NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gardner-Webb senior nose guard O.J. Mau has been named to the preseason FCS All-America Team by Athlon Sports for the second season in a row.
Mau (Masefau, American Samoa) earned first-team honors in Athlon's 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine that hit newsstands around the country this month.
The 6-foot-2, 308-pounder was a Buck Buchanan Finalist in 2014 and was named to the College Sporting News FCS All-America squad following the season. He recorded a career-high 60 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 quarterback sacks – while also forcing two fumbles and returning one fumble 27 yards.
He also blocked the first field goal of his career.
Mau posted 10 or more tackles in a game twice, doing so in a win over Wofford with 10 tackles on September 20 and following suit with 11 hits in the win over Charlotte on October 4. He made nine stops, had two tackles for loss, a sack and forced fumble in the home finale vs. Presbyterian.
A two-time All-America selection (2013, 2014) and two-time All-Big South Conference choice, Mau has collected an impressive 134 total tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 34 career games at nose guard.
As a sophomore in 2013, he earned All-America honors from Tony Softli and Phil Steele after registering 54 tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks for a defense that finished the season ranked fifth nationally in fewest yards allowed.
Mau is part of a very strong defensive unit returning for Gardner-Webb in 2015.
The Runnin' Bulldogs also welcome back All-America linebacker Tanner Burch (6-3, 250, R-Sr.) and All-Big South 'backers Aaron Cook (6-1, 220, Jr.) and Chad Geter (6-2, 240, R-Jr.) – with Burch and Geter each missing all or the majority of the 2014 campaign with injuries.
Cook – in his first season as a starter – led the team with 92 total tackles, tied for the Big South lead with 13.0 tackles for loss and paced the Runnin' Bulldogs with 4.0 sacks. All-Big South cornerback Ivan Toomer (6-1, 205, R-Sr.) also returns for GWU after making 54 stops and breaking up a team-high eight passes in another strong season.
Coordinator Randall McCray will enter his third season in charge of the GWU defense with 14 men returning who have starting experience.
Gardner-Webb opens its 2015 season on Saturday, September 5 at South Alabama. A kickoff time in Mobile, Ala., has yet to be announced.