BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Eight Eastern Kentucky University football players were named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference team the league office announced Tuesday. Meanwhile, Dean Hood was named the OVC Roy Kidd Coach of the Year.
On the offensive side of the ball, two EKU players were named first team all-conference. Senior tight end Stephen Sizemore leads all OVC tight ends with 46 receptions this year. The native of Lost Creek, Ky., tallied a team season-high 12 catches to go along with 85 receiving yards and a touchdown in the win at Southeast Missouri on Nov. 1. Sizemore has recorded at least one reception in 10 of the 11 games thus far. Junior offensive tackle Derek Hardman has been a fixture on the offensive line over the last three years. He has started 35 consecutive games on the line dating back to 2006. The native of Spencer, W.Va., moved to left tackle this year after spending the previous two seasons at right tackle.
Defensively, seniors Chris Coy and Brandon Gathof came away with first team all-league accolades. Coy, a two-time first team All-OVC pick, is among the conference leaders in sacks. His best performance of the season arguably came against Eastern Illinois on Oct. 25 when he recorded six tackles and two sacks in the 20-7 win. The native of Slaughters, Ky., has 143 career tackles as well as 13.5 sacks. Gathof is just the eighth Colonel ever to be named first team All-OVC three times and the first since linebacker Justen Rivers (2002-04). The native of LaGrange, Ky., was instrumental in EKU’s win over UT Martin on Nov. 22. He finished with two interceptions, including one returned 50 yards for a touchdown, and blocked the game-winning field goal attempt as time expired.
Senior kicker Taylor Long earned a spot with the first team specialists. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., has made 19 field goals this year which ranks second nationally at the FCS level. During one stretch, Long converted 13 straight field goals including the overtime game-winner against Austin Peay on Sept. 27. Long then booted a career-best 50-yard field goal in the win over Eastern Illinois on Oct. 25.
In his first year at Eastern, Hood helped guide the Colonels to their second consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championship. Eastern Kentucky began the year 1-3, but rallied to win its final seven regular season games to claim the program’s 20th league title. The Colonels lead the OVC in scoring defense (21.6 ppg) and rank among the top-five nationally in turnover margin (+16). EKU football head coaches have now won this award 12 times since its inception in 1963 as well as two years in a row.
Three Colonels were named second team All-OVC – senior center Sam Reid, senior linebacker Tyjuan Jones and senior defensive back Zach Denton. Reid made the move from tight end to center in 2008 and has started all 11 games. Jones is the team’s leading tackler (94) and registered a team season-high 16 tackles against rival Western Kentucky on Sept. 6. Denton has tallied an interception in five of the last six games and leads the conference with six interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Stephon Fuqua earned a spot on the OVC All-Newcomer team. Fuqua played three years of football at Akron before coming to Eastern to work on his master’s degree in sports administration. He leads the team in receiving yards (491) and is second in yards per reception (16.9).
#21 Eastern Kentucky (8-3, 7-1 OVC) begins the 2008 NCAA FCS playoffs this Saturday, Nov. 29 at #7 Richmond (9-3, 6-2 CAA). Game time is set for 1 p.m.
2008 All-Ohio Valley Conference Football Team (EKU selections)
OVC Roy Kidd Coach of the Year: Dean Hood
First Team Offense
Derek Hardman, OT, 6-6, 292, Jr., Spencer, W.Va.
Stephen Sizemore, TE, 6-3, 246, Sr., Lost Creek, Ky.
First Team Defense
Chris Coy, DL, 6-1, 240, Sr., Slaughters, Ky.
Brandon Gathof, DB, 6-2, 200, Sr., LaGrange, Ky.
First Team Specialists
Taylor Long, K, 5-11, 176, Sr., Hopkinsville, Ky.
Second Team Offense
Sam Reid, C, 6-0, 248, Sr., Carlisle, Ky.
Second Team Defense
Zach Denton, DB, 5-11, 199, Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio
Tyjuan Jones, LB, 6-1, 225, Sr., Dayton, Ohio
Stephon Fuqua, WR, 6-1, 200, Sr., Cleveland, Ohio