COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Phil Steele's annual release of the OVC's pre-season all-conference football team features five Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Punter Chad Zinchini was selected as a first-team specialist, Jordan Johnson, Austin Tallant, and William Dillard were selected to the second-team defense, and Ladarius Vanlier was selected as a second-team specialist as a punt returner.
The 56-member preseason all-OVC team was announced Tuesday by the national publication.
Senior punter Chad Zinchini was one of eight OVC football players honored as pre-season FCS All-Americans last week. This is Zinchini'is second consecutive season as a member of the pre-season all-conference team and he did not disappoint in 2012. Chad led the Ohio Valley Conference and ranked among national leaders in punting average. He kicked 65 times in 2012 and average 44.8 yards per punt, with 25 kicks of 50-or-more yards. His career-long punt sailed 64 yards in the game against Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 20. Chad had a 62-yard kick at Oregon on Sept. 15, and a 60-yarder against Tennessee State on Oct. 27. He had three kicks over 50 yards against Oregon in Autzen Stadium, and downed four inside the Ducks' 20-yard-line. Zinchini also set a school record when he average 52.6 yards on five punts at Tennessee State, with three kicks of 50 yards or better. When Jacksonville State came to town, he had five punts that sailed 50 yards or more, and averaged 49.1 yards on his eight punts that night. Zinchini had a total of 19 kicks downed inside the opponent 20 and only five touchbacks.
Jordan Johnson, the senior defensive lineman from Miami, was one of only eight players to start all 11 games for the Golden Eagles in 2012. He also started every game in the 2011-12 season. His role appears to be the same on the depth chart heading into this season, that of starter in the middle of the defensive line. The two-time member of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll made 19 tackles, including seven unassisted last season.
Junior defensive back Austin Tallant started 10 of the 11 games he played in 2012. He was second on the team and third in the OVC with 94 tackles as a sophomore. Of Tallant's 94 tackles, 28 were unassisted, 3.5 for a loss, he forced a fumble and intercepted one pass. In just two seasons, he had made 186 career tackles.
Bill Dillard, another junior defensive back, started in 10 of the 11 games he played in 2012. He was fifth on the team and 13th in the OVC with 73 total tackles. Of his 73 total tackles, 26 were unassisted. He also had an interception and broke up five passes. Dillard achieved double-digit tackles in three games, including a season-high 16 tackles at home against Eastern Kentucky.
Sophomore Ladarius Vanlier ranked in the Top 10 in the OVC and first on the team in kick return average and all-purpose yards in 2012. He played in all 11 contests as a true freshman for the Golden Eagles. He returned 32 kicks for 668 yards, including a 94-yard touchdown return at Murray State on Sept. 29. Vanlier returned 12 punts for a total of 96 yards. He also rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries and had 21 receptions for 192 yards in 2012 season. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry, 9.1 yards per catch and 20.9 yards per kick return. Vanlier was third on the team in total receptions, seventh on the team in total offense, first on the team and third in the OVC in kick return average, and first on the team and eighth in the OVC in all-purpose yards with 1,065.
Here is the complete list of Phil Steele's 2013 Pre-Season all-OVC teams:
2013 PRESEASON ALL-OVC
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
WR Erik Lora, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
WR Walter Powell, Murray State, Sr.
TE A.C. Leonard, Tennessee State, Jr.
OL Collin Seibert, Eastern Illinois, Jr.
OL Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State, Sr.
OL Dominic Pagliara, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
OL Charles Sweeton, Tennessee Martin, Jr.
OL Justin Meredith, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
RB DaMarcus James, Jacksonville State, Jr.
RB Jamaal Berry, Murray State, Sr.
FB Jeremy James, Eastern Kentucky, Jr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Antonio Harper, Tennessee State, Sr.
DL Iosua Siliva, Austin Peay, Sr.
DL Shawn Shupperd, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
DL DJ Roberts, Tennessee Martin, Sr.
LB Anthony Brown, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
LB Ben Johnson, Tennessee Martin, Sr.
LB Sam Small, Murray State, Sr.
LB Ichiro Vance, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
DB Nick Beard, Eastern Illinois State, Sr.
DB Steven Godbolt, Tennessee State, Jr.
DB Jermaine Hough, Jacksonville State, Soph.
DB Brandon Stanley, Eastern Kentucky, Jr.
FIRST TEAM SPECIALISTS
K Cameron Berra, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
P Chad Zinchini, Tennessee Tech, Sr.
KR Kevin Barfield, Tennessee Martin, Sr.
PR Walter Powell, Murray State, Sr.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
WR Jeremy Butler, Tennessee Martin, Sr.
WR Spencer Davis, Southeast Missouri State, Jr.
TE Matt Lengel, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
OL Demetrius Rhaney, Tennessee State, Sr.
OL Travon Carter, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
OL Ben Schmidt, Southeast Missouri State, Jr.
OL Harris Bivin, Murray State, Sr.
OL Tyler Eady, Tennessee Martin, Sr.
QB Michael German, Tennessee State, Jr.
RB Duane Brady, Murray State, Sr.
RB Telvin Hooks, Tennessee State, Soph.
FB Ron Coleman, Southeast Missouri State, Jr.
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL David Carter, Eastern Kentucky, Sr.
DL Pat Wertz, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
DL Earnest Smith, Austin Peay, Sr.
DL Jordan Johnson, Tennessee Tech, Sr.
LB Rashad Smith, Jacksonville State, Sr.
LB LeQuince McCall, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
LB Robert Haynes, Eastern Illinois, Jr.
LB Nick Thrasher, Tennessee State, Jr.
DB Daniel Fitzpatrick, Tennessee State, Jr.
DB Austin Tallant, Tennessee Tech, Jr.
DB Jourdan Wickliffe, Eastern Illinois, Jr.
DB William Dillard, Tennessee Tech, Soph.
SECOND TEAM SPECIALISTS
K Jamin Godfrey, Tennessee State, Sr.
P James Satterfield, Tennessee Martin, Jr.
KR Walter Powell, Murray State, Sr.
PR Ladarius Vanlier, Tennessee Tech, Soph.
PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DB Steven Godbolt, Tennessee State, Jr.