Nov. 8, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Three Western Carolina football players were today named to the Capital One Academic All-District III team as selected by the members of and released by College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Seniors Conner Orr, Rock Williams and junior Clark Sechrest were honored for their performances both on the gridiron and in the classroom.
Western Carolina's three selections are the most from the Southern Conference, just ahead of Appalachian State and Chattanooga which both had two players named to the all-district team. The three selections also ranked tied for second in the district with Campbell, just behind Duke which placed four on the squad.
WCU's three selections are its first since Jason Whaley earned his third-straight All-District III honor in 2003. This year also marks the first time since 2001 that multiple Catamounts were honored, joining former student-athletes Whaley and Pablo Abraham. Only three WCU football players have earned CoSIDA Academic All-America honors all-time including Whaley (2003), Eddie Maddox (1984, '85) and Mike Wade (1975, '76).
District III is comprised of all Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. To be eligible a player must have completed at least one full calendar year at the nominating institution, have a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 in the classroom and be a starter or key reserve on the field, having participated in at least 50-perent of their team's competitions.
The players selected to all-district teams are now eligible for the national Academic All-America team, which will be announced on December 6th.
Returning from a back injury after his freshman season in 2009, Conner Orr has persevered on the field and remains the epitome of the term, "student-athlete." Primarily used as a blocking fullback from his tight end position his rookie season, Orr missed two years due to a back injury and the subsequent surgery and rehabilitation. He remained a part of the Catamount football team, though, working with the team film crew. He returned to the field this season, starting the season opener against Mars Hill. The following week, he hauled in his first collegiate pass against Marshall, rumbling 36 yards down the middle of the field in keying a Catamount scoring drive.
On Sept. 22, 2012, Orr caught his first collegiate touchdown pass, corralling a pitch from quarterback Eddie Sullivan on a 14-yard scoring strike. All told, the Duluth, Ga., native has six catches for 90 yards to rank seventh on the team and tops among the WCU tight ends.
Majoring in accounting, Orr continues to boast a perfect 4.0 GPA. He has been on WCU's Dean's List every semester.
Rock Williams anchors the Catamount defense, leading both the team and the Southern Conference with a 13.13 tackle per game average - a mark which currently ranks second in all of FCS football. He has twice recorded 20-or-more tackles this season including a career-high 24 at The Citadel and 23 against arch-rival, Appalachian State. He holds two of the top three individual single-game top performances for total tackles and is tied for the most solo stops (17) at the FCS level this season.
On WCU's career charts, Williams has moved into sole possession of seventh place with 316 career tackles with one collegiate game remaining. With 105 seasonal stops despite missing two games with an ankle sprain, Williams is just 10 tackles shy of his single-season career high and just 12 tackles shy of leaving his mark on WCU's single-season record books.
Majoring in finance, the Howell, Mich., native boasts a 3.59 cumulative grade point average. Williams is a two-time Southern Conference Fall Academic All-Conference selection.
Rounding out the trio of Catamounts is junior Clark Sechrest. A transfer prior to last season, Sechrest took over this year as WCU's primary punter and has thrived. The Cornelius, N.C., native has punted a SoCon-leading 56 times and ranks third in the league with a 42.4 yard average per kick - a mark that currently ranks him 17th overall in the FCS. He leads the conference with 15 punts of 50 yards-or-more - including a career-long 58-yard boot last weekend against Chattanooga - and ranks second in the league with a combined 17 punts downed inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
The main placekicker his first season in Cullowhee, Sechrest was pressed back into that role in the most recent outing. He finished 3-for-3 on PATs and punched through a 36-yard field goal for his first six points of the season.
For his career, Sechrest holds a 41.9 yard punting average with 61 combined kicks. He is also 35-of-36 on PAT's and is 5-of-8 in field goals, booting a career-long 51 yarder in 2011 against nationally-ranked Wofford. All told, Sechrest has scored 50 career points for the Purple & Gold.
Sechrest, who earned the SoCon's Student-Athlete of the Week accolade earlier this week, continues to hold a cumulative GPA of 3.877 while majoring in Engineering Technology.
Western Carolina (1-9) is currently amidst its bye week, returning to the gridiron to wrap-up the 2012 season next Saturday, Nov. 17 as it visits the Football Bowl Subdivision's (FBS) top-ranked team, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is scheduled for 12:21 pm ET / 11:21 pm CT and will be televised on the SEC Network (check local listings for availability).
Western Carolina's All-Time CoSIDA Academic All-District III Selections:
1975 - Mike Wade, LB
1976 - Mike Wade, LB
1984 - Eddie Maddox, RB
1985 - Eddie Maddox, RB
1992 - Thomas Jackson, OL
1993 - Thomas Jackson, OL
1994 - Chad Greene, QB
1995 - Chad Greene, QB
2000 - Caesar Campana, WR
2001 - Pablo Abraham, DE
2001 - Jason Whaley, OL
2002 - Jason Whaley, OL
2003 - Jason Whaley, OL
2012 - Conner Orr, TE
2012 - Clark Sechrest, P
2012 - Rock Williams, LB