Over the next couple of weeks, the Catamount Sports Network and CatamountSports.com will feature positional previews of the 2015 Catamount football team. Each feature will contain the brief position write-ups from the 2015 Western Carolina media guide, and Catamount Sports Network All-Access video highlights and interviews with the position coach and student-athletes.
2015 WCU Football Position-by-Position Preview: Defenisve BacksWestern Carolina returns four defensive backs that have extensive playing experience including a pair of seniors in addition to the Southern Conference's defending interceptions leader. WCU will miss graduated senior Ace Clark who was a staple of the Catamount secondary, finishing his career second in school records with 340 career tackles.
The returning unit is led by senior Serntonuse Harris, who is returning to his more natural defensive back position this year after spending 2014 in a linebacker role. He is WCU's second-leading returner in terms of tackles, amassing 69 stops including 37 solo hits a year ago. Harris enters his senior season with 257 career tackles -- just 55 shy of WCU's all-time top 10 -- including 14.5 for loss. He also has forced and recovered five fumbles.
Junior Trey Morgan is among the highlights of WCU's secondary, having started all 24 career games over his first two seasons for the Purple & Gold. Morgan, an All-SoCon selection, paced the league in interceptions in 2014 with a team-high six, adding a team-high eight passes defended. He is flanked by senior Jaleel Lorquet, who has two career interceptions in 33 career games played, at the other corner position, with junior Fred Payne (2 interceptions in 24 games, 13 starts) expected to see time at both corner and the safety position.
Second-year returners Keion Crossen, Tra Hardy, and A.J. Newman, Jr., should factor into more playing time this season. Those three combined for 39 tackles a year ago including 20 by Newman and 17 from Crossen. They'll be joined by redshirt sophomore Shane Samuels.
Freshman Marvin Tillman (Bridgeport, Conn.) made his impact felt during spring drills, joining the team in the second semester last year. He led the Gold Squad with nine tackles including one for loss in WCU's annual Spring Game.
Tillman is joined by classmate signees Bryce Wilson (Atlanta, Ga.) and Mikey White (Johnson City, Tenn.), as well as Bobby Gibbs (Randleman, N.C.) and D.J. Williams (Charlotte, N.C.) in WCU's defensive secondary.
Additional Defensive Backs Notes:
Trey Morgan led the Southern Conference with six interceptions, averaging 0.50 per game ... He also paced the league in forced fumbles (4, 0.33 per game) and was second in the league with a combined 14 passes defended;
In addition to Morgan, WCU had three individuals among the league leaders in passes defended per game -- Jaleel Lorquet, 12th (0.60) and Fred Payne (t-17th, 0.50) ... Lorquet also ranked tied for second with a pair of fumble recoveries.
WCU Football 2015 Position-by-Position Preview (tentative schedule):
Offensive Line - WATCH
Defensive Line - WATCH
Wide Receivers - WATCH
Linebackers - WATCH
Running Backs - WATCH
Defensive Backs - ABOVE
Quarterbacks - Aug. 25
Tight Ends - Aug. 27
Special Teams - Aug. 28