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Eleven finalists named for 2013-14 TTU Outstanding Male Athlete

By Tennessee Tech Sports Information Office

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – An elite list of 11 student-athletes has been announced as finalists for Tennessee Tech University's 2013-14 Outstanding Male Athlete Award, with the winner to be announced Sunday.

The TTU Awards Committee has named four members  from the baseball tem, three from football, two from tennis, and one each from the basketball and golf squads.

Criteria for the award are based solely on the athletic accomplishments of each student-athlete during 2013-14. The 11 finalists, listed in alphabetical order, are:



Alex Arovin, Sophomore, Donetsk, Ukraine, Tennis
Alex Arovin was named Most Valuable Player on the Golden Eagle tennis team following his first season on the Tech roster. A transfer who spent one season at Oklahoma State, Arovin posted an impressive 22-10 record in singles play and had 35 combined victories (singles and doubles). He really shined during the spring dual match season, going 15-3 overall including an 8-1 record in OVC play on his way to earning first-team all-OVC honors in his debut. He went 15-2 at the No. 1 singles position. At No. 1 doubles, he produced a 13-11 record including a 5-2 record against the league.

Dylan Bosheeers, Junior, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., Baseball
For the second straight year, Dylan Bosheers made unbelievable strides of improvement as a starter for the Tennessee Tech baseball team, upping his skills to a completely new level in 2014. The junior became the first shortstop in Golden Eagle history to garner All-American status, earning Louisville Slugger Second Team recognition from Collegiate Baseball newspaper, Second Team honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Rawlings Second Team accolades from the American Baseball Coaches Association, and Fourth Team status from College Sports Madness. He was also named to the Rawlings/ABCA South All-Region First Team. Thanks to an incredible .368 batting average, 66 runs, 86 hits, 11 home runs, and 56 RBI, as well as a .965 fielding percentage, Bosheers claimed a spot among the 10 semifinalists for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award and was also named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy. He earned All-OVC First Team honors as the best shortstop in the Ohio Valley Conference and was also named to the OVC All-Tournament Team after batting .353 in four games while scoring four times and driving in a team-high seven runs on six hits. In addition to being named to the Ohio Valley All-Conference First Team by College Sports Madness, he earned his first career OVC Player of the Week award in April. After starting all 59 games for the Golden Eagles and helping the squad tie the single-season record of 40 wins while also leading Tech to breaking five offensive team records, Bosheers wrapped up the season ranked third in the nation with 66 runs scored and also finished sixth in Tech single-season history with 86 hits. He helped the Golden Eagles finish the 2014 campaign ranked first nationally in home runs (83), home runs per game (1.41), runs per game (8.3), and slugging (.495). Earlier this month he took home his first President’s Award and became the first Tennessee Tech player to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the premier wood-bat, summer league in all of collegiate baseball.

Alberto Esteban, Freshman, Madrid, Spain, Tennis
Alberto Esteban received the Johnny Donnelly Maverick Award for his determination and was named first-team all-OVC in his rookie season. A first-year player from Madrid, Spain, Esteban played in the No. 2 singles position for the Golden Eagles and at No. 1 in doubles alongside Alex Arovin. In singles action, Alberto went 7-7 during the fall tournament season, then produced an 8-7 record in the spring dual match schedule, including an impressive 6-2 mark in Ohio Valley Conference matches. In double play, he was 5-2 against the OVC and went 11-12 overall.

Tra’Darius Goff, Junior, Columbia, Tenn., Football
Tra’Darius Goff finished the year ranked second in the OVC with 101 total tackles (missing out on leading the league by one tackle), and added 8.5 tackles-for-loss, three quarterback sacks, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles. He was named first-team all-OVC by College Sports Madness and second team all-OVC by the league’s coached.  It was his second consecutive season with more than 100 tackles. He started all 12 games at his inside linebacker position and managed 36 solo tackles and assisted on 65 more. His 8.5 TFL netted 24 yards in losses. He recorded five games with double-figures in total tackles, including a career-high 16 stops against Jacksonville State. He had 12 tackles against Indiana State, 11 each against Tennessee State and UT Martin, and 10 at Eastern Kentucky.  He became the first Tech defender to record back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Daniel Wentzel in 1992 and 1993.

David Hess, Junior, Tullahoma, Tenn., Baseball
With the departure of long-time ace Tristan Archer, David Hess was expected to fill a huge role for the Golden Eagle baseball team in 2014, and the junior delivered in a huge way.  The right-hander led the Ohio Valley Conference with nine wins and 104 strikeouts while also finishing in the top five with a 3.24 ERA, .227 opposing batting average, and 97 and one-third innings pitched. He became just the third Tech pitcher to fan 100 or more batters, tallying the fourth most Ks in the program’s single-season history. With 16 starts on the year, he set a Golden Eagle record for most starts in a single season. Hess also moved into third place on the all-time Golden Eagle career strikeout list with over 230 in his career. With the huge numbers displayed, the junior earned a spot on the All-OVC Second Team while also collecting being named to the Ohio Valley All-Conference First Team by College Sports Madness. He earned his second career OVC Pitcher of the Week honor in May after striking out 10 batters against Lipscomb in a 4-1 victory. During the season, Hess became the first Golden Eagle hurler in over 10 years to punch out 10 or more batters in consecutive starts and joined Archer as the only pitcher in the past 10 seasons to record 10-plus strikeouts at least five times in a career. He also quarterbacked a pitching staff that broke the school record for innings pitched in a single season with a mark of 528 and one-third. Hess became the highest drafted Golden Eagle since 1969, going to the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 151st overall selection. He also became the highest drafted player in the OVC since 2010 when Jacksonville State's Todd Cunningham went in the second round to the Atlanta Braves.

Marty Jones, Junior, Cincinnati, Ohio, Football
Following two seasons on the sidelined, Marty Jones returned to full-time action and was one of the leading defensive players in the Ohio Valley Conference, earning second-team all-OVC honors. He ranked third in the league in total tackles with 98. He also had five tackles-for-loss, forced one fumble, recovered two fumbles, and led the team and ranked second in the OVC with two interceptions. He was voted the adidas® OVC Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in Tech’s 41-16 win at Southeast Missouri when he had five total tackles, an interception and forced a fumble. He was also named honorable mention FCS Defensive Player of the Week by USA College Football. HE posted double figures in tackles in four games in 2013, including a career-high 16 in the home win over Indiana State. He added 14 tackles against UT martin, and 10 each against Wisconsin and Jacksonville State. He closed the year with eight career interceptions, tops among all active players. He also has 243 career tackles and nine career tackles-for-loss, and has posted nine career double-figure games in tackles.

Daniel Miles, Senior, Pascagoula, Miss., Baseball
One of the best players in both the league and nation all year, Daniel Miles backed up the hype that saw him earn a spot on the USA Baseball Midseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List. The third baseman put together an incredible year both offensively and defensively on his way to earning Louisville Slugger All-American First Team honors from Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Joining teammate Brandon Thomasson as a First-Team honoree, he became just one of four Ohio Valley Conference players ever named a First-Team All-American. Thanks in large part to a ridiculous season at the plate, Miles became the most decorated All-American in Golden Eagle history. Last season he earned Louisville Slugger All-American Honorable Mention status from CollegeBaseballInsider.com before claiming five All-American nods this year, including: the First Team honors from Collegiate Baseball newspaper, a First Team appearance on the list by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, Rawlings Second Team recognition by the American Baseball Coaches Association, Third Team accolades from Perfect Game, and a Third Team award College Sports Madness. This season alone he also saw honors such as Rawlings/ABCA South All-Region First Team, All-OVC First Team, College Sports Madness Ohio Valley All-Conference First Team, OVC All-Tournament Team, and was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy. He broke Tech’s single game record with eight RBI in a huge victory over NYIT in February, leading to OVC Player of the Week and NCAA National Player of the Week honors. He also took home College Sports Madness OVC Player of the Week accolades in March. The slugger manned the hot corner in 58 games, leading the Golden Eagles to a record-tying 40 wins with a team-high .380 batting average and ranking second nationally with 67 runs scored. He also finished the season in the top 10 in Division I baseball with 90 hits on the year, the third highest single-season total in Tech history. He wrapped up his 2014 campaign with 17 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs, tallying 54 RBI while recording an on base percentage of .481. Miles helped the Golden Eagles finish the 2014 campaign ranked first nationally in home runs (83), home runs per game (1.41), runs per game (8.3), and slugging (.495). He became the highest drafted infielder in Tech history, going to the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 247th overall selection.

Dennis Ogbe, Senior, Munich, Germany, Basketball
In four years as a Golden Eagle, Dennis Ogbe established a reputation as a tireless worker both on and off the court. Named a Senior Class Award candidate before the 2013-14 season, the Munich, Germany native led the Golden Eagles in rebounding this season, averaging over nearly six rebounds per game. He also finished second on the team in scoring with 10.6 points per game. For the year he finished fifth in the OVC with a field goal percentage of .610. One of the leaders on the court, he established new career highs in points (350), rebounds (192), assists (22), and steals (21). In his career, he scored over 850 points and pulled down over 450 rebounds. He finished with the second highest career field goal percentage in the history of program after shooting 61.2 percent over his four years. Ogbe also cracked the Golden Eagle top 10 with 66 career blocks and 123 games played.

Mitch Thomas, Sophomore, Knoxville, Tenn., Golf
In just his second year as member of the Tennessee Tech men’s golf team, Mitch Thomas made strides towards becoming the best the Ohio Valley Conference has to offer. The youngster led the Golden Eagles and ranked fifth in the league in scoring average this season with a mark of 73.1. This season alone, the youngster earned adidas® OVC Male Golfer of the Week, two All-Tournament nods, and a total of two top five and four top 10 finishes. Most notably among those finishes was an impressive showing at the Bearcat Invitational in October. Thomas played by the far the best tournament of his young career, blitzing the field of 80 participants for a 68-71-72=211 to finish in a tie for second place overall. With the second-place finish, Thomas became the first Golden Eagle to finish second or better at an event since Tyler Cassetty took second at the Grover Page Classic on Mar. 15, 2011. He also finished with the lowest three-round score since Cassetty dropped a 209 at the Miller Memorial Invitational on Oct. 4, 2011. Thomas earned all-tournament honors for the event as well. He became the first Tech men's golfer to collect All-OVC recognition since 2008 when John Fox was named to the First Team (no longer named, OVC uses just one overall all-conference team) and Barrett Steakley was named to the Second Team.

Brandon Thomasson, Senior, Royal Palm Beach, Fla., Baseball
In what will go down as one of the most impressive seasons in terms of power in Tennessee Tech baseball history, Brandon Thomasson provided a breakout year in 2014 on his way to earning Louisville Slugger All-American First Team honors from Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Joining teammate Daniel Miles as a First-Team honoree, he became just one of four Ohio Valley Conference players ever named a First-Team All-American. He also collected All-America First Team recognition from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Rawlings All-American Third Team honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association. Thomasson put together one of the greatest displays of power in a single season in OVC history, crushing a league-best 22 home runs while leading the nation with 76 RBI and 46 extra base hits. He finished the year just one long ball off the national pace set by Collegiate Baseball newspaper's National Player of the Year, A.J. Reed of Kentucky. The slugger also ranked second only to Reed in terms of slugging percentage, racking up a mark of .721 in 58 games. Thomasson broke the single-season school record for RBI while finishing just one base shy of tying the single-season mark for total bases. He tallied 176 on the year, ripping team highs of 20 doubles, four triples, and the 22 bombs while helping the Golden Eagles tie the single season record of 40 wins. His 22 home runs marked the second highest single-season total in Tech history as did his 244 at bats. He scored 60 runs while totaling 82 hits for an average of .336. Making the position switch from designated hitter to right fielder, the senior became the first OVC player since Tech’s own Chad Oberacker to earn All-OVC First Team honors at two different positions. The slugger also found a spot on Rawlings/ABCA South All-Region First Team and the College Sports Madness Ohio Valley All-Conference First Team. In May, Thomasson took home both College Sports Madness OVC Player of the Week and Collegiate Baseball newspaper Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week honors after mashing three home runs and 10 RBI with a .571 batting average in a three-game series against Southeast Missouri. He also helped the Golden Eagles finish the 2014 campaign ranked first nationally in home runs (83), home runs per game (1.41), runs per game (8.3), and slugging (.495). He became the highest drafted outfielder in Tech history, going to the Kansas City Royals in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft with the 273rd overall pick.

Chad Zinchini, Senior, Hendersonville, Tenn., Football
Chad Zinchini earned his second consecutive Special Teams MVP award on the Golden Eagle football team after leading the OVC and ranking second in the nation in punting average. A first-team all-OVC selection, he was a second-team all-America pick. It was his second straight first-team all-OVC selection. Following the season, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. After averaging a school-record 44.8 yards per kick to rank fourth in the nation (FCS) and first in the OVC as a junior in 2013, Zinchini raised the bar in his senior season.  In 2014, he broke his own school-record when he averaged 45.7 yards per punt, dropping 20 kicks inside the 20-yard line. Zinchini's career-long punt was a 70 yard bomb during the past season at Wisconsin, a soaring kick that brought gasps from the Badger faithful and bounced out of bounds inside the one-yard line. He set two single-game records at Eastern Illinois on No. 2 when he punted 13 times for 548 yards. He was named to the College Sports Madness all-OVC and all-America teams, was named the FCS National Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards twice and was a Sports Network FCS preseason all-American and a BeyondCollegeSports.com preseason all-American. For his two-year career, Zinchini totaled 6,339 yards on 140 punts, an average of 45.28 yards per punt, with 39 punts inside the 20, 18 fair catches and 17 touchbacks.

The Outstanding Male Athlete Award was established in 1994, and 22 winners have been selected in the previous 20 years, including two years with co-winners. The previous winners are:

1994 - Mike Jones (Football)
1995 - Greg Bibb (Basketball)
1996 - Michael Penix (Football)
1997 - Mark Maberry (Baseball)
1998 - Andre Caballero (Football)
1999 - Branon Vaughn (Football)
2000 - Branon Vaughn (Football)
2001 - Chad Evitts (Football)
2002 - Grant Swallows (Football)
2003 - Casey Benjamin (Baseball)
2004 - Willie Jenkins (Basketball)
2005 - Willie Jenkins (Basketball) and Frank Omiyale (Football)
2006 - Scott Stallings (Golf)
2007 - Scott Stallings (Golf)
2008 - Larry Shipp (Football)
2009 - A.J. Kirby-Jones (Baseball)
2010 – A.J. Kirby Jones (Baseball) and Chad Oberacker (Baseball)
2011 -  Zac Swansey (Basketball)
2012 – Tim Benford (Football)
2013 – Syrym Abduhkalikov (Tennis)