Owls Picked to Win Atlantic Sun, Four Players Selected to All-Conference Team

The Kennesaw State Owls football team is entering a new era as it’s playing in a new conference this season. After spending seven seasons in the Big South Conference, KSU has made its way to the newly formed Atlantic Sun Conference, and the team is picked to win the conference, placing first in the ASUN Preseason Football Coaches Poll. Additionally, Owls quarterback Xavier Shepherd and offensive linemen, Zion Katina, Matt Olson and Terrell Paxton have been selected to the ASUN All-Conference Preseason Team.

Shepherd has also been selected as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. He’s coming off a 2021 season where he led the FCS in rushing touchdowns and set the new school record for passing touchdowns in a single season (15) and a single game (4). Shepherd’s success last year led to him being named a STATS Perform FCS First Team All-American, HERO Sports First Team All-American and Associated Press Third Team All-American.

The Owls will start the season on Thursday, September 1 when they travel to Birmingham, Alabama to face Samford. Their first home game will be on September 24 when they host Wofford. KSU finished last season with an 11-2 record and a Big South Conference championship. They reached the second round of the FCS playoffs and lost to East Tennessee State 32-31.

Preseason Football ASUN Coaches Poll
Pl. Team (1st Place Votes)            Points
1. Kennesaw State (4)                    34
T2. Eastern Kentucky                     25
T2. Central Arkansas (1)                25
3. Jacksonville State                       19
5. Austin Peay (1)                            15
6. North Alabama                           8

2022 ASUN Conference Football Preseason Honors & Awards
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Xavier Shepherd, Kennesaw State
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Matthew Jackson, Eastern Kentucky
ASUN Preseason Football All-Conference Team
QB Xavier Shepherd Kennesaw State Jr. Nashville, Tenn.
RB Darius Hale Central Arkansas So. Pearland, Texas
RB Parker Driggers North Alabama So. Brantley, Ala.
WR Drae McCray Austin Peay So. Tallahassee, Fla.
WR Takairee Kenebrew North Alabama Jr. Childersburg, Ala.
WR Cortez Hall North Alabama Gr. Hoover, Ala.
TE Corson Swan North Alabama Gr. Spanish Fort, Ala.
OL Payton Collins Eastern Kentucky So. Columbus, Ohio
OL Zion Katina Kennesaw State Sr. Franklin, Tenn.
OL Jaylin Hendrix Central Arkansas Sr. Everman, Texas
OL Terrell Paxton Kennesaw State Sr. Stone Mountain, Ga.
C Howard Watkins Jr. Eastern Kentucky Sr. Cincinnati, Ohio
Matt Olson Kennesaw State Gr. Cumming, Ga.
DL Logan Jessup Central Arkansas Jr. Wynne , Ark.
DL Kelton Dawson Eastern Kentucky Sr. Stockbridge, Ga.
DL Chuck Manning Austin Peay Gr. Durham, N.C.
DL Jaylen Swain Jacksonville State So. Oxford, Ala.
DL Micah Bland North Alabama Jr. Louisville, Ky.
LB *Matthew Jackson Eastern Kentucky Sr. Nashville, Tenn.
LB Stevonte Tullis Jacksonville State Sr. Dothan, Ala.
LB Markail Benton Jacksonville State Sr. Phenix City, Ala.
LB Eli Hairston Eastern Kentucky Jr. Columbus, Ohio
DB Tamuarion Wilson Central Arkansas So. Bryant, Ark.
DB Joseph Sayles Eastern Kentucky Sr. Alpharetta, Ga.
DB Kyree Fields North Alabama Sr. Columbus, Miss.
DB Shamari Simmons Austin Peay Jr. Ashland, Ala.

Special Teams
K Maddux Trujillo Austin Peay So. Flowery Branch, Ga.
P Jack Dawson Jacksonville State So. Sylvania Waters, Australia
RS Kobe Warden North Alabama So. Killen, Ala.

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