Austin Peay Sports Information
Nashville, TN – Austin Peay State University football was picked ninth in the Ohio Valley Conference by a vote of the conference coaches and sports information directors announced Monday at the annual OVC Media Day.
Defending champion Jacksonville State was the top preseason choice for a second straight year, picking up 16 of 18 first-place votes and 128 points total.Eastern Illinois was second in the poll (107 points), just ahead of Eastern Kentucky (106), which garnered the other two first-place votes.
UT Martin (78 points) was picked fourth, followed by Tennessee State (66), Southeast Missouri (63), Tennessee Tech (45), Murray State (38) and Austin Peay (17). The Govs also were picked ninth in the media poll for the second straight season.
Although tabbed to finish last in 2015, the Governors have reason to anticipate an ending to their three-year run in the OVC basement. Fifteen starters (eight offense, seven defense) return from a year ago and will be bolstered by a swollen incoming class featuring 40 newcomers vying for playing time.
Although quarterback remains unsettled, whoever emerges to take the reins will have a plethora of options at the skill positions. More than 80 percent of Austin Peay’s receiving production returns from 2014, while the ground game brings back not only the bruising Otis Gerron (596 yards as a freshman) and shifty Julian Franklin (243 on 61 carries), but will add another talented back in Kendall Morris, who redshirted a year ago.
Austin Peay’s defensive front-six will be a strength in 2015, with all six starters and 11 of 12 spots on the two-deep returning from a year ago. A trio of sophomores – Tyler Schneider, Jule Pace and Nicholis Matiere-Bey – are expected to pave the way up front, opening lanes for veterans Adam Noble and Antonio Turner to make plays at linebacker. The secondary in Austin Peay’s 4-2-5 scheme lost three starters but bring back Roderick Owens and Damien Whitfield.
Seniors Bernard Gauldin and Gino Roberson were Austin Peay’s representatives at OVC Media Days. Gauldin, who joined the Govs last year from College of Dupage, will be counted on to anchor an offensive line that lost three starters from last season’s squad.
Roberson has been a space-eater in the middle of the Governors defensive line the past two seasons, making 25 tackles (1.5 for loss) across 21 games since arriving from Buffalo Academy.
Across the conference, Eastern Kentucky’s Dy’Shawn Mobley earned preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors, while Jacksonville State’s Devaunte Sigler picked up the defensive award.
Austin Peay’s 2015 campaign opens up at Governors Stadium, September 5th, against Mercer before the Govs embark upon a three-game road trip taking them to Hattiesburg, MS (at Southern Miss, September 12th), Nashville, TN (at Vanderbilt, September 19th) and Richmond, KY (at Eastern Kentucky, September 26th).
The Govs travel to Tennessee State for a Halloween afternoon affair before returning home for Senior Day against Southeast Missouri, November 7th. The 2015 regular season concludes at Tennessee Tech, November 14th.
All Austin Peay home games are scheduled for a 4:00pm kickoff from Governors Stadium. All Governor home contests and Ohio Valley Conference games can be seen on the OVC Digital Network.
2015 Media OVC Preseason Football Predicted Order of Finish
1. Jacksonville State (14 first-place votes) – 134 points
2. Eastern Kentucky (1) – 113
3. Eastern Illinois – 112
4. UT Martin – 83
5. Southeast Missouri – 59
6. Tennessee State – 57
7. Tennessee Tech – 54
8. Murray State – 46
9. Austin Peay – 17
APSU Football head coach Kirby Cannon speaks with www.LetsGoPeay.com at OVC Media Day.