Tennessee State has been picked to finish fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference by a poll of the league’s head football coaches and sports information directors.
The Tigers went 5-6 in 2011 and tied for fifth in league play with a 4-4 record — a vast improvement from a winless OVC campaign in 2010 in Rod Reed’s first year as head coach.
TSU was picked behind Tennessee Tech, Murray State, Jacksonville State and projected champion Eastern Kentucky. Tennessee Tech, Jacksonville State and EKU shared the conference title in 2011. Tennessee-Martin, Southeast Missouri, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay rounded out the bottom half.
Three TSU players were named to the preseason All-OVC team, which was also announced on Monday prior to the league’s media day.
Junior defensive end Antonio Harper earned accolades after 44 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last year. Junior guard Kadeem Edwards was also named preseason all-OVC, blocking for quarterback Michael German and a passing offense that ranked third in the league in 2011.
Former Brentwood Academy standout Weldon Garlington was tabbed as return specialist and is just one of two sophomores on the preseason team. As a freshman, he returned both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown. He averaged 20.9 return yards on kickoffs and 19.4 yards on punt returns.
TSU opens its season against Florida A&M in the John Merritt Classic on Sept. 1 at LP Field.