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Cullowhee, N.C. – Paced by a pair of first-team All-Southern Conference selections in redshirt senior OL Zach Weeks and sophomore TE Owen Cosenke, Western Carolina saw seven players receive post-season accolades on Tuesday as the conference released its honorary teams as chosen by the league’s nine head coaches and the voting members of the SoCon Sports Media Association (SCSMA).

Weeks and Cosenke were both tabbed first team by the coaches and media, while redshirt junior QB Tyrie Adams was selected to the second-team by both voting groups behind Player of the Year, Samford’s Devlin Hodges. Senior DB Marvin Tillman appeared on both tabulations, collecting second-team honors from the coaches while garnering first-team plaudits from the media. Appearing only on the media tally, senior LB Mitchell Chancey was dubbed first team while classmate DL Solomon Clark was tagged on the second team.

Rounding out WCU’s honorees was freshman DB Ronald Kent Jr., who was placed on the All-Freshman Defensive team by the coaches.

A combined five individuals – two first team, two second team, and an all-freshman honoree – were recognized by the league’s head coaches while six – four first-team, two second-team – were honored by the media. WCU’s four, first-team selections by the media were the third-most among the SoCon. ETSU had a league-best 14 players including a league-high six first-team honorees by the coaches, while also leading in the media voting with 11 honorees – again with six on the first team alone. All nine league teams were represented on the all-conference teams.

Weeks helped anchor a senior-laden offensive line, perhaps serving as the face for the entire group in collecting the all-conference honor for a second-consecutive season. The Bryson City, N.C., native played mostly at center in the middle of an offensive line that paved the way for a fourth-consecutive 1,000-yard rusher in QB Tyrie Adams. During the 2018 season, Weeks was additionally dubbed a national semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy awarded to the best scholar-athlete in the nation by the National Football Foundation (NFF) and was also nominated for the Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.

Cosenke had a banner year for the Catamounts, leading all SoCon tight ends with eight touchdown receptions, the third-most by any player in the SoCon during the season. The Aldie, Va., native hauled in 23 passes for 261 yards – both career highs – averaging 11.3 yards per catch. Cosenke caught TD passes in six of WCU’s 11 games on the season including a string of four-straight games with a score early in the year. He hauled in a career-best six receptions for 66 yards and a pair of TDs in the near-upset win over No. 25 ETSU.

One of 25 national finalists for the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award – an honor given to the top offensive player at the FCS level – Adams finished the season in rare company as one of just 10 players in NCAA FCS history all-time to pass for 2,000+ yards while also rushing for 1,000+ yards in the same season. In addition to throwing for 2,417 yards in 2018, WCU’s dual-threat quarterback finished the regular season leading the league in rushing at 91.5 yards per game, the only player in the SoCon through the regular season to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in guiding WCU’s high-powered offense.

A product of St. Petersburg, Fla., Adams additionally finished the season second in the SoCon in total offense, averaging 311.2 yards per game. He accounted for 26 total touchdowns on the season including 16 TD passes and a career-best 10 rushing scores, while collecting a league-high-tying three weekly top offensive player plaudits and garnering player of the month honors in September for a third consecutive year.

Tillman finished the season second on the WCU squad in tackles with 94 and was third in tackles per game at 8.5 – a mark that ranked him tied for fifth in the SoCon. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment on the year came in the intangibles the fourth-year starter brought to an otherwise youthful defensive secondary. Tillman graced the preseason Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, though did not advance to the final 25 for the national vote.

Leading the conference with a 12.3 tackle per game average, Chancey was dubbed first team All-SoCon by the voting media – his first career post-season honors. The Asheville, N.C., native recorded double-digit tackles in all 11 seasonal games, posting the fourth-best single-season in school history with 135 total hits including 68 solo stops. He additionally ranked third nationally in tackles per game at the NCAA FCS level. Chancey closed his final season with four tackles for loss including a pair of sacks and was credited with a pass break-up.

Moving into a starting role in the center of WCU’s 3-4 defensive package, Clark finished the season with 29 total tackles through nine games played, missing the end of the season due to injury. He ranked ninth in the SoCon with 0.56 sacks per game, recording five on the year – an impressive four of which coming in the home win over VMI, tying the school’s single-game record. All told, the Richmond, Calif. native posted 8.5 tackles for loss, tied for the team lead.

Rounding out WCU’s honorees was freshman Ronald Kent Jr., who was named to the All-Freshman defensive team. Kent finished the regular season second in the SoCon with a team-best 12 pass break-ups – a mark that ranks tied for sixth in WCU’s individual season record books. The Harrisburg, Pa., product was sixth on the Catamount squad with 45 combined tackles including 31 solo stops and five tackles for loss, also credited with forcing a fumble on the season. He appeared on the Jerry Rice Award Watch List at mid-season, though did not advance to the finalist vote after being limited on the field over the final two seasonal games.

Behind top offensive player, Hodges, Chattanooga DL Isaiah Mack was dubbed the Defensive Player of the Year by both voting groups while ETSU freshman RB Quay Holmes collected top rookie honors. Buccaneers’ first-year head coach Randy Sanders was honored by both the media and his peers as the Coach of the Year after guiding ETSU to a share of the 2018 SoCon Football Championship and an at-large berth into the NCAA post-season field. ETSU senior OL Matt Pyke earned the Jacobs Blocking Award doled out by the head coaches.

Western Carolina finished the 2018 season with a 3-8 overall record. A total of 18 players from the 2018 squad finished their playing careers in Cullowhee this fall.

 

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