Dec. 13, 2007
Cullowhee, N.C. - Ten former Western Carolina student-athletes and one student assistant coach participated in graduation commencement exercises Saturday in the Ramsey Center. The list of graduates includes eight former Catamount football players, one from volleyball and women's soccer, as well as a football student assistant. Four of the graduates - each coming from the football program - were All-Southern Conference selections during their career playing for the purple and gold.
Headlining Western's December student-athlete graduates was Eddie Cohen, who earlier in the week was tabbed second team All-America by the Associated Press. The Hilton Head, S.C., native re-wrote the WCU single-season receiving record books this year finishing with 1,208 yards receiving - including six-straight 100-yard receiving games - and nine touchdowns this past season. Cohen was also tabbed first team All-SoCon after being just one of two wide receivers in the conference this season to average over 100-yards receiving per game.
His classmate and fellow graduate, Mike Malone, also graduated on Saturday coming off a tremendous year on the football field, as well as an outstanding track & field career. Malone, from Gainesville, Ga., shattered the school records for kickoff returns in a single-season with 58 and kickoff returns in a career, finishing with 108 to surpass the previous mark of 84 held by all-time WCU great Kerry Hayes (1991-94). He was tabbed a second team All-SoCon return specialist after leading the league - and ranking fourth nationally - in all-purpose yards with a combined average of 194.82 yards per game.
During his career, Malone was also a Southern Conference champion in track & field, earning the 2005 Male Outdoor Track Performer of the Year after combining to score 36.5 points at the outdoor championship
Other All-SoCon performers on the gridiron that walked across the stage on Saturday include former defensive back Mitchell Dukes (2003-06) and punter Tim Mayse (2002, 2004-06) who concluded his career ranked second all-time on Western's career punting average at 41.1 yards per kick. Rounding out the eight football players to have degrees conferred on Saturday were former linebacker William "Shelton" Gaffney, wide receiver Nick Miller, offensive lineman Chris Huffman and local product, kicker Stephen Brown, from Smoky Mountain HS.
Student assistant coach Daniel Gibson was also a part of graduation ceremonies. Gibson was an essential part of the Catamount football program all four years he was in Cullowhee, working his way up from film crew to becoming a vital part of the workings of the Catamount defensive unit.
A former volleyball player, Meghan Boyle concluded her eligibility following the 2006 season, finishing her career ranked eighth on WCU's all-time assists charts with 1,958, one of just nine Catamounts all-time to eclipse the 1,000-assist barrier. The Ancaster, Ontario, native was also listed on the 2006 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
Meghan Reilly likewise exhausted her eligibility after the 2006 women's soccer season. As a junior, the Lubbock, Texas native earned All-SoCon Tournament accolades during Western's magical 2005 run through the conference tournament and into the NCAA Regional.
Western Carolina Student-Athlete Graduates:
Meghan Boyle, Volleyball
Stephen Brown, Football
Eddie Cohen, Football *
Mitchell Dukes, Football *
William "Shelton" Gaffney, Football
Daniel Gibson, Football student assistant
Christopher Huffman, Football
Jimmy "Mike" Malone, Football *
Timothy Mayse, Football *
Nick Miller, Football
Meghan Reilly, Women's Soccer
* - named All-Southern Conference