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Mercer's Kaelan Riley tabbed as SoCon Freshman of the Year

Mercer QB Kaelan Riley warms up prior to the Bears' Saturday meeting against #1 Alabama at Bryant Denny Stadium. /(Mason Prince, WGXA)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Southern Conference announced that Mercer QB Kaelan Riley has been named the Freshman of the Year for the conference.

Riley threw for 2,030 yards, 13 touchdowns and ran for four more scores in his first season. Riley was also named one of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award on Monday. The award is given to the nation's top FCS freshman.

Besides Riley, 11 other Bears were given SoCon postseason honors. Linebacker Lee Bennett, wide receiver Chandler Curtis and defensive lineman Isaiah Buehler were all named to the All-SoCon first team.

Running back Tee Mitchell, offensive linemen Thomas Marchman and Austin Sanders, linebacker LeMarkus Bailey, wide receiver Marquise Irvin, and defensive back Eric Jackson were all named to the All-SoCon second team by either the coaches and/or media.

Defensive back Malique Fleming and linebacker Sidney Otiwu were both tabbed as All-Freshman defensive players.

"I'm extremely proud of the 12 young men who were recognized by the Southern Conference for their performances this season," said head coach Bobby Lamb. "This group includes six defensive players, five offensive players and one special teams player, which is indicative of our approach to all three phases of the game.

"I'm proud of our seniors who ended their collegiate careers on a high note with these honors and I am thrilled to see many of our younger players earn recognition as well; the future is bright at Mercer."

Mercer finished the 2017 season 5-6 overall and 4-4 in Southern Conference play.

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