The Gamecocks received six first-place votes to finish with a total of 117 points, just behind preseason favorite Eastern Kentucky's total of 124 points. Murray State was picked third with 85 points, followed by Tennessee Tech (83), Tennessee State (69), Southeast Missouri (44), Eastern Illinois (42) and Austin Peay (17).
Jax State is the winningest team, by percentage, in the Ohio Valley Conference and in all of FCS football since joining the league in 2003. The Gamecocks have won 76.1 percent of their conference games, posting a 54-17 record, while Eastern Kentucky is second with a 71.8 all-time winning percentage.
The “Dean” of the OVC coaches is Jack Crowe, who enters his 13th season guiding the Gamecocks. His 67 wins since joining the league in 2003 rank him eighth in OVC history. He has led JSU to nine-straight winning seasons, which ties for the longest such stretch in the school's 108-year history.
Seniors Washaun Ealey and Tori Mobley were both named to the 2012 preseason All-OVC offensive team.
Ealey a 5-foot-11 tailback that transferred to JSU prior to last season from the University of Georgia, is a preseason All-American after earning First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference honors after rushing for 1,082 yards on 178 carries in 2011. His rushing total was second in the OVC and made him just the 10th player in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season and the first since 2006.
Ealey was also named to the league's All-Newcomer Squad and was the league's Newcomer of the Week four times.
The Stillmore, Ga., native averaged 108.2 yards per game and was second on the team with nine touchdowns. His 6.1 yards per carry was second in the OVC and helped the Gamecocks to a 7-4 record and a share of the 2011 OVC Championship. He had five games with more than 100 yards on the ground, including a 217-yard performance against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 5, the fifth-most rushing yards in a game in school history.
Mobley was also named to the All-OVC preseason team at offensive guard. The Columbus, Ga., native helped anchor an offensive line in 2011 that averaged 414.9 yards per game against conference opponents, including 245.0 yards on the ground and an OVC-best 148.8 pass efficiency rating.
Crowe has the advantage of having not one, but two returning starting quarterbacks this year, as redshirt senior Marques Ivory and junior Coty Blanchard both return this season.
The duo split time in 2010, including pulling off a double-overtime road win at Ole Miss, but Ivory suffered a season-ending injury in the 2011 opener, leaving Blanchard to start the remainder of the schedule.
During the 2010 season, Ivory passed for 2,248 yards and 18 touchdowns, including throwing for a school-record 444 yards against Eastern Kentucky. Blanchard finished the 2011 season passing for 1,703 yards and 12 touchdowns, while rushing for 427 yards and adding six more touchdowns on the ground. He led the OVC in passing efficiency in that sophomore season.
Senior Alan Bonner led the Gamecock receivers with 582 yards on 33 catches, including three touchdowns. He posted the second-most receiving yards in a single-game against Eastern Kentucky after recording 205 yards on nine catches. The Newnan, Ga., native has 1,101 receiving yards during his three-year career.
Sophomore safety Pierre Warren led the team with three interceptions and was sixth on the team with 37 tackles in 2011. The Prattville, Ala., native returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in the season-finale at Tennessee State, which tied for the third longest interception return in school history. He returns on a defense with Rashad Smith, a junior from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., that led the Gamecocks with 77 tackles a year ago.
The Gamecocks won their 18th conference championship in 2011 and will open this season against the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sept 1. It will mark Crowe's return to Fayetteville for the first time since serving as head coach of the Razorbacks from 1989-92.
Season tickets for the 2012 season are now available by calling the JSU Athletic Ticket Office at 256-782-8499.