Jan. 3, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina seniors Conner Orr and Rock Williams were among 54 football student-athletes honored today with the release of the 15th annual Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA) Academic All-Star Team, presented by KP Sports and announced by the FCS ADA.
Orr and Williams were among seven players from the Southern Conference selected to the academic honorary squad, matching the most from any one single conference joining both the Big Sky and Missouri Valley Conferences. WCU's duo were joined by WR Tony Washington from Appalachian State; DB Brandon McCladdie from The Citadel; OL Adam Miller from Chattanooga; and RB Eric Breitenstein and OL Calvin Cantrell from Wofford College, representing the only other SoCon school with multiple selections.
"The FCS ADA is pleased to honor the accomplishments of our football student-athletes each year with our Academic All-Star Team," said FCS ADA President Ron Strollo, director of athletics at Youngstown State University. "The accolades of these young men both in the classroom and on the field epitomize the definition of student-athlete and our Association looks forward to recognizing their accomplishments annually."
The organization received 98 total nominees nationwide from the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision. Each of the nominees were required to have a minimum grade point average of 3.20 (on a 4.00 scale) in undergraduate study and have been a starter or key player with legitimate athletics credentials. He must have reached his second year of athletics and academic standing at the nominated institution and have completed a minimum of one full academic year at the nominated institution, and have participated in 50 percent of the games played at his designated position.
The academic honors are the second for these two Catamounts. Earlier this year, both Orr and Williams were named to the Capital One Academic All-District III squad as selected and released by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Returning from a back injury after his freshman season in 2009, Orr persevered on the field and continues to be the epitome of the term, "student-athlete." Primarily used as a blocking fullback from his tight end position his rookie season, Orr missed two years due to a back injury and the subsequent surgery and rehabilitation. He remained a part of the Catamount football team, though, working with the team film crew.
He returned to the field in the 2012 season, starting the season opener against Mars Hill. The following week, he hauled in his first collegiate pass against Marshall, rumbling 36 yards down the middle of the field in keying a Catamount scoring drive.
On Sept. 22, 2012, Orr caught his first collegiate touchdown pass, corralling a pitch from quarterback Eddie Sullivan on a 14-yard scoring strike. All told, the Duluth, Ga., native finished with six catches for 90 yards, tops among the WCU tight ends.
Majoring in accounting, Orr continues to boast a perfect 4.0 GPA. He has been on WCU's Dean's List every semester and will be named to the SoCon's Fall Academic All-Conference team later this month.
Williams, a first team All-Southern Conference selection by the voting media and a second-team honoree by the league's head coaches in 2012, completed his WCU career by leading his squad and the SoCon with a 12.0 tackle per game average. Williams' 12.0 tackle per game average ranked him tied for third in the FCS and he additionally ranked fifth in the final rankings with a .44 fumbles forced per game average, causing four fumbles in the nine games in which he saw action.
Williams twice surpassed the 20-tackle mark last season including a career-high 24 stops at The Citadel in mid-October - a mark which finished second in FCS Football despite sitting atop the single-game ledger most of the year. His 23-tackle performance against archrival Appalachian State finished tied with two others for the third-best individual performance last season.
The senior linebacker was invited to play in the FCS Senior Scout Bowl, helping the South All-Stars to a 20-17 overtime victory back on Dec. 15 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Originally from Howell, Michigan, Williams finished his Catamount career seventh on the school's all-time tackles charts with 319 total hits, surpassing the 100-tackle mark both as a junior and senior. He recorded 17 tackles for loss including four and a half sacks. Majoring in finance, he boasts a 3.59 cumulative grade point average, and later this month is expected to be a three-time SoCon Fall Academic All-Conference selection.