HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs and all 13 conferences. Today, we present … the Ohio Valley Conference.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country with HERO Sports.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
- FCS Home
- FCS Preview Schedule – Conference Links
- The HERO Sports Preseason Top 25 Poll
- Preseason All-American Teams
(NOTE: Team-by-team previews in this conference are below)
NAMES TO KNOW
THE NFL PROSPECT: Dajour Nesbith, CB, Tennessee State and Josh Pearson, WR, Jacksonville State and Zach Hall, LB, SEMO
All three are projected to be potential day three picks by the site we go by early in the draft class cycle — NFLDraftScout.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Zerrick Cooper, QB, Jacksonville State
Cooper passed for 3,416 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 371 yards and six touchdowns. His 32 passing touchdowns were the third-most in OVC single-season history.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Zach Hall, LB, SEMO
Hall was the winner of the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award, the FCS National Defensive Player of the Year. He finished the season with 168 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and four forced fumbles.
SUM IT UP: After years of being predicable, last year was nutty in the OVC. Several teams looked viable and ready to step up and own the OVC, then would drop a head-scratching result. Every team was guilty of it, actually. We think that trend will continue this year as this league, collectively, has stepped up a bit over the past year. It should be a lot of fun to watch (except for OVC coaches), and hard to predict.
THE FAVORITE: Jacksonville State — We know, we know … this is the boring answer here. Why not make a sexy upset pick here? Well, if it was 2018, we might, but this JSU team looks to be — on paper — its best team since the 2015 national runner-up squad. The offense looks explosive, the defense looks fast and athletic and in general, the Gamecocks look poised for something good. If chemistry kicks in and a couple of new linemen step up to the task? Watch out, FCS, and that's even considering the OVC may be in as good a shape as it has been since early in this decade.
THE THREATS: Eastern Kentucky and SEMO. Look, SEMO learned what a winning culture was last year, and Eastern Kentucky looks loaded on paper in the preseason. The Redhawks took care of business against Jacksonville State last year, ending the Gamecocks' long winning streak. EKU knocked off SEMO, as did Murray State. Brace yourselves, folks. And also don't forget that proven coaching commodities like Mark Hudspeth (Austin Peay) and Adam Cushing (Eastern Illinois) are now in the league and could help contribute to the parity.
THE DARKHORSE: Murray State beat both EKU and SEMO last year, but lost to OVC last-place Tennessee Tech. If the Racers shake that inconsistency out of their game, watch out.
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The OVC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast