Eight Racers earn preseason honors from Phil Steele

Redshirt senior Malik Honeycutt missed last season with an ACL injury but finds himself on the Phil Steele All-OVC first-team headed into his final season.

MURRAY —  Senior linebacker Anthony Koclanakis led eight Racers as Phil Steele and DraftScout.com recently published its 2020 Preseason All-America and All-OVC teams. Koclanakis was named as a third-team All-American and was joined by seven of his teammates on the football guru’s preseason all-conference squad.

Koclanakis, wide receiver LaMatez Brooks, punt returner Malik Honeycutt, defensive lineman Scotty Humpich and long snapper Chandler Moody all earned All-OVC first-team marks from Steele and company. Kicker Zaden Webber followed on the second team, while linebacker Alec Long and offensive lineman Levi Nesler were named to third team. In addition, Honeycutt was also named to third team at kick returner, as well as at all-purpose.

Koclanakis led the OVC in tackles in 2019 with 124, including a league-best 63 solo stops. His 10.3 tackles per game ranked him 11th nationally in that category, while his 5.3 solo tackles ranked 20th. The Anaheim, California native also posted a team-high 9.5 tackle-for-loss on the season in addition to three sacks. He ended the season with seven 10-plus tackle performances including tallying a career-high of 18 twice. In addition, Koclanakis finished his junior campaign with two fumble recoveries, a pass breakup, a quarterback hurry and an interception.

As a redshirt sophomore for Murray State last season, Brooks quickly emerged as a leader amongst a very talented group of receivers. The Milan, Tennessee native led the Racers with 775 yards and seven touchdowns on the year and averaged a very impressive 16.49 yards per catch. Brooks also had three games of 100-yards or more including a career-high 154 yards against Eastern Kentucky.

Honeycutt returns to the Racer lineup for his final season in 2020 after sitting out the 2019 campaign due to injury. Best known for game-winning kickoff return against Southeast Missouri, the Tallahassee, Florida native and 2018 All-American’s junior season was way more than just one play. In addition to his punt return touchdown the following week at Austin Peay, Honeycutt led the MSU receiving corps in 2018 with 477 yards and four touchdowns. All told, he finished 2018 with a team-high 796 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.

Long had an outstanding first year for the Racers finishing fourth on the team in tackles with 52. Long also racked up six tackles-for-loss for a total of 27 yards, while also notching three sacks for a total loss of 19 yards. In addition, the Jackson, Tennessee native had two pass breakups, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.

From walk-on to starting Center, Nesler has had an impressive career with the Racers. He anchored an offense in 2019 that averaged 384.3 yards per game including 263.1 in the air.

Webber is coming off a freshman season that saw him kick the third longest field goal in school history, a 53-yarder at Jacksonville State. He finished the season at 6-for-17 on field goals and a perfect for 24-for-24 on extra points. Pivotal to Webber’s success and that of the Murray State punt games has been Chandler Moody. Through two seasons with the Racers, he has proved himself to be one of the most reliable long snappers in the league, limiting mistakes and decreasing his snap time in the process.

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