TAYLOR TABBED ALL-OVC WHILE SKYHAWKS PICKED TO FINISH FOURTH AT OVC MEDIA DAY
July 18, 2016
All-OVC and Predicted Order of Finish
MARTIN, Tenn. –The Ohio Valley Conference announced its preseason poll and all-conference performers on Monday morning in conjunction with the league’s Football Media Day festivities held at Holiday Inn Nashville – Vanderbilt.
UT Martin was selected fourth in the preseason poll, tying as the highest poll position since 2009. The poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors, saw the Skyhawks garner 96 votes – marking the most votes since 2007.
Martin native Damani Taylor earned a spot on the preseason All-OVC squad after receiving second team and All-Newcomer honors last season. Taylor made the most of his debut season with the Skyhawks ranking sixth in the OVC with 5.5 sacks while finishing 13th with 9.0 tackles for loss to lead the squad in both categories. Starting in all 11 games, Taylor tallied 54 total tackles while negating his opponents for 38 yards of loss along with two quarterback hurries.
Defending OVC champion and FCS runner-up Jacksonville State was picked as the preseason favorite for the third consecutive year after picking up 16 of 18 first place votes, including 128 points overall. Eastern Kentucky picked up 100 votes to finish second while Eastern Illinois garnered two first place votes and garnered 97 points. Trailing UT Martin (96) was Southeast Missouri (66), Tennessee State (55), Tennessee Tech (45), Murray State (43) and Austin Peay (18).
The Skyhawks begin their 11th season under the direction of head coach Jason Simpson who has won a total of 65 games in his tenure, ranking as the ninth most victories in OVC history. Simpson leads a Skyhawk squad which finished last season at 6-2 in the OVC, dropping both games to No. 1 Jacksonville State and Eastern Illinois by nine combined points. Included in the team’s strong season was the program’s second consecutive sweep of the annual Sgt. York Trophy series by outscoring Austin Peay, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech by 58 points.UT Martin will open the season on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Cincinnati before traveling to Hawai’i on Saturday, Sept. 10. The Skyhawks will make their home debut in newly renovated Hardy Graham Stadi
um on Saturday, Sept. 17 against NAIA member Bacone College. The schedule features a 12-game slate which includes five home games against Bacone College, Tennessee Tech (Sept. 24), Austin Peay (Oct. 8, Homecoming), Eastern Kentucky (Oct. 29) and Southeast Missouri (Nov. 12).
Season ticket packages and single-game ticket sales for Skyhawk football are now available. For more information or to purchase your tickets today, visit ticket manager Fran Spears at the Skyhawk Ticket Office, located in Room 1091 in the Skyhawk Fieldhouse or call (731) 881-7207.
2016 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Football Team
(Selected by OVC Head Football Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
Order of Finish Points
1. Jacksonville State (16 first-place votes) 128
2. Eastern Kentucky 100
3. Eastern Illinois (2) 97
4. UT Martin 96
5. Southeast Missouri 66
6. Tennessee State 55
7. Tennessee Tech 45
8. Murray State 43
9. Austin Peay 18
Note: 8 points awarded for a first-place vote, 7 for second, etc. - Coaches and SID’s could not vote for their own teams