Tennessee State University has been picked to finish fourth in the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference championship race in a preseason poll selected by the league's head football coaches and sports information directors.
The 2008 Tigers finished the season with an 8-4 overall record (5-3 OVC) for a fourth place finish. Junior safety Eugene Clifford was the lone Tiger named to the OVC Preseason team.
TSU must replace seven starters on offense, however, eight defensive players return from a unit that led the OVC in 2008. The hard-hitting Clifford finished the year with 61 tackles (42 solo) and two fumble recoveries with three interceptions (81 yds.) returning one for a touchdown.
Returning alongside Clifford is last year's leader in tackles (67), sophomore linebacker Rico Council, and sack leaders, junior Marcus Broxie (6) and senior Kellen Woodard (5).
Players report to camp on August 8th to prepare for the 11-game season which opens September 5th against rival Alabama A&M in the John Merritt Classic. TSU will honor the 1982 football team at this year’s JMC.
After the home opener, TSU will hit the road to play in the Southern Heritage Classic (9/12) against Jackson State, followed by a trip to Baton Rouge, La against Southern (9/19).
The following week, the Tigers will head to Atlanta, Ga. to face Florida A&M (9/26) in the Atlanta Classic sponsored by Bank of America before wading into the OVC season beginning in October.
OVC 2009 Predicted Order of Finish
(Selected by OVC Head Football Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
1. Eastern Kentucky(10 first-place votes) - 105
2. UT Martin(4) - 92
3. Eastern Illinois(2) - 89
4. Tennessee State(1) - 74
5. Murray State(1) - 61
6. Tennessee Tech - 35
7. Austin Peay - 33
8. Southeast Missouri - 33
Note: Jacksonville State is not eligible for the OVC Championship (NCAA APR penalties) and therefore is not ranked.
(7 points awarded for a first-place vote, 6 for second, etc. - Coaches and SID’s could not vote for their own teams)