July 24, 2007
Greenville, S.C. - Three Western Carolina Catamounts were named to the All-Southern Conference team today at the annual Football Media Rouser. Seniors John Martin (defensive tackle), Carlton Bailey (cornerback) and Mike Malone (return specialist) were each selected to the second team All-SoCon by the league's head coaches.
2007 Preseason All-Southern Conference Teams
Audio / Video from the 2007 SoCon Media Rouser
Also as a part of media day, WCU was predicted to finish eighth in both the preseason coaches and media polls announced today.
Two-time defending champion, Appalachian State, was tabbed as the favorite to win the 2007 crown in both polls. The remainder of the polls mirrored each other with Furman (8-4 in 2006) selected as the runner-up, followed by Wofford (7-4), Georgia Southern (3-8) and The Citadel (5-6) in fifth. Elon (5-6), Chattanooga (3-8) and Western Carolina rounded out the eight-team predictions.
Bailey, a senior from Jonesboro, Ga., only played in four games last year, suffering a foot sprain against Georgia Southern that forced him to miss the final seven games of the season. Despite his limited action a year ago, his two interceptions and prowess on the defensive corner were enough to earn him second team consideration from the league's head coaches. For his career, Bailey has 50 total tackles and four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown at Chattanooga in 2005.
Martin, who earned a fifth-year of eligibility for this season, ranks seventh among WCU's returning defensive players in tackles. Last year, he recorded 20 total stops, including 11 unassisted tackles, in eight games, making six starts along the defensive front. He posted a career-best seven tackles for loss, which ranked tied for second on the squad despite missing three games due to a knee strain and bone bruise.
Malone, who has been a key part of the SoCon Champion WCU men's track & field teams over the past two years and is slated as the starting running back this season, was selected to the second team as a return specialist. Last season, most teams kicked away from Malone after the Gainesville, Ga., native led the league and ranked second in the nation in kick off return average in 2005 (31.29 yards per return average). Even with teams kicking away from him, Malone ranked fifth in the SoCon and 42nd in the nation in kickoff return average in 2006.
Primarily as a back-up running back prior to this year, Malone has gained 253 yards on 65 carries (3.9 yards per carry) with one touchdown.
Western Carolina opens its 2007 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Alabama in the first of three-straight road games. The Catamounts host Presbyterian on Saturday, Sept. 22 in the '07 home opener at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field.
Coaches Preseason Predicted Order of Finish
1. Appalachian State (7) - 49 pts
2. Furman (1) - 43
3. Wofford - 33
4. Georgia Southern - 30
5. The Citadel - 27
6. Elon - 18
7. Chattanooga - 16
8. Western Carolina - 7
Media Preseason Predicted Order of Finish
1. Appalachian State (7) - 216
2. Furman (1) - 180
3. Wofford - 160
4. Georgia Southern - 120
5. The Citadel - 119
6. Elon - 74
7. Chattanooga - 68
8. Western Carolina - 35