Over the next two weeks prior to the kickoff of the 2019 football season, CatamountSports.com feature position-by-position previews of the 2019 Western Carolina football team. Each feature will contain the positional write-ups from the 2019 WCU Football Media Guide with video highlights from preseason fall camp.
Both season and single-game tickets for 2019 are on sale now through the Catamount Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, by phone at (800) 34-GOWCU, or online at CatamountSports.com. Lock-in your seat for all six exciting home dates with Catamount football season tickets today.
Tickets for the 2019 "Purple Out" opener against the Mercer Bears are going fast! WCU raises the curtain on 2019 in a big way with the pregame tailgating including the "Tailgate Town" (Ramsey Lot 9A) and a pregame concert by Joe Lasher, presented by Ingles; "Paws Playground" presented by Western Builder's just inside of Gate 1; the first on-field performance of the "Pride of the Mountains" Marching Band; the 9th-annual Freshmen Run; and capping the night will be a fireworks extravaganza, presented by Ingles and iHeartMedia partners, 99.9 Kiss Country and Star 104.3 FM.
Western Carolina’s defensive line had a somewhat productive 2018 as two of the squad’s top 10 tacklers at the end of the season were linemen and a total of 19 of the squad’s 62 tackles for loss including nearly half of the team’s 23 sacks came from the top four players from the defensive line.
WCU must replace two significant contributors from last year’s squad including All-Southern Conference selection Solomon Clark and two-year starter Nate Link. Clark paced the Catamount defensive linemen with 29 tackles a season ago with his 8.5 tackles for loss matching the most by any one defender. He also led WCU with five sacks while Link tallied 24 of his 79 career stops in 2018.
Leading the group into 2019 is sophomore Adam Henderson who was thrust into a key and a starting role in 2018 as a true freshman. Henderson played in all 11 of the team’s games with seven starts, finishing second among his position with 28 total tackles including five tackles for loss with a pair of sacks. His classmate K.J. Milner played in eight games with a trio of starts, completing his rookie season with 15 tackles including a sack.
Graduate transfer Jabril Dandy represents the only senior in the defensive line position room. He is flanked by junior Ricky Palao who has played in 15 career games over the past two seasons while Ezekiel Jennette, who transferred prior to last season, played in all 11 games a season ago. Kannapolis, N.C., native Elijah Hall has yet to see the field as he has been injury-riddled early in his WCU career, entering his redshirt sophomore season in 2019.
The defensive line may also see converted linebackers getting reps at the rush defensive end positions as both Chris Campbell and Jarquavius Wortham took reps with the unit during the squad’s annual spring drills.
Returning redshirts in Trevon Poole and Torrion Stevenson both played in three games a year ago to get a taste of collegiate competition and should factor into the depth chart early in 2019. They will be flanked by an influx of freshman talent including Aidan Alston (Southern Pines, N.C. / Pinecrest HS), Terran Brown (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS), two-star recruit Darius Bell (Gilbert, S.C. / Gilbert HS), Roman Johnson (Greensboro, N.C. / Southern Guilford HS), Tre’ Jolly (Shelby, N.C. / Shelby HS), Joaquin Layno (Cherokee, N.C. / Cherokee HS), and the highly-touted, three-star signee, Christian Harris (Raleigh, N.C. / Baylor (Chattanooga, Tenn.) School).
WCU’s defensive linemen began working with a new position coach during spring drills as Reuben Wright, who came from a defensive background during his prep coaching days, took over the unit leadership.
ADDITIONAL DEFENSIVE LINE NOTES:
• Western Carolina’s average height along the defensive line is 6’1.9” tall while the average weight is 259.6 pounds;
Previous 2019 WCU Football Position Previews: