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NORMAL For the first time since 2000, the Illinois State football team is part of the final Division I-AA national rankings.

The Redbirds are listed at No. 22, up one spot from the final regular-season rankings, in the final poll of the Sports Network, which was announced Monday.

ISU's three previous end-of-season rankings were No. 24 in 2000, No. 3 in 1999 and No. 16 in 1998.

The Redbirds finished with a 7-4 record and were among four Gateway Conference teams to be ranked. National runner-up Northern Iowa was No. 2, Southern Illinois No. 7 and Youngstown State No. 14.

National champion Appalachian State was the unanimous No. 1 team.

While having its best season since an identical record in 2000, ISU placed five players on the all-Gateway first team in offensive lineman Stafford Davis, wide receiver Laurent Robinson, defensive lineman Brent Hawkins, linebacker Cameron Siskowic and punter Ryan Hoffman.

Hawkins was second and Siskowic 13th in balloting for the Buck Buchanan Award. Robinson was 10th in Walter Payton award voting.

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