Eight Jacksonville State players made the 2014 preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference football team, and JSU was picked to win the conference, the league announced at its media day event in Nashville this morning.
The pre-season picks were made by the league’s coaches and sports information directors, who were not allowed to vote for their own schools.
Among the eight Gamecocks to make the 28-person All-OVC roster, five were on offense, two on defense and one on special teams.
Senior running back DaMarcus James led the way, being named the OVC preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He has also been named a preseason All-American by several publications after rushing for 1,477 yards as a junior.
James set school and OVC single-season records and finished second nationally with 29 rushing touchdowns. He’s also been named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List.
James is joined on the preseason All-OVC team by sophomore quarterback Eli Jenkins, sophomore wide receiver Josh Barge and senior offensive linemen Max Holcombe and Blake Burks. Senior defensive linemen Caleb Lawrence and sophomore Chris Landrum are on the All-OVC defense, and junior punter Hamish MacInnes made it on special teams.
James and Holcombe are expected to continue their success from last fall, in which they were first-team All-OVC. Lawrence was a second-team player last year, helping JSU record an 11-4 record and earn its first two playoff victories as a Division-I team, advancing to the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinals.
JSU edged out defending OVC champion Eastern Illinois in the OVC preseason picks, receiving 118 total points to the Panthers’ 110. JSU received a high 10 first-place votes, with EIU and Tennessee State each receiving four.
JSU returns nine starters from an offense that set 49 school records, 13 OVC records and three NCAA records.
A panel of media staffers who cover the OVC also picked JSU to win the league, in a poll released Friday. James was also that panel's pick for player of the year.
The Gamecocks report to campus July 31 before starting practice on Aug. 1. They will open the 2014 season at No. 3 Michigan State on Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.