving yards per game (41.55), both tops among league tight ends. He extended his active streak to 22 consecutive games with at least one pass reception in the season finale at Indiana State on November 22 and snagged eight catches for a career-high 113 yards against preseason league favorite North Dakota State on November 15. He became the 15th Missouri State receiver to eclipse 1,000 career receiving yards and was also a preseason All-Valley selection last season.
Arkin was named a preseason Third-Team All-America pick at offensive guard by the Sports Network. He graded out at 86 percent during the 2008 season, starting all 11 games at offensive guard. He was named the team's Offensive Lineman of the Week four times in 2008, also gaining the squad's Offensive Player of the Week distinction twice. He was a 2008 All-Valley preseason selection in addition to being named to the league's All-Newcomer Team and Second-Team All-Conference squads the past two seasons. Arkin also helped the Bears post the 69th-best rushing offense (130.0 yards per game) in the nation this season and the 72nd-best passing offense (182.9).
Kirby, who found a spot on the MVFC Preseason Team as an honorable mention pick, earned All-Valley second-team honors as a sophomore in 2008 after throwing for 2,104 yards and 15 touchdowns while posting 2,227 yards of total offense and scoring nine touchdowns. At 183.1 yards per game, he is the league’s top returning passer and No. 2 returnee in total offense (202.5 ypg). Kirby was the league’s preseason All-Valley quarterback in 2008 and was the 2007 MVFC Freshman of the Year.