JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 25, 2003) - Five members of the East Tennessee State football team earned All-Southern Conference honors, as senior tailback Gaven Varner (Summerville, S.C.), senior cornerback Tony Tiller (Lithonia, Ga.) and junior safety Gerald Sensabaugh (Kingsport, Tenn.) were first-team selections and senior defensive lineman Brandon Calton (Pennington Gap, Va.) and sophomore offensive lineman Quinton Staton (Chattanooga, Tenn.) were second-team picks.
Varner earned his first All-SoCon selection after a sensational 2003 season where he gained 1,199 yards on the ground, third on the ETSU single-season rushing list. Varner ran for seven touchdowns and was also a threat in the passing game, ranking third on the Bucs with 18 receptions this season. The 6-1, 230 pound tailback was a workhorse for the Bucs, carrying the ball 37 times twice this season, and rushing for over 100 yards seven times, including a career-high 197 yards in the season-ending victory over The Citadel last Saturday.
Tiller was a first-team selection for the second-straight season, despite missing the final five games of the season due to an injury. Even with opposing quarterbacks regularly staying away from Tiller's side of the field, he still finished the season second on the Bucs with four interceptions. He earned several conference and national awards after intercepting two passes and returning them for touchdowns on Oct. 18 against Liberty. Tiller also recorded 18 tackles, one for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and five pass breakups.
Sensabaugh is also a repeat first-team pick having earned the award in 2002. The athletic safety finished fourth on the team with 74 tackles and was second with eight pass breakups. He also tied for the team lead and tied for fourth in the conference with three forced fumbles. Sensabaugh also made an enormous impact on special teams this season, blocking five punts. He tied an NCAA Division I-AA record by blocking three punts on Nov. 1 against Georgia Southern. Sensabaugh also added two sacks and a fumble recovery on the season.
Calton earned his second All-SoCon selection, as he was also a second-team member in 2001. He finished fourth on the Bucs with 75 tackles, second with 15.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, setting career-highs in each of those categories. Calton tied for fourth in the Southern Conference in TFL's and tied for sixth in the SoCon in sacks. He also had two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a blocked extra point this season. Calton had a season-high 10 tackles on Nov. 1 against Georgia Southern and had nine in the season-opener at Eastern Michigan on Aug. 28.
Staton earned his first All-SoCon selection after his second stellar season at right guard for the Bucs. He was one of three players to start all 12 games on an offensive line that suffered several injuries this season. Staton was an integral part of a Buccaneer offensive line that allowed just 15 quarterback sacks this season after allowing 41 last season.