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ROCK HILL, S.C. – A South Atlantic Conference-best 12 Carson-Newman football players earned preseason All-SAC honors, including a league-high nine first teamers, in the conference's annual preseason laurels, which were announced Thursday morning.
Carson-Newman placed five players on the first team offense, four on the first team defense, one on the second team offense and two on the second team defense.
Quarterback Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.), running back Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.), offensive guard Phillip McDowell (Inman, S.C.), center Jordan Seal (Morristown, Tenn.) and long snapper Dawson Campbell (Travelers Rest, S.C.) all made the first team offense.
Defensive tackle Montel Presley (Bushnell, Fla.), linebacker Antonio Henderson (Palmetto, Fla.), corner Desmond Fairell (Miami, Fla.) and safety Darius Williams (St. Petersburg, Fla.) got a spot on the first team defense.
Running back Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) landed a spot on the second team offense, while linebacker Temoris Coats (Greenwood, S.C.) and defensive tackle Brian Bembry (Parrish, Fla.) got nods to the second team defense.
Wingate had the second most selections with 11. Carson-Newman's nine first-team selections are either equal to or greater than every other team's total all-league choices, with the exception of the Bulldogs.
.@cnfootball has put a league-best 12 players on the All-@sac_athletics preseason all-league teams.— C-N Athletics (@CNathletics) August 2, 2018
Starting with the first team offense.
OL @Jrseal12 pic.twitter.com/BR5qVzKSSZ
Evans turned in a stellar season in his first campaign as Carson-Newman's starting quarterback. Evans led the South Atlantic Conference in rushing touchdowns with 18. He also rushed for 625 yards on 149 carries, including back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances to close out the year. He topped out at 126 yards on the ground in the Eagles' regular season finale against UNC Pembroke.
His 18 rushing touchdowns are the seventh most for a single season in Carson-Newman history and the second most among quarterbacks at Carson-Newman. Aerially, Evans completed 78-of-137 passes for 1,460 yards and eight scores.
He ranked fifth in the nation in yards per completion and 14th in the country in passing efficiency. With a completion percentage rate of 56.9 percent, he has the third-most efficient season in Carson-Newman football history passing the pigskin.
His top effort through the air came at Wingate with 213 yards and two touchdowns. His five rushing touchdown day against Lenoir-Rhyne registered as a school-record tying performance, matching Kenneth Tyson (1987 v. Elon) and Buck Wakefield (2009 v. Tusculum) for the most rushing touchdowns in one day. He also has the two longest runs by a Carson-Newman quarterback for the last decade, wheeling off a 79-yard tote against UNC Pembroke and a 76-yarder against Lenoir-Rhyne.
Wimbush rushed for 149 yards in two games in an injury-shortened junior campaign. He took a medical redshirt. He rushed for 118 yards on 15 carries in the opener against Pikeville for his fifth straight 100-yard rushing performance. He also scored three touchdowns agains the Bears. The next week against Saint Augustine's, Wimbush carried the ball twice for 31 yards before leaving the game with an injury.
As a sophomore, Wimbush piled up 941 yards rushing and nine touchdowns to lead the Eagles' veer-option attack. The sophomore tallied four 100-yard rushing performances on the year, including a career best 148 yards in the opener against Humboldt State. Wimbush closed the season with three straight 100-yard games against Limestone (10/29), North Greenville (11/5) and Tusculum (11/12). He tallied multi-TD efforts against Catawba (9/17), Mars Hill (9/24) and Limestone.
Wimbush was also prolific through the air, catching 20 passes for 257 yards and a score. He was the Eagles third leading receiver. He caught his only touchdown pass of the season against North Greenville. He also completed 2-of-3 passes for 98 yards, including a 75-yarder for a score agaisnt Newberry. Wimbush made 11 plays of 20 yards or longer, the second most on the team.
McDowell, named an All-American earlier this preseason by Lindy's, was an 11-game starter for the Eagles on the offensive line last year. McDowell helped pave the way for Carson-Newman's offense to rank second in the league with 409 yards per game gained, including a league-best 275 yards on the ground.
The Eagles ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards rushing. McDowell led Carson-Newman in knockdowns and overall grade in his sophomore season. McDowell produced a whopping 33 knockdowns on the year, good for the single-season C-N record, including the two highest single-game knockdown marks. McDowell had seven knockdowns in the Eagles' win against Limestone and six against Mars Hill in another C-N victory. He had at least one knockdown in every game for the Eagles.
Seal started 10 games along the offensive line for the Eagles. Seal finished the year second on Carson-Newman's team for overall grade and knockdowns with 15. He had the third highest single-game knockdown mark (since C-N's sports information office began keeping track in 2012) with four in the Eagles' victory over Catawba.
Campbell was nearly flawless on C-N's special teams in 2017. The Eagles' long snapper didn't have any snaps that resulted in a blocked punt and the lone field goal opponent's blocked against Carson-Newman in 2017 was a 54-yarder.
Presley was one of the interior anchors for a defensive line that led the South Atlantic Conference in rushing defense and produced the Eagles' second best rush defense since the year 2000.
The Eagles allowed only 95 yards per game on the ground. C-N also had the conference's best total defense and the second best scoring defense. Presley finished the year with 43 tackles, the third most tackles among Carson-Newman linemen and the most for an interior lineman in the South Atlantic Conference.
His top effort came in the Eagles' 30-21 win over then No. 23 Catawba on Sept. 30. He had nine tackles that day, the second most in his career, to go along with 2.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a sack. The Bushnell, Fla.-native finished the year with 6.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Presley was a modicum of consistency, he had at least five tackles in half the Eagles' games. He was named the South Atlantic Conference's defensive player of the week following his nine-tackle performance against Catawba.
As a red-shirt sophomore, Henderson started all 11 games for the Eagles and was second on the team in tackles with 66. He led Carson-Newman with 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage and was second on the team with 3.5 sacks.
He also broke up six passes, the most on the team of any non-defensive back, had four quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Henderson's top effort came against Saint Augustine's with an 11-tackle day. He registered a whopping seven solo tackles on homecoming against North Greenville. He had an eight-tackle performance against Tusculum. Henderson had three games with multiple tackles for loss, registering 2.5 against Tusculum and 2.0 against Saint Augustine's.
A first team All-SAC pick and member of the Don Hansen all-region team, Fairell followed up a four-interception campaign as a freshman with four more picks as a sophomore, putting him in the top 10 on Carson-Newman's career interceptions chart through two seasons.
He was second in the league in interceptions as a sophomore. Fairell also forced three fumbles and recovered another. He was named the South Atlantic Conference's defensive player of the week following his performance against Limestone. Fairell earned the award following a seven-tackle performance in the Eagles' 31-20 win over Limestone that also featured a pair of forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Both turnovers that Fairell generated were crucial to preserving Carson-Newman's lead.
He grabbed his second interception of the season and the sixth pick of his career with 2:14 left in the third quarter and the Eagles up one. Fairell ripped in an Ivan Corbin pass at the C-N 10 and returned it deep into Saints territory. His fumble recovery was arguably the more impressive play and without question sealed the win for the Eagles. Jerko'ya Patton rushed for a first down for the Saints, but Fairell locked him up as he moved to the right sideline and ripped the ball away from him.
Fairell joins fellow first team All-SAC performer Sha'Heem Stupart as one of three players in the last decade with a fumble recovery, forced fumble and pick in one game. A lockdown corner, Fairell's seven tackles against the Saints were his most for the season. He didn't have more than three tackles any other game, a byproduct of teams' inability to throw the football to his side of the field. Fairell finished the year with 26 stops.
Darius Williams became Carson-Newman's 122nd All-American, earning a spot on the Don Hansen Football Gazette listings at the end of his sophomore season. He was named a preseason All-American earlier this offseason by Lindy's.
Darius Williams led the South Atlantic Conference in interceptions with five in his sophomore season and helped Carson-Newman finish the year with the most picks in the South Atlantic Conference with 14. Williams tallied a pick in three straight games from Sept. 23 against
His top effort though came against Tusculum when he snared an INT and returned it 58 yards to the house for the Eagles' lone defensive touchdown of the season. Williams five interceptions are the most for Carson-Newman since All-American Eien Jacob snared that many in 2013. He was 19th nationally in interceptions.
Williams also finished the year with 48 tackles, the fourth most on Carson-Newman's team. He and the rest of the Eagles' secondary limited every receiver they faced under their season averages, with the exception of Mars Hill's Keshaun Taylor and Craig Rucker. He started all 11 games for the Eagles and made a career-high seven tackles against Newberry.
Marcus Williams appeared in three games with three starts at running back for the Eagles before going down with a knee injury. He rushed 26 times for 127 yards and two scores. he had 10 carries for 44 yards against Saint Augustine's and 10 carries for 46 yards against Wingate in week three before going down for the year with his injury. Williams' two touchdowns came in week one against Pikeville.
Coats appeared in all 11 games with four starts for the Eagles at linebacker last year. Coats made 43 tackles with five stops for loss as a junior. He had a pick and a pass break up on the year. Coats came on in the back half of the season with a trio of games with at least eight tackles. His coming out party was against Limestone when he registered eight stops. He backed that up with an eight-tackle performance against North Greenville followed by a season-high nine tackles against Lenoir-Rhyne.
Finally, Bembry raked in the second All-SAC accolade of his career. The sophomore picked up 27 tackles with four stops behind the line of scrimmage and 1.5 sacks. He had five tackles against North Greenville for his top statistical effort of the season. Was a member of the conference's best defensive unit for total yards and rushing yards allowed and the league's second best scoring defense.
The Eagles open the season Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at West Florida. The reigning national runners-up have been tabbed as 2018's top-ranked team by Street and Smith, Lindy's and the College Football Yearbook. The Eagle Sports Network will hit the air from Pensacola, Fla. and Blue Wahoos Stadium at 6 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.