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SoCon Football Media Day Set for Wednesday

WCU third-year head football coach Mark Speir at the 2013 SoCon Media Day.

July 22, 2014

Cullowhee, N.C. - The unofficial kickoff to the 2014 athletic seasons is slated for Wednesday, July 23 as the Southern Conference will host its 2014 Football Media Day at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, S.C. All nine head coaches and select student-athletes from each school will be on hand to meet the media and preview the upcoming season.

Following a luncheon, Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino will address the full group in attendance prior to the open media session. Also on Wednesday, the SoCon will unveil its official predictions including the preseason poll as well as both the coaches and media preseason all-conference teams.

The afternoon media availability will be streamed live through the Southern Conference web site. All nine head coaches and student-athletes representing each SoCon program will appear on the live stream (schedule listed below). The full session will be archived on the SoCon web site.

Fans are invited to keep tabs on SoCon Media Day through WCU's social media outlets on Facebook (, Twitter (@catamounts), YouTube (CatamountSports) and Instagram (wcu_catamounts). The preseason releases, as well as images "Through the Lens," accounting the day's activity will be posted online at

SoCon Live Stream Schedule:
1:00 p.m. - Live Stream Begins
1:15 p.m. - VMI: Head Coach Sparky Woods, WR Sam Patterson, LB Logan Staib
1:30 p.m. - Samford: Assistant Head Coach Bill D'Ottavio, RB, Jeremiaha Gates, DB Jaquiski Tartt
1:45 p.m. - Chattanooga: Head Coach Russ Huesman, DE Davis Tull, RB Keon Williams
2:00 p.m. - Mercer: Head Coach Bobby Lamb, LB Tosin Aguebor, QB John Russ
2:15 p.m. - The Citadel: Head Coach Mike Houston, QB Aaron Miller, LB Carl Robinson
2:30 p.m. - East Tennessee State: Head Coach Carl Torbush
2:45 p.m. - Western Carolina: Head Coach Mark Speir, RB Darius Ramsey, DB Ace Clark
3:00 p.m. - Furman: Head Coach Bruce Fowler, RB Hank McCloud, DE Gary Wilkins
3:15 p.m. - Wofford: Head Coach Mike Ayers, RB Will Gay, LB Travis Thomas



Speir Adds James Hopper to Coaching Staff
Western Carolina head football coach Mark Speir has added James Hopper as an assistant on his defensive coaching staff. Working closely with defensive backs coach, LaMar Morgan, Hopper will coach the Catamount corner backs.

Cornerbacks coach, James Hopper
Cornerbacks coach, James Hopper

Hopper joined the WCU football coaching staff in mid-July from his alma mater, Virginia Tech, where he most recently was the defensive graduate assistant. His duties with the Hokies football team included putting together scouting reports and running the scout team during the regular season, while also aiding in the film breakdown sessions.

After taking a redshirt in 2009, Hopper played two seasons for the Hokies in 2010 and 2011 before an injury cut his playing career short. He remained a part of the Hokies football tradition, though, assisting head coach Frank Beamer's squad as a student assistant in 2012 before assuming the role of graduate assistant with defensive coordinator Bud Ford's staff.

Hopper played in 26 games for Virginia Tech, tallying 12 total tackles and two pass break-ups. He contributed both on defense and special teams, helping the Hokies to back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship game appearances including the 2010 victory over Florida State which landed the team in the Orange Bowl.

Born in Ansbach, Germany, Hopper calls Fayetteville, N.C., home, graduating from Seventy-First High where the All-State and All-Atlantic Region selection helped lead the Falcons to a North Carolina State 4-A championship as a senior.

Western Carolina's football student-athletes officially report for fall camp on Thursday, July 31 with the first helmet-only practice scheduled for the following day on Friday, August 1. The Catamounts open the 2014 season - the third under head coach Mark Speir - in a pre-Labor Day meeting with the USF Bulls on Saturday, August 30 in Tampa, Fla., in a game that can be seen on ESPN3.

Season tickets for all six of WCU's home games in 2014 are on-sale through the Catamount Athletic Ticket Office and online at Purchasing season tickets also allows fans to secure tickets before single-game sales begin on August 25. With Western Carolina University celebrating its 125th anniversary, fans can purchase a reserved adult season ticket for all six home games for just $125 with youth reserved starting at $65.

For more information or to purchase 2014 Catamount football season tickets, contact Director of Ticket Operations Michael Lee by calling (828) 227-2401 or toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU, or via E-mail at

Important Upcoming Dates to Remember:
Wed., July 23 - Southern Conference Football Media Day in Spartanburg, S.C.
Thurs., July 31 - 2014 Catamount football student-athletes report for camp
Fri., August 1 - First scheduled football practice of the 2014 preseason (helmet only)
Tues., August 5 - First scheduled football practice in full pads
Wed., August 6 - First scheduled two-a-day practice sessions
Sat., August 9 - Catamount Football Intrasquad scrimmage
Sat., August 9 - Catamount Tailgate Kickoff (Catamount Club members)
Wed., August 13 - Catamount women's soccer vs. Winthrop (exhibition), 6 pm
Fri., August 15 - Catamount women's soccer vs. UNC Asheville (exhibition), 7 pm
Sat., August 16 - Catamount Football Intrasquad scrimmage
Mon., August 18 - First day of fall classes at WCU
Fri., August 22 - Catamount women's soccer vs. Eastern Kentucky (2014 home opener), 7 pm
Sun., August 24 - Catamount women's soccer vs. East Carolina, 2 pm
Mon., August 25 - Catamount Football single-game tickets go on sale
Fri., August 29 - Catamount cross country hosts the Western Carolina Invitational, 6:30 pm
Sat., August 30 - 2014 Catamount Football season opener at USF in Tampa, Fla.
Fri., Sept. 5 - 10th Annual Bob Waters Memorial golf tournament; Maggie Valley Club, Maggie Valley, N.C.
Sat., Sept. 6 - 2014 Catamount Football home opener vs. Brevard in Cullowhee
Fri., Sept. 26 - The Upstate Classic golf tournament; The Preserve at Verdae in Greenville, S.C.