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Nashville, TN – Austin Peay State University football was picked ninth in the Ohio Valley Conference by a vote of the conference coaches and sports information directors announced Monday at the annual OVC Media Day.
Defending champion Jacksonville State was the top preseason choice for a third straight year, picking up 16 of 18 first-place votes and 128 points total.
Austin Peay State University Football picked to finish last in OVC Preseason Poll. (APSU Sports Information)
Eastern Kentucky was second in the poll (100 points), followed closely by Eastern Illinois (97), which garnered the other two first-place votes, although UT Martin (96) just missed being tabbed for the conference’s third spot.
Southeast Missouri (66 points) was fifth, followed by Tennessee State (55), Tennessee Tech (45), Murray State (43) and Austin Peay (18). The Govs also were picked ninth in the media poll for the third straight season.
Although tabbed to finish last in 2016, the Governors have reason to anticipate an ending to their four-year run in the OVC basement. Seventeen starters (nine offense, eight defense) return from a year ago and will be bolstered by head coach Will Healy‘s first recruiting class—a class ranked fifth in the FCS by 247sports.com.
Healy and the Govs will have a completely revamped coaching staff in place for the fall, with only J.D. Sellers (running backs coach) remaining from the previous staff. Wesley Satterfield (quarterbacks coach) will handle the offensive coordinator duties, while Marcus West (defensive line) and Brandon Cooper (secondary) are slotted in as co-defensive coordinators.
It remains to be seen who will ultimately take the reins at quarterback, although Mickey Macius is back from a redshirt campaign to compete with Timarious Mitchell for the top job, with a trio of newcomers (junior college transfer Tommy Hays and freshmen JaVaughn Craig and Derrick James) in the mix as well.
It’s the ground game that may make the Governors engine go in 2016—not only is 2015 All-Newcomer choice Kendall Morris back for the Govs, Marvin Franklin was dynamic during spring ball and may be on the same career path as Morris—redshirt one year, All-Newcomer the next.
The defensive side of the ball should be loaded with experience, anchored by senior linebacker Antonio Turner in the middle. The secondary should be a source of veteran strength, particularly with leading tackler Devon Jones (68 total tackles) and Roderick Owens (61 tackles, three interceptions) back in the fold. Owens needs four interceptions to break into Austin Peay’s top-10 in career interceptions.
Senior Rashaan Coleman and sophomore Gunnar Scholato were Austin Peay’s representatives at OVC Media Days. Coleman has been a three-year starter for the Govs, leading in Austin Peay in receptions in 2013 and 2014—he tallied his 2015 touchdown receptions at Southern Miss and Vanderbilt.
Scholato transferred to Austin Peay from Western Kentucky last season and recorded 32 tackles in his first season as a Governor. He so impressed his new coaching staff that he was awarded a scholarship at the end of spring practice.
Across the conference, Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins earned preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors, while his teammate, defensive lineman Darius Jackson, picked up the defensive award.
Austin Peay’s 2016 campaign opens up in Alabama, September 3rd, at Troy. The Govs return home the next week to face Tennessee Tech (September 10th) in the home opener—just the second September meeting in the 48-game history between the two squads—before an early bye-week, September 17th.
The Govs will have three of the next four on the road, beginning with a trip to Charleston to face Eastern Illinois (September 24th). Austin Peay will return home to face Murray State to open October (October 1st) before back-to-back road games at UT Martin (October 8th) and Jacksonville State (October 15th)
The 2016 Homecoming contest will be a non-conference affair against Mercer (October 22nd), followed by a trip to Southeast Missouri (October 29th) and back-to-back home games against Tennessee State (November 5th) and Eastern Kentucky (November 12th) to close out the conference schedule.
The 2016 regular season comes to an end for Austin Peay with a November 19th trip to Lexington to face SEC foe Kentucky—the Govs fourth meeting with an SEC squad in the last four seasons.
The Governors home opener against Tennessee Tech is scheduled for a 6:00pm kickoff, with all other home contests scheduled for a 4:00pm kickoff from Governors Stadium. All Governor home contests and Ohio Valley Conference games can be seen on the OVC Digital Network.
About APSU Sports Information
Austin Peay State University Sports Information provides the latest news and updates on the Athletic endeavors of the student-athletes at APSU. Under the direction of Brad Kirtley, the APSU SID’s office consists of Cody Bush, and Colby Wilson. To contact the APSU Sports Information office, contact, 931.221.7561.