ATLANTA --- Tennessee State football players Ebenezer Ogundeko (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Patrick Smith (Memphis, Tenn.) and Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, Fla.) earned spots on the watch list for the inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame Player of the Year award, presented to the most outstanding player from a Historically Black College and University.
TSU’s trio is among 52 players selected from 26 HBCUs from around the country to make the watch list. The winner of the award will receive the Deacon Jones Trophy at the annual Black College Football award ceremony on Feb. 25 in Atlanta, Ga.
Ogundeko, a defensive end who is in his second year at TSU after transferring from Clemson, earned First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference accolades as well as a place on the OVC All-Newcomer team last season. He totaled 52 tackles, 31 solos, with 10 tackles-for-loss including five sacks in nine games in 2015. For his redshirt-junior season in 2016, Ogundeko has earned a number of accolades, including OVC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year (Media), Preseason All-OVC (Media and Coaches/SIDs), STATS Preseason FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List and STATS Preseason FCS All-American Team.
An explosive wide receiver, Smith led the Tigers’ air attack in 2015 with 54 catches, 996 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games. He ended the season ranked nationally in receiving touchdowns (13th), receiving yards (16th), yards per reception (17th), punt returns (28th) and receptions per game (40th) He earned Second Team All-OVC and OVC All-Newcomer honors. Now entering his redshirt-junior season, Smith has been named Preseason All-OVC.
Another Preseason All-OVC pick, Dunker enters his redshirt-senior season as a fourth-year starter for the Tigers on the offensive line. He was named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List and was a Second Team All-OVC honoree a year ago. Dunker has appeared in 35 career games for TSU with 33 starts.
The Tigers open the 2016 season with the John Merritt Classic on Saturday, Sept. 3, versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 6 p.m. at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.