In the earliest of early Wednesday, we learned the Montana Grizzlies received a number 7 ranking in the HERO Sports preseason poll.

And while such early recognition might not mean much, it still helps create high expectations. And those expectations have carried over to individual players on the Griz roster.

University of Montana Sports Information Director Eric Taber tells us the Griz have  landed a Big Sky Conference-best five players on the HERO Sports preseason All-America list   announced today (Thursday), including three first-team selections – tied for the most in the FCS.

Senior receiver Samori Toure, who broke the UM school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,495 and broke NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss' FCS Playoff record with 303 receiving yards in a game, earned a place on the first team.

Senior linebacker Jace Lewis was picked to the defensive first team after posting a Big Sky top-five 131 tackles as a junior. Safety Robby Hauck was also a first-team pick after racking up 129 tackles in his sophomore campaign.

Record-breaking running back Marcus Knight earned a place on the second team following a 25-touchdown sophomore season. Marcus was named the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year after breaking Chase Reynolds' 2009 school record of 24 total TDs and becoming the first Grizzly rusher to cross the 1,000-yard mark since 2014.

Junior kick returner Malik Flowers rounds out Montana's preseason All-America picks from HERO Sports after posting a league-leading 879 kick return yards and returning two kickoffs for touchdowns as a sophomore – one of only two players nationwide to do so.

Congrats to these outstanding Griz. We know we can count on you to prove the pollsters correct. Montana is scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sept. 5 at home against Central Washington.