Wofford, Furman picked atop SoCon


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams has been named the Southern Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and ETSU defensive lineman Nasir Player has been tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year in voting by the league’s nine head coaches, who chose Wofford as the favorite to win the SoCon in their annual preseason poll.

The Terriers and Furman Paladins were picked first and second, respectively, both the coaches and media preseason polls.

The coaches also selected all-conference first and second teams and were not allowed to vote for their own student-athletes or teams in the voting process. Due to several ties in the voting, the first teams include an extra defensive back and an extra place kicker, while the second teams include two additional offensive linemen.

The Catamounts’ Adams was a second-team All-SoCon selection in each of the last two seasons. As a redshirt junior last year, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native became just the 11th player in FCS history and the fourth SoCon player to rush for at least 1,000 yards and throw for at least 2,000 in the same season. Adams led the league in rushing at 91.5 yards per game, totaling 1,006 on the year, and ran for 10 touchdowns. Adams also went 188-for-300 through the air for 2,417 yards and 16 touchdowns, notching 311.2 yards of total offense per game to rank second in the SoCon and eighth in the FCS. The dual threat earned second-team All-America honors from STATS and third-team honors from HERO Sports last year. Adams is a second-team preseason All-America pick by HERO Sports entering his senior campaign.

The Bucs’ Player earned All-America honors from the AFCA (second team), Phil Steele Magazine (second team) and STATS (third team) as a redshirt junior last season. The Columbia, South Carolina, native notched 43 tackles last season, 11.0 of which went for loss, tying him for sixth in the league at 1.0 per game. Player tied for fourth in the league with 0.55 sacks per contest, notching 6.0 on the year. He also three forced three fumbles and tallied 11 quarterback hurries and a pair of pass breakups. Player was part of a defense that ranked in the top 50 in the FCS in rushing defense (27th, 132.3 yards per game), scoring defense (49th, 26.4 points per game) and total defense (32nd, 351.2 yards per game) and helped ETSU to a share of its first SoCon champion, a spot in the national polls and its first FCS playoff berth since 1996. He has earned preseason first-team All-America accolades from HERO Sports and Athlon so far this year.

Two-time defending champion Wofford is the coaches’ pick to win the league again in 2019. Under the direction of first-year coach Josh Conklin, the Terriers went 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the league last year to earn a share of their sixth league title. Wofford was nationally ranked throughout the season and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs, downing 17th-ranked Elon in the opening round before falling to No. 2 Kennesaw State in the second round. The Terriers, who earned seven first-place votes and 63 points in the coaches’ poll, return nine starters on offense and five on defense. Wofford is the preseason favorite for the second time and first since 2017.

Furman landed second in the preseason poll with 55 points and one first-place vote. The Paladins won their final four games last year to finish 6-4 overall and 6-2 in SoCon play, clinching a share of their record 14th SoCon title. The title was Furman’s first since 2013. The Paladins bring back eight starters on offense and seven on defense.

In his first season at the helm, reigning SoCon Coach of the Year Randy Sanders led ETSU to a 6-2 league record (8-4 overall) to claim a share of its first SoCon title. The Bucs totaled 44 points and the remaining first-place vote to edge Chattanooga for third in the preseason poll. The Mocs, who tied for fifth at 4-4 in the league last year, totaled 40 points in the poll.

Mercer finished fifth in the poll with 34 points after tying for fifth at 4-4 in the league last season, while Samford, which was fourth at 5-3, was just one point back with 33. The Bulldogs must replace a trio of All-Americans in Devlin Hodges, Kelvin McKnight and Ahmad Gooden. Hodges was the Walter Payton Award winner and finished his career as the FCS leader with 14,584 career passing yards.

The Citadel is seventh in the poll with 22 points after a fifth-place, 4-4 SoCon finish last year. Western Carolina is right behind the Bulldogs with 21 points, while VMI rounds out the poll with 12.

Wofford led all teams with nine total preseason all-conference selections, putting three on the first teams and a league-best six on the second teams.

Mercer was second with eight total selections, putting three on the first teams and five on the second teams, while Furman and ETSU had seven total selections each. ETSU and Chattanooga shared league-high honors with four first-team selections apiece.

All nine schools had at least two first-team picks.

Samford gets the season started when it faces Youngstown State in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff at 3 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 24 in Montgomery, Alabama. That game will air on ESPN.

2019 Preseason Southern Conference Coaches Poll

Team (1st-place votes)            Total

1. Wofford (7)                           63

2. Furman (1)                            55

3. ETSU (1)                              44

4. Chattanooga                         40

5. Mercer                                  34

6. Samford                                33

7. The Citadel                           22

8. Western Carolina                   21

9. VMI                                      12

2019 Preseason All-Southern Conference Football Teams

Offensive Player of the Year: Tyrie Adams, QB, R-Sr., Western Carolina

Defensive Player of the Year: Nasir Player, DL, R-Sr., ETSU

First team offense

QB    Tyrie Adams, R-Sr., Western Carolina

RB    Quay Holmes, R-So., ETSU

RB    Tyray Devezin, Jr., Mercer

OL     Bo Layton, R-Jr., Furman

OL     Austin Sanders, R-Sr., Mercer

OL     Nick Nixon, Sr., Samford

OL     Justus Basinger, Sr., Wofford

OL     Michael Ralph, Sr., Wofford

TE     Owen Cosenke, Jr., Western Carolina

WR   Bryce Nunnelly, Jr., Chattanooga

WR   Javeon Lara, Sr., VMI

First team defense

DL     Joseph Randolph II, Sr., The Citadel

DL     Jason Maduafokwa, R-Sr., ETSU

DL     Nasir Player, R-Sr., ETSU

DL     Thad Mangum, Sr., Wofford

LB     Willie Eubanks III, Jr., The Citadel

LB     Adrian Hope, R-So., Furman

LB     Marshall Cooper, Sr., Chattanooga

DB    Tyree Robinson, Jr., ETSU

DB    Brandon Dowdell, Jr., Chattanooga

DB    Jerrell Lawson, R-Jr., Chattanooga

DB    A.J. Smith, Jr., VMI

DB    Ronald Kent Jr., So., Western Carolina

First team specialists

PK     Grayson Atkins, Jr., Furman

PK     Mitchell Fineran, So., Samford

P       Matthew Campbell, So., The Citadel

RS    David Durden, So., Mercer

Second team offense

QB    Reece Udinski, Jr., VMI

RB    Devin Wynn, Jr., Furman

RB    Tyrell Price, Sr., Chattanooga

OL     Haden Haas, R-So., The Citadel

OL     Drew McEntyre, Sr., The Citadel

OL     Ben Blackmon, R-Sr., ETSU

OL     Tre’mond Shorts, R-So., ETSU

OL     Andy Godwin, R-Sr., Furman

OL     Cole Strange, R-Jr., Chattanooga

OL     Blake Jeresaty, Jr., Wofford

TE     Chris Ellington, Sr., Mercer

WR   Thomas Gordon, Sr., Furman

WR   David Durden, So., Mercer

Second team defense

DL     Dorian Kithcart, R-Sr., Mercer

DL     Justin Foster, Sr., Samford

DL     Nelson Jordan, So., Samford

DL     Mikel Horton, Jr., Wofford

LB     Elijah McKoy, Jr., Furman

LB     Will Coneway, R-Sr., Mercer

LB     Jireh Wilson, Sr., Wofford

DB    Jeremy Lewis, Sr., ETSU

DB    Malique Fleming, R-Jr., Mercer

DB    Mason Alstatt, Sr., Wofford

DB    George Gbesee, Sr., Wofford

Second team specialists

PK     Jacob Godek, Sr., The Citadel

P       Luke Carter, Sr., Wofford

RS    Rohan Martin, Sr., VMI

NOTE: Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.

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