The Bucs were picked third in preseason polls of the SoCon coaches and media, and defensive end Nasir Player was announced as the conference’s preseason player of the year. The announcements were made Monday during the league’s annual media day at the Spartanburg Marriott.
“It’s nice to get a little preseason recognition, but the bottom line is it doesn’t matter,” ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. “It matters a whole lot more where you are when you get to the end of November and December.”
Wofford was picked to win the conference, followed by Furman. The top three teams were the same in the coaches’ and media polls.
Western Carolina quarterback Tyrie Adams was the pick as the preseason offensive player of the year.
ETSU was picked eighth last year, only to tie for the SoCon championship and make the FCS playoffs. The Bucs finished the season, Sanders’ first at the helm, with an 8-4 record.
“Last year, going into the season I don’t think there was a whole lot expected outside of Johnson City or outside of the ETSU campus,” Sanders said. “The way spring practice had gone and the way summer conditioning had gone, I think the players expected more from us. I think they thought having a good year like that was possible but I don’t know that they truly expected it.”
Player, a red-shirt senior, was an All-American selection last year after making 43 tackles, 11 for loss. He also had six sacks and caused three fumbles.
“It just made me feel like ETSU is here,” Player said of his preseason award. “We’re not the laughingstock of the conference any more. They’re putting some respect on the ‘E’ now and we’re getting a lot of recognition that I feel we deserve.
“It makes me feel like this is what I came here for. Everyone was talking about how we have a chance to start something special here, the beginning of a tradition that can carry on for a long time. Now that I’m going into my fifth year here, it’s all coming together. This is what I signed here for.”
Player was one of seven ETSU players to be recognized on the preseason All-SoCon teams. Making the first team were running back Quay Holmes, defensive lineman Jason Maduafokwa and defensive back Tyree Robinson. Offensive linemen Tre’mond Shorts and Ben Blackmon joined defensive back Jeremy Lewis on the second team.
BUCS ON TV
As part of a new SoCon broadcast package called the “Ingles Game of the Week,” three ETSU games will be televised locally.
The package, a collaborative effort between the SoCon, Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. and Ingles, consists of 13 games.
ETSU’s first appearance is a Sept. 28 game at Furman. The Bucs’ Nov. 2 home game against The Citadel is also on the schedule as is their Nov. 9 game at Western Carolina.
Every school will appear at least twice during the season. All of the games in the package will also air concurrently on either ESPN3 or ESPN+.
Locally, WJHL will carry the games. Other Nexstar affiliates participating are WYCW (Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville), WCBD (Charleston, South Carolina) and WWCW (Lynchburg, Virginia).
WSPA Sports Director Pete Yanity will provide play-by-play and former Wofford All-American offensive lineman Jared Singleton will serve as analyst.
The entire broadcast schedule (all times Eastern):
Aug. 31 — Mercer at Western Carolina, 6 p.m.
Sept. 7 — Mars Hill at VMI, 1:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 — Samford at Wofford, 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 — Mercer at Furman, 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 — ETSU at Furman, 1 p.m.
Oct. 5 — VMI at The Citadel, 2 p.m.
Oct. 12 — Samford at VMI, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 — Western Carolina at Wofford, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 — Chattanooga at Wofford, 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 — The Citadel at ETSU, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 — ETSU at Western Carolina, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 16 — Furman at Wofford, 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 — Chattanooga at VMI, 1:30 p.m.
— — —
|7. The Citadel
|8. Western Carolina
|7. The Citadel
|8. Western Carolina
Preseason All-SoCon teams
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyrie Adams, QB, R-Sr., Western Carolina
Defensive Player of the Year: Nasir Player, DL, R-Sr., ETSU
QB—Tyrie Adams, R-Sr., Western Carolina
RB—Quay Holmes, R-So., ETSU
RB—Tyray Devezin, Jr., Mercer
OL—Bo Layton, R-Jr., Furman
OL—Austin Sanders, R-Sr., Mercer
OL—Nick Nixon, Sr., Samford
OL—Justus Basinger, Sr., Wofford
OL—Michael Ralph, Sr., Wofford
TE—Owen Cosenke, Jr., Western Carolina
WR—Bryce Nunnelly, Jr., Chattanooga
WR—Javeon Lara, Sr., VMI
DL—Joseph Randolph II, Sr., The Citadel
DL—Jason Maduafokwa, R-Sr., ETSU
DL—Nasir Player, R-Sr., ETSU
DL—Thad Mangum, Sr., Wofford
LB—Willie Eubanks III, Jr., The Citadel
LB—Adrian Hope, R-So., Furman
LB—Marshall Cooper, Sr., Chattanooga
DB—Tyree Robinson, Jr., ETSU
DB—Brandon Dowdell, Jr., Chattanooga
DB—Jerrell Lawson, R-Jr., Chattanooga
DB—A.J. Smith, Jr., VMI
DB—Ronald Kent Jr., So., Western Carolina
PK—Grayson Atkins, Jr., Furman
PK—Mitchell Fineran, So., Samford
P—Matthew Campbell, So., The Citadel
RS-David Durden, So., Mercer
QB—Reece Udinski, Jr., VMI
RB—Devin Wynn, Jr., Furman
RB—Tyrell Price, Sr., Chattanooga
OL—Haden Haas, R-So., The Citadel
OL—Drew McEntyre, Sr., The Citadel
OL—Ben Blackmon, R-Sr., ETSU
OL—Tre’mond Shorts, R-So., ETSU
OL—Andy Godwin, R-Sr., Furman
OL—Cole Strange, R-Jr., Chattanooga
OL—Blake Jeresaty, Jr., Wofford
TE—Chris Ellington, Sr., Mercer
WR—Thomas Gordon, Sr., Furman
WR—David Durden, So., Mercer
DL—Dorian Kithcart, R-Sr., Mercer
DL—Justin Foster, Sr., Samford
DL—Nelson Jordan, So., Samford
DL—Mikel Horton, Jr., Wofford
LB—Elijah McKoy, Jr., Furman
LB—Will Coneway, R-Sr., Mercer
LB—Jireh Wilson, Sr., Wofford
DB—Jeremy Lewis, Sr., ETSU
DB—Malique Fleming, R-Jr., Mercer
DB—Mason Alstatt, Sr., Wofford
DB—George Gbesee, Sr., Wofford
PK—Jacob Godek, Sr., The Citadel
P—Luke Carter, Sr., Wofford
RS—Rohan Martin, Sr., VMI