After back-to-back losing seasons, the expectations are not particularly great this year for the Eastern Kentucky University football team.
On Friday, the Colonels were picked to finish sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference’s Preseason Media Poll.
On Monday, they were selected fifth in the OVC’s annual poll of league head coaches and communications directors.
The Colonels finished with a total 69 points, finishing just ahead of Tennessee State (64) and SEMO (62).
Three EKU players were selected to Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Team on Monday — senior tight end Dan Paul, junior defensive lineman Aaron Patrick and senior return specialist L.J. Scott.
Jacksonville State was selected as the preseason favorite for the fifth-straight season, while Austin Peay was second, UT-Martin was third and Eastern Illinois took fourth.
EKU won three of its final five games last season, with those two losses coming by a combined 10 points.
Still, the Colonels finished with a 4-7 record and tied for fifth in the OVC with a 3-5 conference record.
EKU is set to return 68 players from last season, including seven starters on both offense and defense.
Paul was a First-Team All-OVC pick by coaches and communications directors, and by Phil Steele in 2017. The 6-foot-3, 253 pound native of Naples, Fla. finished the season second on the team with 41 receptions for 407 yards and a touchdown. He had more catches and more yards than any other tight end in the conference.
Paul ranked eighth overall in the OVC with 3.7 receptions per game.
Patrick played in three games in 2017 before missing the rest of the season with an injury. The 6-foot-4, 236-pound Dayton, Ohio native was a First-Team All-OVC selection in 2016 and was selected to the 2016 Hero Sports Sophomore All-America first team. He had 53 tackles, led the team with 10 tackles for a loss and led the team with seven sacks. Patrick was second in the OVC, and 42nd in the nation, with an average of 0.64 sacks per game. He was eighth in the OVC with an average of 0.91 tackles for a loss per game.
Scott was a Second-Team All-OVC kick returner by coaches and communications directors in 2017. He was also chosen to the OVC All-Newcomer Team as a running back and kick returner.
The 6-foot, 222-pound Marion, Ohio native compiled 629 kickoff return yards on 21 returns, an average of 30 yards per return. He led the league and finished fourth in the country in kickoff return average.
Scott also rushed for 294 yards and scored a team-best six rushing touchdowns. He finished fourth in the conference in rushing touchdowns.
The Colonels are set to open the season on Aug. 30 at Roy Kidd Stadium against Morehead State.