NASHVILLE, Tenn. (EKU Athletics) – Eastern Kentucky’s football team was picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference this season in a poll of head coaches and communications directors. Three Colonels were chosen to the Preseason All-OVC Team, the league announced today at its annual media day event in Nashville, Tennessee.
Running back Daryl McCleskey Jr., defensive end Aaron Patrick and defensive back Leodis Moore III earned spots on the Preseason All-OVC Team.
EKU accumulated 98 points in the preseason poll. Jacksonville State had 14 first-place votes and a total of 126 points to take the spot as the preseason favorite. Southeast Missouri was picked first on four ballots and totaled 115 points for the second spot.
The Colonels ended the 2018 season with four straight wins and were in the conversation for a playoff spot. Eastern Kentucky finished 7-4 overall and third in the OVC with a 5-2 mark. Eastern beat Southeast Missouri last year, 23-14.
EKU is ranked 24th in the Preseason HERO Sports top 25 and 25th in the Lindy’s Sports Preseason Top 25.
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McCleskey was a third team All-OVC pick by Phil Steele after the 2018 season. The 5-foot-9, 185 pound senior was second on the team with 651 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He scored five rushing touchdowns. The Dayton, Ohio native caught 12 passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. McCleskey was fifth in the OVC in rushing yards and fifth in rushing yards per game (59.2).
Patrick was chosen to the HERO Sports 2019 FCS Preseason All-America Team earlier this summer. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound senior was a first team All-OVC pick by coaches and communications directors and first team All-OVC by Phil Steele last season. Patrick ranked second in the OVC with 0.68 sacks per game. He finished the season with 53 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries and one pass break-up.
Moore earned first team All-OVC recognition by coaches and communications directors last season. He was also a first team All-OVC pick by Phil Steele. The 5-foot-9, 190 pound senior finished with 48 tackles, six tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, five interceptions, five pass break-ups, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick. He led the OVC and ranked ninth in the nation with 0.5 interceptions per game. The Indianapolis, Indiana native earned OVC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice and also received honorable mention for STATS National Defensive Player of the Week once.
Following the Colonels in third in the OVC Preseason Poll was Austin Peay (70). Murray State (61) and Tennessee State (61) tied for fifth. Tennessee-Martin (60) was seventh and Eastern Illinois (35) was eighth. Tennessee Tech (22) rounded out the poll in ninth place.