Four UWA players earn preseason All-GSC

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four West Alabama players have been selected by league coaches to the 2017 Preseason All-Gulf South Conference Football Team and the Tigers have been picked by the coaches to finish fifth in the league.
Wide receiver Donta Armstrong, defensive end Darius Ellis, linebacker Terry Samuel and place kicker Jordan Bennettwere tabbed by the coaches as members of the preseason all-conference team.
Teams received eight points for a first-place vote, seven for second, etc. Head coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team. Vote totals are listed parenthetically in the next paragraph.
North Alabama (62 points, 7 first place votes) is the coaches’ preseason league favorite, followed by Valdosta State (54, 1), West Georgia (49, 1), Florida Tech (47) and West Alabama (32). Delta State (31), West Florida (25), Mississippi College (16) and Shorter (8) round out the preseason rankings.
Armstrong was an All-Gulf South Conference, All-Region and All-America selection in 2016. He had a GSC-leading 91 receptions for 904 yards with six receiving touchdowns. He led UWA with 1,195 all-purpose yards.
Ellis earned All-GSC and All-South Region honors in 2016 while leading the GSC in tackles for loss with 20 for minus-108 yards. He led UWA tacklers with 42, 32 solo, and recorded 10 sacks. Forty-eight percent of his total tackles came behind opponent’s line of scrimmage.
Samuel recorded 37 total tackles, 23 solo, last season. He also had 5.5 tackles for loss (-27) and was credited with three sacks (-23). He also intercepted one pass and returned it 43 yards.
Bennett was also a 2016 All-GSC selection after leading UWA in scoring with 62 points. He made 10-of-14 field goals (71%) with a long field goal of 48 yards at Stephen F. Austin. Bennett converted 32-of-35 extra points.
Four other Tigers were recognized as 2017 newcomers to watch. Included in that group are offensive tackle Dontavius Blair, safety Khalia Hackett, cornerback Tevin Madison and receiver Broc Malcom. All four are transfers from FBS schools, with Blair coming from Tennessee, Hackett from Arkansas, Madison from Texas Tech and Malcom from Idaho State.
The Tigers open the 2017 season on Aug. 31 at Lenoir Rhyne.