Senior center Matt Pyke and sophomore safety Tyree Robinson were on The Associated Press FCS All-America team, released Tuesday.
Pyke was a first-team selection and Robinson was a second-team pick.
“It’s exciting,” said Pyke, who became ETSU’s first All-America offensive lineman since John Walton in 1969. “It’s cool to get that recognition. I wasn’t really expecting it. You couldn’t plan a better finish to your senior year. It’s been fun.”
Pyke started all 45 games in his college career. He oversaw an offensive line that reintroduced football to ETSU after a 12-year hiatus, and the going was tough in the beginning.
By the end of his career, he was in the playoffs. The Bucs went 8-3 in the regular season and lost 34-27 to Jacksonville State in the first round of the FCS playoffs. Pyke played 789 of ETSU’s 795 offensive snaps this season.
Pyke is ETSU’s first player to earn first-team All-America honors since linebacker Mario Hankserson and wide receiver B.J. Adigun did it in 1997.
“I’ve been blessed,” Pyke said. “We kind of got thrown to the wolves that first year. Now, looking back and saying I got 45 straight, that’s pretty awesome.”
Pyke, who won an award as the Southern Conference’s top blocker and was a first-team all-conference pick, will graduate Saturday with a degree in sports management, but he still harbors hopes of playing professionally. He took part in the FCS Bowl in Daytona Beach, Fla., over the weekend, where he displayed his talents in front of NFL and CFL scouts.
“There was a lot of good talent down there, but I think I played very well,” Pyke said. “I got to go to the beach for the weekend. I left 70-degree weather and drove into a snowstorm.”
A different storm hit Tuesday as word began to spread of Pyke’s first-team selection. His phone has been ringing off the hook and he had texts from just about everybody he knows back home in Clinton, including his Anderson County High School coaches.
“It’s been a wild day,” he said.
Pyke and Robinson became the 32nd and 33rd All-Americans in ETSU football history. Robinson led the Southern Conference with six interceptions. He was a first-team All-SoCon selection and the league’s defensive player of the month for October.
2018 ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Quarterback — Easton Stick, senior, North Dakota State
Running backs — Joe Protheroe, senior, Cal Poly; Ryan Fulse, senior, Wagner
Linemen — Tanner Volson, senior, North Dakota State; Matt Pyke, senior, East Tennessee State; Micah Shaw, senior, North Carolina A&T; B.J. Autry, senior, Jacksonville State; Garrett Bowery, senior, Lamar
Tight end — Donald Parham, senior, Stetson
Wide receivers — Josh Pearson, junior, Jacksonville State; Michael Bandy, junior, San Diego
All-purpose player — Shane Simpson, junior, Towson
Kicker — Roldan Alcobendas, senior, Eastern Washington
Linemen — Isaiah Mack, senior, Chattanooga; Derick Roberson, senior, Sam Houston State; Ahmad Gooden, senior, Samford; Darryl Johnson, junior, North Carolina A&T
Linebackers — Zach Hall, junior, Southeast Missouri State; Dante Olson, junior, Montana; B.J. Blunt, senior, McNeese State
Backs — Isaiah Swann, junior, Dartmouth; Robbie Grimsley, senior, North Dakota State; Jimmy Moreland, senior, James Madison; Will Warner, junior, Drake
Punter — Chris Faddoul, sophomore, Florida A&M
Quarterback — Devlin Hodges, senior, Samford
Running backs — A.J. Hines, junior, Duquesne; Marquis Terry, senior, Southeast Missouri State
Linemen — Iosua Operta, senior, Weber State; Spencer Blackburn, senior, Eastern Washington; Drew Forbes, senior, Southeast Missouri State; C.J. Collins, senior, Kennesaw State; Dan Cooney, senior, San Diego
Tight end — Matthew Gonzalez, junior, Robert Morris
Wide receivers — Kelvin McKnight, senior, Samford; Keelan Doss, senior, UC Davis
All-purpose player — D’Angelo Amos, sophomore, James Madison
Kicker — Grayson Atkins, sophomore, Furman
Linemen — Khalen Saunders, senior, Western Illinois; Greg Menard, senior, North Dakota State; Jay-Tee Tiuli, senior, Eastern Washington; Nick Wheeler, junior, Colgate
Linebackers — Jabril Cox, sophomore, North Dakota State; Sterling Sheffield, senior, Maine; Adrian Hope, freshman, Furman
Backs — James Allen, senior, Charleston Southern; Tyree Robinson, sophomore, East Tennessee State; Nassir Adderly, senior, Delaware; Marlon Bridges, senior, Jacksonville State
Punter — Alex Pechin, senior, Bucknell
Quarterback — Chandler Burks, senior, Kennesaw State
Running backs — James Holland, senior, Colgate; James Robinson, junior, Illinois State.
Linemen — Matt Kaskey, senior, Dartmouth; Justus Basinger, junior, Wofford; C.J. Toogood, senior, Elon; Zack Johnson, junior, North Dakota State; Tiano Pupungatoa, senior, South Dakota State.
Tight end — Owen Cosenke, sophomore, Western Carolina
Wide receivers — Reggie White Jr., senior, Monmouth; Jazz Ferguson, junior, Northwestern State
All-purpose player — Kentel Williams, junior, Austin Peay
Kicker — Aidian O’Neill, junior, Towson
Linemen — Nathan Clayberg, senior, Drake; Maurice Jackson, junior, Richmond; Filipe Satake, senior, Weber State; Solomon Brown, senior, Charleston Southern.
Linebackers — Pete Swenson, senior, Western Illinois; De’Arius Christmas, senior, Grambling State; Cameron Gill, junior, Wagner.
Backs — Abu Daramy-Swaray, junior, Colgate; Dominic Frasch, senior, Cal Poly; Davon Jernigan, senior, Lamar; Jordan Brown, senior, South Dakota State
Punter — Garret Wegner, sophomore, North Dakota State