Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina redshirt sophomore linebacker Jayden Pauling was today named the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in last Saturday’s final home game against Samford. The award is the first of his WCU career.

The SoCon Players of the Week, presented by GEICO, are selected by the league office from nominations submitted by sports information or media relations personnel at each conference school. It is the third consecutive week that Western Carolina has garnered one of the three awards handed out by the SoCon office – and second-straight week the Catamounts have been recognized on the defensive side of the football.

Pauling was also an honorable mention for the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week.

Pauling was credited with eight tackles, seven of which were solo and two of which went for 11 lost yards, and forced three fumbles in the Catamounts’ 31-13 loss to Samford on Saturday. Two of Pauling’s forced fumbles came on sacks, while the third came late in the fourth quarter to halt a Samford drive. With a team-high five forced fumbles on the season, the redshirt sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., is just two fumbles forced shy of the program’s single-season record of seven established in 1972 (Steve Yates, 7).

On the season, Pauling has 50 total tackles including at team-best 11 TFLs – tied for second in the SoCon – and includes a league-leading 6.5 sacks. He also paces the SoCon with five total forced fumbles with one recovery and a blocked kick to his defensive credit this season.

Western Carolina (3-7) travels to Bryant-Denny Stadium this Saturday to face the fifth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the fifth all-time series meeting. Kickoff is scheduled for Noon ET / 11:00 am CT, live on ESPN. The game will also be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with an 11:00 am ET air time across eight radio stations and online at

Catamount head football coach Mark Speir will be live on-location for tonight’s “Catamount Football Weekly” coaches’ show at 7:00 pm as the show emanates from BC Outdoors Cullowhee Taproom, located on the first floor of Noble Hall in the heart of the WCU campus. The weekly show is streamed online through the WCU Athletics Facebook page.

Keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics online at or through its social media outlets on Facebook ( and Twitter (@Catamounts, @CatamountsFB).

Western Carolina’s 2019 SoCon Players of the Week:

Nov. 4 – Donnavan Spencer, Offensive and Julian Pletz, Special Teams

Nov. 11 – Ty Harris, Defensive

Nov. 18 – Jayden Pauling, Defensive