Six Bucs earn preseason All-SoCon honors
Published 10:18 am Friday, July 28, 2023
Arnold II, Evans, Huzzie, Kelley, Phillips and West land on preseason all-conference teams
GREENVILLE, S.C. – With the Southern Conference holding Football Media Day at the Hotel Hartness in Greenville, S.C. on Thursday, the league office announced its preseason teams and polls, and six Buccaneers landed preseason honors.
ETSU had two players on offense, defense and special teams named to the preseason second team list. Redshirt senior wide receiver Will Huzzie (Duluth, Ga.), redshirt junior tight end Noah West (Louisa, Ky.), junior defensive back Sheldon Arnold II (Loganville, Ga.), redshirt junior defensive lineman Max Evans (Middletown, Ohio), redshirt sophomore punter Trace Kelley (Gallatin, Tenn.) and sophomore long snapper Ryan Phillips (Gallatin, Tenn.) were all the Bucs represented on the preseason all-SoCon second team.
Huzzie played in all 11 games (10 starts) last season for the Blue & Gold. The Duluth, Ga. native led the Bucs in receptions (42), receiving yards (541) and receiving touchdowns (6) in 2022. Huzzie had seven games last season with at least four receptions, including a career game against Samford. In the game against the Bulldogs, Huzzie set career highs in receptions (8) and receiving touchdowns (3), while adding 128 receiving yards – marking his third career game with 100-plus receiving yards. Huzzie opened the year with five catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Mars Hill, while following that up with five receptions for 51 yards and a score at The Citadel. For his career, Huzzie has played in 38 games for ETSU, totaling 148 receptions, 1,979 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. Huzzie enters the 2023 season third all-time in program history in receptions and receiving yards, while he’s three receiving touchdowns shy of cracking the top three.
West also played in all 11 games last season, making eight starts at tight end. The Buccaneer redshirt junior posted 10 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown. West had at least one reception in seven of the 11 games. He opened the season with two receptions for 44 yards against Mars Hill, while he hauled in a 34-yard touchdown reception against Samford for the first score of his ETSU career. West also had two-reception games against Furman and Chattanooga. For his career, West has played in 34 games in the Blue & Gold, registering 20 receptions for 225 yards and one touchdown.
Arnold II, the Bucs’ top returning tackler from a year ago, played in all 11 games and made five starts. The Buccaneer defensive back totaled 53 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, four pass break ups and one forced fumble. Arnold set a career high with nine tackles against Chattanooga, while registering four tackles and a forced fumble versus Furman. The Loganville, Ga. native recorded two hits and an interception (46-yard return) at Robert Morris. Arnold had five tackles each against Mercer, Samford and Western Carolina. In addition, he had an interception against the Catamounts and ended the season with six tackles (five solo) at Mississippi State. Over his career, Arnold has played in 30 games and has notched 58 total tackles, two tackles for loss, three interceptions, four pass break ups and one forced fumble.
Evans, another leader on the Buccaneer defense, finished the 2022 season with 34 tackles and four tackles for loss. The Middletown, Ohio native posted at least one tackle in all 11 games for the Blue & Gold last season. Evans, who made nine starts on the defensive line last season, tied a career high with six tackles at Wofford and had two tackles for loss against Western Carolina. For his career, Evans has totaled 87 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 31 games at ETSU.
Kelley is coming off a season where he earned SoCon all-freshman team honors in 2022. In his first season punting for the Bucs, Kelley averaged 40.6 yards per attempt as he finished the year with 48 punts for 1,950 yards. Kelley, who had seven punts sail over 50-plus yards, had a season-best 66-yard punt at Mercer. The 66-yard punt was the second-longest among SoCon punters last season. Overall, Kelley had 15 punts land inside the 20-yard line and 16 that resulted in a fair catch.
Joining Kelley with a stellar rookie season in 2022 was Phillips as he took all of the Buccaneer reps at long snapper. Phillips graded out at 100 percent with 109 total snaps on the season. The Gallatin, Tenn. native was extremely consistent as he snapped 48 punts, 38 extra-points and 23 field goal attempts.
Samford quarterback Michael Hiers, the 2022 SoCon Offensive Player of the Year, was named Offensive Preseason Player of the Year, while Chattanooga lineman Jay Person was tabbed Defensive Preseason Player of the Year.
The coaches and media polls were also announced on Thursday. Furman and Samford were tied for first in the coaches poll with 59 points, while the media pegged Furman the favorite with 345 points. In the coaches poll, Furman tallied five of the first-place selections and Samford took the other remaining four. Mercer (49 points), Chattanooga (47 points) and Western Carolina (35 points) rounded out the top five teams.
The Bucs were picked to finish sixth in both polls.
ETSU opens the season at Jacksonville State on Saturday, Sept. 2, while the Bucs’ home opener is slated for Saturday, Sept. 9 against Carson-Newman. To purchase season tickets, please call the ETSU Ticket Office at 423-439-3878 or visit ETSUTickets.com.