(Editor's note: This article was written by Jay Blackman and published first on the website of GoMocs.com)
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior defensive lineman Isaiah Mack is the consensus Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, the league office announced today. Mack is the sixth in school history to earn the league’s honor and the third to get the award from both the SoCon coaches and media.
All totaled, UTC had 10 players honored on the various All-SoCon teams today. Mack was joined on both the coaches and media first teams by sophomore receiver Bryce Nunnelly and senior defensive back Kareem Orr. Sophomore Brandon Dowdell was a first team selection by the coaches and a second team pick by the media.
Senior defensive lineman Derek Mahafey and junior linebacker Marshall Cooper made the coaches and media second team. Sophomore offensive linemen Cole Strange and Noah Ramsey were on the coaches second team, while junior running back Tyrell Price made the media’s second squad. Defensive lineman Devonnsha Maxwell was the lone Chattanooga representative on the SoCon All-Freshman team.
Mack, who was named a finalist for the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award yesterday, posted 8.5 sacks, 11.5 TFLs and two forced fumbles on the year. The Tunnel Hill, Ga., native was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Week by SouthernPigskin.com after leading the Mocs with nine tackles in a 34-27 win over VMI on Oct. 27. He posted three of the UTC's seven sacks on the day and finished with a career-best 4.0 tackles-for-loss. The three sacks were also a career mark and just a 1/2 shy of the school record.
His 8.5 sacks on the year are second in the Southern Conference and No. 19 in the FCS. He has 21.0 career sacks, which is fourth-place all-time at UTC behind Davis Tull (37.0 - 2011-14), Keionta Davis (31.0 - 2013-16) and Joshua Williams (23.5 - 2009-12). His 41.0 career TFLs are third all-time at UTC, trailing Tull (60.0) and Davis (43.0).
Nunnelly had one of the most prolific seasons for a receiver in school history. He posted 1,237 receiving yards on 79 catches woth seven touchdowns, just 47 yards shy of the school record (1,284) set by Joel Bradford in 2010. He was second in the SoCon and seventh in the nation with 112.5 receiving yards per game and 3rd/8th in receptions per game (7.2).
Orr had four picks on the year, which was second in the SoCon. Dowdell added three interceptions of his own this season. Mahaffey was a repeat selection on the second team, while the others made their first appearances. Maxwell finished with 5.5 sacks, which is second-most by a freshman in school history (Josh Williams – 7.0 in 2009).