hattanooga Mocs offensive lineman Cole Strange had a special year. It ends with the Bob Waters Southern Conference Male Athlete of the Year Award. He’s the third male and 11th Moc all-time to win the league’s top honors voted on by league athletics directors and a media representative from each institution.
“Cole is the complete package on and off the field,” Coach Rusty Wright said. “If you watched him week-in and week-out, you saw it. Incredible work ethic to go with talent and a passion for the game. He is exactly the kind of player you want on your team.
“There is no more deserving individual for this honor.”
A few of the highlights…
All-America First Team
Second Jacobs Blocking Award
CoSIDA Academic All-District
FCS ADA Academic All-Star
NFL All-Combine Team
First Round NFL Draft Pick
That last point is especially key. Other than David Jean-Baptiste’s thrilling buzzer-beater to capture the SoCon Basketball Championship, it’s arguable nothing else brought as much notoriety to the league than this 2021-22 moment.
He’s the first NFL first round selection in school history. He’s the first from the SoCon since 1974.
“We’re extremely proud of Cole’s accomplishments,” Vice-Chancellor and Director of Athletics Mark Wharton shared. “It’s a long list and as you read them, you see the talent and effort he displayed every day on the football field was equally matched in the classroom.
“Congratulations on an amazing and well-earned accomplishment.”
Strange earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology in December 2020. He began work immediately in a demanding Master’s program, Engineering Technology. He carried a 3.833 GPA in the endeavor during two playing seasons in spring and fall 2021.
He shared the honor with Furman’s Cameron Ponder, the SoCon Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Year. He competed at the NCAA Cross Country and Indoor Track Championships finishing 11th in the 3000m for All-America standing. It’s the first time in league history two student-athletes share the honor. Furman golfer Anna Morgan won Female Athlete of the Year.
Past Chattanooga SoCon Athletes of the Year
1996-97: Mary Jane Middelkoop, Cross Country/Track
2002-03: Jennifer Wilson, Basketball
2005-06: Shannon Wommack, Cross Country/Track
2006-07: Lanni Marchant, Cross Country/Track
2007-08: Alex Anderson, Basketball
2009-10: Shanara Hollinquest, Basketball
2011-12: Michelle Fuzzard, Softball
2013-14, Taylor Hall, Basketball
2014-15: Davis Tull, Football
2015-16: Jacob Huesman, Football