Over final few days 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 the 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 Saturday’s 2019 "Purple Out" opener against the Mercer Bears are going fast – don’t wait, buy your tickets in advance! 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.
For a second-consecutive season, the Western Carolina defensive secondary returns among the most in terms of experience, losing just two players that saw substantial playing time a year ago – though one of those players lost was the heart and soul of the position room.
In addition to replacing journeyman reserve Terrance Wilson from its secondary, WCU must replace four-year contributor Marvin Tillman who ranked second on the squad with 94 tackles in 2018. Tillman appeared on the Buck Buchanan Award watch list and closed his career just shy of 300 career tackles with 297 total hits and eight career interceptions as a safety.
Leading the way into the new season is a familiar face in fifth-year senior JerMichael White, who received a medical hardship after an injury limited him to just three games in 2018 – but what an impact he had in those three outings. White averaged five tackles (15 total hits) over his three appearances with a pair of interceptions coming in the road win at Gardner-Webb. He enters his fifth season with 104 career tackles including 57 solo stops and is credited with nine pass break-ups.
White is surrounded by a trio of classmates in seniors Brandon Bawn (11 games played), John Brannon (26 games played), and Devarius Cortner (29 games played). Together, those four senior defensive backs have played in an average of 25 career games and recorded a combined six career interceptions with Brannon (4) and White (2) each with multiple picks.
Those upperclassmen will be pushed by an aggressive and eager group in the second wave of defensive backs headlined by 2018 freshman All-America selection, Ronald Kent Jr., who finished with 45 tackles and 12 pass break-ups a season ago – the sixth-best single-season in program history. He collected Southern Conference All-Freshman honors and appeared on the Jerry Rice Award watch list given annually to the nation’s top freshman. Kent is a part of the youth movement that includes redshirt sophomore Reggie Jones who was credited with 32 tackles in 11 games including 10 starts last fall, while sophomore A.J. Rogers tallied 27 hits in 11 games with five starts.
Several players received redshirts in 2018 including Quintin Thames, who was injured in 2018 after playing in 12 games as a true freshman in 2017 with seven tackles. The list includes redshirt freshmen Cinsere Allison (1 game played), Charles Gadie (3 tackles, 4 games), and Jontavious Shotwell (1 game), with Anthony Badgett joining the team as a redshirt freshman.
WCU’s incoming freshman class includes two-star recruit Dorian Davis (Shelby, N.C. / Shelby HS), two-star recruit Jaylon McMillan (Clemmons, N.C. / West Forsyth HS), Jabril Muhammad (St. Petersburg, Fla. / Clearwater Academy International), and Jalin Virgo (High Point, N.C. / Southwest Guilford HS) marking a very talented group. The position room is deep with the addition of local product Micah Nelson (Murphy, N.C. / Murphy HS), Jamaud Geter (Shelby, N.C. / Crest HS) and Larry Williams (Graham, N.C. / Southern Alamance HS).
ADDITIONAL DEFENSIVE BACKS NOTES:
• Western Carolina ranked third in the Southern Conference in 2018 with 12 total interceptions, three behind conference-leader, ETSU (15);
Previous 2019 WCU Football Position Previews: