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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (July 28, 2022) – ETSU senior running back Jacob Saylors (Jasper, Tenn.) was named Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year, while the Buccaneers were picked to finish second by the league coaches and media, as the league office announced its preseason accolades during Thursday’s Media Day event, held at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville.
Saylors was one of 10 Buccaneers to earn preseason honors on Thursday, as he was joined by quarterback Tyler Riddell (Tampa, Fla.), offensive lineman Tavon Matthews (Woodbridge, Va.), wide receiver Will Huzzie (Duluth, Ga.), defensive lineman Jalen Porter (Gallatin, Tenn.), defensive back Mike Price (Stockbridge, Ga.) and placekicker Tyler Keltner (Tallahassee, Fla.) on the first team lists. Offensive linemen Fred Norman Jr. (Rossville, Ga.) and Joe Schreiber (Chanhassen, Minn.), along with defensive back Alijah Huzzie (Franklin, Ga.) earned second team honors.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chattanooga’s Devonnsha Maxwell earned Preseason Player of the Year honors.
The Bucs, who won their first-ever outright SoCon title a year ago after finishing with an overall record of 11-2 and a 7-1 mark in league play, were picked to finish second by the coaches and media. The second-place selection matches the highest preseason selection for the Bucs since being picked second by the league coaches in 1998 and second by the media since 1997.
In the coaches’ poll, the Blue and Gold picked up two first-place votes for a total of 54 points, while Chattanooga – who received five first-place nods – was picked first with 60 points. Mercer (53 points) and Furman (43 points) each received a first-place vote, while Western Carolina capped off the top five teams with 38 points.
The media also picked Chattanooga first with 18 first-place votes and 256 total points, while ETSU and Mercer were tied for second with 226 points. The Bucs received seven first-place nods and Mercer had five. Furman was picked fourth (175 points) and Western Carolina was fifth with 125 points.
The Buccaneers open camp next Wednesday as they gear up for the season opener against Mars Hill on Thursday, Sept. 1. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. inside Greene Stadium. To purchase tickets for the upcoming 2022 season, please call the ETSU Ticket Office at 423-439-3878 or visit ETSUTickets.com.
Below is a breakdown of ETSU’s preseason all-conference selections.
Jacob Saylors – Sr. – RB – Jasper, Tenn.
SoCon Offensive Preseason Player of the Year … Preseason First Team all-SoCon (running back and return specialist) … Appeared in all 13 games last season in the Blue and Gold, making five starts … Posted his first 1,000-yard rushing season with 1,019 yards and a career-high 10 rushing touchdowns … Averaged 78.4 yards per game on the ground and 7.1 yards per carry … Also hauled in 19 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown … Capped off the season with 25 kick returns for 750 yards, averaging 28.8 yards per return and ranking second all-time in a single season … Concluded the year with 1,882 all-purpose yards, ranking second on the team … Set a program record against Western Carolina (Nov. 13) with 266 rushing yards with three touchdowns … Saylor’s 1,019 rushing yards are the eighth-most in a single season in program history and his 10 rushing touchdowns rank sixth in a single season … His 7.1 average per carry ranks fourth all-time in a single season, just falling short of his 7.2 average in 2018 which ranks third … Following the 2021 campaign, Saylors was named to the Associated Press Second Team All-American squad and the Stats Perform FCS Third Team All-America team … Tabbed to the First Team Media All-SoCon and the Coaches Second Team All-SoCon.
Tyler Riddell – R-So. – QB – Tampa, Fla.
Preseason first team all-SoCon selection at quarterback … Started all 13 games behind center for the Bucs in 2021 … Concluded the season with 2,464 passing yards on 211-of-338 completions … Threw for 19 touchdowns on the year and rushed for three touchdowns … Held an efficiency rating of 139.25 and logged 189.5 passing yards per game … Threw at least one touchdown in each of the first 12 games until the season finale in Fargo … Recorded four games with multiple touchdown passes, including a trio of games with three touchdown throws … Was Mr. Efficient in the de facto SoCon Championship game against Mercer (Nov. 20), finishing 26-of-29 with 265 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for a score and earning SoCon Offensive Player of the Week … Posted six games where he passed for over 200 yards, including a season-high 291 passing yards at Samford (Sept. 25) … His 19 passing touchdowns are second in program history for a single season, while he ranks third in single-season completions (211), completion percentage (.624) and fourth in both pass attempts (338) and passing yards (2,464) … His 2,382 yards of total offense is fifth all-time in a single season in ETSU history … Currently ranks first all-time in completion percentage (.614) heading into the 2022 campaign … Following the 2021, season, Riddell earned a spot on the HERO Sports Freshman All-American Team and the Phil Steele Magazine All-Freshman Team.
Tavon Matthews – Jr. – OL – Woodbridge, Va.
Preseason first team all-SoCon selection at offensive line … Appeared and started in 12 games for the Blue & Gold in 2021 … Aided in blocking for one of the most historic running performances in program history with 2,775 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns … Blocked for 10 100+ yard rushing games, including six games over 200 yards on the ground … While in the starting lineup, ETSU’s biggest output on the ground was 309 yards and four touchdowns against Delaware State (Sept. 18) … Helped block for five rushing touchdowns against The Citadel (Oct. 9) … Following the 2021 championship season, Matthews earned a spot on the HERO Sports FCS Sophomore All-American Team … Named to both the Coaches and Media Second Team All-SoCon.
Will Huzzie – R-Jr. – WR – Duluth, Ga.
Started in all 13 games for ETSU and turned in a dominating performance with 58 receptions for 798 yards and five touchdowns (all team highs) … The 58 receptions rank sixth-most in a single season in program history, while his 798 receiving yards are the 10th most in a single season … Averaged 61.4 receiving yards per game and 13.8 receiving yards per reception this fall … Also had one carry for 49 yards on the year, finishing third on the team in all-purpose yards with 847 … Posted three games with a season-high eight catches, including a season-best 113 receiving yards and one touchdown in the win at Samford (Sept. 25) … Posted one touchdown reception in five different games this season … Recorded multiple catches in each of the 13 games this year and hauled in 50 receiving yards in nine of the 13 games he played in … Will enter the 2022 season 10th all-time in receiving yards (1,438) and eighth all-time in program history in receptions (106) … Following the 2021 season, Huzzie Earned a spot on the HERO Sports Sophomore All-American Team … Named to the Phil Steele Magazine First Team All-SoCon.
Jalen Porter – R-Jr. – DL – Gallatin, Tenn.
Played in 12 games with 10 starts on the year … Finished the season with a career-best 37 tackles, including 23 solo tackles … Recorded a team-high 10.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks, the seventh-most sacks in a single season in program history … Also hauled in one interception on the campaign … Posted a career game against Delaware State (Sept. 18) with seven tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks … His 4.0 sacks against the Hornets is tied for the second-most sacks in a single game in program history … Also posted 2.0 tackles for loss against The Citadel (Oct. 9) and Chattanooga (Oct. 16) … Recorded five or more tackles in three games on the year … Following the season, Porter earned a spot on the Phil Steele Magazine Second Team All-SoCon.
Mike Price – R-Jr. – DB – Stockbridge, Ga.
Started all 13 games for ETSU in the defensive backfield … Finished fourth on the team in tackles with 73, including 48 solo tackles … Recorded 2.0 tackles for loss and six pass breakups … Recorded 10 tackles against UVA Wise (Sept. 11) and in the FCS quarterfinals game at North Dakota State (Dec. 11) … Posted five or more tackles in seven games on the year … Named to the Coaches Second Team All-SoCon.
Tyler Keltner – Jr. – PK – Tallahassee, Fla.
Appeared in all 13 games for the Bucs … Concluded the season 18-for-23 in field goal attempts and was a perfect 51-of-51 in extra points (setting a new program record for extra points in a single season) … His 18 field goals made is second in program history for a single season … Second on the team in scoring with 105 points, the most points by a kicker in program history and third-most points by any Buccaneer in a single season … Also concluded the year with 80 kickoffs for 4,665 yards (58.3 avg.) and 16 touchbacks … Twice named SoCon Special Team Player of the Week (Sept. 27 & Nov. 8) … Season-high three field goals made in the 23-3 season-opening win at Vanderbilt (Sept. 4) … Tied the program record for extra points made in a single game with eight at Western Carolina (Nov. 13) … Buried a 27-yard chip shot to send the game into overtime in the 55-48 win over Samford (Sept. 25) … Connected for a season-long 51-yard field goal at Chattanooga (Oct. 16) … Also, can get the job done defensively with two tackles on the year … Named Preseason First Team All-SoCon … Enters his junior season fifth all-time in scoring (210), third all-time in PATs (93) and second all-time in field goals made (39) … Following the 2021 season, Keltner was named to the SoCon All-Academic Team … Earned a spot on the Coaches Second Team All-SoCon and the Media First Team.
Fred Norman Jr. – R-So. – OL – Rossville, Ga.
Started all 13 games on the offensive line for the Bucs … Aided in blocking for one of the most historic running performances in program history with 2,775 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns … Blocked for 11 100+ yard rushing games, including seven games with over 200 yards on the ground … ETSU rushed for 461 yards in the win over Western Carolina (Nov. 13), guided by the big guys up front.
Joe Schreiber – R-Jr. – OL – Chanhassen, Minn.
Started in 12 of ETSU’s 13 games at center … Named to the Phil Steele Magazine Fourth Team All-SoCon … Blocked for the most historic rushing performance in ETSU history with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers … ETSU rushed for 2,775 yards and 32 touchdowns on the season … In his 12 games played, he blocked for 10 100+ yard rushing games, including six over 200 yards on the ground.
Alijah Huzzie – R-So. – DB – Franklin, Ga.
Started in all 13 games on the year … Finished third on the team in total tackles (76), including 2.0 tackles for loss … Continued to be a force in the defensive back unit with three more interceptions on the year, returning them for 56 yards … Also forced two fumbles on the campaign … Tallied a career-high 14 tackles in the overtime win at Samford (Sept. 25) … Recorded five or more tackles in eight of the 13 games … Earned SoCon Defensive Player of the Week following the SoCon Championship win over Mercer (Nov. 20) with eight tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble … Posted eight punt returns for 51 yards … Following the 2021 season, Huzzie was awarded a spot on the HERO Sports All-American Freshman Team and the Phil Steele Magazine First Team All-Freshman … Named to the Media Second Team All-SoCon.
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