Senior Jesse Blackburn of the Murray State football team led nine Racers that appeared on College Sports Madness’ annual preseason All-OVC teams, the website revealed Tuesday.
Blackburn was placed on the first team at tight end, while quarterback KD Humphries, wide receiver Malik Golson and linebacker Jonathan Jackson earned second team accolades. Rounding out the third team for MSU were offensive lineman Tony Mays, defensive lineman Bishop Woods, defensive backs Marquez Sanford and Toby Omli and punter Landon Stratton. Stratton is the son of Russellville Mayor Mark and Connie Stratton.
Blackburn, who was also named to the league’s preseason All-OVC team, reeled in 612 yards last season with five touchdowns and will be the leading returning receiver for Murray State this season. Humphries, his quarterback, also had a great season for MSU in 2015, passing for a school-record 3,778 yards and 22 touchdowns. Yesterday, Humphries was honored by STATS by being named as a preseason third-team All-American.
With the loss of four of his top six receivers at the end of last season, one new target for Humphries will be Golson, who is a transfer from Delaware State. The redshirt senior averaged a career-high 14.0 yards per catch with three touchdowns for a total of 280 yards. Jackson, the lone defensive selection on the first two teams for MSU, started all 11 games for the Racers a year ago and tallied the second most tackles on the team with 79.
Mays had a solid first season for Murray State and contributed to an offensive line that produced the second best passing offense, at 347.3 yards per game, and 12th best offense overall, at 466.1 yards per game, in the nation. Woods, who moved into a starting role last season, finished the season with 43 stops including a season-high 10 against a ranked Eastern Kentucky team.
Sanford and Omli also had breakout first years in Murray. Sanford had 50 tackles on the year to go along with two interceptions, three pass breakups and five passes defended, while Omli, whose season was cut short due to injury, finished fifth on the team with 49 tackles. Rounding out the selections for the Racers was Stratton, who averaged 42.0 yards per punt as a redshirt freshman to finish 19th in the nation and third in the OVC.
Murray State will kick off its 2016 campaign against Illinois on September 3 in Champaign, live on the Big Ten Network at 2:30 p.m.