SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Southern Conference named its football players of the week Monday for all games played Sept. 22. VMI quarterback Reece Udinski was named the Offensive Player of the Week, Chattanooga linebacker Marshall Cooper was named Defensive Player of the Week and Citadel running back/kick returner Rod Johnson was named Special Teams Player of the Week. The players of the week are selected by the league office.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Reece Udinski, VMI, So., QB, North Wales, Pa.
VMI quarterback Reece Udinski set three program records in the Keydets’ 52-50 loss at Western Carolina on Saturday, posting new school standards in completions (43), attempts (72) and passing yards (491). His nearly 500 yards through the air were good for seventh in a game in SoCon history, while he added four touchdown passes on the day. Udinski led VMI on two scoring drives of more than 60 yards after the Catamounts – who entered the contest receiving votes in both major national polls – took a 15-point lead with 6:19 left in the game.
Other nominees: Grant Drakeford (The Citadel), Quay Holmes (ETSU), Robert Riddle (Mercer), Kelvin McKnight (Samford), Bryce Nunnelly (Chattanooga) and Tyrie Adams (Western Carolina).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Marshall Cooper, Chattanooga, Jr., LB, Hixson, Tenn.
Chattanooga linebacker Marshall Cooper had eight tackles, a forced fumble and an interception as the Mocs earned a 27-20 win over No. 17 Samford on Saturday. Six of his tackles were solo stops, while his forced fumble came on a Chattanooga goal-line stand in the first half and resulted in a takeaway. Cooper’s first career interception came as Samford was trailing by two scores but driving deep in Chattanooga territory in the fourth quarter, and his 41-yard return flipped the field for the Mocs. Cooper also added a pass breakup in the game.
Other nominees: Noah Dawkins (The Citadel), Dylan Weigel (ETSU), Dorian Kithcart (Mercer), Collin Loftis (VMI) and Solomon Clark (Western Carolina).
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rod Johnson, The Citadel, Jr., RB/KR, Ninety Six, S.C.
The Citadel’s Rod Johnson returned a kickoff 94 yards for the game-winning touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 38-31 win at Mercer on Saturday. After the Bears had tied the contest at 31 with 1:11 to play, Johnson immediately reclaimed momentum and the lead for The Citadel, notching the school’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2002. It was tied for the third-longest in school history. Johnson had two more returns for a total of 116 yards on the day, while the running back also ran for 19 yards and a score for a total of 135 all-purpose yards on the day.
Other nominees: JJ Jerman (ETSU), Mitchell Fineran (Samford), Victor Ulmo (Chattanooga) and Ian Berryman (Western Carolina).