The Big Sky football media days kicked off today in Spokane with the release of the pre-season coaches and media football polls.

Idaho was projected to finish fourth in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches’ Poll and fifth in a vote of the conference’s media members.

In addition, three Vandals, Cade Coffey, Kaden Elliss and Noah Johnson were named to the Preseason All-Big Sky Team.

 The Vandals tallied 101 points in the coaches’ poll including one first-place vote. They earned 483 points in the media poll, with three first-place votes. Eastern Washington was picked to win the league in both preseason polls.

 Idaho makes its return to the Big Sky in 2018, previously winning eight league titles as a charter member of the conference from 1963-95. Head coach Paul Petrino is in his sixth season leading the Vandals. Petrino heads into the 2018 season with 11 returning starters, including preseason All-Big Sky selections Coffey, Elliss and Johnson.

 The 2018 Big Sky Football Preseason All-Conference Team was chosen by select media representatives who cover the league. The team is comprised of 31 student-athletes, including 15 on offense, 12 on defense and four on special teams. All 13 league schools earned at least one preseason all-conference selection.

 Coffey was chosen as the punter on the all-conference team. He returns for his sophomore season after being named a USA Today Freshman All-American. His 44.6 yard-per-punt average in 2017 would have led the Big Sky. Coffey booted 20 of his 66 punts at least 50 yards and pinned the opposing offense inside its own 20 on 23 occasions.

 Elliss earned one of two spots at outside linebacker on the All-Big Sky Preseason Team, joining Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Josh Buss of Montana. Elliss earned All-Sun Belt accolades each of the past two seasons. He enters his senior campaign with 228 career tackles, including 32 for loss and 10 sacks. Elliss has intercepted five passes, forced five fumbles, recovered three and blocked a kick. He is also expected to play an expanded role in the Vandal offense this season at tight end, where he caught seven passes last season for 156 yards and two touchdowns.

 Johnson was selected as one of five offensive linemen named to the All-Big Sky Preseason Team, getting the nod at guard. Coming into his junior season, Johnson has already started 22 games as a Vandal. He was named All-Sun Belt Second Team last season. In 2016, Johnson was a member of the Sun Belt All-Newcomer Team.

 Fall camp begins the first week of August, and the season kicks off Sept. 1, at Fresno State. Idaho’s home opener is Sept. 8, against Western New Mexico. The Vandals open Big Sky play Sept. 22, at UC Davis and the first home conference game is Sept. 29, against Portland State.

 2018 Big Sky Football Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Eastern Washington      134 (6 first-place votes)

Weber State                  124 (3)

Northern Arizona            121 (3)

Idaho                            101 (1)

Sacramento State          94

Southern Utah               91

Montana                       82

Montana State               76

UC Davis                      64

Cal Poly                        40

Northern Colorado         30

Idaho State                   29

Portland State               21

 2018 Big Sky Football Preseason Media Poll

Eastern Washington       651 (27 first-place votes)

Weber State                      636 (19)

Northern Arizona             535 (1)

Montana                             496 (2)

Idaho                                    483 (3)

Southern Utah                  449 (1)

Sacramento State            415        

Montana State                  391 (1)

UC Davis                              331 (1)

Idaho State                         170        

Cal Poly                                169        

Northern Colorado          166        

Portland State                   103