Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Carson-Newman placed a league high 11 selections on the South Atlantic Conference's all-league first and second teams, the conference office announced Tuesday afternoon.
The Eagles were only matched by Newberry's 11 preseason all-SAC selections. Three-time defending conference champion Lenoir-Rhyne put a league-best six players on the all-conference first team.
Longsnapper Dusty Nance, defensive end Javaris Neal and cornerbacks Eien Jacob and Dante Thomas all made the all-conference first team. Quarterback De'Andre Thomas, running back Andy Hibbett, offensive lineman Robby Ignagni, punter Charlie Rhea, defensive end William Alderman, wide receiver Anthony Eubanks and return specialist TraShaun Ward were lauded with second team honors.
Eien Jacob - Jacob has already been named a preseason All-American by both Lindy's and USA football. Jacob was second in the SAC with his five picks last year. With his two interceptions against Newberry (11/9), Jacob became the first Eagle with a multi-pick game since Oliver Davis had a pair against Tusculum in 2010. He finished the regular season with a career best seven-tackle day against Wingate (11/16). Jacob needed two more picks to break into the top 10 for most interceptions in a single season at C-N. He closed the year with 45 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Jacob led the team with 11 pass break ups. He returned an interception for a touchdown against Wayne State (9/5), also had a career high three pass breakups against the Warriors.
Javaris Neal – Neal was also selected to USA Football's preseason All-American team. The Columbia, Tenn.-native rumbled for a 41-yard interception return against Newberry (11/23) for a touchdown and also picked off a pass against Mars Hill (10/5). Neal was second in the league in tackles among defensive linemen. He was sixth in the league overall in sacks. He had a career best nine tackles against Brevard (9/21). Neal turned in season best 2.5 tackle for loss-performances against Brevard and Wingate (11/16) in the regular season and Newberry in the playoffs. He also took down the opposing quarterback 1.5 times in the Brevard and Newberry games. Neal produced a team high nine quarterback hurries, recovered two fumbles and forced another. He recovered his fumbles against Newberry (11/9) and Tusculum (10/19).
Dante Thomas – Thomas started in 12 of 13 games and was fifth on the team with 52 tackles. He also picked off two passes and broke up eight others. Thomas was responsible for two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He tallied a season best eight tackles against both Mars Hill (10/5) and Wingate (11/16). He had six tackles - five of which were solo stops - against Colorado Mines (9/14). Thomas picked off passes against Tusclum (10/19) and Catawba (9/28). He collected a fumble recovery against Brevard (9/21) with forced fumbles against Newberry (11/9) and Lenoir-Rhyne (11/30).
Dusty Nance – In 16 games as Carson-Newman's starting longsnapper, Nance has yet to have a field goal, point after attempt or punt blocked. He ends a three-year reign by Newberry Wolves earning first team all-SAC longsnapper honors.
De'Andre Thomas – Thomas, a 13-game starter at quarterback as a sophomore, set a Sparks-era single season record for completions with 118. He ded the nation with the fewest interceptions with just two and completed 55.7 percent of his passes - 118-212 - for 1,825 yards and nine passing touchdowns. On the ground, Thomas became the first Carson-Newman quarterback and the fourth player overall with 20 rushing touchdowns in a single season. He toted the ball 194 times for 985 yards with a long run of 73 yards which came against Colorado Mines (9/14). He set the single game pass efficiency record in the opener against Wayne State with a 357.92 efficiency rating. Thomas produced the third and fourth +200 QB efficiency ratings in C-N football history in his sophomore year. He had a 212.80 rating against Wingate (11/16). He had four, 200-yard passing games; they came against Wayne State (9/5) with 213 yards, North Greenville (10/26) with 231 yards, Newberry (11/9) with 200 and the Wolves again in the playoffs with 205 yards. He set a Sparks-era single game record with 15 completions against the Crusaders. Thomas had a trio of touchdown passes against Wayne State and a pair at Wingate. On the ground, Thomas produced three 10- yard games and finished second on the team in rushing. He had his high water mark against Tusculum (10/19) with 182 yards on 19 carries.
Thomas also crested the century mark at Mines (9/14) with 166 yards and at Wingate with 123 yards. He had multiple rushing touchdowns in seven of 13 games for the Eagles, including three games with a hat trick of scores, a feat he accomplished that feat against Newberry (11/23), Wingate (11/16) and North Greenville (10/26). He finished the year with 11 TDs in C-N's final six games.
Andy Hibbett - Carson-Newman's fourth leading rusher in his junior season, Hibbett carried the ball 469 times for 837 yards to go along with nine touchdowns. He also caught nine passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. Hibbett had two, 100-yard games, when he carried the ball 15 times to hit the century mark on the nose against North Greenville (10/26). He also set a career high with two catches for 52 yards that game. He also caught his first career touchdown pass against the Crusaders. Hibbett also crested the century mark against Mars Hill (10/5) with 14 carries for 132 yards. He had multiple touchdowns against Tusculum (10/19), Brevard (9/21) and Mars Hill. He set his career long for a run against Wingate (11/16) in the regular season finale with a 54-yard scamper for a score. Hibbett needs a little more than 600 yards rushing as a senior to break into Carson-Newman's top 15 all-time ground gainers.
Anthony Eubanks – Eubanks is Carson-Newman's first preseason All-SAC selection at receiver since Jason Brown in 2012. Eubanks became the first Carson-Newman wide receiver under Ken Sparks since Darren Hughes in 1990 to catch eight passes in a game, Eubanks did so against both North Greenville (10/26) and Shorter (10/12). He finished the year with 23 catches for 390 yards and two scores in an injury-shorted season. Both his touchdowns came in the opener against Wayne State (9/5). Eubanks set a career high and became the first C-N wideout with more than 100 yards receiving in two years with 138 yards through the air at North Greenville. He nearly had a trio of 100 yard receiving games; had 97 yards against Wayne State and 95 against Shorter. His long reception of 63 yards came against Wayne State. In spite of only playing in seven games because of injury, his 3.23 receptions per game ranks second among players in the Ken Sparks era.
Robby Ignagni – A year ago, Ignagni earned Daktronics All-Region honors, Earned Daktronics All-Region honors after clearing the way for a rushing attack that ranked fourth in the nation with 343 yards per game. With Ignagni's help, the Eagles scored 50 rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive year. Ignagni led Carson-Newman's offensive linemen with 26 knockdowns and was third in overall grade. He had a four-knockdown game against Shorter (10/12), the highest mark of any C-N o-lineman in 2013. The strongest member of C-N's offensive line, Ignagni had multiple knockdowns in all but three games of his junior year. He won the Hammer Award on three occasions, the most of any member of the line, which goes to the offensive lineman with the highest overall grade for a game who also impacts the game in a significant manner. He won his Hammer Awards for his efforts against Mars Hill (10/5), Wingate (11/16) and Newberry (11/23) in the playoffs. Ignagni finished the year spectacularly. His average grade over the final four weeks was a 75, which is considered a passing grade on o-line coach Mike Turner's ever challenging 80-point scale.
Charlie Rhea – Rhea earned preseason all-conference honors in part for his 2011 season. Rhea backed up Curt Duncan last year after tearing his ACL in 2012. He started all 11 games at punter in 2011 and averaged 38.3 yards per punt with three touchbacks, 11 punts inside the 20-yard-line and three punts over 50 yards. He had a long punt of 62 yards.
William Alderman – A AFCA Good Works Team nominees, Alderman started all 13 games at defensive end in his junior year. He was seventh on the team in total tackles with 46 and led Carson-Newman with 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. He also picked off a pass, forced and recovered a fumble and made four QB hurries. Alderman set his career high for tackles in the regular season against Lenoir-Rhyne (11/2) with eight. His career highs for sacks (1.5) came against Tusculum (10/19) and tackles for loss (2.0) against Shorter (10/12). He picked off his first career pass at North Greenville (10/26).
TraShaun Ward – Ward led Carson-Newman with 1,215 all-purpose yards, 91 of which came on the ground, 344 through the air, 75 on punt returns and 705 on kickoff returns. He reset his own school record for most return yards in a season with his 705 kickoff return yards. Should ward replicate his last season in kickoff return yards, he will take over first place on the all-time C-N football leaderboard for kickoff return yards in a career. His longest kick return of the year was an 81-yarder against Catawba (9/28).
SIX PIONEERS NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-SAC FOOTBALL TEAM
Six Tusculum College student-athletes have been named to the 2014 Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference Football Team announced league officials on Tuesday. The team is selected by a vote of the league’s football sports information directors.
Justin Houston, Wesley Powell and Deon Hicks were named to the Preseason All-SAC first team, while Billy Munker, LiRonta Archie and Wayne Soliai garnered second team recognition.
Houston, a 5-8, 180-pound junior receiver, earned Beyond Sports Network All-America third team accolades last year as he established TC single-season records with 110 receptions, 1,347 receiving yards and 1,914 all-purpose yards. His receptions tally was the second-most in SAC history while his receiving yards total was fourth in the SAC record book. The 2013 All-SAC first team pick averaged 11 receptions per game, which were second in the nation, while his 134.7 receiving yards per game was the fourth most in the country. His 191.4 all-purpose yards per game average led the SAC and was 10th in NCAA II.
The Cleveland, Tennessee native earned Football Gazette All-America honorable mention distinction in 2013, while also garnering All-Region accolades by Daktronics and Football Gazette. The Bradley Central High School graduate posted over 100 receiving yards in nine of his 10 outings and finished the season scoring eight touchdowns (7 receiving, 1 return). His 99-yard kickoff return against Wingate last season was the longest in school history.
Houston is majoring in physical education where he garnered Capital One Academic All-District first team accolades in 2013 and is a Tusculum Athletic Director’s Honor Roll selection.
Powell, a 6-10, 265-pound senior tight end, earned Football Gazette All-America second team recognition last season as he finished third on the team with his 38 receptions and 520 receiving yards (8th in SAC), while hauling in four touchdowns. The Titus, Alabama native also earned All-SAC first team and All-Region first team accolades by Daktronics and Football Gazette.
The Elmore County High School alum enters his final collegiate season with 81 receptions for 853 yards and seven touchdowns.
Powell is a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll while majoring in history education.
Both Powell and Houston were selected to the BSN and College Football USA Preseason All-America teams earlier this summer.
Senior receiver Deon Hicks rounds out the list of Tusculum first team honorees. The 6-3, 225-pound wideout earned All-SAC second team honors in his first TC campaign in 2013. He finished second on the team with his 43 catches for 784 yards, while tying for the team lead with his seven touchdown receptions, the 10th most in a TC single-season. He led the Pioneers with his 18.73 yards per reception average (T7th in TC history) and recorded 100 or more receiving yards on occasions. His 84-yard reception in his TC debut against Elizabeth City State is tied for the third longest catch in program history. Hicks is a native of Fresno, California and is majoring in digital media.
Munker, a 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman from West Palm Beach, Florida, started in all 10 games he would play in his second season at Tusculum as he graded out above 88 percent in every game. He has started in 21 career games in his TC career and is majoring in accounting.
Archie, a 6-1, 190-pound defensive back from Fairburn, Georgia, enters his final collegiate campaign ranked in the top-10 in school history in four statistical categories, including second in career fumble recoveries (6), fourth in career fumbles forced (6), fourth in career interception return yards (107) and eighth in career interceptions (5). He has totaled 185 career tackles and 13 passes defended as a Pioneer.
In 2013, Archie finished second on the team with his 76 total tackles, including 38 solo stops as his 6.9 tackles per contest were 13th in the league. He posted a season-best 11 tackles against NCAA II national runner-up Lenoir-Rhyne and followed with nine tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in TC's home win over Catawba, earning him SAC Defensive Player of the Week and TSWA Defensive Player of the Week honors. Archie is majoring in sport management at Tusculum.
Soliai, a 6-0, 225-pound senior linebacker, rounds out the All-SAC second team selections for the Pioneers. The Riverside, Georgia product started all 11 games at strong safety in his first TC season in 2013. He finished fourth on the team with 63 total tackles, including 27 solo stops, which were fourth on the squad. He also added three tackles for loss and two pass break-ups last season.
Soliai, who is moving to linebacker in 2014, is majoring in kinesiology at Tusculum.
The Pioneers will kick off their season on Thursday, Sep. 4 when they host the College of Faith for a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday night.
Tusculum College, located in Greeneville, Tennessee, is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, USA and is a NCAA Division II member of the South Atlantic Conference. Tusculum, the oldest college in the State of Tennessee, sponsors 16 intercollegiate sports, including women’s lacrosse, which will be competing in its first season during the 2014-2015 academic year.
Tusculum, the 28th oldest college in the nation, is a liberal arts institution committed to providing a liberal arts education in a Judeo-Christian and civic arts environment, with pathways for career preparation, personal development and civic engagement. Approximately twenty-one hundred students are enrolled on the main campus in Greeneville and three off-site locations in East Tennessee. The academic programs for both traditional-aged students and working adults served through the Graduate and Professional Studies program are delivered using focused calendars whereby students enroll in one course at a time.
All-SAC First Team Offense
QB – W.T. Murden, Newberry
RB – Shaikel Davis, Mars Hill
RB – Jarrod Spears, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Isiah Whitaker, Lenior-Rhyne
WR – Dimitri Holmes, Mars Hill
WR – Justin Houston, Tusculum
WR – Deon Hicks, Tusculum
OL – Denzell Goode, Mars Hill
OL – Joe Ray, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Taylor Fender, Catawba
OL – Will Poteat, Wingate
OL – Nick Allison, Mars Hill
TE – Wesley Powell, Tusculum
LS – Dusty Nance, Carson-Newman
P – Kyle Clark, Newberry
PK – Patrick Smith, Wingate
All-SAC First Team Defense
DL – Blake Baker, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Javaris Neal, Carson-Newman
DL – Nick Napolitano, Wingate
DL – Jonathan Jean, Catawba
LB – Tanner Botts, Lenoir-Rhyne
LB – Edmond Robinson, Newberry
LB – Michael Gruber, Brevard
LB – Jason Taylor, Catawba
DB – Eien Jacob, Carson-Newman
DB – O'Neil Blake, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Jon Jimenez, Wingate
DB – Dante Thomas, Carson-Newman
RS – Andre Overholt, Brevard
All-SAC Second Team Offense
QB – De'Andre Thomas, Carson-Newman
RB – Kelvin Jeter, Brevard
RB – Andy Hibbett, Carson-Newman
RB – Cary Littlejohn, Catawba
WR – Jordan Berry, Wingate
WR – Anthony Eubanks, Carson-Newman
WR – Byron Dickerson, Newberry
OL – Landon Martin, Newberry
OL – Robbie Ignagni, Carson-Newman
OL – Evan Sobocinski, Newberry
OL – Billy Munker, Tusculum
OL – Mathu Gibson, Wingate
TE – Brandon Ellington, Wingate
LS – Andrew Smith, Newberry
P – Charlie Ray, Carson-Newman
PK – Kyle Clark, Newberry
All-SAC Second Team Defense
DL – William Alderman, Carson-Newman
DL – Johnny Maxey, Mars Hill
DL – Alstevis Squirewell, Newberry
DL – Steven Jacobs, Wingate
LB – Rodney Singleton, Lenior-Rhyne
LB – Jasper Mason, Mars Hill
LB – Taylor McDonnell, Newberry
LB – Wayne Soliai, Tusculum
DB – Joe Anderson, Lenior Rhyne
DB – Jakeem Polk, Wingate
DB – LiRonta Archie, Tusculum
DB – Lance Richardson, Newberry
RS – TraShaun Ward, Carson-Newman