April 12, 2018
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina had a Southern Conference-leading three football student-athletes recognized this week for their academic prowess by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) as they each earned a spot on the 2018 NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which is comprised of college football players from all division of play who maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better throughout their college careers.
Senior defensive lineman Tyler Junius and senior linebackers A.J. Newman and Daniel Riddle were among the nine players from four SoCon schools to earn the honor. WCU has had at least two players recognized six-consecutive years dating back to 2013 with a combined 13 honorees.
Overall, an all-time high of 1,251 players from a record-tying 302 colleges and universities honored as the NFF Hampshire Honor Society celebrates its 12th year.
Junius finished his four-year career for the Purple & Gold with 84 career tackles including 23 solo stops and 3.5 tackles for loss. He recorded 28 total tackles with 10 solo hits in 2017, ranking third among WCU's defensive linemen. He matched his career-best five tackles twice last season, posting five stops in a win over Davidson and five tackles against Mercer in his final home game.
Junius was twice selected to the Fall Academic All-SoCon team with two appearances on the SoCon Academic Honor Roll. He graduates this year with a degree in business administration and law, posting a cumulative grade point average of 3.314 through the fall semester.
A two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 selection, Newman finished his Western Carolina career with 255 career tackles including 109 solo stops and eight tackles for loss. He closed his four-years in Cullowhee with a career-best 101 total tackles in 2017, receiving second team All-SoCon honors from the voting media. The Ellenwood, Ga., native posted double-digit tackles four times last fall including a career-high 13 in a road win at The Citadel. Two of his four career forced fumbles came during his senior campaign with one recovery going for a touchdown in a road victory over Chattanooga.
A finance major with a cumulative GPA of 3.713, Newman was also a three-time Fall Academic All-SoCon selection, collecting the honor each year he was eligible, and was twice selected to the SoCon Academic Honor Roll. He, too, is on pace to walk in the May graduation.
Riddle capped his tremendous Catamount playing career with 94 tackles as a senior, finishing third on the team. He posted 33 solo stops and three tackles for loss including a sack, finishing the year with two, double-digit tackle games. Voted a team captain before the year, the Raleigh, N.C., product intercepted his third career pass in helping seal the road win at The Citadel. Riddle finished with 333 career tackles to rank third in the program's all-time record books.
Riddle graduated with a degree in engineering technology, posting an undergraduate GPA of 3.534. He is enrolled in graduate school at WCU pursuing a MBA business administration. He is a four-time SoCon Honor Roll recipient and was thrice named Fall Academic All-SoCon by the league office.
Nominated by media relations offices of their respective schools, members of the NFF Hampshire Honor Society must have: completed their final year of playing eligibility in 2017 (graduated players, who have remaining eligibility but will not return to collegiate play may also be nominated); achieved a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study; and met all NCAA- or NAIA-mandated progress toward degree requirements.
Catamount football concludes its annual spring drills on Friday afternoon, on-campus at E.J. Whitmire Stadium /Bob Waters Field with a helmet-only practice -- the 15th of the spring. Coming off a third, seven-win season over the past four years in 2017, Western Carolina opens the 2018 season by hosting Newberry College in a Labor Day Weekend match-up in Cullowhee. WCU paced the SoCon in average attendance a season ago and looks to repeat the feat in 2018.
Season tickets for all five home games in 2018 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center, and online at CatamountSports.com. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets to secure the same seats by June 29, 2018, while the Catamount Club membership and renewal deadline is May 31, 2018 to take advantage of perks surrounding home football weekends.
Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401. General admission season tickets for adults begin at just $75 with additional Purple and Gold Reserved and options in the Western Builders Inc., Family Zone seating options also available.
Western Carolina's NFF Hampshire Honor Society Recipients:
2018: Tyler Junius, A.J. Newman, and Daniel Riddle
2017: Chandler Addertion and Ethan James
2016: Darius Ramsey and London Richardson
2015: K.P. Hicks and Richard Sigmon
2014: Clark Sechrest and Ben Watkins
2013: Conner Orr and Rock Williams