STEPHENVILLE – On Tuesday, the Western Athletic Conference announced their first preseason team awards list since 2012, and four Tarleton State Texans were recognized in advance of the 2021 season.
On the 2021 Preseason All-WAC Offense are wide receiver Tariq Bitson and offensive lineman Zach Perry, while defensive back Devin Hafford and linebacker Ronnell Wilson were named to the 2021 Preseason All-WAC Defense.
The teams were crafted by vote of the league’s six head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.
“Hafford, Wilson and Perry have all been major parts of our program over these past few years, while Bitson made an immediate impact in his first year with us last season,” head coach Todd Whitten said. “This proves their hard work has not gone unnoticed, and it’s not just myself who expects big things out of them, but the league as a whole. Now it’s time to get on the field and prove it, something I know all four players are eager to do.”
Bitson is one of three wide receivers to make the preseason team after a standout spring in his first season at Tarleton. The senior led the Texans in multiple receiving categories, including touchdowns (7), yards (614), receptions (43) and yards per game (87.7). Perry is one of five offensive linemen to earn the preseason honor. He played in seven of eight games in the spring on an offensive line that allowed just 1.38 sacks per game, a mark that would have put Tarleton 20th in the FCS if not for the reclassification period.
Hafford and Wilson are two of five Texans remaining from the first recruiting class of Whitten’s return in 2016, as both enter their sixth season at Tarleton. Hafford, one of four defensive backs on the preseason team, had five pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and 25 tackles (3.5 TFLs) from the secondary last season in eight games. Wilson is one of four linebackers on the preseason team after leading the Texans in tackles (76), tackles for a loss (10.0) and forced fumbles (3).
Tarleton as a team was picked to finish third in the WAC this season. The full preseason lists can be found below (Dixie State was not qualified to be selected as they aren’t playing a full WAC schedule):
|Rank||Team (1st Place Votes)||Points|
|1.||Sam Houston (5)||20|
|2.||Stephen F. Austin (1)||16|
|2021 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Eric Schmid, Jr., QB, Sam Houston|
|2021 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Jahari Kay, Sr., DL, Sam Houston|
|2021 Preseason All-WAC Teams|
|QB||Eric Schmid, Jr., Sam Houston|
|RB||Quali Conley, Fr., Dixie State|
|RB||Ramon Jefferson, Jr., Sam Houston|
|WR||Tariq Bitson, Gr., Tarleton|
|WR||Jequez Ezzard, Gr., Sam Houston|
|WR||Xavier Gipson, So., Stephen F. Austin|
|TE||Isaac Schley, Gr., Sam Houston|
|OL||Eleasah Anderson, Jr., Sam Houston|
|OL||Zach Ingram, Sr., Stephen F. Austin|
|OL||Zachary Perry, Sr., Tarleton|
|OL||Prince Pines, So., Sam Houston|
|OL||Colby Thomas, Sr., Sam Houston|
|DL||Jahari Kay, Sr., Sam Houston|
|DL||Trace Mascorro, Sr., Sam Houston|
|DL||Brandon Thompson Jr., Jr., Stephen F. Austin|
|DL||Joseph Wallace, Sr., Sam Houston|
|LB||Quentin Brown, Jr., Sam Houston|
|LB||Brevin Randle, So., Stephen F. Austin|
|LB||Trevor Williams, Jr., Sam Houston|
|LB||Ronnell Wilson, Sr., Tarleton|
|DB||Devin Hafford, Sr., Tarleton|
|DB||Zyon McCollum, Sr., Sam Houston|
|DB||Anthony Ruffin, Jr., Lamar|
|DB||Jaylen Thomas, Sr., Sam Houston|
|All-WAC Special Teams|
|K||Seth Morgan, Fr., Sam Houston|
|P||Matt McRobert, Sr., Sam Houston|
|KR||Jequez Ezzard, Gr., Sam Houston|