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NASHVILLE - For the second-straight year Jacksonville State has been picked the preseason favorite in the Ohio Valley Conference football race in a vote of league head coaches and sports information directors. The Gamecocks picked up 16 of the 18 first-place votes to top the 2015 poll.tnst tiger

Tennessee State was ranked fifth with 66 votes.

The Tigers return 58 players, including five offensive and three defensive starters, from last year's team that was 6-6 overall. A season ago Rod Reed's team ranked 11th nationally in total defense (303.3 yards/game) in addition to forcing 25 total turnovers, which was the 29th best total in the country. Among the team's returning players is Preseason All-OVC selection Gabe Terry who had 11.5 sacks last season in his first year in a TSU uniform. Also returning is senior defensive back Bernell Brooks who had two interceptions and six pass breakups a season ago. Offensively the team will have a new signal caller as junior Ronald Butler takes over as the starting quarterback. Butler saw time as a starter as a freshman in 2013 (throwing for 1,405 yards and 13 touchdowns) but was the backup last season, passing for 420 yards and a touchdown in limited action.

TSU opens its season on Sunday, Sept. 6 when they host Alabama State in the John Merritt Classic. Kickoff is at 6:00pm CT at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

2015 OVC Football Predicted Order of Finish
1. Jacksonville State (16 first-place votes) – 128 points
2. Eastern Illinois - 107
3. Eastern Kentucky (2) - 106
4. UT Martin - 78
5. Tennessee State - 66
6. Southeast Missouri - 63
7. Tennessee Tech - 45
8. Murray State - 38
9. Austin Peay – 17

Note: 8 points awarded for a first-place vote, 7 for second, etc. - Coaches and SID's could not vote for their own teams


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