FRISCO – The Southland Conference unveiled its preseason all-conference teams on Thursday morning with six Sam Houston State Bearkats finding their way onto the squads, per a release from league officials.
The teams come a week in advance of the upcoming Southland Football Media Day to be held in Houston on Thursday, July 18. The league will reveal its predicted preseason order of finish prior to the start of that day’s events, which will be aired on the ESPN platform.
Senior wide receiver Nathan Stewart and junior defensive back Zyon McCollum were each named to the preseason first team after each earned all-SLC honors a year ago. Also named to the second team were senior tight end Woody Brandom, senior defensive end Erick Fowler and senior linebackers Hunter Brown and Royce See.
McCollum is the only returning Bearkat to have landed on the all-SLC first team in 2018 after a sophomore season that established him as one of the top secondary players the league has to offer.
He started all 11 games at cornerback a year ago for the Kats, finishing with 44 tackles and a team-high three interceptions. He also had eight pass breakups and 1.5 TFLs, while closing the season with a 2-interception game at HBU that included a 17-yard pick-six in the second quarter.
That season came after he played in all 14 games as a true freshman, making 10 starts in 2017. He also intercepted three passes that year, becoming the first Bearkat freshman to do so since 2001 and the first Bearkat true freshman to do it since 1973.
Meanwhile, Stewart will be chasing FCS history as a senior in 2019 as he is one of just four receivers all-time in the FCS to have recorded 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. Should he achieve the 1,000-yard mark again he would join Terrell Hudgins (Elon) and Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) as the only three FCS receivers in history to post 1,000 yards in each of their four years of eligibility.
He finished with 1,063 yards a year ago to go with five touchdowns, finishing with at least 100 yards in each of his final five games of 2018 on his way to earning second team all-SLC honors. He enters his senior season ranking second all-time at SHSU in receiving yards and needs just 228 to move past former teammate Yedidiah Louis for the all-time lead in that category.
Fowler was a second team all-SLC choice last season, his first playing full-time on the defensive line after joining the Kats as a transfer from Texas prior to the 2017 season. He ranked in the top 10 in the Southland in both tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (5.0), getting in on at least one TFL in each of SHSU’s first 10 games of the year.
He also had a pair of fumble recoveries and totaled 40 tackles, joining with Buck Buchanan Award finalist Derick Roberson to form one of the top pass rushing duos in all of the FCS.
For Brandom, the preseason honor is the first of his career as a Bearkat and comes on the heels of a solid first year with the program. A former defensive lineman at Montana State, Brandom moved to tight end at Riverside CC and joined the Kats in that capacity before the 2018 season.
He started all 11 games for the Kats at tight end, serving as a reliable pass option, but also as a key physical piece to the SHSU offensive attack. Brandom made the most of his 13 receptions on the year, totaling 105 yards for an average of 9.5 yards per catch with five of those grabs going for at least 10 yards.
The Kats also landed each of their senior linebackers on the second team in Brown and See. Brown has played in 38 games of the past three years and earned honorable mention all-SLC last year after finishing seventh in the league with 97 tackles. He started all 11 games at middle linebacker in 2018, picking up 6.0 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Brown had at least 10 tackles in five games on the year, including 17 stops at Lamar, which tied for the 11th most in a single game in SHSU history.
See has been a mainstay on the Bearkat defense for the past three seasons and is coming off his best year as a junior where he started all 11 games and ranked 12th in the SLC with 80 tackles for the year. The native of Shepherd also delivered a dozen tackles for loss and was second on the team with 5.5 sacks, both career highs.
The Bearkats will open up the 2019 season on August 31 at New Mexico before returning to Huntsville to host Oklahoma Panhandle State in the home opener.