July 23, 2014
Related Link: "Through the Lens: 2014 SoCon Football Media Day"
Spartanburg, S.C. - Western Carolina landed nine players including four first team selections on the preseason All-Southern Conference teams released Wednesday afternoon as a part of the 2014 SoCon Football Media Day at the Spartanburg Marriott. The Catamounts were additionally selected fifth in polling of both the coaches and media, unveiled as part of the preseason festivities.
WCU's first team selections included junior lineman Josh Wineberg and redshirt junior wide receiver Karnorris Benson on offense; junior safety Sertonuse Harris on defense; and senior running back / return specialist Shaun Warren on special teams. Second team nods went to junior tailback Darius Ramsey, sophomore wide receiver Terryon Robinson, senior linebacker Christon Gill, senior safety Ace Clark and senior placekicker Richard Sigmon.
Coaches were not permitted to vote on their own players.
WCU's fifth-place preseason prediction and nine all-conference honorees are the most since 2005 which saw the Catamounts put eight on the preseason squad with a fourth-place prediction.
Chattanooga, which earned a share of the conference championship in 2013 with Furman and Samford, was selected as the preseason league favorite in both the coaches and media polls. The Mocs, which landed both preseason offensive and defensive players of the year, were followed in both polls by last year's co-champions, Furman and Samford, with the Paladins edging Samford with a first-place vote in the media tabulations while the two were tied with a first-place tally on the coaches' poll.
The two preseason polls mirrored each other over the final five positions with Wofford tabbed fourth and WCU in fifth, followed by The Citadel, Mercer and VMI.
Josh Wineberg, a junior from West Jefferson, N.C., returns as one of the most experienced offensive linemen for the Catamounts. Through his first two seasons, he has started all 22 games of his career, missing just one game opportunity.
A post-season, second team All-SoCon selection in 2013, Karnorris Benson is the top-returning wide receiver in the league after finishing second with a 69.5 yards per game average and fifth with a 4.2 receptions per game count. He matched WCU's 30-year old single-season touchdowns mark with 12 scores a year ago, finishing the season with 834 receiving yards to give the Atlanta, Ga., product 1,183 career yards and 13 TDs.
Sertonuse Harris has started 22 games over the past two years including all 12 in 2013, finishing third on the squad with a career-best 96 tackles. A SoCon All-Freshman team tally in 2012, the Mableton, Ga., native recorded double-digit tackles three times a season ago, including matching a career-high with 16 stops against The Citadel.
Rounding out WCU's first-team selections was senior Shaun Warren at return specialist. A running back by trade, Warren averaged nearly 20 yards per kickoff return in 2013 to rank third in the final statistics. The product of China Grove, N.C., enters his final season with 776 rushing yards and 10 scores on the ground. He has been inches away from breaking his first kickoff return TD.
Offensive backfield counterpart to Warren, junior Darius Ramsey was among the five Catamounts named to the preseason second team squad. The Waco, N.C., native is coming off his single-season career-best with 570 rushing yards with four TDs a season after earning both SoCon and College Sports Journal All-Freshman team honors in 2012. Ramsey averages 56.2 yards per game over his first 19 career outings.
WCU's second leading receiver in 2013 as a true freshman, sophomore WR Terryon Robinson landed on the second team offense. The Decatur, Ga., product started 11 of the 12 games in which he saw action, ranking just behind Benson with 41 catches for 562 yards. His first career catch was a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter of his first career game last fall at Middle Tennessee. Robinson finished 10th in the SoCon with a 3.4 receptions per game average in 2013.
Two senior Catamount defenders graced the SoCon's second team in linebacker Christon Gill and safety Ace Clark. Gill is WCU's top returning tackler after posting a career-best 101 tackles a season ago, recording double-digit stops four times including a career-best 13 in the come-from-behind overtime Homecoming victory over Elon. The Bridgeport, Conn., native has flourished in his role at linebacker, recording his first career interception at Virginia Tech last fall.
Clark has been a staple on the Catamount defense over the past four seasons, starting 30 of his 33 career games. The redshirt senior from Germantown, Md., was a second team All-SoCon selection in the post-season in 2013. His 84 tackles rank third among the returning WCU defenders entering this fall.
Senior Richard Sigmon garnered second team plaudits on special teams at placekicker. The fourth-year veteran from Mount Holly, N.C., has handled the placekicking duties for the Catamounts over the past two years. He is coming off a season that saw him finish second on the squad in scoring with 53 points, hitting 10-of-13 field goals and punching through 23 extra points. Accolades for Sigmon in 2013 included being named to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Athletic Directors Association (ADA) All-Star team.
Overall, Furman led all schools with 11 preseason all-conference honorees. The Paladins had seven student-athletes earn first-team recognition, while four players were named to the second team. Samford put 10 players on the squad including five on the first team while WCU and Chattanooga both put nine between the two squads to third. The Mocs matched the Bulldogs with five first team nods.
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 CatamountSports.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important Upcoming Dates to Remember:
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.