Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina had a combined 10 selections on the 2016 postseason All-Southern Conference teams unveiled today by the league office, headlined by quarterback Tyrie Adams who was dubbed the SoCon Freshman of the Year by both the league's head coaches and the voting media.
Eight different Catamounts were recognized between the head coaches' first, second, and all-freshman teams, with a total of four honored by the voting media. WCU had two players -- running back Detrez Newsome and punter Ian Berryman -- recognized on both group's list. Senior defenders Tyson Dickson and Trey Morgan were coaches' second team selections, while four -- Adams, Walker Lanning, Aubry Payne, and Connell Young -- were each All-Freshman team selections. Wide receiver Terryon Robinson was a first team offense media selection with senior Fred Payne garnering second team defense plaudits.
Adams is just the third Catamount football player to be named freshman of the year by the league's head coaches, joining wide receiver Lamont Seward (2000) and running back Michael Johnson (2009). He is the fourth different Catamount to garner the top rookie honors from the media, joining aforementioned Johnson and Seward, and Kirk Roach back in 1984. Adams was also selected to the coaches' All-Freshman team on offense.
A leading finalist for the national STATS FCS Freshman of the Year, Adams closed his first season among WCU's all-time, single-season leaders for pass completions (4th, 217), passing yards (5th, 2,568), passing touchdowns (7th-t, 15), and posted the third-best total offense yardage mark in program history, finishing with 2,916 yards that included 358 rushing in addition to his 2,568 passing. The SoCon's Offensive Player of the Month in September -- and the SoCon and STATS FCS Freshman of the Week in mid-September -- Adams set a school single-game record for total offense with 510 yards including a career-high 427 yards passing.
A product of St. Petersburg, Fla., Adams finished the regular season third in the SoCon in passing average (233.5 yds/gm) and fourth in both passer efficiency (135.7) and total offense (266.0 yds/gm). In national statistics, Adams was the top-ranked freshman in each of those same offensive statistical categories.
Redshirt sophomore punter Ian Berryman, who was a finalist for the top freshman honors a season ago, was the lone Catamount to garner first team All-SoCon plaudits from the league's head coaches while also collecting second team honors from the voting media. Berryman averaged a WCU single-season record 44.9 yards per punt this season including twice booming career-long kicks of 64 yards as a part of 19 punts of 50-or-more yards. His seasonal average ranked fourth in the country at the FCS level and was the seventh-best in SoCon football history. All told, the redshirt sophomore from Marietta, Ga., downed 18 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line.
Western Carolina all-purpose running back Detrez Newsome collected second team honors from the league's head coaches both on offense and as a return specialist, while also tallying a second-team nod from the media on offense. The Raeford, N.C., native put the finishing touches on back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons with 115 against SEC-foe, South Carolina, last weekend in the season finale. He was one of three running backs in the conference -- the only not a part of a run-oriented option attack -- to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the year.
Newsome led both the Southern Conference and the NCAA FCS in all-purpose yardage, amassing 2,343 yards for an average of 213.0 yards per game. He finished first in the SoCon in kickoff return average with 24.2 yards per game, recording 970 return yards on the year. Newsome finished strong by posting a conference-record 240 yards on kickoff returns against SEC-foe, South Carolina, garnering STATS FCS Special Teams Player of the Week.
Dickson recorded 86 tackles including 36 solo stops and 3.5 tackles for loss in 10 games on the year, suffering a season-ending injury at Furman that forced him to miss the season finale. His 8.6 tackles per game average ranked ninth in the SoCon. The Ellenwood, Ga., native posted four, double-digit tackle games on the year including a career-high 18 stops against Wofford.
Morgan finished with a single-season, career-high 74 tackles in 2016 including 47 solo stops and 2.5 tackles for loss. He led the Catamounts with 10 total pass breakups during the season. A native of North Augusta, S.C., Morgan started every game in which he suited up for the Catamounts, recording 245 career tackles over 46 total games. He tallied his 10th career interception to seal the home win over VMI on Senior Day.
Completing the Coaches' All-SoCon team were four Catamounts named All-Freshman. Joining Adams on the offensive squad were redshirt freshman offensive lineman Walker Lanning and true freshman tight end Aubry Payne, with freshman running back Connell Young garnering return specialist accolades.
Lanning started all 11 games for the Catamounts along the offensive line. He helped pave the way for back-to-back, 1,000-yard seasons for Newsome and the WCU ground game. Payne played in 10 of the team's 11 games with six starts at tight end, finishing the season with 14 catches for 123 yards. Young averaged 19.6 yards per kickoff return, while also dropping back on punt returns for WCU this season.
WCU had one player named first team All-SoCon in the media voting as leading wide receiver Terryon Robinson garnered the first squad nod, while senior defensive back Fred Payne rounded out WCU's selections with a second team selection.
Robinson recorded catches in each game during the 2016 season including matching a WCU record with 15 receptions against Wofford, tying a mark he previously matched in 2014 at South Florida. All told, the Decatur, Ga., native finished with 71 receptions -- fourth in the program's single-season record books -- for 738 yards and six touchdowns to give him nine career scores. Robinson ranked third in the SoCon in receptions per game (6.5) and was sixth in receiving yards per game (67.1 yds/gm).
Payne led the Catamount defense -- and finished the year seventh in the SoCon -- in tackles with 87 total hits including 44 solo stops and a team-best, 5.5 tackles for loss. He paced the squad with a pair of interceptions and was credited with another pass breakup.
Overall in the coaches' tabulations, Chattanooga led all schools with 11 all-conference selections while league champion, The Citadel, placed 10 on the all-conference teams. Playoff participants Samford had nine and Wofford earned eight honorees. All told, seven of the league's nine schools had at least one first-team all-conference selection. Eight of the nine teams had multiple players named to the second team.
On the media's all-conference teams, The Citadel had a league-best 11 all-conference selections, including a SoCon-best eight on the first teams. The Bulldogs claimed two of the five first-team offensive linemen and two of the four first-team defensive backs. The Citadel was the only league team to put at least one player on the first and second teams for offense, defense and special teams.
Chattanooga and Wofford had nine all-conference selections each. The Terriers were second only to The Citadel with six first-team selections. UTC had four first-team picks, as did Samford, which had seven total selections.