NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two Colonels were selected to the 2017 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference football team. Defensive end Aaron Patrick and punter Keith Wrzuszczak earned preseason all-conference honors.

Last season, Patrick was a first team All-OVC honoree. He was also selected to the 2016 Hero Sports Sophomore All-America first team. The 6-foot-4, 227-pound Dayton, Ohio native was second in the OVC, and 42nd in the nation, with an average of 0.64 sacks per game. He led the team with seven sacks and 10 tackles for a loss. He also had 10 quarterback hurries, one pass break-up and one forced fumble. Patrick finished eighth in the OVC with an average of 0.91 tackles for a loss per game.

He had eight tackles and 2.5 sacks at Tennessee Tech (Oct. 1). He finished with a season-best nine tackles at Ball State (Sept. 17) and against No. 2 Jacksonville State (Oct. 22).

Wrzuszczak was a second team All-OVC selection after last season. The 5-foot-11, 202-pound Geelong, Victoria, Australia native ranked third in the conference and 17th in the nation in punt average. He averaged 42.1 yards on 59 punts while placing 28 punts inside the 20 yard line. He had seven punts of 50 or more yards. Wrzuszczak’s directional skill helped EKU lead the OVC in net punting (41.19 ypp) and punt return defense (2.50 ypp). The Colonels ranked third and fourth in the nation, respectively, in those two categories.

He placed four punts inside the 20 yard line at Ball State (Sept. 17). He averaged 48 yards per punt at Tennessee State (Oct. 15). Wrzuszcak averaged 47.3 yards on seven punts at Tennessee-Martin (Oct. 29) while placing three inside the 20 yard line and booming a season-best 63-yarder.

The Eastern Kentucky University football program has won two national championships, 21 conference titles and has made 21 playoff appearances. No other Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team has won at least two FCS national titles and 20 or more conference championships.

The Colonels will open their 2017 season at Western Kentucky on Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. ET. Eastern’s first home game is slated for Sept. 23 against Tennessee Tech. For season ticket information, contact the EKU Athletics Ticket Office at 844-3-GOBIGE.

EKU was picked to place fifth in the OVC this season in a preseason poll of league head coaches and communications directors.

Jacksonville State (128) received all 16 possible first-place votes and was chosen as the preseason favorite to win the league. Tennessee-Martin (107) was picked second and Tennessee State (96) third. Eastern Illinois had 81 points and was fourth in the poll.

EKU garnered 68 points in the preseason poll, four more than sixth place Tennessee Tech (64). Southeast Missouri (42) edged Murray State (41) for seventh. Austin Peay (21) rounded out the poll in eighth.

2017 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Football Team

(Selected by OVC Head Football Coaches and Sports Information Directors)

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Patrick Smith (WR), Tennessee State
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Jackson (DL), Jacksonville State

Offense
Pos.PlayerSchoolYr.
QBTroy CookUT MartinSr.
RBRoc ThomasJacksonville StateSr.
RBJaimiee BoweUT MartinJr.
RBYeedee ThaenratTennessee TechSo.
WRPatrick SmithTennessee StateSr.
WRJordon GandyMurray StateSr.
TEAddison BoundsEastern IllinoisSr.
CThomas BurtonTennessee StateJr.
OGJustin LeaJacksonville StateSr.
OGRobert BurleighUT MartinSr.
OTDylan ClineJacksonville StateJr.
OTKadarren BondUT MartinSr.
Defense
Pos.PlayerSchoolYr.
DLDarius JacksonJacksonville StateSr.
DLEbenezer OgundekoTennessee StateSr.
DLAaron PatrickEastern KentuckyJr.
DLRandy RobinsonJacksonville StateJr.
LBSiran NealJacksonville StateSr.
LBJoel McCandlessJacksonville StateSr.
LBChad MeredithSoutheast MissouriSr.
DBMarlon BridgesJacksonville StateSo.
DBKahlid HagensUT MartinSr.
DBReggie HallJacksonville StateSr.
DBD'Montre WadeMurray StateSr.
DBTae MartinUT MartinSr.
Specialists
Pos.PlayerSchoolYr.
KLane ClarkTennessee StateSr.
PKeith WrzuszczakEastern KentuckySr.
RSCameron SandersSoutheast MissouriJr.
RSChris RowlandTennessee StateSo.

2017 OVC Football Predicted Order of Finish

(Selected by OVC Head Football Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
Order of FinishTeamPoints
1Jacksonville State128 (16)
2UT Martin107 (2)
3Tennessee State96
4Eastern Illinois81
5Eastern Kentucky68
6Tennessee Tech64
7Southeast Missouri42
8Murray State41
9Austin Peay21