By Josh Buchanan
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
QB Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State, Jr.: The junior amassed 1,948 passing yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 1,588 yards and 21 more touchdowns last year. He did that missing 4 _ games and led the Mountaineers to their 3rd straight national title. Injuries left him off the All-SoCon team but his playoff performance earned him 2nd team All-America plaudits by The Sports Network and the distinction of the preseason #1 QB, also by The Sports Network. Phil Steele Magazine has Edwards as a preseason 1st team All-American, and the QB has been selected as the preseason SoCon Offensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches.
Others Considered: WR Terrell Hudgins, Elon, Jr.; QB Scott Riddle, Elon, Soph.; WR Andre Roberts, The Citadel, Jr.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
LB Pierre Banks, Appalachian State, Sr.: This selection could easily change by season’s end but nobody enters the season with the career consistency of Banks. He earned 1st team All-America honors by The Sports Network last year with 108 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 7 passes defended. Phil Steele Magazine also named him a preseason 1st team All-American while the SoCon coaches tabbed him the SoCon preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Others Considered: LB Seth Goldwire, Wofford, Sr.; LB Corey Weaver, Elon, Sr.; LB Joseph Thornton, Chattanooga, Jr.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OF THE YEAR
OT Joel Bell, Furman, Sr.: Bell earned 1st team All-SoCon honors as a junior and 2nd team plaudits as a sophomore. The Sports Network also named him honorable mention All-America last year and Bell earned preseason 1st team All-SoCon honors from both the league’s coaches and Phil Steele Magazine. The magazine also named him a 1st team preseason All-American.
Others Considered: OT Derek Wooten, Wofford, Sr.; OG Mario Acitelli, Appalachian State, Jr.; OG/OT William Giles, UTC, Sr. OT Brad Coley, Appalachian State, Sr.
TOP NFL PROSPECT
OT Joel Bell, Furman: Bell’s mammoth size (6’7, 315) and good footwork make him a potential mid-round left tackle prospect. Consistency and technique are his main weaknesses but they can be improved with experience and coaching. Expect him to earn mid-round grades from most teams with a solid senior campaign.
Others Considered: OG William Giles, UTC; WR TJ Courman, Appalachian State, P Brandon Lane, Elon.
NATIONAL AWARD CANDIDATES
WALTER PAYTON AWARD CANDIDATES
QB Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State, Jr.
QB Scott Riddle, Elon, Soph.
WR Terrell Hudgins, Elon, Jr.
WR Andre Roberts, The Citadel, Jr.
BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD CANDIDATES
LB Pierre Banks, Appalachian State, Sr.
LB Seth Goldwire, Wofford, Sr.
Tomorrow: Team Predictions