ROCK HILL, S.C. (TheSAC.com) – The South Atlantic Conference announced the 2019 Preseason All-Conference Football Teams on Thursday (Aug. 1). Chosen by the SAC Football Media Relations Directors, Carson-Newman had eight players named to the first team, while preseason favorite Lenoir-Rhyne had six selections. Wingate and Tusculum had five selections each, followed by Catawba and Mars Hill with two picks each. Newberry rounded out the first team with one selection.
Carson-Newman's Derrick Evans was named first team quarterback. A two-way threat, he threw for 637 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 439 yards and six touchdowns.
Earning spots on the first team at running back were Carson-Newman's Antonio Wimbush, Tusculum's Jordon Shippy and Wingate's Nijere Peoples. Wimbush, an All-American and the 2018 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year, rushed for a league-leading 1,206 yards, averaging 109.6 yards per game with seven touchdowns. Shippy a second team All-SAC selection in 2018 led the Pioneers with 694 yards on the ground and five touchdowns, averaging 77.1 yards per game. Peoples, the 2018 SAC Offensive Freshman of the Year, was second in the conference in total yards with 1,103 and yards per game with 100.3. He also scored a league-leading 14 touchdowns.
The first team wide receiver core features Craig Rucker from Mars Hill, BJ Muckelvene of Wingate and Will Sweeper from Catawba.
Rucker, a 2018 consensus All-American and SAC Offensive Player of the Year, finished the season ranked first in the conference in touchdowns (16), receiving yards (1,234), all-purpose yards (1,549), receiving yards per game (123.4) and receptions (82). He is ranked in the top five in NCAA Division II in receiving yards per game (No. 1), receiving yards (No. 4), receptions per game (No. 5) and receiving touchdowns (No. 5).
Muckelvene, a 2017 All-American, earned a spot on the first team as a wide receiver and was a second team pick at return specialist. As a receiver he hauled in 28 receptions for 447 yards and five touchdowns, while as a return man he averaged more than 10.3 yards per return.
Sweeper closed out the 2018 season ranked sixth in the SAC in yards and seventh in yards per game. He caught 24 passes for 548 yards and averaged 49.8 yards per game. He also scored six touchdowns.
The first team offensive line consists of Phil McDowell and Jordan Seal from Carson-Newman, Travis James from Mars Hill, Tusculum's Keveon Broadwater and Lenoir-Rhyne's Jason Poe. McDowell, Broadwater and Poe were all first team selections in 2018, while Seal and James were All-SAC second team selections.
Rounding out the first team offense selections were Lenoir-Rhyne's Drake Starks at tight end, Wingate's McLean Robertson at placekicker, Kyle Dugger of Lenoir-Rhyne at return specialist and Carson-Newman's Dawson Campbell at long snapper.
Starks, a second team selection in 2018, hauled in 14 receptions for 194 yards with five touchdowns last season.
Robertson, a first team selection in 2018, led the league in field goals percentage (0.86) and P-A-T percentage (0.94). He made 12 field goals, put 51 P-A-T's through the uprights and scored 87 points.
Dugger, a 2018 first team selection and a 2019 preseason All-American, he returned nine kick-offs for 180 yards, while returning 31 punts for 534 yards and two touchdowns.
Campbell was a first team All-SAC selection last season and had only one field goal blocked all season.
On the defensive side of the ball the first team defensive line consists of Montel Presley and Brian Bemby of Carson-Newman, Dan Louba of Lenoir-Rhyne and Colton Strickland of Newberry. Presley and Loub awere both first team selections in 2018, while Bemby and Strickland were second team picks.
The first team linebacker crew is made up of Lenoir-Rhyne's Sherrod Williams, Wingate's Robbie Wallace, Jeremiah Ferguson of Catawba and Ivan Hogans of Tusculum.
Ferguson and Hogans were both first team honorees in 2018. Ferguson finished the year eighth in the league in total tackles with 84, including six tackles for loss and an interception. Hogans was sixth in the conference with 92 total tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss and two interceptions.
Williams and Wallace were both All-SAC second team picks in 2018. Wallace was the conference leader in total tackles with 105 and Williams was ranked in the top-20 in both tackles and tackles per game.
The first team secondary selections were Desmond Fairell from Carson-Newman, Davion Washington from Wingate, and Malik Goodman from Tusculum and Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne.
Dugger was fourth in the league in solo tackles last season with 50, while Washington was second in the conference in interceptions with four. Fairell was also second in interceptions with four and Goodman had an interception and a fumble recovery. All four were first team selections a year ago.
Rounding out the first team selections was Newberry punter Shea Rodgers who led the conference with 24 punts inside the 20-yard line and a season long 70-yard punt.
2019 Preseason All-SAC Football
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB – Derrick Evans, Carson-Newman
RB – Antonio Wimbush, Carson-Newman
RB – Jordon Shippy, Tusculum
RB – Nijere Peoples, Wingate
WR – BJ Muckelvene, Wingate
WR – Will Sweeper, Catawba
WR – Craig Rucker, Mars Hill
OL – Phil McDowell, Carson-Newman
OL – Jordan Seal, Carson-Newman
OL – Travis James, Mars Hill
OL – Keveon Broadwater, Tusculum
OL – Jason Poe, Lenoir-Rhyne
TE – Drake Starks, Lenoir-Rhyne
PK – McLean Robertson, Wingate
LS – Dawson Campbell, Carson-Newman
RS – Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL – Montel Presley, Carson-Newman
DL – Brian Bemby, Carson-Newman
DL – Dan Louba, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Colton Strickland, Tusculum
LB – Jeremiah Ferguson, Catawba
LB – Ivan Hogans, Tusculum
LB – Sherrod Williams, Lenoir-Rhyne
LB – Robbie Wallace, Wingate
DB – Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Desmond Fairell, Carson-Newman
DB – Davion Washington, Wingate
DB – Malik Goodman, Tusculum
P – Shea Rodgers, Newberry
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB – Shaw Crocker, Wingate
RB – Ameen Stevens, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Xzavion Huff, Lenoir-Rhyne
RB – Austin Barnes, Newberry
WR – Ajay Belanger, Tusculum
WR – Tyler Ferguson, Mars Hill
WR – Bobby Irby, Newberry
OL – Connor Baroniunas, Wingate
OL – Demetrius Blackwell, Catawba
OL – Ronnie Cliffton, Lenoir-Rhyne
OL – Reese Fain, Carson-Newman
OL – Tyler Anderson, Newberry
TE – Carter Mangel, Tusculum
PK – Chase Allbaugh, Lenoir-Rhyne
LS – AJ Covan, Limestone
RS – BJ Muckelvene, Wingate
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL – Jaquan Artis, Lenoir-Rhyne
DL – Cameron Davis, Catawba
DL – Cal Hanford, Wingate
DL – Keito Jordon, Newberry
LB – Elijah Gilmore, Wingate
LB – Antonio Henderson, Carson-Newman
LB – Clayton Horn, Lenoir-Rhyne
LB – LJ Melvin, Catawba
DB – David Vereen, Newberry
DB – Dee Alford, Tusculum
DB – Cris Page, Catawba
DB – Eric Jackson, Lenoir-Rhyne
DB – Marcus Tarrer, UVa-Wise
P – Thomas Cook, Limestone