NASHVILLE - Jacksonville State had 12 players selected to the 2015 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Football Team at the league's annual Media Day on Monday, when the Gamecocks were also picked to repeat as champions in 2015.
The Gamecocks, who ran through the league with a perfect 8-0 record in 2014, received all but two first place votes by the league's head coaches and sports information directors, who are not allowed to vote for their own teams. They topped the preseason poll with 128 points, 21 points ahead of second-place Eastern Illinois.
They also dominated the Preseason All-Conference Teams, grabbing 41 percent of the 29 available spots. JSU placed six on the Preseason All-OVC Offense, five on Defense and one on special teams. Senior defensive lineman Devaunte Sigler, who was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, was voted as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for 2015.
Sigler was joined by fellow defensive linemen LaMichael Fanning and Chris Landrum up front on the Preseason All-OVC Defense, while senior defensive backs Jermaine Hough and DeBarriaus Miller made up half of the backfield. Senior punter Hamish MacInnes also grabbed preseason honors on special teams.
Junior quarterback Eli Jenkins and junior wide receiver Josh Barge were on the offense, along with a big contingency from the JSU big men. Senior tight end Bo Brummel, junior center Casey Dunn, senior guard Adam Wright and sophomore tackle Justin Lea were also on the Preseason All-OVC's offense.
Sigler, a 6-foot-5, 292-pound native of Mobile, was picked to repeat as the league's top defensive player, adding to a long list of preseason accolades. He was recently named to the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List with Hough and has been named a Preseason All-American by STATS.
As a junior in 2014, he tallied 36 tackles, 19 solo, 9.0 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, an interception, two pass break ups, two forced fumbles and blocked kick. He led a defensive unit that ranked fourth nationally in third down conversion defense (.281), 17th in total defense and 26th in scoring defense. He was a First Team All-OVC pick, as well as an All-American by The Sports Network and the Associated Press last year.
Like Sigler, Hough was also a First Team All-OVC pick a year ago and was an All-American by The Sports Network, despite missing the final three games of the year with an injury. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound cornerback from Lovejoy, Ga., had 36 tackles, while tying for the team lead with four interceptions. He led the OVC in picks per game and in passes defended per game.
Fanning, a 6-foot-7, 281-pound defensive end from Whitesville, Ga., was a First Team All-OVC pick in his first season with the Gamecocks in 2014. He racked up a team-high four sacks and had a total of 5.5 tackles for a loss. He had one pass break up, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Landrum, a 6-foot-3, 263-pound defensive end from Sweet Water, Ala., was a Second Team All-OVC performer as a junior in 2014. He was one of the top pass rushers in the OVC with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss. He totaled 33 tackles on the season and forced a team-high three fumbles. He was credited with four quarterback hurries, also a team high.
Miller is a 6-foot-0, 190-pound safety from Fort Valley, Ga., that started all 12 games in the defensive backfield in his first year at JSU in 2014. He was fourth on the team and second in the defensive backfield with 55 tackles, 33 solo. He tied Hough for the team lead in interceptions with four and had a team-best 47-yard interception return to go along with six pass break ups and fumble recovery.
Jenkins, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound native of Birmingham, was a First Team All-OVC pick a year ago after throwing for 1,870 yards and 12 touchdowns and running for 698 yards and sic scores. He started all 12 games for JSU as a sophomore, completing over 58 percent of his passes (127-for-222).
Barge, a 6-foot-1, 172-pound receiver from Carrollton, Ga., was a Second Team All-OVC selection as a sophomore in 2014, when he caught 56 passes for 919 yards and four touchdowns. He was second in the OVC and 36th in the nation with 76.6 yards per game, while his 919 yards were third most in a season in JSU history.
Brummel, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound tight end from Arlington, Wash., earned Second Team All-OVC accolades as junior last season. He caught seven passes for 124 yards and tied for the team lead with four touchdown catches. He averaged 17,7 yards per game and 10.3 yards per catch.
Wright, a 6-foot-4, 293-pound guard from Centerpoint, was a First Team All-OVC pick in 2014 after leading an offensive line that paved the way for a record-breaking offensive output. He graded out at 89 percent in leading JSU's offense to a school-record 510.8 yards per game.
Lea, a 6-foot-4, 271-pound tackle from Henagar, stormed onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2014. He was a Second Team All-OVC selection and was also named the league's Freshman of the Year. Helping JSU's offensive line pave the way for a school-record 510.8 yards per game, Lea was also a Freshman All-American in his first season on the field for JSU.
Dunn, a 6-foot-3, 289-pound center from Trussville, was selected to the preseason team after serving as All-American Max Holcombe's back up in 2014. Played significant time off the bench and helped the Gamecocks set a school record with 510.8 yards per game, more than 60 yards more than any team in school history.
MacInnes, a 6-foot-1, 178-pound native of Victoria, Australia, was the First Team All-OVC punter as a junior last season. He punted 55 times for a 39.1 yard average, but only 15 of those were returned for an average of just 6.3 yards per return. He pinned 16 punts inside the 20 with only four touchbacks, while booting six punts over 50 yards.
JSU has been picked as high as No. 4 in the FCS preseason polls after posting a 10-2 record that saw them ranked as high as No. 2 before earning the No. 3 national seed in the FCS Playoffs a year ago.
The Gamecocks open the season Sept. 5 at Chattanooga, also a Top 10 team in the preseason polls, before facing Auburn on Sept. 12 in Auburn. JSU's home opener will be Sept. 19 against Tennessee State in a game televised on ESPN3.
Season tickets to JSU's five-game home schedule can be purchased online at www.jsugamecocksports.com or by calling the JSU ticket office at (256) 782-8499. Tickets for the Chattanooga and Auburn games can be purchased by calling the JSU ticket office and offer fans a guaranteed seat in the JSU sections.