Former Walker Valley standout Bryce Nunnelly has earned his second All-Southern Conference Team honor. (UTC Photo)
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team had 11 student-athletes honored on the various All-Southern Conference Teams announced by the league office Tuesday.
The Mocs were well represented on the Coaches, Media and Freshmen squads, led by consensus SoCon Freshman of the Year Ailym Ford.
Ford is the fifth Moc to earn the SoCon Freshman of the Year honor, joining Stan Nix (1987), James Roberts (1989), Kadeem Wise (2010) and Terrell Robinson (2011). He led all freshmen at the FCS level with 108.1 rushing yards per game and tied for the team lead with nine rushing touchdowns.
"I am really excited about these guys getting this opportunity," stated UTC head coach Rusty Wright. "I think all of them are deserving. I hope we will get to the point where there is more, but I think Ailym had the best year in the league out of anybody, offensively. He is a phenomenal young man. The best thing about him being Freshman of the Year is he four As and a B right now going into the finals. That proves what he does on and off the field is the same and he is very deserving."
Ford's historic run ended with an injury at Samford, but not before he posted 1,081 rushing yards. That was just nine shy of the UTC freshman mark set by Mike Smith in 1977. It was also the seventh highest total by a freshman in the SoCon record books.
Ford made the SoCon Coaches First Team, along with junior receiver Bryce Nunnelly, junior defensive back Brandon Dowdell and sophomore defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell.
The Coaches second team included junior offensive lineman Cole Strange, senior defensive linemen Khayyan Edwards and Telvin Jones and senior linebacker Marshall Cooper. The league's coaches also selected an all-freshman team that included Ford and defensive back Kameron Brown.
UTC put a league-leading nine on the SoCon Sports Media Association team. The first team was highlighted by Nunnelly, Maxwell and Dowdell, along with Marshall Cooper and senior tight end Chris James. Ford made the media's second team and was joined by Strange, Edwards and sophomore linebacker Ty Boeck.
Nunnelly makes his second appearance on the All-SoCon first team. He led UTC and was third in the SoCon with 66.2 receiving yards per game. He was also fourth in the league with 4.8 receptions per game and moved into fourth place on the Mocs' all-time list with 2,120 career receiving yards.
The former Walker Valley standout also made his second Academic All-District team this season. He carries a 3.81 GPA in Mechanical Engineering.
Dowdell also made the All-SoCon first team for the second year in a row. He finished with 45 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended. Maxwell posted two sacks in the season finale at VMI to climb into a tie for the league lead with 7.0. He was second in the SoCon with 13.0 TFLs, while adding 46 tackles.
James converted from quarterback to tight end at the start of camp and led the Mocs with seven touchdown receptions. He was second on the team with 23 receptions and third with 257 receiving yards. He was recently granted a sixth-year by the NCAA and will return to the team next season.
Cooper is now a two-time All-SoCon honoree, having made the Coaches and Media second teams last season. This year, he led the Mocs with 106 tackles, the most at UTC since All-American Nakevion Leslie had 106 in 2016.
The big head scratcher was Strange not making either first team. He started every game on the Mocs' offensive line that allowed just 14 sacks on the year. That number was second in the SoCon and No. 15 in the FCS. The Mocs also averaged 235.9 rushing yards per game in SoCon-only contests and were No. 24 in the FCS with 197.7 rushing yards per game for the 12-game schedule.
Strange started the first 11 games at right guard, but had to move over to center for the last six quarters of the season due to an injury. This was his second All-SoCon recognition, after making the second team coaches last year.
Edwards was third on the team with 48 tackles, 6.0 TFLs and 2.5 sacks. Jones had 37 tackles and was second for the Mocs with 6.5 TFLs and 3.5 sacks. Brown played all 12 games and made two starts at cornerback. He also had two interceptions to go along with 14 tackles.
UTC is taking season ticket deposits for the 2020 season.
Southern Conference Coaches
2019 All-Southern Conference Football Teams
Offensive Player of the Year
Joe Newman, Sr., QB, Wofford
Defensive Player of the Year
Willie Eubanks III, Jr., LB, The Citadel
Freshman of the Year
Ailym Ford, RB, Chattanooga
Jacob Blocking Award
Blake Jeresaty, Jr., OL, Wofford
Coach of the Year
Scott Wachenheim, VMI
First team offense
QB Joe Newman, Wofford
RB Ailym Ford, Chattanooga
RB Alex Ramsey, VMI
OL Ben Blackmon, ETSU
OL Bo Layton, Furman
OL Nick Nixon, Samford
OL Justus Basinger, Wofford
OL Blake Jeresaty, Wofford
TE Nate Adkins, ETSU
WR Raleigh Webb, The Citadel
WR Bryce Nunnelly, Chattanooga
WR Jakob Herres, VMI
First team defense
DL Joseph Randolph II, The Citadel
DL Nasir Player, ETSU
DL Adrian Hope, Furman
DL Devonnsha Maxwell, Chattanooga
LB Willie Eubanks III, The Citadel
LB John Staton, Samford
LB Jireh Wilson, Wofford
DB Artevius Smith, ETSU
DB Bryan Okeh, Furman
DB Brandon Dowdell, Chattanooga
DB A.J. Smith, VMI