By Coy DeWeese

Interior anchors and multi-year All-SAC talents Brian Bembry and Montel Presley wrapped up their careers in 2019, however, Carson-Newman returns starting experience on the ends, which will be melded with Division I transfers.

Wycleff Phanor (Naples, Fla.), Trayzel Jureidini-Wyche (Douglasville, Ga.) and Nick Owens (New Market, Ala.) all have significant experience at the end and fox positions on the edges.

Phanor started all 12 games of his junior season at defensive end.  Phanor earned TSWA state defensive player of the week honors after his performance on Homecoming against Newberry (10/26).  The Naples, Fla.-native was a force in the backfield in Carson-Newman’s 24-21 Homecoming win over Newberry. The junior reset his career highs for tackles and tackles for loss with six and 3.5, respectively.

“Wyclef is an old head,” DeWeese said. “He’s going to make sure everyone is on their p’s and q’s and holds everyone accountable. He’s a special guy.”

Meanwhile, Jureidini-Wyche has shown a knack for making big plays late in games. He caused a late-game game fumble against UVA Wise that C-N recovered en route to a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback.

He earned national player of the week honors in 2019 following the Eagles’ senior day win over Tusculum (11/16) with eight tackles, 4.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss.  He helped Carson-Newman hold an opponent to negative yards rushing for the seventh time in school history.  The Pioneers backed up 35 yards on 30 carries for the third fewest rushing yards against Carson-Newman by a C-N opponent in school history. Wyche himself inserted his name into the record books.

“It’s a great group of kids, I’m hoping Trayzel is a coach one day because he tries to learn so much when he comes in here,” DeWeese said. “He has what it takes to be the best. He has that passion and that motor physically too.”

The 5.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks are both good enough for third all-time in C-N’s all-time single game annals for both stats. His 4.5 sacks are the third highest single-game total in NCAA Division II this year, while the 5.5 tackles for loss are the sixth highest single-game total in Division II. Wyche had eight sacks on the year, the 12th-highest single-season total in school history.

As a freshman, Owens earned his way into the starting lineup and logged starts in all 12 games for the Eagles at defensive end.  Owens made 34 tackles with 1.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss.  Two weeks into his career, he produced a five-tackle game with 2.5 stops behind the line at Wingate (9/21). His top performances came in back-to-back weeks against Limestone (11/9) and Tusculum (11/16) with back-to-back four-tackle weeks.

Joining the trio on the edge is Justice Alexander (Macedonia, Ohio), a former Michigan State Spartan who transfers in from Urbana.

In the spring, he notched two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in Carson-Newman’s lone spring game against UVA Wise.

“Justice is a big athletic guy who is super long.”  DeWeese said. “He has bought in. He is a hybrid. We can throw him inside if we need to to get as many pass rushers as we need to.”

In 2019 with Urbana, he started all 12 games for the Blue Knights, Alexander made 25 tackles with 6.5 for loss and four sacks.  He produced five stops against Fairmont State. He topped out at 1.5 tackles for loss against Glenville State. He had at a hand in a tackle for loss in seven of the Blue Knights games.

In the interior, the Eagles return significant experience in Rodshon Williams (Palmetto, Fla.) and Justin Triplet (Lilburn, Ga.).  Those two join with Brandon Tiassum, a former Notre Dame player who matriculates to Carson-Newman from Urbana.

“Brandon is locked in to what we are doing,” DeWeese said. “He has the capability to be special.  He, Justin and Rodshon will have to move people around so we can make plays.”

Williams worked his way into the starting lineup on Carson-Newman’s defensive line.  He appeared in all 12 games with four starts.  Williams had 10 tackles on the season.  He had multiple stops against Wingate, Newberry and Tusculum.

Triplet appeared in all 12 games in 2019 as a reserve defensive lineman.  He made nine tackles on the year, never more than one in a game.

In 2019, Tiassum appeared in 10 games for Urbana on the defensive line. Made 17 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.  Had two sacks against Concord.

Carson-Newman football’s position previews continue Sunday with the specialists.