Wednesday, June 28, 2017

66 Days 'till Football Kickoff - #66 Wyatt Burnette

It's now 66 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight a player from the offensive line.....

#66 Wyatt Burnette






Class: RS Freshman
Hometown: Franklin, N.C.
High School: Franklin HS
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 280
Position: OL

2016 (Freshman): Did not see game action; expected to take a redshirt.

Prior to Western Carolina: Joined the WCU football roster as a preferred walk-on ... Played both offensive and defensive line as a prep at Franklin High for former Catamount QB Josh Brooks ... 2015 Western North Carolina Athletic Conference (WNCAC) Lineman of the Year, anchoring a line that averaged nearly six yards per carry his senior season ... Named to the Citizen-Times All-Western North Carolina team ... Was selected to play in the 2016 East-West All-Star game in Greensboro, N.C.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

67 Days 'till Football Kickoff - #67 Nick Campbell

It's now 68 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight a player from the offensive line.....

#67 Nick Campbell







Class: Freshman
Hometown: Braselton, Ga.
High School: Mill Creek HS
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 280
Position: OL

Prior to Western Carolina: Three-year varsity letter winner as a center and guard on a three-time region championship squad ... Selected second team All-Gwinnett County as a senior ... Twice named Offensive Lineman of the Week during his career ... Was listed as a two-star athlete by both 247Sports.com and Rivals.com ... High school head coach was Shannon Jarvis ... Was a finalist in the shot put in the Georgia 7-A Track & Field state championship.

Personal: Full name is Nicholas Michael Campbell ... Is the son of Sherrie and Mike Campbell ... Was born in Jacksonville, Fla. ... His father played at Auburn University on the 1988 and 1989 SEC Championship teams before playing professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Hamilton TigerCats ... Has three siblings; Sabrina, Hannah, and Graham.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Renew your Catamount Club membership...........

This is your last week to renew your Catamount Club membership for 2017-2018.

Renew  Here  - New members are certainly Welcome!!!  Please join by June 30, 2017.


68 Days 'till Football Kickoff - #68 Tanner Poindexter

It's now 68 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight a player from the offensive line.....

#68 Tanner Poindexter








Class: RS Senior
Hometown: Pfafftown, N.C.
High School: Ronald Reagan HS
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 290
Position: OL

2016 (Redshirt Junior): Started each of the nine games in which he saw action, missing two games at mid-season against Wofford and Mercer … Each start came at left offensive guard … Was a part of the offensive line unit that paved the way for Detrez Newsome’s second-straight, 1,000-yard rushing season … Credited with one tackle in the season-opener at East Carolina (Sept. 3).

2015 (Junior): Did not see game action due to injury ... Took a medical redshirt.

2014 (Sophomore): Saw action in nine of WCU’s 12 games with three starts along the offensive line … One start came mid-season before starting the final two games at right guard.

2013 (Freshman): Played in 11 of the team's 12 games on the season, making six starts along the offensive line ... Made his WCU debut at ACC-foe, Virginia Tech, with his first collegiate start coming at Samford in league play ... Six starts all came in succession at midseason, each at left guard.

Prior to Western Carolina: Is the first four-year player in Ronald Reagan High history to sign with a NCAA Division I program ... Named All-Central Piedmont Conference at guard along the offensive line, keying Ronald Regan High to an 8-4 season and the school's first-ever playoff berth ... Garnered All-Northwest accolades from the Winston-Salem Journal ... Selected to the North Carolina roster in the 2012 Shrine Bowl, playing every snap at center ... Was named the offensive line MVP as a junior at the National Underclassmen combine held in Greensboro ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.

Personal: Full name is Tanner Edward Poindexter ... Is the son of Clay and Vicky Poindexter ... He has a sister, Clayborne.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

69 Days 'till Football Kickoff - #69 Chase Stehling

It's now 69 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight a player from the offensive line.....

#69 Chase Stehling



Class
: RS Junior
Hometown: Lincolnton, N.C.
High School: North Lincoln HS
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 295
Position: OL

2016 (Redshirt Sophomore): Saw action in all 11 of the team’s games along the offensive line and on special teams, making one start … His first collegiate start came against Chattanooga (Oct. 28) … Was a part of the offensive line unit that paved the way for Detrez Newsome’s second-straight, 1,000-yard rushing season … Credited with one tackle in the UTC game.

2015 (Redshirt Freshman): Did not see game action.

2014 (Freshman): Redshirted.

Prior to Western Carolina: Played along the offensive and defensive line, as well as tight end during his high school career ... Also played basketball and participated in track & field in the weight events including shot put and discus ... High school coach was David Maness.

Personal: Full name is Nicolas Chase Stehling ... Is the son of Albert Stehling.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

70 Days 'till Kickoff - Michael Harper

It's now 70 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

#70 is not currently assigned, so we'll highlight an incoming freshman that might wear #70

Michael Harper











Class: Freshman
Hometown: Wilkesboro, NC
High School: Fork Union Military Academy
Height / Weight: 6-5 / 250
Position: OL


Prior to Western Carolina: Played both offensive and defensive line, starting as a defensive end for head coach Col. John Shuman for three years at FUMA ... As a senior collected All-Prep and All-State honors, as well as received The Cobb Award given to the Prep MVP ... Awarded the Distinguished Cadet Award at FUMA where he served as an officer ... Was named second team VISAA Division I All-State in 2015 ... Earned the 2013 Pioneer League All-Conference Award and Christian Character Award

Personal: Full name is Michael Brian Harper ... Is the son of Michelle and Michael Harper Sr. ... Is one of seven children in his family.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Friday, June 23, 2017

71 Days 'till Kickoff - Hunter Watson

It's now 71 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

#71 is not currently assigned, so we'll highlight an OL that might wear #71

Hunter Watson






Class: RS Junior
Hometown: Greenwood, SC
High School: Ninety-Six HS
Last College:  Presbyterian
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 230
Position: OL

2016 (Redshirt Sophomore): Did not see game action.

Prior to Western Carolina: Originally signed with Presbyterian out of high school, transferring to WCU prior to fall, 2016 ... A pro-style quarterback who was a four-year starter and team captain ... Threw for over 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns as a prep while also rushing for 25 TDs ... Named Index Journal MVP and was an All-Region selection ... Also played basketball in high school.

Personal: Full name is Hunter Evan Watson ... Is the son of Joe and Sherry Watson ... His brother, Josh, also plays football at WCU.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017 Football Preseason Preview: Davidson



Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2017 football opponents.

Today we look at the Davidson Wildcats.

For the second game of the season, the Catamounts open their home schedule in Cullowhee against former Southern Conference member the Davidson Wildcats,

Interestingly, the Cats and Wildcats have only met twice on the gridiron with Western holding a 2-0 record over Davidson.






Davidson

When
: Saturday, September 9 - Time 6:00 pm ET

Where: Bob Waters Field, Whitmire Stadium - Cullowhee, NC

Radio: Catamount Sports Network

TV/video: SoCon Digital Network

The Series: The Cats have won the only two games played between these two teams.


Head Coach: Paul Nichols  -  Paul Nichols ’03 enters his fifth season as the head coach of his alma mater in 2017. He was named to the post by Director of Athletics Jim Murphy on Dec. 21, 2012, and is the program's 27th head coach. In 2015, the Wildcats finished 2-9 overall and 1-7 in the Pioneer Football League, marking the first time since 2012 that the 'Cats recorded multiple victories. The program landed seven Wildcats on the 2015 All-Pioneer Football League teams, including standout wide receiver William Morris earning his second-straight All-PFL First Team honor.


Last year’s record (Davidson): 2-9 overall, 0-8 conference, 1-5 away

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 7 / 4

Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 7 / 4

Key losses:  WR Erik Matson, C Travis Stubblefield, DT Alex Behrend, DT Grant Polofsky, LB James Gessner, CB Ryan Leak, P John Cook
Top returnees: QB Stockton McGuire,  K/P Trevor Smith, WR Kahleel Shaw, DE Thomas Kykes. LB Hunter Murphy.

The Wildcats finished in 8th place in the Pioneer League in scoring defense, giving up an average of 29 points per game, and finished last (11th) in scoring offense with an average of 17 points per game.

2016 Wildcats Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 1274 yards
Yards per game: 116
Yards per rush: 3.5 yards
TDs rushing: 10
Passing Offense: 1917 yards or 174 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 149-336-12
TDs passing: 12
Total Offense: 3191 yards or 290 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 77
Rushing 1st downs: 63
Fumbles-Lost: 10 - 4
3d Down Conversions: 55 of 167 or 33%
4th Down Conversions: 3 of 16 or 19%
Field Goals - Attempts: 8 of 16
Red-Zone Scores: 20 of 32 (63%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 13 of 32 (41%)
Punts (No. Yards): 74 (2752 yds) Avg. per punt: 42 yds
PAT-Attempts: 23 of 24 - 96%
Field Goals-Attempts: 9 of 12
On-Side Kicks: 0 of  0


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72 Days 'till Kickoff - #72 Andrew Miles

It's now 75 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight the offensive line....

#72 Andrew Miles


Class: RS Junior
Hometown: Flowery Branch, Ga.
High School: Flowery Branch HS
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 310
Position: OL




2016 (Redshirt Sophomore): Played in all 11 games with a pair of starts along the offensive line at left guard … Also saw time on special teams … Was a part of the offensive line unit that paved the way for Detrez Newsome’s second-straight, 1,000-yard rushing season.

2015 (Sophomore): Missed the season due to injury, taking a medical redshirt.

2014 (Freshman): Played in 11 of the team's 12 games as a reserve along the offensive line and on special teams ... Did not see playing time at Samford (Nov. 8).

Prior to Western Carolina: Earned first team all-region offensive line for 8-AAAAA in Georgia as a senior ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com ... A part of Flowery Branch High's Region 8-AAAAA title in 2012 ... Helped the Falcons average 33 points per game in 2012 ... Was a high school teammate with fellow WCU signee, Jackson McDonald ... High school coach was Chris Griffin.

Personal: Is the son of Chris Miles.




Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

73 Days 'till Kickoff - John Wiley

It's now 73 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

#73 is not currently assigned, so we'll highlight another assistant coach..........

John Wiley

























Hometown: Texas City, Texas
Position: Defensive Coordinator
Alma Mater: East Texas State University


John Wiley, a former longtime assistant coach at Appalachian State, has been tagged as the next defensive coordinator by Western Carolina head football coach, Mark Speir. Wiley brings over 30 years of coaching experience at a variety of levels to the Catamount football program. Speir worked with Wiley at App State from 2003-09, five of those seasons on the defensive side of the football.

Wiley returns to the familiar mountains of western North Carolina after spending six seasons in the eastern part of the state at East Carolina. He most recently accepted an associate head coaching position at Texas State under former App State player, TSU head coach Everett Withers. Wiley resigned his position at Texas State prior to the 2016 season citing personal and family reasons.

"I am extremely pleased that John Wiley has accepted our defensive coordinator position," said Speir of his longtime colleague. "John is an experienced coach and a proven winner. We coached together at Appalachian State where John led our defense and was a part of that staff that won three national championships and six Southern Conference titles. He also brings over 20 years of experience in recruiting North Carolina to the position."

Speir added, "It is always comforting to hire a guy you have worked with and trust. John will move in from day one and understand our vision and the expectations for this Catamount football program. He will be a great representative for Western Carolina University."

During his six seasons as the associate head and linebackers coach at East Carolina, Wiley was a part of helping guide the Pirates to four bowl game appearances, and helped transform ECU's defense into one of the nation's top 40 units in two of his final three years. He was instrumental in producing six all-conference players including three first-team selections, a Freshman All-American, and a conference freshman of the year.

In 2014, the Pirates ranked among the top 11 in rushing defense nationally after allowing just 111.8 yards per game and giving up less than 100 yards over seven games. ECU was among the top 13 defenses in third-down percentage at 34.2 percent, 37th in passing efficiency with a rating of 120.21, and total defense after giving up 367.3 yards per game in 2014. Wiley also tutored Zeek Bigger and Brandon Williams, who were named the American Athletic Conference's top linebacker duo in 2014 when they combined for 264 tackles. Bigger led the league with 140 stops and Williams finished with 124 as both players were named to the All-AAC teams.

A year earlier, East Carolina ranked among the nation's top 13 rushing defenses and led the conference after surrendering just 116.7 yards per game and less than 100 yards in six games during the 2013 season. The Pirates also gave up just 368.8 total yards and 24.8 points per game.

Wiley's All-Conference USA selections Bigger and Kyle Tudor also played pivotal parts in helping ECU stand among the country's Top 20 units in red zone efficiency defense with a No. 19 rating in 2013.

ECU was among the top 45 teams in rushing defenses in 2012 after improving 60 spots from the previous year. His linebackers also recorded four of the team's 12 forced fumbles and Bigger was the team's third-leading tackler with 77 stops. He also netted five batted passes -- the highest total for any member of the front seven in 2012.

In 2011, Jeremy Grove earned Freshman All-America honors from four publications and was selected the Conference USA Freshman of the Year after averaging 11.1 tackles per game and leading the Pirates with 122 stops. His average ranked among the nation's top 10 players.

Wiley directed walk-on Dustin Lineback to a 119-tackle season in 2010 after inheriting the position group. He also helped the Pirates implement a 3-4 defensive scheme that helped ECU to jump 64 places in the FBS total defense rankings after allowing 102.5 fewer yards than the 2010 campaign.

Wiley made the move to East Carolina after an illustrious stint as a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Appalachian State for a total of 19 years. There, he was the architect of the Mountaineer defense that played a key role in Appalachian State's three NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championships, and a total of seven Southern Conference championships under head coach Jerry Moore. Appalachian State also appeared in the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs 12 times during Wiley's stay in Boone, and he coached seven All-America defensive backs and 87 All-Southern Conference performers including 30 all-conference players in the secondary.

Five players who Wiley coached at ASU went on to be selected in the NFL Draft including Keith Collins (1990, San Diego Chargers), Gary Dandridge (1992, Seattle Seahawks), Matt Stevens (1996, Buffalo Bills), Corey Hall (2001, Atlanta Falcons), and Corey Lynch (2008, Cincinnati Bengals). Lynch also set the school's career records with 31 interceptions and 52 passes defended under his tutelage. In 2008, Mark LeGree earned Consensus All-Southern Conference honors after breaking a 35 year-old record and tied the SoCon single season record with 10 interceptions as a sophomore first-year starter. LeGree was later drafted by Seattle in 2011.

Wiley's App State defenses also led the league in total defense in 2000 and 2006, and produced six Mountaineers who were named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year eight times. They were Dexter Coakley (1994-96), Josh Jefferies (2002), K.T. Stovall (2003), Marques Murrell (2006), Lynch (2007) and Jacque Roman (2008). Coakley was later drafted in the third round in 1997 by the Dallas Cowboys, and is one of just four Mountaineers to have their number retired in Boone.

Originally from Texas City, Texas, Wiley is a 1984 graduate of East Texas State University where he was a three-year football letterman and part of the Lions' 1983 Lone Star Conference championship. He got his start in coaching at Leander High School in Leander, Texas, before serving as a graduate assistant at the University of Texas where he was a part of the Longhorns' Bluebonnet Bowl appearance in 1987.

Prior to returning to App State in 1993, Wiley served as a defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator at Iowa Wesleyan in 1991. Iowa Wesleyan ranked as high as No. 5 in the NAIA poll and advanced into the national playoffs. He also spent a season on the sidelines at Valdosta State in 1992 helping lead the team to final top 20 ranking at the NCAA Division II level.

Wiley is married to the former Kelly Ponder of Raleigh, N.C., who has a national championship of her own. She was a four-year member of the Appalachian State cheerleading squad, and was a part of the Mountaineer's 1989 UCA national championship team. The couple has three children -- daughter Megan and sons Jaxon and Lucas.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

74 Days 'till Kickoff - Pat Mills

It's now 74 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

 #74 is not currently assigned, so we'll highlight another assistant coach..........

Pat Mills


Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
Position: Assistant Coach / Special Teams Coordinator / Tight Ends
Alma Mater: Appalachian State
Graduated: 2011



Pat Mills joined the Catamount football staff in January of 2012, coming to Cullowhee after spending the 2011 season as the tight ends coach at Concord University in Athens, W.Va., a role he will continue at Western Carolina. In the summer of 2015 - and after unofficially handling the duties in 2014 - Mills was additionally named WCU's Special Teams Coordinator by head coach Mark Speir.

Under Mills’ tutelage in 2013, WCU tight end Michael Helms, Jr., was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team. In 2014, tight end Tyler Sexton caught three TD passes. Mills additionally worked with former Catamount tight end, Conner Orr, who was named a Capital One All-District III team selection by CoSIDA.

In 2011, Mills mentored Concord senior tight end Rashid Baker who finished the season ranked third on the team with 32 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Baker earned honorable mention on the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) post-season award squads.

The Mountain Lions finished with a 7-4 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the WVIAC, claiming its first conference championship since 1990. Concord also qualified for the NCAA Super Region 1 playoffs, the program's first post-season appearance since 1992.

Mills was a four-year letter-winner and three-year starter along the offensive line at Appalachian State from 2007-10, twice garnering All-Southern Conference plaudits. Originally from Charlotte, N.C., and Providence HS, he played in 47 career games at ASU, splitting time at both offensive guard positions.

As a redshirt junior, Mills started all 14 games at right guard, earning second team All-SoCon recognition from the league's voting media after only allowing one sack all season. The following year, he earned first team all-conference accolades, seeing 723 snaps on the field without allowing a quarterback sack.

Mills helped lead Providence HS in Charlotte to a 9-2 record in his senior season at offensive tackle, earning first-team All-Mecklenburg recognition from the Charlotte Observer as a senior.

He is the son of Gail and Dean Mills.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Monday, June 19, 2017

75 Days 'till Kickoff - #75 Nathan Dalton

It's now 75 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight the offensive line....

#75 Nathan Dalton














Class: RS Junior
Hometown: East Flat Rock, N.C.
High School: East Henderson HS
Height / Weight: 6-7 / 315
Position: OL

2015 (Redshirt Freshman): Played in all 11 of the team's games with nine-consecutive starts at right guard to end the season ... Graded out at over 82-percent on the season along the offensive line ... Named to the 2015 Southern Conference All-Freshman team ... Was a part of an offensive line that helped produce WCU's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 ... Named to the 2015-16 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.

2014 (Freshman): Enrolled in the spring semester at Western Carolina and went through spring drills.

Prior to Western Carolina: Was named the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference lineman of the year ... Named to the Asheville Citizen-Times All-WNC team ... Graded out at 90-percent with 46 pancake blocks for East Henderson ... Selected to represent North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl ... Also played along the defensive front, finishing with 67 tackles including 29 solo stops ... Listed as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com.

Personal: Is the son of Lee and Jeannine Dalton.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

76 Days 'till Kickoff - #76 Sean Biette

It's now 76 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight the defensive line....

 #76 Sean Biette






Class: RS Junior
Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
High School: Cardinal Gibbons HS   
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 285
Position: OL

2015 (Redshirt Freshman): Did not see game action.

2014 (Freshman): Did not see game action.

Prior to Western Carolina: Played football and wrestled at Cardinal Gibbons High ... Was a part of three championships teams at CGHS.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pope to skip senior season at WCU, signs with Pirates

Brett Pope will not play his senior season at Western Carolina, as he will sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates early next week

“They gave me the money I was asking for and offered to pay for my last year of school,” said Pope, noting he could finish his college studies at a later date. “It seemed like the best option: to go. This is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Pope was quoted as saying to the Statesville Record.

Pope will travel to Pittsburgh early next week for a physical and to sign his contract. He will then report to Granville, West Virginia, to begin playing West Virginia Black Bears. The Pirates’ short-season Class A affiliate is a member of the New-York Penn League.

Purple & Gold Congratulates Brett and wishes him much success.



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77 Days 'till Kickoff - Blake Gideon




It's now 77 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

#77 is not currently assigned, so we'll highlight another assistant coach......

Blake Gideon


Position: Assistant Coach / Pass Game Coordinator / Defensive Secondary

Alma Mater: Texas






A former University of Texas defensive standout, Blake Gideon, joined the Western Carolina defensive coaching staff in early April, 2016 from South Carolina. Gideon, who has experience with a combined three SEC programs, will coach the Catamount defensive secondary. During the summer of 2017, Gideon was elevated to the position of passing game coordinator, working alongside defensive coordinator John Wiley.

"We're very excited to add Blake Gideon to our coaching staff," said Speir. "Blake was a tremendous player at Texas who brings passion and a high level of intensity to our defense. He has proven to be an exceptionally bright young coach who is already well respected in our coaching profession. He brings the experience of both playing -- and coaching -- in big-time college football atmospheres."

Gideon has an extensive background with first-year South Carolina head coach, Will Muschamp. He played for Muschamp when he was the defensive coordinator at Texas, with Gideon's first coaching stint on the defensive quality control staff specializing with the secondary coming under Muschamp at Florida. Gideon followed Muschamp to Auburn in 2015 in a similar capacity, and eventually to South Carolina before taking the position in Cullowhee.

A four-year starter at safety for the Longhorns under head coach Mack Brown, Gideon was named to the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award watch list. He was a four-time honorable mention All-Big XII selection who started 52 games -- second-most in Texas history. He finished his collegiate career with 276 tackles including 166 solo stops with 20 pass break-ups and 10 interceptions. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and health

Gideon was signed as an undrafted free agent by the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in 2012, completing training camp before being waived. He was then signed by the Denver Broncos to their practice squad before being signed to a futures contract following the 2012 season, and ultimately retiring from the NFL in 2013 when he joined Muschamp's staff in Florida.

Following a season in Gainesville, Fla., Gideon made the move within the SEC to The Plains, assuming a graduate assistant at Auburn. In what proved to be his final season at Auburn, Gideon was given the defensive back coaching duties on an interim basis by head coach Gus Malzahn during preparations for the 2015 Birmingham Bowl vs. Memphis after DB coach Travaris Robinson followed Muschamp to South Carolina. Under Gideon's guidance in the bowl victory, Auburn's defensive secondary had one of its best performances of the year, holding the high-powered Memphis offense to just 205 yards of total offense and three points. The secondary helped limit Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch to 16-of-37 passing and 108 yards through the air with an interception.

A native of Leander, Texas -- and the son of a veteran high school football coach -- Gideon made the move to Columbia, S.C., in January of 2016 as a linebackers and special teams graduate assistant coach before taking the full-time position at Western Carolina.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Friday, June 16, 2017

78 Days 'till Kickoff - #78 Sheldon Kinard

It's now 78 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight the defensive line....

#78 Sheldon Kinard













Class: RS Junior
Hometown: Charlotte, N.C.
High School: North Mecklenburg HS
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 260
Position: DT

2015 (Redshirt Sophomore): Played in four games along the defensive front, but did not record any statistics.

2014 (Redshirt Freshman): Appeared in two games as a defensive reserve, but did not record any statistics ... Made his collegiate debut against Catawba (Sept. 13) ... Playing for the Purple squad, credited with two tackles in WCU's annual Spring Game.

2013 (Freshman): Redshirted.

Prior to Western Carolina: Was a four-year letter winner between both West Charlotte Senior High and North Mecklenburg High Schools ... Earned All-I-Meck 4-A Conference accolades and first team All-Region plaudits as a senior.

Personal: Full name is Sheldon Xavier Kinard ... Is the son of Yatu Davis and Kannetha Kinard.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Football Preseason Preview: Hawaii




Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2017 football opponents. Today we look at the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

In the opening game of the 2017 season, the Catamounts travel to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii to meet the Rainbow Warriors.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the Catamounts and Rainbow Warriors of the Mountain West Conference, one of the two FBS games the Cats will play in 2017.


Hawaii



When
: Saturday, September 2, 2017

Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Radio: Catamount Sports Network

TV / video: TBA

The Series: The Cats Cats and Rainbow Warriors meet for the first time on the football field.


Head Coach:  NIck Rolovich  - Nick Rolovich was formally introduced as the University of Hawai‘i’s new head football coach during a press conference on December 1, 2015, at the UH Athletics Department Lecture Hall. A standing-room-only crowd welcomed the former UH quarterback and assistant coach who was hired after spending the previous four years as the University of Nevada offensive coordinator. Rolovich is the 23rd head coach for the Rainbow Warrior program.



Last year’s record (Hawaii): 7-7 overall, 4-4 conference

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 8 / 3

Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6 / 5


Key losses: WR Marcus Kemp, OL Leo Koloamatangi, K Rigoberto Sanchez
Top returnees: QB Dru Brown, OL Dejon Allen, LB Jahlani Tavai, DL Meffy Koloamatangi, DB Trayvon Henderson

Strengths: Hawaii’s passing attack improved considerably in 2016, going from No. 98 in the nation with 192.4 yards per game to No. 68 with 227 yards per game. Dru Brown will lead a group of eight returning starters trying to build on their 2016 offensive success.
Weaknesses: The Rainbow Warriors have to offset the loss of five defensive starters and improve a defensive unit that struggled last season. The defense ranked No. 113 nationally (FBS) in scoring defense, and surrendered 37 points per game, a figure that puts considerable pressure on the offense.


2016 Hawaii Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 2293 yards
Yards per game: 164
Yards per rush: 4.8 yards
TDs rushing: 25
Passing Offense: 3185 yards or 228 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 257-438-15
TDs passing: 25
Total Offense: 5478 yards or 391 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 134
Rushing 1st downs: 107
Fumbles-Lost: 20 - 10
3d Down Conversions: 64 of 182 or 35%
4th Down Conversions: 15 of 25 or 60%
Field Goals - Attempts: 13 of 13
Red-Zone Scores: 44 of 49 (90%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 33 of 49 (67%)
Punts (No. Yards): 70 (3122 yds) Avg. per punt: 45 yds
PAT-Attempts: 49 of 50 - 98%
Field Goals-Attempts: 13 of 13
On-Side Kicks: 0 of 1


(Next week, a look at game #2 opponent - The Davidson Wildcats)


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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79 Days 'till Kickoff - #79 Bailey Byrum

It's now 79 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on September 2, 2017, in Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

To help pass those long summer days until football season starts, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff.

Today we'll highlight the offensive line....

#79 Bailey Byrum













Class: Sophomore
Hometown: Sweetwater, Tenn.
High School: Sweetwater HS
Height / Weight: 6-7 / 315
Position: OL

Prior to Western Carolina: Three-time all-county selection and a two-time all-district honoree ... As a senior, was named All-State by both the Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TWSA) and The Examiner.com ... Selected as the Region 2-AA co-Offensive Lineman of the Year and was the Advocate Democrat lineman of the year ... Played for the East squad in the Toyota East-West All-Star Classic ... Graded out with 158 career pancake blocks over three seasons including a career-high 72 as a senior with 95 career knockdowns, 64 in his final season ... As a junior, was named a MVP at a National Playmakers Academy camp held at Tennessee State Univ. ... Listed as a three-star athlete by 247Sports.com and a two-star standout by Rivals.com ... He is considered the No. 124 offensive tackle in the nation and the No. 26 overall player in the Tennessee Class of 2016 ... High school coach was Ethan Edmiston.

Personal: Is the son of Eddie and Laura Byrum ... His grandfather, David Michael "Big Dog" Vestal Sr., played football at the University of Tennessee where he was on the Vols 1956 Sugar Bowl team ... His uncle, David Vestal Jr., played football at ETSU.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

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