NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Eastern Kentucky University football team was picked second in the 2008 preseason OVC poll as released by the league Tuesday at its annual football media day event. Meanwhile, five Colonels were selected to the preseason All-OVC team.
EKU received six first-place votes, as did Jacksonville State and Eastern Illinois. However, Jacksonville State finished with 113 total points, which was slightly ahead of the Colonels (111) and Panthers (108). This marked the closest preseason vote in Ohio Valley Conference history.
Over the last five years, EKU, JSU and EIU have been the most dominant programs in OVC football. The Colonels have gone 32-8 (.800) against conference foes and claimed the 2007 title in that span. Jacksonville State won the 2003 and 2004 crowns while piling up a 30-10 (.750) record in league games. Finally, Eastern Illinois is 29-11 (.725) versus OVC opponents over the last five seasons and captured the 2005 and 2006 titles.
Seniors Chris Coy, Zach Denton, Brandon Gathof and Allan Holland, along with junior Michael Howard earned preseason all-league accolades. Holland, the 2007 OVC Offensive Player of the Year, was named the 2008 OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. The quarterback threw for 1,990 yards as a junior with 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Both Coy and Gathof were first team All-OVC players in 2007. As a junior defensive end, Coy led the league in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (18.5). Gathof finished with a team-high 59 solo tackles along with five interceptions one year ago.
Denton started all 12 games at free safety while recording five interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a junior. Howard is one of two returning starters on the offensive line. As a sophomore, Howard started every game at left guard, but could move to center this year.
Eastern Kentucky will be in search of its 31st consecutive winning season and 20th Ohio Valley Conference title this fall. Last year, the Colonels advanced to the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs for a record 18th time and went undefeated against OVC competition. EKU opens the 2008 season on Thursday, Aug. 28 at Cincinnati.