Tennessee State Football enters 2014 at number 11 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 10-4 (6-2) Ohio Valley Conference
After a disappointing 12-9 loss to Bethune-Cookman to start the season, the Tigers went on a seven-game tear through the middle of their schedule before they met Eastern Illinois. The 34-16 Homecoming loss to the Panthers was tough to take, and foreshadowed things to come.
They lost only one more game in the regular season (a 44-0 beatdown by Eastern Kentucky), and took down Austin Peay and Murray State to finish the regular season 9-3. TSU entered the FCS playoffs by way of an at-large bid and destroyed Butler 31-0 in the first round. In the second round, they again met Jimmy Garoppolo and Eastern Illinois, only to endure the same result as the first meeting. The lopsided final score of 51-10 ended the Tigers’ season.
-Kadeem Edwards OG – Second team FCS All-American
-Demetrius Rhaney C
-Tim Broughton RB – 237 attempts, 1,146 yards, 6 TDs
-Wesley Samuels TE – 24 catches, 235 yards, 6 TDs
-AC Leonard TE – Second team FCS All-American, 34 catches, 441 yards, 5 TDs
-Marquaveus Jackson DE – 30 tackles, 12 TFL, 6 sacks
-Antonio Harper DE – 49 tackles, 13 TFL, 7 sacks
-David Van Dyke DB – 58 tackles, 4 INTs
-Jamin Godfrey PK/K 18-29, long of 50
What to Watch For
Defensive Powers – Two of TSU’s four All-Americans from last season are back: OVC Defensive Player of the Year DE/OLB Anthony Bass (34 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 10 sacks) and FCS interception-leader, strong safety Daniel Fitzpatrick. Also returning is team tackle leader (and coolest name in sports) Nick Thrasher. The three stars will lead a Tiger defense that finished sixth in the FCS total defense (296.9 ypg), seventh in scoring defense (18.1 ppg), third in 3rd down conversion percentage (27.4%), and third in interceptions (21).
O-line Issues – Demetrius Rhaney is now a St. Louis Ram, Kadeem Edwards is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Along with classmate DeShawn Byrd, they made up over half of the starting offensive line last season. Definitely worth keeping an eye on the run game and the interception numbers/QBR on both quarterbacks next season.
With their defense and the dual threat of Ronald Butler and Michael German at quarterback, there is little doubt Tennessee State football can win the Ohio Valley Conference. Over his four years at the helm, head coach Rod Reed has overseen improvement in each successive season: in 2010 they went 3-8, 2011 – 5-6, 2012 – 8-3, and last year they finished with their best record since 1999 at 10-4. They’ve got the pieces in place to keep that roll going, but with Eastern Illinois and Jacksonville State in the conference, it’s going to take their biggest jump yet for the Tigers to get to the top.