Eastern Illinois has been tabbed the favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference football title, followed by Eastern Kentucky.
Results of the poll of league head coaches and sports information directors were released Monday at Nashville during media day activities.
Eastern Illinois picked up 12 of 18 first-place votes and totaled 122 points. EKU netted four first-place votes and 114 points. Tennessee State had the other two first-place votes and ranked third with 90 points. Then came Jacksonville State (87), UT Martin (78), a tie between Murray State and Tennessee Tech (53), Southeast Missouri (35) and Austin Peay (16).
Eastern Illinois senior wide receiver Erik Lora was selected as Pre-season Offensive Player of the Year, while Tennessee State junior cornerback Steven Godbolt III was named Defensive Player of the Year.
Tennessee State topped the pre-season all-conference team with seven picks, followed by Eastern Illinois with six and EKU with four.
All four of the Colonels named play defense — lineman Shawn Shupperd, linebackers Anthony Brown and Ichiro Vance, and back Brandon Stanley.
Murray State’s Walter Powell was selected all-conference wide receiver and as return specialist, and teammate Jaamal Berry was picked at running back.
OVC pre-season football poll
1. Eastern Illinois (12 first-place votes) 122 points; 2. Eastern Kentucky (4) 114; 3. Tennessee State (2) 90; 4. Jacksonville State (87); 5. UT Martin 78; 6. (tie) Murray State and Tennessee Tech 53; 8. Southeast Missouri 35; 9. Austin Peay 16.
OVC pre-season all-conference
QB — Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
RB — DaMarcus James, Jacksonville State
RB — Jaamal Berry, Murray State
WR — Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois (Player of Year)
WR — Walter Powell, Murray State
TE — A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State
C — Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State
G — Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State
G — Collin Seibert, Eastern Illinois
T — Ben Stansfield, Austin Peay
T — Tarik Milner, Jacksonville State
T — Wesley Sherrill, Tennessee Tech
L — Pat Wertz, Eastern Illinois
L — Shawn Shupperd, Eastern Kentucky
L — Antonio Harper, Tennesse State
L — D.J. Roberts, UT Martin
LB — Anthony Brown, Eastern Kentucky
LB — Ben Johnson, UT Martin
LB — Ichiro Vance, Eastern Kentucky
LB — Nick Thrasher, Tennessee State
B — Nick Beard, Eastern Illinois
B — Steven Godbolt III, Tennessee State (Player of Year)
B — Brandon Stanley, Eastern Kentucky
B — Daniel Fitzpatrick, Tennessee State
K — Cameron Berra, Eastern Illinois
P — Chad Zinchini, Tennessee Tech
Returns — Walter Powell, Murray State