Cullowhee, N.C. – Including three first teams selections spread between the offense, defense, and special teams, Western Carolina put six players on the 2018 preseason All-Southern Conference teams unveiled Wednesday morning by the league office.
Redshirt senior offensive lineman Zach Weeks, senior defensive back Marvin Tillman, and senior punter Ian Berryman were each tabbed first team by the league’s head coaches. Returning redshirt junior quarterback Tyrie Adams and redshirt senior offensive linemen Nathan Dalton and Andrew Miles each garnered a second-team nod as selected by the conference’s nine head coaches.
Also Wednesday, WCU was picked to finish fourth in the coaches’ preseason predictive poll, while the media dropped the Catamounts one slot into fifth in its tabulation.
Tillman adds first-team all-conference honors to his preseason All-America selection from HERO Sports entering his senior campaign. The Durham, N.C., native finished second on the team – and fourth in the conference – in tackles a year ago with 96 total stops and a 9.6 tackle per game average and is WCU’s top returner on the defensive side of the football.
Likewise, Berryman continues a busy preseason in wracking-up accolades, adding first-team preseason All-SoCon plaudits to a trio of All-America nods. The punter from Marietta, Ga., has ranked inside the FCS national top five the past two seasons and enters his final collegiate season ranked eighth in WCU’s ledgers with 168 career punts while holding a 44.33 yard per punt average, tops in program history.
Weeks, who collected first-team postseason All-SoCon honors from the conference coaches in 2017 while earning a second-team nod from the voting media, headlined a big day for the Catamount offensive line. A product of Bryson City, N.C., Weeks was one of league-leading three offensive linemen honorees earning a first-team honor. He was joined by classmates Dalton and Miles on the second team as a combined 13 SoCon linemen were recognized due to several ties. WCU’s offensive line trio honored on Wednesday have combined to play in 101 career games with a total of 76 starts between them. Over the past three seasons, they combined to help former Catamount tailback Detrez Newsome – who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers – set a school benchmark with three-consecutive, 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Completing WCU’s preseason honorees was redshirt junior QB Tyrie Adams, who was a second-team All-SoCon honoree at the end of the 2017 season. Adams finished his second season in the Catamount backfield ranked second in the SoCon in total offense (253.3 yds/gm) while amassing the second-most yards of total offense in the league at 3,040 yards – just the second Catamount to eclipse the 3,000-yard barrier in a single season all-time. The St. Petersburg, Fla., native accounted for 24 touchdowns a year ago including a career-high 22 passing, adding a pair of rushing scores.
All nine league teams were represented on the preseason squads selected by the league’s head coaches, though they weren’t allowed to vote on their own players. Wofford led all teams with 10 total preseason all-conference selections, putting a league-best six on the first team and sharing league-high honors with four on the second team.
Samford swept the preseason offensive and defensive player of the year awards as redshirt senior QB Devlin Hodges and redshirt senior DL Ahmad Gooden collected the two honors. It’s the second-straight year Hodges was dubbed the top offensive player in the league in the preseason, collecting top postseason honors in 2017.
Receiving all but two first-place votes in the coaches’ poll and finishing three-shy of a clean-sweep in the media voting, Samford was chosen as the preseason favorite by both voting groups. The Bulldogs finished tied for second a season ago. Upstate rivals Wofford and Furman swapped the runner-up spot with the Terriers – the league’s defending champion and an FCS playoff quarterfinalist – picked second by the coaches and Furman tagged second in the media poll.
The middle third of the two preseason prognostications were split between three teams. WCU took fourth in the coaches’ poll but was fifth in the media vote while Mercer, sixth in the coaches’ poll, was fourth in the media vote. Chattanooga was the tertiary team involved in the round-robin, tabbed fifth behind WCU in the coach vote but sixth by the media.
The bottom three of the league’s preseason predictions mirrored each other with The Citadel, ETSU, and VMI rounding out the polls.
In lieu of its traditional annual media day, the Southern Conference will release team-by-team preview videos that will feature each of the nine head coaches and two players from every conference member sequentially leading up to curtain being raised on the 2018 season.
The 2018 SoCon slate opens on Thursday, Aug. 30 as Chattanooga hosts Tennessee Tech (7 pm) and Samford entertains Shorter College (7:30 pm ET). Two days later, the Catamounts open their 2018 campaign by hosting Newberry in Cullowhee as a part of a Labor Day weekend celebration. WCU looks to #WhiteOutWhitmire on Sept. 1 with all fans encouraged to wear white to the game and the first 5,000 fans through the gates receiving a white T-shirt. The game will conclude with a postgame fireworks extravaganza, presented by Ingles and iHeartRadio partners 99.9 Kiss Country and Star 104.3.
Season tickets for all five home dates in 2018 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, by phone toll-free at (800) 34-GOWCU or locally at (828) 227-2401, or purchase tickets online at CatamountSports.com. Fans are invited to join Catamount Club and current members are reminded to renew to take advantage of the many perks surrounding home football weekends.
General admission season tickets for adults begin at just $75 with additional Purple and Gold Reserved and options in the Western Builders Inc., Family Zone seating options also available. A limited number of chairback season tickets are still available priced at just $125 for adults and $65 for youth (ages 3-12).
Purchasing season tickets allow fans to lock-in their seats before single-game tickets for individual home games go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018.
WCU’s football student-athletes report for team camp on Friday, Aug. 3 with the official start of team camp opening on Saturday, Aug. 4 with the first practice at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field.
Important Upcoming Dates in Catamount Athletics / Catamount Football:
Friday, August 3 -- Catamount Football Student-Athletes Report for fall camp
Saturday, Aug. 4 -- First scheduled practice of 2018 preseason (helmet only)
Tuesday, Aug. 7 – Catamount Football single-game tickets go on sale
Thursday, Aug. 9 – WCU Photo Day / Media Day (3:30 pm); Facebook LIVE with Mark Speir (TBA)
Friday, Aug. 17 – Western Carolina University Freshman Move-In Day
Monday, Aug. 20 – First day of classes for the fall semester; single-game football tickets on-sale
Friday, August 31 – “The Mutt" Catamount Football Golf Classic at The Maggie Valley Club
Saturday, Sept. 1 – 2018 Catamount Football season and home-opener vs. Newberry -- Fireworks Night
Friday, Oct. 12 – 14th annual Bob Waters Memorial Golf Tournament at the Laurel Ridge Country Club
Saturday, Oct. 13 – Catamount Football vs. Chattanooga – Hall of Fame Day
Keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports) and Twitter (@catamounts, @WCU_FB), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).