Western Carolina second-year head coach Mark Speir during Wednesday's SoCon Media Day.
July 24, 2013
Through the Lens: Southern Conference Football Media Day
Brian Johnson & Quevalas Murray on SoCon Media Day
Spartanburg, S.C. - Western Carolina senior punter Clark Sechrest and redshirt junior defensive back Ace Clark were both named to the preseason All-Southern Conference teams as released Wednesday during the league's media day held at the Spartanburg Marriott. The league additionally released its preseason polls with WCU tabbed ninth in the nine-team league by both the head coaches and voting media.
"We're proud to have two guys represented on the preseason All-Southern Conference team," said WCU second-year head coach Mark Speir during Wednesday's festivities. "I think it's well deserved for both Clark (Sechrest) and Ace (Clark), but that's preseason. What I'm more concerned with is that all-conference team named at the end of the year. You always like for your players to get recognized as that gives them confidence going into the year."
SoCon Football Preseason Teams
Sechrest took over as WCU's primary punter a year ago, punting 64 times - second in the SoCon - and ranked fourth in the league with a 41.9 yard per kick average including a career-long of 58 yards against Chattanooga. A total of 15 of his kicks tallied 50-or-more yards while 18 were downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
Handling the placekicking duties in 2011, Sechrest led the team in scoring in 2011, tallying 44 points in his first season in Cullowhee, going a perfect 32-for-32 in PATs while connecting on 4-of-7 field goals including a career-long 51-yard boot against nationally-ranked Wofford. The Cornelius, N.C., native additionally punched through three extra points and a 36-yard field goal for six total points in 2012, giving him 50 for his WCU career.
Clark finished 2012 ranked fourth on the Catamount squad with 88 tackles from his safety position. An all-freshman selection back in 2011, Clark came away with two of WCU's four interceptions a season ago. A native of Germantown, Md., Clark has 178 career stops including 92 solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Chattanooga led all schools with nine preseason all-conference honorees including six earning first team recognition. Appalachian State and Samford both placed eight on the honorary squad with the Mountaineers putting six on the first team. All told, six schools had at least three players earn first team honors.
Appalachian State's senior quarterback Jamal Londry-Jackson was tabbed as the SoCon's preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Samford's Jaquiski Tartt and Davis Tull from Chattanooga shared the preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Georgia Southern was tabbed to finish atop the Southern Conference standings in 2013 by both the league's head coaches and voting members of the media. The Eagles garnered six first place votes from the coaches, who were not permitted to vote on their own teams, and 15 from the media.
Southern Conference Football Preseason Coaches Poll
Southern Conference Football Preseason Media Poll
Appalachian State was picked second in the coaches' poll and third in the media's tabulations, earning two and six first-place votes, respectively.
The Eagles along with the Mountaineers are ineligible for both the Southern Conference championship and the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in 2013 as they begin their transitions to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
Wofford was picked to finish fifth by the league's head coaches, but landed second in the media vote, earning four first-place votes from the latter. Chattanooga was third followed by Samford in fourth in the coaches' poll, while the media chose UTC fourth and Samford fifth in the voting.
The bottom four predictions in both the coaches and media polls mirrored each other with The Citadel picked sixth, followed by Furman, Elon and WCU.
"With the preseason polls, I don't really care to look at them because it's mostly based on last year - and last year is last year. We're excited for our two guys that made the all-conference team and hopefully we'll have a lot more on there come the end of the season. I'm looking forward to a great year," Speir said.
Western Carolina officially reports for the fall on Thursday, Aug. 1 before opening fall camp the following afternoon with the first practice in helmets on Friday, Aug. 2. The Catamounts open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Western Carolina Lands Four on College Sports Madness Preseason
Prior to the Southern Conference's official media day activities, College Sports Madness released its three preseason all-conference teams with Western Carolina landing four on its honorary squads.
WCU put three on the second team defense led by senior linebacker Courtland Carson and redshirt junior defensive back Ace Clark. Senior punter Clark Sechrest also earned a second team nod. Sophomore running back Darius Ramsey earned third team honors by the publication.
Sechrest and Clark added to their preseason honors as they were also tabbed preseason All-SoCon by the league's head coaches.
Carson started all 11 games a season ago and returns as WCU's leading tackler with a career-best 97 stops. The Charlotte, N.C., native posted at least four tackles in every game during the 2012 season including a career-high 12 tackles against arch rival Appalachian State.
Ramsey returns as WCU's leading rusher, gaining 503 total yards and averaging 55.9 rushing yards per game in 2012, earning SoCon All-Freshman team plaudits. The Waco, N.C., product rushed for a pair of touchdowns while also ranking third on the team in receiving with 25 catches out of the backfield.
WCU Head Coach Mark Speir on SoCon.TV on SoCon Media Day