NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Eastern Kentucky was picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference this season by league coaches and media relations contacts, the league announced today at its annual media day event in Nashville.
Three Colonels – offensive tackle Justin Adekoya, kicker Lucas Williams and punter Keith Wrzuszczak – were chosen to the Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Team.
For season ticket information, contact the EKU Athletics Ticket Office at 859-622-2122.
EKU earned 100 points in the preseason poll, three more than third place Eastern Illinois (97). Jacksonville State (128) picked up all 16 available first-place votes and is the preseason favorite to win the league title.
Adekoya is a 6-foot-5, 294-pound senior. He started 10 games at left tackle last season. The Ringgold, Georgia native helped Eastern Kentucky rank 30th in the nation with an average 256 passing yards per game. He was part of an offensive line that ranked 34th in the nation in sacks allowed. Adekoya was on the line when quarterback Bennie Coney became the first Colonel ever to throw for 400-plus yards in a game, finishing with 417 yards at Murray State.
Williams, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior, was a first team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection in 2015. The Russel Springs, Kentucky native made 41-of-42 extra-point attempts and connected on 11-of-14 field goal attempts. He was 18th in the nation in field goal percentage (78.6 percent), led the OVC and ranked 21st in the nation with 1.22 field goals per game, and led the OVC and was 16th in the country in scoring at 8.2 points per game. Williams was on the College Football Performance (CFPA) 2015 FCS Special Teams Watch List. He hit two field goals and five extra-points in a double overtime victory at Murray State, including an extra-point with 44 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime and an extra-point in the first overtime to send the game to a second overtime.
Wrzuszczak (pronounced ROO-sack), is a 5-foot-11, 194-pound junior. The Geelong, Australia native was a first team All-OVC selection last season. He broke Jordan Berry’s EKU single season punting record, finishing with an average of 43.7 yards per punt. He ranked second in the OVC and ninth in the nation in punting average. Wrzuszczak was a two-time OVC Specialist of the Week – on Oct. 18 after averaging 45.5 yards per punt at Southeast Missouri and on Nov. 1 after averaging 50.2 yards per punt with six punts of 50 or more yards and six punts that pinned No. 1 Jacksonville State inside its own 20 yard line. He was on the CFPA 2015 FCS Special Teams Watch List. His longest punt of the season was a 75-yarder at No. 1 Jacksonville State, three yards short of tying the Eastern record and ninth longest in the FCS during the 2015 season.
The Eastern Kentucky University football program has won two national championships, 21 conference titles, has made 21 playoff appearances and has just one losing record in the last 43 seasons.
No other current OVC team has won more than 10 league championships. Six of the other eight OVC members have combined for just 17 conference championships, compared to 21 trophies for the Colonels.
Tennessee-Martin (96) and Southeast Missouri (66) were picked fourth and fifth in the preseason poll. Tennessee State (55) and Tennessee Tech (45) were sixth and seventh respectively. Murray State (43) and Austin Peay (18) rounded out the poll.
Eight points were awarded for a first-place vote in the preseason poll, seven for second and so on. Coaches and media relations contacts could not vote for their own teams.
2016 OVC Football Predicted Order of Finish
1. Jacksonville State (16 first-place votes) – 128 points
2. Eastern Kentucky – 100
3. Eastern Illinois (2) – 97
4. UT Martin – 96
5. Southeast Missouri – 66
6. Tennessee State – 55
7. Tennessee Tech – 45
8. Murray State – 43
9. Austin Peay – 18
2016 Preseason All-OVC Football Team
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Eli Jenkins (QB), Jacksonville State
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Jackson (DL), Jacksonville State
QB – Eli Jenkins, Jacksonville State
RB – Tremane McCullough, Southeast Missouri
RB – Devin Church, Eastern Illinois
WR – Josh Barge, Jacksonville State
WR – Patrick Smith, Tennessee State
WR – Brock McCoin, Tennessee Tech
TE – Jesse Blackburn, Murray State
C – Casey Dunn, Jacksonville State
OG – Jessamen Dunker, Tennessee State
OG – Garret Baker, Southeast Missouri
OT – Justin Lea, Jacksonville State
OT – Dylan Cline, Jacksonville State
OT – Justin Adekoya, Eastern Kentucky
DL – Ebenezer Ogundeko, Tennessee State
DL – Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State
DL – Damani Taylor, UT Martin
DL – Desmond Owino, Jacksonville State
LB – Roper Garrett, Southeast Missouri
LB – Joel McCandless, Jacksonville State
LB – Seth McDonald, Eastern Illinois
DB – Maleek Hall, Tennessee Tech
DB – Mike Ford, Southeast Missouri
DB – Bradley Dewberry, Eastern Illinois
DB – Jaylen Hill, Jacksonville State
DB – Eriq Moore, Southeast Missouri
K – Lucas Williams, Eastern Kentucky
P – Keith Wrzuszczak, Eastern Kentucky
RS – Lawon DeBardelaben, Jacksonville State