Mocs Football Picked to Finish Third in Preseason SoCon Poll


( The UTC football team put a league-high 11 individuals on the preseason All-Southern Conference team today.  The Mocs tied for the SoCon lead with five on the first team and were picked third in both the preseason media and coaches polls.

No other team in the league reached double-figures in honorees with Samford in second place at nine.  Furman was third with eight, while The Citadel and VMI had seven each.

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Senior offensive lineman Cole Strange and senior receiver Bryce Nunnelly both made first team offense.  Strange is a Phil Steele Preseason All-American and a four-year starter. Nunnelly is a two-time first team All-SoCon honoree who is also a returning Academic All-American.  He is second all-time at UTC with nine career 100-yard games and is in the top 10 with 149 catches and 2,214 career receiving yards.

Senior defensive back Brandon Dowdell, junior defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell and junior linebacker Ty Boeck all made the first team defense.  All three are returning all-conference performers with Dowdell leading the way as a two-time first team honoree.  Maxwell led the SoCon with 7.0 sacks last season, while Boeck was second on the team with 101 tackles.

Representing the Mocs on the second team offense are senior offensive lineman Harrison Moon, senior tight end Chris James, junior offensive lineman McClendon Curtis and sophomore running back Ailym Ford.  Moon and James are both in their sixth year of eligibility.  Moon has started 15 games at tackle since transferring from Mississippi State in 2018.  James is a Preseason All-American who is tied for first in the NCAA among returning tight ends with seven TD catches in 2019.

Curtis started all 12 games for the Mocs in 2019, playing 11 at right guard.  Ford was fifth in the voting for the 2019 Jerry Rice Award, given to the National Freshman of the Year.  He led all freshman in the FCS and FBS with 108.1 rushing yards per game in 2019.

Second team defense included sophomore defensive lineman Jay Person and senior defensive back Jordan Jones. Person played in 11 games with three starts, posting 41 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.  Jones led the SoCon with 12 passes defended while totaling a career-high 46 tackles.

UTC picked up one first place vote in the preseason coaches poll, totaling 53 points.  Wofford led that list with 60 points and Furman was second with 56.  Furman tops the media poll with 246 points, followed by Wofford (228) and Chattanooga (192).  The Citadel was fourth in the media poll with three first-place votes.

UTC enters the spring season with an 0-1 record, following the narrow 13-10 loss at Western Kentucky on Oct. 24.  The Mocs first game of the spring is at home against VMI on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Noon (E.S.T.) at Finley Stadium.


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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at