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College Football: UNI’s Smith named Preseason Player of the Year, 14 Panthers honored by Phil Steele

This news story was published on July 25, 2020.
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CEDAR FALLS – Elerson G. Smith was recognized as the FCS National Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and 14 total Panthers were honored as part of Phil Steele’s FCS Preseason honors. Spencer Brown and Bryce Flater were also named First-Team Preseason All-Americans.

Joining the trio, Isaiah Weston and Jared Brinkman earned second-team All-American honors and Xavior Williams was named Fourth-Team All-American.

All seven Preseason All-American honorees were named Preseason First-Team All-MVFC. Chris Kolarevic and Omar Brown and Matthew Cook also received First-Team All-MVFC recognition. The Panthers captured six of 12 spots on the All-MVFC Defensive First Team.

Will McElvain and Brawntae Wells were named Second-Team All-MVFC. Nick Ellis, Tim Butcher and Austin Evans received Third-Team All-MVFC honors.

Smith enters his senior season after a breakout junior campaign that saw the defensive end rack up 14 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and 14 QB hurries. He also forced five fumbles and blocked a pair of field goals. He anchors a defensive line that saw three other players (Brinkman, Wells, Butcher) receive recognition from Steele.

Spencer Brown enters his the season as the leader on the offensive line. He has NFL scouts taking notice of his size and strength. National college football writer Bruce Feldman named him to his 2020 College Football Freaks list. Brown enters his senior year after missing just one start in the last two seasons.

Flater finished his sophomore campaign with 143 tackles to lead the Panthers. He tallied 22 total tackles in the FCS Quarterfinal game against James Madison, tied for fourth all-time in a game. Fellow linebacker Kolarevic joined Flater on the first-Team All-MVFC team.

UNI continues to work towards a season opener, which is currently slated for Sept. 12 against Idaho State in Pocatello.

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