JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 16, 2020) – A trio of ETSU football players were named to the Phil Steele All-American squads, as announced late Wednesday afternoon. Artevius Smith (Birmingham, Ala.) was tabbed to the Phil Steele All-American Third Team, while Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) was named to the Phil Steele All-American Fourth Team. Donovan Manuel (Ellenwood, Ga.) culminated a strong freshman campaign by being honored with a Phil Steele All-American Freshman Fourth Team appearance.
Smith received his third All-American honor of the postseason following his appearance on the Phil Steele All-American Third Team. Smith turned in a standout senior season in which he was named a Buck Buchanan Award finalist and was named to both the Coaches and Media All-SoCon First Team. Smith started all 12 games, finishing with a team-best 89 tackles (62 solo) and pulled down a career-best and SoCon-leading five interceptions. The Alabama native also forced two fumbles on the season, his only two forced fumbles in his career.
Smith ranked 11th in the SoCon in tackles per game (7.4) and fourth in the league in passes defender per game (0.83). The redshirt-senior defensive back recorded a career-best 11 tackles three times this season, including the season opener at Appalachian State and a pair of conference games against Samford and WCU.
Player received his fourth All-American nod of the postseason following an appearance on the Phil Steele All-American Fourth Team. The All-SoCon First Team honoree finished the season with 45 tackles, including 24 solo. The redshirt-senior led the Bucs with 10 tackles for loss, marking the third consecutive season that he finished with double-digit tackles for loss. Player also tallied 4.5 sacks for the Bucs, leading the squad in sacks on the season. In the Bucs home opening game against Shorter on Sept. 7, Player recovered his first career fumble in the 48-10 win over the Hawks. Player also registered a season-high seven tackles against Shorter, including 1.5 tackles for loss. The South Carolina native posted five or more tackles in four of the 12 games played.
The decorative career for the South Carolina native finished the fifth-most tackles for loss in ETSU history with 40. Player appeared in 43 games throughout his career, starting in 40 of those outings.
Manuel adds his first collegiate All-American appearance as a member of the Fourth Team All-American Freshman squad. Manuel appeared and started in all 12 games for the Bucs and was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team. Manuel finished the season with 64 tackles, including 30 solo tackles, ranking third on the team in total tackles. The Georgia native finished the year with 5.5 tackles for loss, three passes defended and hauled in his first collegiate interception in ETSU’s 38-33 win over Mercer on Nov. 16.
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