The Eastern Kentucky University football team was picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference this fall in a poll conducted by the OVC coaches and sports information directors. The announcement was made Monday at the OVC football media day event.
This was the second consecutive year that EKU was picked to finish third in the preseason poll. For the third time in the past four seasons, Jacksonville State has been picked the favorite in the OVC football race. The Gamecocks received 13 of the 18 first-place votes. Murray State notched four first-place votes and was tabbed second in the poll.
Eastern Kentucky was 6-5 overall and 5-2 in the OVC a year ago which featured wins over both Jacksonville State and Murray State. The Colonels return nine offensive and seven defensive starters including a league-high seven players who were named to the 2011 preseason All-OVC team.
Five defensive starters earned preseason all-conference honors – senior defensive lineman Emory Attig, sophomore defensive lineman Anthony Brown, senior linebacker Tyson Patrick, senior defensive back Jeremy Caldwell and senior defensive back Patrick McClellan. Last year, the Eastern defense ranked first in the OVC in rushing defense (125.5 yards per game) and second in scoring defense (22.7 points per game).
Earlier in the month, Caldwell was the only OVC player named to the initial Buck Buchanan Award watch list, which is handed out annually to the FCS defensive player of the year.
Junior wide receiver Orlandus Harris and sophomore punter Jordan Berry were also honored with preseason all-league accolades.
EKU opens the 2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 at Kansas State. The Colonels’ home opener is scheduled for Sept. 10 against Missouri State at 6 p.m.