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Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina freshman defensive back Ronald Kent Jr., was among nine players added to the watch list for the 2018 Jerry Rice Award which is given by STATS FCS to the nation’s top freshman. The Jerry Rice Award, named after the legendary Hall of Fame wide receiver, has been presented in the postseason to the FCS freshman player of the year since 2011.

Kent joins a short list of Catamounts to land on the watch list for top freshman joining Daniel Riddle (2014), Ian Berryman (2015), and Tyrie Adams (2016). Adams finished a school-best fourth in the national voting two seasons ago.

Kent has helped headline a youth movement in the backend of the Catamount defensive secondary, one of three true or redshirt freshmen starting at defensive back. The Harrisburg, Pa., product has six starts in the eight games this season and currently ranks tied for fifth on the team with 43 total tackles including 30 solo stops and five tackles for loss. The athletic corner has made his biggest impact with 12 pass break-ups, the first time a Catamount defender has hit double-digits since Trey Morgan recorded 10 back in 2016. Kent’s 12 PBUs are the most by a Catamount since Ahmed Green had 12 back in 2002, tied for the sixth-most in the program’s single-season record books.

Kent is one of three from the Southern Conference to grace the Rice Award watch list, joined by RB Quay Holmes of ETSU and back-up QB Robert Riddle of Mercer. Still a young award, the Rice Award is distinguished with three of the first four recipients to complete their college careers playing in the NFL: former Towson running back Terrance West, Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and Fordham running back Chase Edmonds.

A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on the award following the regular season.

Also, this season STATS will present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) and Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete of the Year. WCU currently has players on three of the STATS FCS watch lists including QB Tyrie Adams on the Payton Award list and DB Marvin Tillman on the Buchanan Award ledger.

Western Carolina (3-5, 1-5 SoCon) hosts The Citadel (2-5, 2-4 SoCon) this Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field in the annual Homecoming game. Tickets are available through the first-floor ticket office in the Ramsey Center, by phone at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401, and online at CatamountSports.com.

Jerry Rice Award Watch List:

 

Christian Benford, Villanova, DB, Fr., 6-0, 190, Randallstown, Maryland

Statistics: 32 tackles (26 solo), 1 TFL, 2 INTs, 1 PBU (5 games)

 

Ty Brock, Sam Houston State, QB, R-Fr., 6-4, 210, College Station, Texas

Statistics: 119 of 214, 1,566 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs; 150 rushing yards, 3 TDs; 1 TD reception (6 games)

 

Jack Cook, Dayton, QB, R-Fr., 6-0, 195, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Statistics: 95 of 163, 1,290 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs; 274 rushing yards, 3 TDs (6 games)

 

Jon Copeland, UIW, QB, Fr., 6-0, 201, Argyle, Texas

Statistics: 86 of 172, 1,329 yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs; 1 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD (5 games)

 

Josh Davis, Weber State, RB/PR, R-Fr., 5-9, 185, Sandy, Utah

Statistics: 92 carries, 551 yards, 4 TDs; 177 all-purpose yards per game (4 games)

 

Mohammed Diakite, Penn, CB, Fr., 6-1, 180, Northampton, Pennsylvania

Statistics: 22 tackles (16 solo), 3 TFL, 2 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR (7 games)

 

Andrew Edgar, Illinois State, WR, R-Fr., 6-0, 175, Chicago

Statistics: 29 receptions, 561 yards, 4 TDs (8 games)

 

Juwon Farri, Monmouth, RB, Fr., 5-10, 185, Germantown, Maryland

Statistics: 93 carries, 758 yards, 6 TDs; 11 receptions, 55 yards (8 games)

 

Bailey Fisher, Tennessee Tech, QB, Fr., 6-0, 195, Clayton, Georgia

Statistics: 86 of 166, 1,100 yards, 8 TDs, 5 INTs; 223 rushing yards (6 games)

 

Ulonzo Gilliam, UC Davis, RB, R-Fr., 5-9, 185, Merced, California

Statistics: 70 carries, 316 yards, 6 TDs; 21 receptions, 192 yards, 2 TDs (5 games)

 

Malik Hamm, Lafayette, DE, Fr., 6-3, 240, Baltimore

Statistics: 22 tackles (16 solo), 7 TFL, 3 Sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FR, 1 FF (5 games)

 

Robby Hauck, Montana, S, R-Fr., 5-10, 179, Missoula, Montana

Statistics: 58 tackles (21 solo), 1 TFL, 1 PBU (6 games)

 

Dev Holmes, Albany, WR, Fr., 5-8, 153, Troy, New York

Statistics: 28 receptions, 587 yards, 4 TDs (5 games)

 

Quay Holmes, ETSU, RB, R-Fr., 6-1, 216, Powder Springs, Georgia

Statistics: 107 carries, 467 yards, 8 TDs; 15 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD (6 games)

 

Alijah Jackson, Robert Morris, RB, R-Fr., 5-9, 165, Paramus, New Jersey

Statistics: 79 carries, 373 yards, 4 TDs, 93 all-purpose yards per game (5 games)

 

Brian Jenkins Jr., Alabama A&M, WR, Fr., 5-8, 160, Daytona Beach, Florida

Statistics: 28 receptions, 332 yards, 1 TD; 106.5 all-purpose yards per game (6 games)

 

Ronald Kent Jr., Western Carolina, CB, Fr., 5-10, 160, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Statistics: 43 tackles (30 solo), 5 TFL, 12 PBU (8 games)

 

Chris Kolarevic, Northern Iowa, LB, R-Fr., 6-0, 223, Traverse City, Michigan

Statistics: 54 tackles (17 solo), 2 TFL, 1 INT, 4 PBU (5 games)

 

Noah Larson, North Dakota, LB, R-Fr., 6-2, 233, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Statistics: 44 tackles (25 solo), 3 TFL, 1 Sack, 1 QBH (8 games)

 

Skyler Perry, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, QB, Fr., 6-3, 197, New Orleans

Statistics: 113 of 198, 7 TDs, 3 INTs; 84 rushing yards (7 games)

 

Robert Riddle, Mercer, QB, R-Fr., 6-2, 202, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

Statistics: 66 of 101, 851 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs; 3 rushing TDs (4 games)

 

Xavier Smith, Florida A&M, WR, R-Fr., 5-10, 165, Pembrook Pines, Florida

Statistics: 26 receptions, 335 yards, 3 TDs; 61.9 all-purpose yards per game (7 games)

 

Caleb Snead, Campbell, WR, R-Fr., 6-3, 200, Lynchburg, Virginia

Statistics: 17 receptions, 341 yards, 4 TDs (6 games)

 

Jareem Westcott, Stetson, RB, Fr., 5-10, 185, St. Augustine, Florida

Statistics: 102 carries, 590 yards, 11 TDs (7 games)

 

 

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