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Murray State picked as OVC football favorites

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 1:36 PM CDT
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MURRAY, Ky. (KFVS) - Murray State University was picked as the preseason football favorites in the Ohio Valley Conference for the 2021 season.

The Races picked up seven of the possible 14 first-place votes in a poll of league head coaches and communications officers.

The university totaled 64 points to finish just ahead of Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri, who tied for second-place with 60 points.

The Governors and Redhawks were 2019 OVC Co-Champions and both appeared in the FCS Playoffs this season.

The 2020-21 Conference play took place in the spring, and the seven OVC member institutions will play a six-game round robin Conference schedule this season, the 74th year of football in the OVC.

In the first season under head coach Dean Hood, Murray State earned its first national ranking since 2011 on its way to a 5-2 OVC record and second-place OVC finish. The team played for the league title the final week of the season.

MSU finished the year ranked No. 17 in the FCS Coaches Poll (No. 18 in the Stats Perform poll).

Austin Peay has been ranked in each of the past three seasons (2018-20) including finishing last year No. 23 in the Stats Perform poll; this comes after never being ranked previously in its program history.

Just a year removed (2019) from an OVC Championship and playoff berth, Southeast Missouri finished 4-3 in Conference play last season.

Now in his eighth year as head coach, Tom Matukewicz has established SEMO Division I records for overall (37) and OVC wins (29) as well as wins over nationally-ranked opponents (6).

2021 OVC Football Preseason Predicted Order of Finish

  • Murray State (7 first-place votes) - 64 points
  • Austin Peay (4) - 60
  • Southeast Missouri (3) - 60
  • UT Martin - 38
  • Tennessee State - 32
  • Tennessee Tech - 28
  • Eastern Illinois - 12

2021 OVC Preseason Football Team

  • Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Draylen Ellis (QB), Austin Peay
  • Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kordell Jackson (NB), Austin Peay

OFFENSE

  • QB - Preston Rice, Murray State
  • QB - Draylen Ellis, Austin Peay
  • RB - Devon Starling, Tennessee State
  • RB - Geno Hess, Southeast Missouri
  • FB - Benjamin Johnson, Tennessee State
  • WR - Zack Smith, Southeast Missouri
  • WR - Colton Dowell, UT Martin
  • WR - LaMartez Brooks, Murray State
  • WR - Donnell Williams, UT Martin
  • WR - Cam Wyche, Tennessee State
  • WR - Jacob Bell, Murray State
  • TE - Rodney Williams II, UT Martin
  • OL - Cam Durley, Tennessee State
  • OL - Bucky Williams, Austin Peay
  • OL - Jaden Rosenthall, Southeast Missouri
  • OL - Levi Nesler, Murray State
  • OL - Jacob Vance, Murray State
  • OL - Shyron Rodgers, Southeast Missouri
  • OL - Matthan Hatchie, UT Martin
  • OL - Colby McKee, Austin Peay
  • OL - Seth Johnson, Austin Peay

DEFENSE

  • DT - Bryson Donnell, Southeast Missouri
  • DT - Davoan Hawkins, Tennessee State
  • DE - Chris Tucker, Tennessee Tech
  • DE - Ethan Edmondson, Murray State
  • OLB - Omardrick Douglas, Southeast Missouri
  • OLB - Scotty Humpich, Murray State
  • OLB - James Green, Tennessee State
  • ILB - Eric Samuta, Murray State
  • ILB - Jason Johnson, Eastern Illinois
  • ILB - Jack McDonald, Austin Peay
  • CB - Marcis Floyd, Murray State
  • CB - Jay Woods, UT Martin
  • S - Deven Sims, UT Martin
  • S - Josh Reliford, Tennessee Tech
  • S - Josh Green, Tennessee State
  • NB - Kordell Jackson, Austin Peay

SPECIALISTS

  • K - Antonio Zita, Tennessee State
  • P - Zach Haynes, Southeast Missouri
  • KR - Matt Judd, Eastern Illinois
  • PR - Malik Honeycutt, Murray State

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