BALTIMORE — The University of Maine football team had a league-high four offensive players chosen Wednesday as Preseason All-CAA performers during media day at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Ravens.

But the Black Bears, who were 9-4 last season, were picked to finish sixth out of 11 teams in the powerful CAA. “We have never let it effect us,” coach Jack Cosgrove said of the pre-season poll. “We have a lot of work to do as a team to see where we go. We have never put much stock in it.”

Towson, the defending champ, was predicted to finish first by coaches and CAA media personnel.

“It shows how strong the league is,” said Maine tight end Justin Perillo, in a telephone interview from the Orono campus Wednesday morning. “That (prediction) will make us work more harder.”

Maine will begin practice Aug. 12, acording to Cosgrove, and begins the season Sept. 8 at Boston College. The first CAA game for Maine is at home Sept. 29 against Villanova, a team Cosgrove picks to be a sleeper this season.

The Wildcats won the national title in 2009 but were picked to finish eighth in the CAA this year after posing a mark of 2-9 last year.

“Villanova is much better than that,” said Cosgrove during media day. “They improved down the stretch last year. I was shocked they were picked lower than us.”

Maine could also be a surprise for the second year in a row. Picked to finish ninth in 2011, the Black Bears advanced to postseason play before losing in the second round at Georgia Southern.

“He has always found a way to get his kids to play his style of ball,” Towson head coach Rob Ambrose said of Cosgrove, ready to begin his 20th season.

Maine returns all-CAA pre-season players Perillo, wide receiver Maurice McDonald and linemen Chris Howley and Josh Spearin, but Cosgrove said his team was picked in the middle of the pack due to the loss of quarterback Warren Smith, who is now playing in Germany.

The two contenders for the starting quarterback spot this year are Marcus Wasilewski and John Ebeling, who combined to throw one pass last year.

“Both are very competitive. Both can move the team,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove said neither one is a clear favorite going into practice but he hopes one of them emerges as the No. 1 signal-caller. “I really think the (clear) No. 1 quarterback is the way it has to be to succeed,” Cosgrove said.

Ebeling caught two passes, both for touchdowns, in the playoffs last year. “He has other skills, but he has also has great quarterback skills,” Cosgrove said.

Perillo said a veteran offensive line will aid whomever emerges as top quarterback.

The top tailbacks for Maine are David Hood and Terrel Walker. Hood gained 326 yards on 69 carries last year while Walker had 41 yards on 21 attempts.

Maine is 106-112 under Cosgrove and was 4-7 in 2010 before surprising the CAA last year.

“I think Jack is one of the top football coaches in the country,” said JMU head coach Mickey Matthews, whose team won the national title in 2004. “They seldom beat themselves.”

Notes: ODU is headed to Conference USA next year and is not eligible for the CAA title this season. Georgia State, which hosts Maine on Nov. 10, is also leaving the CAA after this season. “Being in the state of flux (in the CAA), coaches may talk about it but they can’t worry about it,” Cosgrove said. “It won’t keep me up at night. I have a football team to get ready in a strong league”…The only Maine defender on the Preseason All-CAA team was junior lineman Michael Cole. ODU, Delaware and Maine each had a total of five players on either offense or defense…The Black Bears do not have any weeks off after the first game at BC. “It will be great to go there and play them,” Perillo said.

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