The 2017 Guilford College football team ended with a 5-5 record and was 5-3 against NCAA Division III competitors. The Quakers were 3-3 in Old Dominion Athletic Conference games, and tied for fourth in the league. Guilford won three of its last four games, and finished with a .500 record for the fourth time in five years.
The crimson and grey opened the year with an impressive 38-24 win at Huntingdon. The Hawks would eventually win the USA South Athletic Conference and advance to the NCAA playoffs. In week two, GC won at Methodist, 56-17.
The Quaker's roadshow then went on to play at two NCAA Division I FCS opponents. Guilford lost at Davidson and Jacksonville to even its record at 2-2. After dropping its first two ODAC contests, GC rebounded with victories vs. Shenandoah (45-20) and at Bridgewater (49-23).
In the season finale and Quaker Senior Day, Guilford rallied to beat visiting Emory & Henry, 42-38. The game featured an exciting comeback that was deja vu from a historic 2013 rally over the Wasps. GC rallied from a 21-0 deficit at halftime.
Following the season, a total of nine Quakers earned All-ODAC recognition. De'Eric Bell, Nathan Campbell, CJ Nash III and Vic Smith, Jr., each received First Team honors. GC's Tyriek Russell, Ty Shwallon and Reggie Williams garnered second-team recognition. Guilford's Harrison Kiser, Chase Mitchell, and Trevon Simmons were third-team picks. (View the full All-ODAC release HERE.)
Bell, a 5-7, 195-pound redshirt junior running back, set league and school standards for all-purpose yardage in a game (424, vs. Methodist) and career (6,237), kick-return touchdowns in a season (3) and punt returns in a game (11, vs. Methodist). Bell leads NCAA Division III in kick-return touchdowns (3), combined kick-return yardage (1,043), and all-purpose yards (221.10 yards per game). His 424 all-purpose yards against Methodist University September 9 set the school record and are the most by a Division III football student-athlete in 2017. His 11 punt returns in the game set the Division III record. Bell enters his final season ranked third in school history with 2,879 career rushing yards and 32 rushing scores, a school record he set this fall. Bell needs five touchdowns to set Guilford's career standard.
Campbell, a six-foot, 210-pound linebacker, enjoyed the finest of his four seasons this fall with a career-high 64 tackles (33 solo), which ranked fifth on the team. His 6.5 tackles for loss stood second on the squad and his four pass breakups ranked third. Campbell averaged 6.7 tackles in four league games and had three contests with 10 or more stops. Campbell concluded his career with 112 tackles (63 solo) and five fumble recoveries in 38 games. He is slated to graduate with a degree in criminal justice.
Nash, a 5-8, 210-pound defensive end, led the ODAC in sacks with a career-high 6.5 in 10 games. The team captain also saved his best for last with 47 tackles (26 solo) and 11 stops behind the line of scrimmage. In addition to leading the league in sacks, he also ranked sixth in tackles for loss. Nash led the team's linemen in tackles and placed seventh on the squad overall. He also forced and recovered a fumble. Nash had two sacks among five tackles against Hampden-Sydney College, and had 1.5 sacks among six stops at Methodist. He brought down a season-high seven ball carriers, including one sack, versus Randolph-Macon College. Nash compiled 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss among his 78 career stops (39 solo) in 36 games. He is on pace to earn his degree in forensic accounting.
Smith, a 6-0, 175-pound safety, led Guilford and ranked second only to Garrett in the league with 98 tackles this season, his first as a starter. He stands 54th among NCAA Division III tackles per game leaders and 58th in solo stops per outing (5.5). Smith returned his lone interception of the season 43 yards for a touchdown in Guilford's win over Shenandoah. He added 11 tackles during the contest and won the ODAC's Defensive Player of the Week Award. Smith had 10 or more tackles in four of his 10 games (all starts), plus two nine-tackle efforts. He led Guilford's tacklers in four games. Smith concludes his career with 110 tackles (62 solo) in 26 contests and is slated to graduate with a criminal justice degree.
While the Quakers' season ended in mid-November, the awards keep coming for Guilford individuals. Bell and Smith garnered all-region honors by D3football.com. Additionally, the pair both were tabbed as All-Americans by D3football.com. Smith was a third team pick and Bell was a first-teamer as an all-purpose back. Bell also earned the same honor--first-team All America as an all-purpose back--from the american Football Coaches Association of America.
The Quakers set or tied 19 school records this fall. Guilford is slated to return as many as 78 letter winners and 11 starters in 2018.