GREENVILLE, S.C. — Furman head football coach Clay Hendrix announced today the election of team captains for the 2023 football season.
Seven players, selected by vote of their teammates, were chosen. They include cornerback Travis Blackshear, linebacker Braden Gilby, quarterback Tyler Huff, offensive lineman Jacob Johanning, defensive tackle Matt Sochovka, running back Dominic Roberto, and free safety Hugh Ryan.
Blackshear, slated to return for his final campaign in 2023, was a consensus SoCon coaches second team all-league pick last fall who tallied 46 tackles over 13 games, including a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 41-3 road win over VMI. In addition, he blocked a pair of field goals — one he returned 65 yards for a touchdown in a 63-21 victory over Wofford. The Savannah, Ga., product has logged action in 46 games, registered 40 starts, and owns nine interceptions in his Paladin career.
Gilby, who has compiled 263 tackles over the course of his 47-game Paladin tenure that features 32 starts, earned second team All-SoCon honors a year ago after pacing the squad with 94 tackles, including a team leading 21 for-loss. The St. Petersburg, Fla., product headlined a dominant defensive performance in a 23-13 road triumph over Mercer on Nov. 12, recording 12 tackles and a sack that helped limit the Bears to just 13 points after entering the contest averaging 40.3 ppg.
Huff delivered a high impact performance last fall in his first season in a Paladin uniform, earning starts in 12 of the squad’s 13 games and passing for 2,199 yards and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 694 yards and eight scores. After throwing for 259 yards (31×40) against Clemson and overcoming a shoulder injury that sidelined him for one contest, the graduate transfer and Orange Park, Fla., native returned to the field to headline the Paladins’ strong stretch run that featured, among several impressive outings, a 21-for-22 passing performance for 295 yards and two touchdowns in a blowout of Wofford. Huff is a commissioned 2nd Lt. and member of the U.S. Army Reserves.
Johanning, a rising redshirt senior from Simpsonville, S.C., was a consensus first team All-SoCon pick in 2022 in voting by head coaches and media who went on to also collect second team AFCA All-America laurels. He logged 903 play participations at offensive guard and helped front one of the FCS’s most effective ground attacks that averaged 212.8 yards per game while producing a 1,000-yard rusher, All-SoCon running back Dominic Roberto.
Sochovka returned from a season ending injury in 2021 to log starts at defensive tackle in all 13 games last fall. The Fayetteville, N.C., product posted 28 tackles, including 5.5 for-loss, and was a major factor in the Paladins’ dominant defensive effort that fueled a 10-3 campaign culminating in a second round appearance in the FCS playoffs. In addition, he was credited with three of Furman’s FCS leading 10 blocked kicks in 2022.
Also a native of Fayetteville, N.C., Roberto, a rising redshirt senior, was a consensus second team selection by the coaches and media in 2022 who finished the campaign with 1,120 yards and 11 touchdowns. His season highlight was a career high 252-yard, two-touchdown rushing performance in a 45-40 triumph over Western Carolina, for which he was named Stats Perform National Offensive Player of the Week. He has rushed for 2,114 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career.
Ryan emerged as one of the SoCon’s top defensive backs last season, landing consensus first team all-conference honors on the strength of a tally sheet that featured 88 tackles, four interceptions, and 12 passes defensed. Twice honored as league defensive player of the week, as well as defensive player of the month for October, the stout play by the Irmo, S.C, product helped Furman top the FCS with 29 takeaways (16 INTs, 13 FRs) last fall.
Furman kicks off its 2023 season on Thursday, Aug. 31, at home versus Tennessee Tech.