Seven Eastern Kentucky University football players earned spots on the Phil Steele 2017 All-Ohio Valley Conference Team, the publication recently announced. Wide receiver Ryan Markush, tight end Dan Paul, defensive end Luder Jean Louis and punter Keith Wrzuszczak were chosen first team all-conference. Linebacker Jeffrey Canady, defensive back Kobie Grace and kick returner LJ Scott were named to Phil Steele’s All-OVC third team.
Markush led the team in receptions (55), yards (745) and touchdowns (9). The senior from Germantown, Maryland ranked second in the OVC in receiving touchdowns, third with an average of 67.7 receiving yards per game and fourth with an average of 5.0 catches per game. He began the season with seven receptions for 107 yards and caught two touchdown passes at Western Kentucky. Markush had a career-high 122 yards on four catches at Southeast Missouri.
Paul concluded the season with 41 receptions for 407 yards and caught one touchdown pass. The redshirt junior from Naples, Florida had more catches and yards than any other tight end in the conference. He set season-highs for receptions (8) and yards (76) against Tennessee State. Paul caught a 22-yard touchdown pass against Murray State.
Jean Louis capped his career by recording 52 tackles and 10 sacks in 2017. He totaled 16 tackles for a loss, had 12 quarterback hurries, forced one fumble and recovered one fumble. The Brooklyn, New York native tied for the conference lead in sacks and ranked ninth in the nation with an average of 0.91 per game. Jean Louis finished second in the conference and 16th in FCS football with an average of 1.5 tackles for a loss per game. His 10 sacks were the sixth most ever by a Colonel in one season.
Wrzuszczak was chosen as an All-American by four different organizations. He set a pair of program records this season while finishing first in the conference and sixth in the nation with an average of 44.1 yards per punt. The senior from Geelong, Victoria, Australia broke the 51-year-old EKU record of 78 yards with an 84-yard punt against Tennessee-Martin. It was the second-longest punt in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) this season. He also broke his own program season average record (43.7 yards/punt), which he set in 2015. In 2017 Wrzuszczak punted 58 times and only five of them were touchbacks. He placed 19 punts inside the 20 yard line and had 11 punts of 50 or more yards. He helped Eastern lead the conference and finish second in the nation in net punting (41.14 yards/punt).
Canady was a semifinalist for the 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation, and was chosen to the 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District® First Team. The senior finished fourth in the OVC with 8.1 tackles per game. He finished the season with a team-best 89 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks. The Barbourville, Kentucky native earned OVC Defensive Player of the Week honors and honorable mention recognition for National Defensive Player of the Week by STATS after recording 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks in a near upset of Kentucky. His 15 tackles against Saint Francis were the second-most by an OVC player in a game this season.
Grace was second on the team, and ninth in the OVC, with 78 tackles. He posted seven tackles for a loss, had one interception and broke up seven passes. The senior from Winter Park, Florida was second in the league with three forced fumbles. He recovered four fumbles, which tied for the most in the nation.
Scott returned 21 kickoffs this season for an average of 30 yards per return. The redshirt junior from Marion, Ohio had the best average in the OVC and third-best in the nation.
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