JSU Picked To Win OVC Football Title
JSU Picked To Win OVC Football Title
Eight Jacksonville State players were named to the 2014 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Football Team and the Gamecocks were picked to win the 2014 league title on Monday, when the league office released the team and its preseason poll at its annual Football Media Day.
The Gamecocks had five players on the Preseason All-OVC Offense, two on defense and one specialist on the 28-person team. Senior running back DaMarcus James headlines the list of JSU honorees as the league's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and is one of many reasons the Gamecocks were picked to win the OVC in 2014 by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
James is joined on the Preseason All-OVC Offense by sophomore quarterback Eli Jenkins, sophomore wide receiver Josh Barge and senior offensive linemen Max Holcombe and Blake Burks. A pair of defensive linemen in senior Caleb Lawrence and sophomore Chris Landrum are on the Preseason All-OVC Defense, while junior punter Hamish MacInnes is a special teams pick.
James and Holcombe were First Team All-OVC players as juniors in 2013, while Lawrence was a Second Team performer in guiding the Gamecocks to an 11-4 record and an historic run to the FCS Quarterfinals. JSU returns nine starters from an offense that was the most prolific in school history a year ago. It was record breaking in every phase and highlighted a season that saw the Gamecocks set a total of 49 school records, 13 Ohio Valley Conference records and three NCAA records.
The Gamecocks edged defending champion Eastern Illinois in the preseason poll, receiving 118 total votes to the Panthers' 110. JSU received 10 first-place votes, while EIU and third-place Tennessee State received four each.
James, who is a preseason All-American by several news organizations and publications and is also on the Walter Payton Award Preseason Watch List, had a record-breaking junior season in 2013, where he rushed for 1,477 yards on 292 carries to set the school's single-season rushing record.
The first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection from Demopolis, Ala., also set the OVC record with 29 rushing touchdowns to finish second in the nation, and he scored a rushing touchdown in the final 12 games of the season to extend his school record. He now has 35 career rushing touchdowns, which is the third most in school history, and his 13 career 100-yard rushing games is also the second most in school history.
Holcombe is also coming off an All-American junior season that saw him anchor a record breaking offensive line that paved the way for a school-record 6,637 yards of total offense, 1,755 more than any team in school history. The Tuscaloosa native, alongside Hoover native Burks, helped the Gamecocks score a school-record 528 points, 107 more than the previous school record set in 1991.
Jenkins stormed onto the scene in his redshirt freshman season to earn Freshman All-American honors after guiding the JSU offense for much of the year. The Birmingham native was second on the team with 953 rushing yards, while also throwing for 887 yards on 74-for-124 (60 percent) passing.
The fifth preseason offensive honoree and another Freshman All-American, Barge also enjoyed record-breaking success as a redshirt freshman in 2013. The Carrollton, Ga., native set new JSU freshman records with 58 catches for 885 yards, leading a corps of 19 different JSU players to catch at least one pass during the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Lawrence and Landrum keyed the most prolific pass rush in school history. On a team that set a school record with 52 sacks and amassed 107 tackles for a loss, Lawrence earned Second Team All-OVC honors with 10.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. The Opelika native was the anchor in the middle of the JSU defensive line in is third season with the Gamecocks.
A native of Sweet Water, Landrum tied Lawrence for the team lead with 10.5 tackles for a loss, while also recording five sacks in his first year with JSU after transferring from Auburn. Landrum was credited with four quarterback hurries on the year, as well.
MacInnes had a tremendous year in his second season as the Gamecocks' punter, tying for 15th nationally with a 42.9 yard per punt average on 73 punts. He booted a school-record 86-yard punt at Tennessee Tech, tying Weber State's Tony Epperson for the longest punt in FCS in 2013. The Victoria, Australia native had 3,133 punting yards, the most in school history, thanks to 18 punts of 50 yards or longer and 19 pinned inside the opponents' 20 yard line.
The Gamecocks will report to campus on July 31 before starting practice on August 1. They will open the 2013 season at No. 3 Michigan State on Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. CT on the Big Ten Network.
2014 OVC Football Predicted Order of Finish
(Selected by OVC Head Football Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
Order of Finish - Points
1. Jacksonville State (10 first-place votes) - 118
2. Eastern Illinois (4) - 110
3. Tennessee State (4) - 107
4. Eastern Kentucky - 82
5. UT Martin - 79
6. Murray State - 54
7. Tennessee Tech - 48
8. Southeast Missouri - 34
9. Austin Peay - 16
Note: 8 points awarded for a ? rst-place vote, 7 for second, etc. - Coaches and SID's could not vote for their own teams.
Courtesy: JSU Sports Information