SPARTANBURG, S.C. (July 22, 2019) – The ETSU Buccaneers saw a plethora of players receive Southern Conference preseason honors as the league office announced its all-conference teams on Monday afternoon at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, S.C.
The Bucs placed seven players on the preseason all-SoCon teams, led by Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) who was tabbed as the SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named to the first team. Joining Player on the first team is redshirt-sophomore running back Quay Holmes (Powder Springs, Ga.), redshirt-senior defensive lineman Jason Maduafokwa (Seymour, Tenn.) and junior defensive back Tyree Robinson (Gainesville, Ga.). Tre’mond Shorts (Hampton, Ga.), Ben Blackmon (Newberry, S.C.) and Jeremy Lewis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) were each named to the second team.
Player was tabbed as the SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and named to the First Team after finishing 2018 with 43 tackles (25 solo), 11 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles. Player was named to the postseason First Team All-SoCon in 2018, as well as earning a spot on three All-American squads and being named a STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award Finalist. The South Carolina native finished second in the conference in forced fumbles (3), fourth in sacks (6.0) and sixth in tackles for loss (11.0). Player was also named SoCon Defensive Player of the Week due to six tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles against Chattanooga on Sept. 29.
Holmes is coming off a standout freshman campaign after being named the SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2018, becoming just the fourth player in program history to earn the honor and first since Todd Wells in 1997. The Georgia native was tabbed to two All-American squads in addition to earning a spot on the First Team All-SoCon Offense and Second Team All-SoCon Special Teams. Holmes was labeled a STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award Finalist after rushing for 928 yards and 13 touchdowns on 205 attempts, posting a season-high 118 yards on the ground in the season opener against Mars Hill. The rising sophomore finished first in the SoCon in rushing touchdowns, second in all-purpose yards (1,480) and third in rushing yards (928).
Maduafokwa is the third Buccaneer found on the preseason First Team All-SoCon after concluding the 2018 season with 39 tackles (22 solo), 12 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Maduafokwa recovered fumbles against Mars Hill and VMI and tied a career-high of six tackles against Samford. The Tennessee native led the Bucs in sacks (6.5) and fumble recoveries (2), while ranking third in the SoCon in sacks and sixth in tackles for loss (12.0).
Robinson rounds out the Bucs on the first team after a breakout sophomore stint where he was named First Team All-SoCon Defense and earned a spot on four All-American squads. Robinson finished the season with 71 tackles (47 solo), six interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and two defensive touchdowns. The Georgia native picked off two passes against The Citadel (Oct. 13), including returning one 42 yards to the house to seal the victory for ETSU. Robinson led the SoCon in interceptions (6) and passes defended (15).
Blackmon and Shorts earned spots on the preseason Second Team Offense at the offensive line position. The duo played in all 12 games, with Blackmon starting each contest and Shorts earning the nod in 10 contests. The duo aided the Bucs in totaling nine 100-yard rushing games and four 200-yard contests on the ground. In addition, Shorts was tabbed to the SoCon All-Freshman Team and two All-American squads.
Lewis is the final preseason all-SoCon honoree, earning a spot on the second team defensive after collecting 77 tackles (53 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, 11 pass breakups and one interception in 2018. The Georgia native was named to the First Team All-SoCon Defense in 2018. Lewis tallied a career-best 10 tackles against Mars Hill (Sept. 1) and Chattanooga (Sept. 29).
In addition to being well represented on the preseason all-conference sheet, the Bucs were selected to finish third in both the coaches and media poll for the first time since rejoining the conference in 2016. ETSU received one first-place vote in the coaches poll and two first-place tallies in the media poll. This is the first time since 1998 that ETSU was picked Top 3 in the SoCon in both coaches and media poll.
Western Carolina’s senior quarterback, Tyrie Adams, was tabbed as the Preseason SoCon Offensive Player of the Year.
The coaches and media preseason polls were consistent in the top three with Wofford, Furman and ETSU making up the first three slots with the Terriers earning the majority of the first-place votes. Chattanooga and Mercer alternated spots in both polls with the Mocs garnering the fourth spot on the coaches poll and the Bears taking the fourth position in the media poll. Samford, The Citadel, Western Carolina and VMI rounded out the preseason rankings in that order in both polls.