Head coach Mitch Stewart and senior Nigel Walton and James Sappington represented the Murray State football team at the 2019 OVC Media Day at the Embassy Suites Airport in Nashville.
The day started with the Racers being picked fifth in the annual preseason coach's poll. Murray State received 51 votes and tied Tennessee State in the fifth spot in the annual poll, which is voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors. Five-time defending champion Jacksonville State was picked to repeat, while Southeast Missouri State, Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay, respectively, were picked in from of the Racers. The preseason pick is the highest of the Mitch Stewart era and the highest overall since 2012, when they were tabbed third.
In addition to the poll, the league also announced its preseason all-conference team which featured a clean sweep of the special teams category by the Racers. Punter Steve Dawson, return specialist Malik Honeycutt and kicker Gabriel Vicente all earned the prestigious honor in advance of the upcoming season.
Dawson punted the ball 54 times last season for an average of 42.1 yards per punt. Of his 54 punts, 16 pinned opponents inside their own 20 and a league-high 10 went for 50 yards or more. His season-long punt of 66 came during the season-finale at Austin Peay.
The OVC took notice of Honeycutt in the second to last game of the season last year against Southeast Missouri when the junior inserted himself into the kick return unit with just 20 seconds left and ran 79 yards for a touchdown that sealed the MSU comeback win over the ranked Redhawks. The following week, Honeycutt took a punt 80 yards for a score against Austin Peay in a game where he ran back kickoffs and punts and finished with 137 all-purpose yards.
Vicente was 15-for-19 in 2018 with a long of 50, the second 50-plus yarder of his career and connected on each of his first nine attempts of the season. In addition, he went 34-for-36 on PATs on the year and his career field goal percentage of 78.3 percent is the highest in school history.