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Program-Record 12 Bears
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Program-Record 12 Bears
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Program-Record 12 Bears
Program-Record 12 Bears
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2017 Jackets In College Football Archives
(2) Lee Bennett, Mercer University
(Photo by Sports Information Department, Mercer University)
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2017 Jackets In College Football Archives, (2) Lee Bennett, Mercer University, (Photo by Sports Information Department, Mercer University), Carver Heights Quarterback Club, Leesburg High School, Leesburg, Florida
Jackets In College: Lee Bennett, Mercer University

Program-Record 12 Bears Earn All-SoCon Honors

Mercer recognized with six defensive, five offensive and one special teams
awards

By Gerritt W. Van Genderen
www.mercerbears.com
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Mercer saw a program-record 12 individuals earn Southern Conference
postseason honors as the league office released its annual awards and coaches/media all-
conference teams Tuesday afternoon.

The 12 Bears that earned all-conference recognition bested the former program record of nine, set in
2015. Among those who collected honors included SoCon Freshman of the Year, Kaelan Riley, and
the trio of
Lee Bennett, Chandler Curtis and Isaiah Buehler, all of which were selected to the All-SoCon
First Team by the media and coaches.

"I'm extremely proud of the 12 young men who were recognized by the Southern Conference for their
performances this season," said head coach Bobby Lamb. "This group includes six defensive players,
five offensive players and one special teams player, which is indicative of our approach to all three
phases of the game.

"I'm proud of our seniors who ended their collegiate careers on a high note with these honors and I am
thrilled to see many of our younger players earn recognition as well; the future is bright at Mercer."

QB Kaelan Riley | Freshman of the Year (Coaches and Media), All-Freshman Offense
One day after being named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, given annually to the top freshman in the
FCS, Riley was honored as the SoCon Freshman of the Year by both the coaches and media. Riley set
the school record for completion percentage (59.4) and set Mercer freshman records for attempts
(288), completions (171) and passing yards (2,030).

He orchestrated a unit that ranked fourth in the FCS and led the SoCon in red zone offense (91.4
percent) while he totaled 17 touchdowns (13 passing). Riley ranked fourth in the conference with 202.1
total offensive yards per game.

LB Lee Bennett | First Team (Coaches and Media)
Bennett set a program record with 110 total tackles (29 solo, 81 assisted) and ranked 14th
nationally with an average of 10.0 tackles per game. He ranked second in the conference in total
tackles and had three single-game performances of 16 tackles or more.

The Leesburg, Fla., native led the SoCon with three fumble recoveries and added 5.5 tackles for
loss, one sack, one interception, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries. Bennett was
named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Week twice and also earned STATS National FCS
Defensive Player of the Week honors (Oct. 7).

DL Isaiah Buehler | First Team (Coaches and Media)
Buehler proved to be a force at the line of scrimmage, starting all 11 games at defensive end while
leading the Bears with 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks as a redshirt junior. He totaled 38 tackles (13
solo, 25 assisted) and added six quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Buehler's 5.5 sacks led
all SoCon defensive linemen.

WR/KR/PR Chandler Curtis | First Team (Coaches and Media)
Mercer's dynamic return man thrived in his final collegiate season and earned his first SoCon
postseason honors since 2014. Curtis ranked second in the SoCon with 639 combined kick and punt
return yards, including a league-best 215 punt return yards (16.5 yards per punt return). He finished his
career with a program-best 3,526 all-purpose yards after totaling 1,088 this fall, which ranked fifth in
the conference.

RB Tee Mitchell | Second Team (Coaches and Media)
Mitchell led Mercer with 626 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.0 yards
per carry on 155 attempts this season. He served as the Bears' top option out of the backfield all
season and ranked 10th in the SoCon with 77.2 all-purpose yards per game. After a slow start to the
season, Mitchell tallied at least one rushing touchdown in six of the final eight games. He also proved
to be a reliable receiving option, totaling 223 receiving yards and one touchdown on 22 catches.

OL Thomas Marchman | Second Team (Coaches and Media)
Marchman was selected to the All-SoCon Second Team by both the coaches and media after entering
the season as a preseason first team pick. The senior was one of the most reliable anchors on an
offensive line that helped Mercer rank fourth in the FCS in red zone offense (91.4 percent) while
averaging 24.5 points per game and 332.4 total offensive yards per game.

OL Austin Sanders | Second Team (Coaches)
Despite being relatively unknown around the conference at the start of the season, Sanders impressed
with 11 starts at right tackle and earned the All-SoCon nod from the eight opposing coaches. The
redshirt sophomore transfer helped Mercer rank 20th nationally with only 1.18 sacks allowed per game
and contributed to the offense ranking fourth in the FCS in red zone offense (91.4 percent).

LB LeMarkus Bailey | Second Team (Coaches)
A red-hot start to the season helped Bailey earn All-SoCon Second Team honors after totaling 63
tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. He ranked fourth on the team in tackles and added one sack,
interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Bailey, a team captain, led a defensive unit that topped
the SoCon in scoring defense until the final week of play.

WR Marquise Irvin | Second Team (Media)
Irvin earned All-SoCon Second Team honors for a second straight year after leading the Bears in
receptions (41), receiving yards (536) and receiving touchdowns (4). The junior averaged 13.1 yards
per catch and hauled in 65 receiving yards or more in four games.

DB Eric Jackson | Second Team (Media)
Jackson switched to strong safety and produced 89 total tackles this season after earning all-
freshman honors as a cornerback last year. The redshirt sophomore finished second on the team in
tackles and ranked 12th in the conference with 8.1 tackles per game. He added two pass break-ups
and one fumble recovery.

DB Malique Fleming | All-Freshman Defense
Fleming lined up next to Jackson all season and finished fifth on the team with 51 total tackles (22
solo, 29 assisted). The redshirt freshman added one interception, a team-best four pass break-ups
and forced two fumbles.

LB Sidney Otiwu | All-Freshman Defense
Otiwu totaled 39 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery in a back-up linebacker role
during his first season of collegiate action (redshirted in 2016). The Buford, Ga., native played key roles
in both of Mercer's games at Auburn and Alabama, notching a season-best seven tackles against the
Tigers and recovering a fumble against the Crimson Tide.

Follow the Bears
For complete coverage of Mercer Football, please follow the Bears on social media at @MercerFootball
(Twitter), /MercerFootball (Facebook) and @MercerFootball (Instagram) or visit the official home of
Mercer Athletics at MercerBears.com.

All-Southern Conference Coaches Team
Offensive Player of the Year: Devlin Hodges, Samford, R-Jr., QB
Defensive Player of the Year: Ahmad Gooden, Samford, Jr., DL
Freshman of the Year: Kaelan Riley, Mercer, QB
Jacobs Blocking Award: Matthew Schmidt, Furman, Sr., OL
Coach of the Year: Clay Hendrix, Furman

First Team Offense
QB          Devlin Hodges, Samford
RB           Antonio Wilcox, Furman
RB           Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina
OL           Tyler Davis, The Citadel
OL           Terrell Bush, Furman
OL           Matthew Schmidt, Furman
OL           Zach Weeks, Western Carolina
OL           Ross Demmel, Wofford
TE           Andy Schumpert, Furman
WR         Kelvin McKnight, Samford
WR         Terryon Robinson, Western Carolina

First Team Defense
DL           Isaiah Buehler, Mercer
DL           Ahmad Gooden, Samford
DL           Miles Brown, Wofford
DL           Tyler Vaughn, Wofford
LB           Lee Bennett, Mercer
LB           Shaheed Salmon, Samford
LB           Tahjai Watt, Western Carolina
DB          Kailik Williams, The Citadel
DB          Omari Williams, Samford
DB          Lucas Webb, Chattanooga
DB          Marvin Tillman, Western Carolina
DB          Devin Watson, Wofford

First Team Special Teams
PK           Luke Carter, Wofford
P             Ian Berryman, Western Carolina
RS           Chandler Curtis, Mercer

Second Team Offense
QB          Tyrie Adams, Western Carolina
RB           Tee Mitchell, Mercer
RB           Andre Stoddard, Wofford
OL           Alex Rios, ETSU
OL           Thomas Marchman, Mercer
OL           Austin Sanders, Mercer
OL           Nick Nixon, Samford
OL           Josh Cardiello, Chattanooga
TE           Bailey Lenoir, Chattanooga
WR         Chris Shelling, Samford
WR         Steffon Hill, Western Carolina

Second Team Defense
DL           Jaylan Reid, Furman
DL           Isaiah Mack, Chattanooga
DL           Derek Mahaffey, Chattanooga
DL           Mikel Horton, Wofford
LB           Myles Pierce, The Citadel
LB           LeMarkus Bailey, Mercer
LB           Allan Cratsenberg, VMI
DB          Aron Spann III, The Citadel
DB          Aaquil Annoor, Furman
DB          Darius Harvey, Samford
DB          Greg Sanders, VMI

Second Team Special Teams
PK           JJ Jerman, ETSU
P             Austin Barnard, Samford
RS           Quan Harrison, ETSU

All-Freshman Offense
Jonathan Cole, The Citadel
Jon Barrett Lewis, The Citadel
Brandon Rainey, The Citadel
Reed Kroeber, Furman
Darius Morehead, Furman
Kaelan Riley, Mercer
Montrell Washington, Samford
Mike Williams, Samford
Cole Copeland, Chattanooga
Kris Thornton, VMI
Donnavan Spencer, Western Carolina

All-Freshman Defense
Blake Bockrath, ETSU
Reynard Ellis, Furman
Elijah McKoy, Furman
Malique Fleming, Mercer
Sidney Otiwu, Mercer
Koi Freeman, Samford
Brett Granger, Samford
Jerrell Lawson, Chattanooga
A.J. Smith, VMI
Michael Murphy, Western Carolina
Deon Priester, Wofford

All-Freshman Special Teams
Grayson Atkins, Furman
Brandon Dowdell, Chattanooga
Victor Ulmo, Chattanooga

All-Southern Conference Media Team
Roy M. "Legs" Hawley Offensive Player of the Year: Devlin Hodges, Samford, R-Jr., QB
Defensive Player of the Year: Ahmad Gooden, Samford, Jr., DL
Freshman of the Year: Kaelan Riley, Mercer, QB
Wallace Wade Coach of the Year: Clay Hendrix, Furman

First Team Offense
QB          Devlin Hodges, Samford
RB           Detrez Newsome, Western Carolina
RB           Andre Stoddard, Wofford
OL           Tyler Davis, The Citadel
OL           Terrell Bush, Furman
OL           Matthew Schmidt, Furman
OL           Roo Daniels, Wofford
OL           Ross Demmel, Wofford
TE           Andy Schumpert, Furman
WR         Kelvin McKnight, Samford
WR         Terryon Robinson, Western Carolina

First Team Defense
DL           Nasir Player, ETSU
DL           Isaiah Buehler, Mercer
DL           Ahmad Gooden, Samford
DL           Miles Brown, Wofford
LB           Lee Bennett, Mercer
LB           Shaheed Salmon, Samford
LB           Allan Cratsenberg, VMI
DB          Aron Spann III, The Citadel
DB          Omari Williams, Samford
DB          Marvin Tillman, Western Carolina
DB          Devin Watson, Wofford

First Team Special Teams
PK           Luke Carter, Wofford
P             Ian Berryman, Western Carolina
RS           Chandler Curtis, Mercer

Second Team Offense
QB          P.J. Blazejowski, Furman
RB           Kealand Dirks, Furman
RB           Antonio Wilcox, Furman
RB           Tee Mitchell, Mercer
OL           Thomas Marchman, Mercer
OL           Josh Cardiello, Chattanooga
OL           Andrew Miles, Western Carolina
OL           Zach Weeks, Western Carolina
OL           Jared Jacon-Duffy, Wofford
TE           Bailey Lenoir, Chattanooga
WR         Marquise Irvin, Mercer
WR         Chris Shelling, Samford

Second Team Defense
DL           Ja'Lon Williams, The Citadel
DL           Jaylan Reid, Furman
DL           Nate Link, Western Carolina
DL           Mikel Horton, Wofford
LB           Myles Pierce, The Citadel
LB           Brian Lipscomb, VMI
LB           A.J. Newman, Western Carolina
DB          Aaquil Annoor, Furman
DB          Eric Jackson, Mercer
DB          Lucas Webb, Chattanooga
DB          Greg Sanders, VMI

Second Team Special Teams
PK           JJ Jerman, ETSU
P             Austin Barnard, Samford
RS           Darius Harvey, Samford


This article was provided by Gerald Lacey
Gerald Lacey is the senior sports writer covering Leesburg High School Sports for the Carver Heights
Quarterback Club. You can reach him at:
geraldlacey@leesburgyellowjacketsfootball.com
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