VIDEO: Dan Redding Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – This is the second part in an eight-part series chronicling each of Carson-Newman football's positions for 2018. This feature is headlined by assistant coach Dan Redding and focuses on the defensive line.
Much like its offensive counterpart, the Carson-Newman defensive front four is well stocked for 2018.
All but one player who played a snap up front defensively is back for 2018.
"The room is concentrated, but they're having fun," Redding said. "A lot of these kids have had some history of coming through some hard times (alluding to a litany of injuries the front four suffered the last couple years). As a result the room is positive and will likely by competitive."
The headliners are located in the middle at the tackle spots in Montel Presley (Bushnell, Fla.) and Brian Bembry (Parrish, Fla.). Presley earned first team All-SAC honors last year while Bembry wound up on the second team.
"Brian and Montel have both gotten better," Redding said. "They are our stalwarts up front. They are our anchor guys who have some size to them. It helps that they can run too."
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, earning defensive player of the week honors from the league as a result. 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.
Bembry earned his All-SAC honors in spite of a down year statistically; he picked up 27 tackles with four stops behind the line of scrimmage and 1.5 sacks. As a freshman, Bembry was third in the conference with 13 tackles for loss.
Providing key depth on the interior of the line is Delaware State transfer Javon Barnes (Stone Mountain, Ga.). Barnes made four starts for the Eagles along the defensive line. He made nine tackles as one of Carson-Newman's interior linemen. He had multiple stops against Newberry.
Jacob Varney (White Pine, Tenn.) can player either the tackle or the nose in the Eagles' alignment as well.
At the ends, Carson-Newman turns to pass rushers Ross Pryor (Kingwood, Texas) and Jaysen Cook-Calhoun (Hoover, Ala.) on one side and Jordan Pryce (Darlington, S.C.) and Wycleff Phanor (Naples, Fla.) on the other.
Pryor was Carson-Newman's third leading tackler for 2017 with 49 stops. He finished the year third on the team in tackles for loss and had 2.5 sacks. He also recovered one fumble and forced two others. He made a season-high nine tackles against Newberry.
Cook-Calhoun caused chaos in opposing backfields to the tune of 33 tackles, eight for loss and a team-best four sacks. His eight tackles for loss were the third most on the club.
On the other side, Pryce heads into his final year after he was fifth on the team in tackles with 47 stops a year ago. Pryce had a career-high nine tackles against Limestone. He also turned in an eight-tackle performance against Newberry.
Phanor rounds out the returners at end. He had 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the Eagles' opener last year against Pikeville.
"We, and our overall defense as well, have to generate more turnovers," Redding said. "We need to be able to come off the ball, sustain a pass rush and execute the things that we need to do to cause a little more chaos."
Redding pointed to Charleston Southern transfer Kenneth Spiller (Miami, Fla.) and freshmen Jatavious Ponder (Jonesboro, Ga.) and Trayzel Jureidini-Wyche (Douglasville, Ga.) as newcomers who could make an impact.
Carson-Newman football's position previews return Tuesday with a glimmer into the quarterbacks.