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Govs’ Wilson, Jackson pick up top preseason awards

Robert Smith/

By Cody Bush

APSU Athletics Communications

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – After placing a record-setting 11 student-athletes on the 2019 All-Ohio Valley Conference squads, Austin Peay State University’s football team not only will have seven players on the league’s 2020 preseason team, but also swept the preseason player of the year awards, Monday.

Senior wide receiver DeAngelo Wilson, who shattered APSU’s program record with 1,564 receiving yards in 2019, was named the OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Consensus All-America nickel back Kordell Jackson returns as the league’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year after a seven-interception campaign in 2019.

Joining that duo on the Preseason All-OVC team were senior wide receiver Baniko Harley, redshirt senior offensive lineman Blake Mitchell, redshirt senior defensive tackle Josephus Smith, redshirt junior defensive tackle John Wesley Whiteside, and redshirt junior inside linebacker Jack McDonald.

Wilson, from Bowling Green, Kentucky, posted just the third 1,500 receiving yard campaign in OVC history last season. His 1,564 yards ranking second most in league history while he became the seventh OVC receiver to score 15 or more touchdowns in a season.

What more can be rehashed about Jackson’s 2019 campaign? The Birmingham, Alabama product led the OVC with seven interceptions and ultimately was responsible for 10 of the Govs 25 turnovers gained last season. Moreover, when he wasn’t providing lockdown protection, Jackson could often be found in the opposing backfield, with eight of his 47 tackles resulting in lost yardage.

Another Birmingham product, Harley was the Govs swiss-army knife in 2019, with touchdowns as a receiver, rusher and passer. Responsible for 12 touchdowns last season, he scored seven as a receiver, four more as a runner and threw for a touchdown. Finishing with 1,019 all-purpose yards, Harley was one of three Govs (two returnees) to amass more than 1,000 all-purpose yards.

Mitchell, a Brentwood native, will return to lead an Austin Peay offensive line that led the OVC in scoring (34.5 ppg), total offense (419.2 ypg), third-down conversions (42.1 percent) and fourth-down conversions (62.1 percent), He was a key cog in an offensive line that allowed just 1.00 sacks per game, ranking eighth nationally.

Defensive tackles Josephus Smith, of Leeds, Alabama, and John Wesley Whiteside, of Dalton, Georgia, anchor Austin Peay’s defensive line group. Smith finished the season with 18.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, ranking 15th among FCS tackles in TFLs. Meanwhile, Whiteside had seven tackles for loss along with 53 total tackles. The pair paced a defensive line that led the OVC and ranked eighth nationally with just 104.1 yards per game allowed.

McDonald, also from Brentwood, led the Govs with 118 tackles in 2019, finishing sixth among league defenders with 7.7 tackles per game. He also was third among all Govs with 9.5 tackles for loss, and had a hand in three turnovers gained by the Govs.

Ranked No. 13 in HERO Sports FCS Top 25 Preseason Poll, Wednesday, Austin Peay is scheduled to open its 2020 campaign with the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff against preseason Central Arkansas, Aug. 29 in Montgomery, Alabama. The Governors first appearance at Fortera Stadium is its Sept. 12 OVC opener against UT Martin, which received votes in the HERO Sports Preseason Poll.

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