Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina senior linebacker A.J. Newman was today named to the 2017 College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District 3 Football team, recognizing the nation's top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in the classroom.
Newman's second-consecutive selection marks a fourth-straight year that WCU has landed a player on the Academic All-District team -- and the fifth-time in the past six years. He is also the seventh different Catamount football player all-time to collect multiple all-district honors during his career. Combined, WCU had five football student-athletes nominated including redshirt junior offensive linemen Nathan Dalton and Zach Weeks, redshirt junior running back Corey Holloway, and redshirt junior punter Ian Berryman.
District 3 is comprised of NCAA schools at all three divisions including both FCS and FBS located in North Carolina, Tennessee 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-percent of their team's competitions.
A key component of the resurgent Western Carolina defense, Newman ranks among the team leaders in total tackles with his single-season career-high of 95, tackles per game (8.6, 7th in the SoCon), and tackles for loss (6.0). He has four, double-digit tackle performances this season including 10 against Davidson, 11 at nationally-ranked Wofford, 12 in a road win at VMI, and a career-high 13 in the road victory at The Citadel.
Over his four-year career, the Ellenwood, Ga., native has amassed 249 career tackles including 106 solo stops and eight tackles for loss with three sacks. He has forced four career fumbles, recovering one with a pass break-up as well.
Selected Academic All-District 3 in 2016, Newman is a three-time SoCon Academic Honor Roll recipient and a two-time SoCon Fall All-Academic selection. Last year, he was nominated for the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award through the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A). He was additionally named a N4A Student-Athlete of the Month during the 2017-18 academic year. Newman has been named to WCU's Chancellor's List (3.8+) three times while also being named to the Dean's List (3.5-3.799) twice.
Majoring in finance, Newman boasts a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.75.
First-team Academic All-District honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic America Team ballot, with both first- and second-team Academic All-America honorees to be announced in December. WCU has had four student-athletes earn All-America honors all-time: Mike Wade (1975, 1976); Eddie Maddox (1984, 1985); Jason Whaley (2003); and Darius Ramsey (2014).
Newman was one of nine players from the Southern Conference to earn the all-district recognition. He was joined by NCAA Division I -- District 4 honorees: RB Tee Mitchell from Mercer; TE Andy Schumpert from Furman; OL Jared Jacon-Duffy from Wofford; OL Thomas Marchman from Mercer; OL Caleb Yates from Mercer; DL Dorian Kithcart from Mercer; LB Myles Pierce from The Citadel; and DB Malik Rivera from Wofford.
Western Carolina (7-4) closes the regular season on Saturday afternoon as the Catamounts tangle with the North Carolina Tar Heels (2-8) at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. It's the first-ever meeting between WCU and the flagship school of its university system in football, while also representing WCU's final opportunity to impress the FCS Selection Committee ahead of Sunday's (Nov. 19) NCAA FCS Playoffs selection show (ESPNU, 11:00 am).
Saturday's game can be seen on the ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN, ESPN3.com). Fans can also follow the game at North Carolina on the Catamount Sports Network with air time of the Pepsi Pregame Show at 2:00 pm. The "Voice of the Catamounts," Gary Ayers will be joined by Daniel Hooker, Jeff Bryson, and Greg McLamb on the call. Fans can listen to the CSN broadcast locally on WWCU-FM Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 104.9 FM & 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; WISE Sports Radio 1310 / 970 AM and 97.3 FM in Asheville/Canton; and with live streaming audio available online at CatamountSports.com. Fans can also get game day updates through social media on Twitter following the handle, @Catamounts.
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 3:00 pm.
Western Carolina's All-Time CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 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; Jason Whaley, OL
2002: Jason Whaley, OL
2003: Jason Whaley, OL
2012: Conner Orr, TE; Clark Sechrest, P; Rock Williams, LB
2014: Darius Ramsey, RB; Richard Sigmon, PK
2015: Derrick Davis, DT; Darius Ramsey, RB; Daniel Riddle, LB
2016: Andrew Mayton, DE; A.J. Newman, LB
2017: A.J. Newman, LB