SPARTANBURG, S.C. (July 25, 2018) – The ETSU football team had five players receive Southern Conference preseason honors as the league office announced its all-conference teams on Wednesday.
Junior defensive lineman Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) earned first team honors, while return specialist Quan Harrison (Greeneville, Tenn.), kicker JJ Jerman (Seymour, Tenn.), offensive lineman Matt Pyke (Clinton, Tenn.), and linebacker Dylan Weigel (Pickerington, Ohio) all landed second team honors.
Player earned postseason first team all-conference honors by the media last season after totaling 67 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, six quarterback hurries, an interception (for touchdown) and one forced fumble. The seven sacks ranked fourth in Buccaneer single-season history. The 2016 SoCon All-Freshman Team selection started all 11 games for the Blue and Gold a year ago, while finishing tied for second in the SoCon in sacks, third in tackles for loss, and the three-sack game against Robert Morris was tied for the most among conference players this season. Player registered his first double-digit tackle game (10 tackles) in the season-opening win over Limestone and added a career-high 13 tackles versus Wofford on Oct. 28. The three-sack performance versus Robert Morris was tied for the 11th-most by an FCS player, and was the fourth-most in ETSU single-game history. The Columbia, S.C. native recorded his first collegiate interception a month later against VMI, returning it for a touchdown in the 24-6 victory against the Keydets.
Harrison earned postseason honors as a return specialist in 2017. The Buccaneer wide receiver led the Blue and Gold with 694 all-purpose yards – finishing with 475 kick return, 109 punt return and 108 receiving yards. Harrison ranked second in the SoCon in punt returns (16) and fifth in punt return yards (6.8), kick returns (21) and kick return yards (22.6). The Greeneville, Tenn. native totaled a season-best 154 all-purpose yards at Furman – where he tallied a season-high 137 kick return yards – while adding 139 all-purpose yards versus Wofford and 104 in the win over VMI.
Jerman is coming off a 2017 season in which he also earned second team all-conference honors. The Seymour, Tenn. native led ETSU with 63 points, going a perfect 21-of-21 in PATs and finishing 14-of-18 in field goal attempts. Jerman led the SoCon in field goals made and field goals made per game (1.27). The Buccaneer kicker connected on a pair of career-long 51-yard field goals against Wofford (Oct. 28) and at Chattanooga (Nov. 18), which is tied for the second-longest field goal in program history and was the longest field goal by a SoCon kicker in 2017. Jerman’s 14 field goals were tied for second all-time in program history, while he ranks third all-time in PATs (61), fourth in field goals (34) and fifth in scoring (162). Jerman begins his final season ranked among the top active FCS kickers in field goals made (34, 11th) and field goal percentage (72.3, 24th).
Pyke has started all 33 games at center for the Blue and Gold since the program restarted in 2015. The Clinton, Tenn. native has earned three Bowman Jewelers Offensive Player of the Week awards, including two last season – vs. VMI (Nov. 5) and at Western Carolina (Oct. 16). During the 2016 season, Pyke’s blocking duties helped ETSU total three 200-plus yard rushing games – including a season-high 323 yards in the win over West Virginia Wesleyan.
Weigel, who has started all 33 games in his career, led the Bucs with 92 tackles (45 solo), while adding 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 2017. The Pickerington, Ohio native earned his first-ever SoCon Defensive Player of the Week honor following his 18-tackle effort against The Citadel on Sept. 16. Weigel finished tied for eighth in the SoCon in tackles per game (8.4) and fourth in fumbles recovered (0.18). The Buccaneer linebacker recorded at least one tackle in all 11 games, including four double-digit tackle games. Weigel enters his final season in the Blue and Gold with 325 career tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. The 2016 second team all-SoCon selection ranks second among active FCS players in total tackles per game (9.9) and fifth in solo tackles per game (5.2).
Samford took home both Offensive and Defensive Preseason Player of the Year honors as quarterback Devlin Hodges and defensive lineman Ahmad Gooden received the accolades.
Samford was also selected to finish first by both the league coaches and media. Wofford, Furman, Western Carolina and Chattanooga rounded out the top-five by the coaches. Furman, Wofford, Mercer and Western Carolina capped off the top-five slots by the media. The Bucs were picked to finish eighth by both the coaches and media.
ETSU fans are reminded that they can order season tickets now for the 2018 season by visiting ETSUBucs.com or calling the ETSU ticket office at (423) 439-3878. Along with a six-game home schedule that features matchups with Mars Hill (Sept. 1), Furman (Sept. 22), Chattanooga (Sept. 29), Gardner-Webb (Oct. 6), Western Carolina (Oct. 27) and Samford (Nov. 17), the Bucs will also hit the road for the program’s first-ever trip to Neyland Stadium to take on Tennessee on Sept. 8.
For more information on Buccaneer football, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the football link.