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 top two returning tacklers entering the 2019 season are both linebackers and both finished among the top four on the 2018 squad in total overall hits. Redshirt junior Michael Murphy collected 92 tackles a season ago while his counterpart Ty Harris finished with 87 combined stops, all chasing the since graduated leader, Mitchell Chancey (135 tackles in 2018). WCU must also replace Jacquez Williams who posted 62 tackles in 10 games, fifth on last year’s squad.
Murphy accounted for five takeaways a season ago including a team-best three interceptions – tied for third in the Southern Conference – and two fumble recoveries from his hybrid linebacker position while Harris recorded two from his middle linebacker position. That tandem is joined by redshirt sophomore Alan Harris – no relation – and sophomore Darrius Smith who both played in double-digit games a season ago, combining to collect nine tackles total on the year. Both have put together strong fall camps entering the 2019 season.
Jarquavius Wortham, who transferred prior to 2018 from Georgia Military College, represents the lone senior in the linebacker meeting room – and he could even see time at the rush end like he did during spring drills depending upon how the development of the defensive front progresses during preseason camp. He as well as junior Trevor Childers (22 games played, 14 tackles) looks to take a larger role within the defensive unit.
Eligible transfers Jayden Pauling (Louisburg College) and John Esposito (Buffalo State) are expected to vie for playing time, though Esposito suffered a lower extremity injury during preseason fall camp.
Linebackers Devlin Olawumi (2 games played) and redshirt sophomore Curtis Roach (11 career games) both took redshirts last season. This fall also marks the much-anticipated debut of Angel Rivera (Charlotte, N.C. / Mallard Creek HS) who missed last season due to a summer injury in the weight room.
WCU’s nationally-ranked incoming class includes linebackers Dejon DeCruz (Durham, N.C. / Riverside HS), Jacob Depouli (Southern Pines, N.C. / Pinecrest HS), and Chester Geffrard (Ocoee, Fla. / Ocoee HS).
Essentially divided three-ways – inside linebackers, outside linebackers, and nickelbacks – WCU has three coaches working with the middle of its defensive unit. John Wiley continues to work with the inside linebackers with Mark Rhea taking over the outside and new assistant coach Keith Henry working with the hybrid nickels which spend time in coverage in the secondary.
ADDITIONAL LINEBACKERS NOTES:
• Four of WCU’s top five tacklers in 2018 were linebackers including Southern Conference leader, Mitchell Chancey (135 tackles, 12.3 tackles per game) … Five of the team’s 12 interceptions were recorded by linebackers in 2018 – three by Michael Murphy and two by Ty Harris.
Previous 2019 WCU Football Position Previews: