Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee State football team was picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference at Monday’s Media Day. The Tigers received a pair of first-place votes and 90 total points in the 2013 poll which is a vote of league head coaches and sports information directors.
The Tigers’ preseason ranking is the highest for the team since the 2002 season.
TSU got more good news when redshirt junior cornerback Steven Godbolt III was selected as the conference’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, Godbolt ranked first nationally in interception per game (0.60), and hauled in six picks to go along with 45 tackles and six pass break ups.
Godbolt was also chosen to the Preseason All-OVC Team and joining him on the defensive side of the ball are senior defensive end Antonio Harper, junior linebacker Nick Thrasher and junior safety Daniel Fitzpatrick. Thrasher led the team in tackles last year (105) and tackles-for-loss (9.0) last season while Harper was second on the squad in sacks (3.5) and Fitzpatrick was first in pass breakups (8) and second in tackles (61).
On the offensive side, the Tigers had three players selected including preseason All-American tight end A.C. Leonard. Leonard had 51 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. Also on the team are senior left guard Kadeem Edwards and senior center Demetrius Rhaney.
Big Blue will open camp on Aug. 4 in preparation for the John Merritt Classic versus Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 1.
2013 OVC Preseason Football Predicted Order of Finish
1. Eastern Illinois (12 first-place votes) - 122 points
2. Eastern Kentucky (4) - 114
3. Tennessee State (2) - 90
4. Jacksonville State - 87
5. UT Martin - 78
6. Murray State - 53
Tennessee Tech - 53
8. Southeast Missouri - 35
9. Austin Peay – 16
2013 Preseason All-OVC Football Team
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Erik Lora (WR), Eastern Illinois
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Steven Godbolt III (CB), Tennessee State
QB - Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
RB - DaMarcus James, Jacksonville State
RB - Jaamal Berry, Murray State
WR - Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois
WR - Walter Powell, Murray State
TE - A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State
C - Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State
OG - Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State
OG - Collin Seibert, Eastern Illinois
OT - Ben Stansfield, Austin Peay
OT - Tarik Milner, Jacksonville State
OT - Wesley Sherrill, Tennessee Tech
DL - Pat Wertz, Eastern Illinois
DL - Shawn Shupperd, Eastern Kentucky
DL - Antonio Harper, Tennessee State
DL - DJ Roberts, UT Martin
LB - Anthony Brown, Eastern Kentucky
LB - Ben Johnson, UT Martin
LB - Ichiro Vance, Eastern Kentucky
LB - Nick Thrasher, Tennessee State
DB - Nick Beard, Eastern Illinois
DB - Steven Godbolt III, Tennessee State
DB - Brandon Stanley, Eastern Kentucky
DB - Daniel Fitzpatrick, Tennessee State
K - Cameron Berra, Eastern Illinois
P - Chad Zinchini, Tennessee Tech
RS - Walter Powell, Murray State