NASHVILLE, TENN. - The Tennessee State football team landed 11 players and 12 total selections on the 2012 All-Ohio Valley Conference Football Team in voting conducted by league head coaches and sports information directors, the league announced on Tuesday.
Tennessee State led all OVC teams with six first-team selections, including five on the offensive side of the ball.
The Tigers also had a pair of tight ends make the All-Newcomer Team in Leonard and Joe Bowens.
"It's a great honor to have 11 players selected to the All-OVC Team," said TSU head coach Rod Reed. "A lot of those guys are underclassmen, which we are excited about. I am also happy for the seniors (Carter and Gaines) who deserve this honor. Overall, this shows where we are in our program and how bright the future is here at TSU."
No FCS back carried the ball more than Trabis Ward, who had 309 carries for 1,422 yards (8th nationally), 1,670 all purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in leading TSU to an 8-3 mark. The 1,422 rushing yards are the third-most in TSU history in a single season.
Leonard, in his first season with TSU after transferring from Florida, was the first-team tight end selection after catching 51 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns. The 733 yards were the most by a tight end at the FCS level this year and was the fourth most throughout all four divisions (FBS, FCS, D-II and D-III) of college football.
The first-team offensive line was dominated by the Tigers who had three of the five selections, each of who moved up from the second-team a season ago, in Carter, Gaines and Edwards. TSU led the OVC in rushing at 175.7 yards per game.
Steven Godbolt, the lone sophomore on the defensive unit, picked off six passes in 10 games to rank second nationally in interceptions per game (0.60). He had two separate streaks during the 2012 season of three consecutive games with an interception.
Three of TSU's four second-team members are on the defensive side of the ball, including LB Nick Thrasher. Thrasher led the Tigers with 105 tackles and nine tackles for loss. The sophomore was tied for third in the FCS with 73 solo tackles.
Junior DL Antonio Harper recorded 36 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Safety Daniel Fitzpatrick had a strong sophomore campaign totaling 61 tackles, second on the team, along with an interception and eight pass breakups.
Kicker Jamin Godfrey earned second-team honors as he handled kickoffs, place kicking and punting duties for the Tigers. The junior's 16 field goals are tied for the fourth most in the FCS. He was named National Placekicker of the Week on Oct. 29 after setting a school record by going a perfect 5-of-5 in field goals in a 22-21 win over Tennessee Tech. He also has the most field goals in school history.
Joe Bowens, along with fellow tight end Leonard, landed on the All-Newcomer Team. The freshman from Greenville, S.C. had 28 catches, 348 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Eastern Kentucky led the way with 13 total selections across the first-team, second-team and All-Newcomer squads. TSU and Eastern Illinois were second with 12 total selections apiece.
2012 All-OVC Football Team
OVC Offensive Player of the Year: Erik Lora (WR), Eastern
OVC Defensive Player of the Year: Blake Peiffer (LB), Southeast
OVC Freshman of the Year: Scott Lathrop (QB), Southeast
OVC Roy Kidd Coach of the Year: Dino Babers, Eastern Illinois
The All-Newcomer team is comprised of first-year
players in the OVC - that can be either true freshmen, redshirt
freshmen or first-year transfers. The team consists of 11 total players
and is not voted on by position. There were 14 players on the All-OVC
second-team (2 QB’s, 5 DL’s, 2 RS’s) due to ties