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  • Daniel Hooker

Five Catamounts Named CSC Academic All-District

Western Carolina landed five football student-athletes on the 2022 Academic All-District Football team, selected by College Sports Communicators (CSC, formerly CoSIDA), the organization announced on Tuesday. Defensive lineman Marlon Alexander, tight end Clayton Bardall, punter Brandon Dickerson, placekicker Richard McCollum, and defensive end Micah Nelson each collected academic accolades.

The five Academic All-District selections are the most for the Catamounts in a single-season all-time, though parameters changed this year with all qualifying nominees claiming all-district plaudits. WCU previously earned three all-district honors in both the 2012 and 2015 seasons. This fall’s selections are the first for the Catamounts since AJ Newman collected district accolades back in 2017.

CSC Academic All-District Team selections were required to have posted a minimum of a cumulative 3.50 or better GPA, completed at least two semesters at their current school, played in at least half their team's competitions, and be considered a starter or key team contributor. Freshmen and student-athletes who have transferred within the last year were not eligible. Each school was also limited in the number of selections it could nominate for each sport, eight the maximum allowed for football.

Alexander is majoring in communications with a concentration in broadcasting, carrying a cumulative grade point average of 3.848. The Smyrna, Tenn., product was credited with 25 tackles this season from his interior defensive line position, recording 2.5 tackles for loss with 1.5 sacks. The junior also recovered a fumble at the nationally-ranked Mercer Bears this season. A 2021-22 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll recipient, Alexander also earned a SoCon Commissioner’s Medal last year.

Since transferring to WCU from Gardner-Webb in the summer of 2021, Alexander is very active within the WCU Athletics Department, working an internship with Athletics Ticketing and Marketing over the summer of 2022. He is expected to graduate this semester and begin pursuing a Master of Science in sport management in the spring.

Bardall, a fifth-year junior from Cumming, Ga., has a 4.0 GPA while pursuing a Master of Science in engineering technology. He earned a BS degree in engineering with a mechanical concentration with a 3.514 GPA as an undergraduate, graduating in May 2022. Bardall played in all 11 of the team’s games this season, recording 11 receptions for 163 yards including a career-long 47-yard reception at Mercer in early October. He remains also a key component in WCU’s run game as a blocking back, aiding WCU to 185.0 rushing yards per game – fourth in the SoCon.

Over 41 career games, Bardall has 33 catches for 465 yards with four touchdowns including a career-best three in the COVD-altered 2020-21 season. He has earned Academic All-SoCon honors three times and is a four-time SoCon Academic Honor Roll recipient (2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22).

Dickerson is an Integrated Health Sciences major with a pre-professional concentration with aspirations of attending medical school. He boasts a 3.738 cumulative GPA, is a three-time SoCon Academic Honor Roll recipient, and earned 2021 Fall Academic All-SoCon honors. On the field, the fourth-year walk-on punter averaged a career-best 43.7 yards per kick this fall to rank second in the SoCon individual rankings. Nominated for the NCAA FCS Punter of the Year award, Dickerson boomed a career-best seven punts of 50+ yards while downing 13 of his 31 kicks inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

Over the past four seasons, Dickerson has averaged 38.7 yards per punt, tied with Blake Cain (2008-11) for ninth in the program’s career record books, while his 139 career punts rank him 12th in school history.

McCollum is currently pursuing a Master of Health Sciences with a GPA of 3.5 after earning a BS in Integrated Health Sciences with a Health Management concentration in December 2021. He is a two-time Academic All-SoCon selection and was named to the SoCon Academic Honor Roll three times. Listed as a redshirt junior on the field, McCollum finished the 2022 season 17-of-19 (89.5%) on field goals with his 17 made triples ranking tied for fourth in WCU’s single-season history. McCollum finished the 2022 season with a team-best 91 points scored, ranking third in the SoCon in overall points, fourth in points per game (8.3 ppg), and with the most points scored by a kicker in the league this season.

During the season, the Sanford, N.C., product obliterated a previous school benchmark for consecutive made PATs, a record he now holds with 85-straight successful tries. Over the past four years, McCollum is 34-of-40 (85%) on field goals with his 34 successful field goals ranking him fourth in school history. He has scored 207 career points to sit sixth in the program’s record book.

Majoring in health & physical education, Nelson carries a cumulative GPA of 3.67. He is a three-time SoCon Academic Honor Roll recipient (2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22) and a two-time Academic All-SoCon honoree. Nelson finished with 35 total tackles this season including three tackles for loss, each recorded on sacks. He was also credited with four quarterback hurries and a pass break-up from his defensive end position.

Academic All-District honorees advance to the CSC Academic All-America ballot with a first-, second-, and third-team to be announced in December. WCU has had four student-athletes earn All-America honors all-time: Mike Wade (1975, 1976); Eddie Maddox (1984, 1985); Jason Whaley (2003); and Darius Ramsey (2014).

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