|#55 Anthony Bass (photo from TSU athletic department web site)|
Four defensive starters, including the Ohio Valley Conference's 2014 preseason Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Anthony Bass, have led media experts to believe Tennessee State will finish second in the conference race this year.
The Tigers, who finished 10-4 last season and sported one of the nation's most dominating defenses, were narrowly picked to finish second to Jacksonville State, a team that was 11-4 in making the FCS Division playoffs last season. One of their losses last year was to Tennessee State.
OVC coaches and athletic directors picked the Big Blue Tigers third, behind JSU and Eastern Illinois, a team that featured QB Jimmy Garoppolo who is now in the NFL. Eastern defeated TSU twice last year, one in the regular season and again in the FCS playoffs.
This season, Bass picks up where he left off last year. Bass was a one-man wrecking crew last season with 34 tackles, 14.5 for losses, ten sacks, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, a safety and a blocked kick. He was named the OVC's 2013 Defensive Player of the Year from a defensive squad that led the OVC is nearly all defensive categories and was ranked sixth nationally in total defense.
Three other Tigers defense was named to the preseason All-OVC team - linebacker Nick Thrasher (110 tackles, three forced fumbles in 2013); defensive backs Daniel Fitzpatrick (FCS National Defensive Back of the Year with 75 tackles and a nation-leading eight interceptions) and De'Ante Saunders (39 tackles, four interceptions).
Quarterback Michael German rebounded from an early season suspension to lead the Tigers into the playoffs in being named to the OVC's preseason All-Conference team. In seven games, German had nearly 1,200 yards passing and 13 touchdowns and no interceptions for the Tigers. He will be defended by talented offensive lineman Robert Myers, also an All-Conference pick.
TSU opens their season on August 30 against Edward Waters in the John Merritt Classic at LP Field.