Benford, Brown receive top OVC honors, nine named to all-OVC teams
Most OVC honors for Golden Eagles since 1999
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. --Tennessee Tech, one of the three league champions this season, took home two of the four major individual Ohio Valley Conference postseason football awards and had nine total All-OVC selections in voting conducted by league head coaches and sports information directors and announced on Tuesday.
Tennessee Tech senior wide receiver Tim Benford was named Offensive Player of the Year while Golden Eagle head coach, Watson Brown, was named the OVC Roy Kidd Coach of the Year. In the other major awards, Tennessee State senior linebacker Rico Council was tabbed Defensive Player of the Year while Tennessee State quarterback Michael German earned the Freshman of the Year award.
Four Golden Eagle players were included on the all-OVC first-team, four earned second-team honors and one player, freshman Austin Tallant, was named to the OVC All-Newcomer team. First-team selections from Tech are Benford, offensive guard Scott Schweitzer, defensive ened/inebacker Marcus Edwards, and cornerback Richmond Tooley. Tech players on the second-team include runningback Dontey Gay, defensive tackle Travis Adkins, rover Will Johnson and punter Nick Campbell.
Tech's total of eight first- and second-team selections is the most for the Golden Eagles since the 1999 season when eight players were honored. The 2011 all-OVC first-team included 13 seniors, 10 juniors and three sophomores, while the second-team had 15 senior selections, eight juniors and three sophomores.
Benford is only the fourth wide receiver to earn the OVC Offensive Player of the Year award and first since 2003 (Efrem Hill of Samford). He also becomes just the second Tennessee Tech player to earn the award and first since running back Larry Schreiber received the honor in 1969. One of the top wide receivers in OVC history, Benford hauled in 58 catches for 826 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games in 2011, despite being consistently double and tripled teamed in games. He ranks 22nd nationally in receptions/game (5.80), 26th in receiving yards/game (82.6) and 29th in total receiving yards (826). Four times this season he had 100 or more yards in a game, including against Tennessee State when he had 10 receptions for 122 yards. He also had six catches for 131 yards and two scores against Maryville College, eight catches for 124 yards at Eastern Illinois and six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown against Murray State. His play helped Tennessee Tech to its first OVC Championship since the 1975 season and its first-ever NCAA playoff berth. For his career Benford has 210 catches for 3,007 yards, both of which rank third in OVC history. Benford also earned All-OVC first-team honors for the third-straight season, after being named OVC Freshman of the Year in 2008.
His team picked fifth in the OVC preseason poll, Brown led Tennessee Tech to the program’s 10th OVC Championship but first since the 1975 season. TTU finished the regular season 7-3 overall, 6-2 in OVC play and ranked No. 20 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 21 in the Sports Network poll (the team’s first national ranking since the 2002 season). The team ascended to as high as 15th in the polls during the year and earned the OVC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Championship, the program’s first-ever playoff berth. TTU lost just two games by a combined three points to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents in 2011. The seven victories overall were the most for the team since the 2001 season and the Golden Eagles had a winning record for just the third time in the last decade. The Conference championship was the first for Brown, who is in his 27th season as a Division I head coach (with previous stops at Austin Peay, Cincinnati, Rice, Vanderbilt and UAB). Brown, in his fifth year at TTU, is the third different Golden Eagle head coach to earn OVC Coach of the Year honors, joining Don Wade (who won the honor in 1971, 1972 and 1975) and Jim Ragland (who won the award in 1992 and 1993).
Tabbed the OVC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in July, Council proved the voters correct as he earned the postseason honor as well. He becomes just the second Tennessee State player to earn the award, joining defensive end Lamar Carter (1999). In 11 games Council netted 87 tackles (50 solo), 8.0 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, five pass breakups, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He had 12 tackles in a game at Eastern Kentucky, 11 against Jackson State and 10 against each Murray State and UT Martin. His play helped Tennessee State, who was winless in OVC play last year, to a 4-4 Conference mark this season (which tied the team for fifth place in the OVC after being picked eighth) and the Sgt. York Championship. Council finished his four-year career with 295 tackles, which was second in TSU history behind only his head coach, Rod Reed (who had 406 stops at TSU from 1985-88).
German, a finalist for the Sports Network’s Jerry Rice Award, started the season as the Tennessee State backup, seeing limited action in the first three games before getting his first career start at Air Force on Sept. 24. After that contest against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe, German returned to FCS competition and had three-straight games of 230-plus passing yards and two touchdowns, earning OVC Newcomer of the Week honors after each game. He finished the season with two games of 250-plus yards, including passing for 263 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over UT Martin; he earned his fourth OVC Newcomer of the Week honor of the year after that contest. For the season German completed 140-of-250 passes for 1,899 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 71 yards and two additional scores. His play helped Tennessee State to four wins in its last six games, a 4-4 OVC record and the Sgt. York Championship (contested between the four OVC schools from Tennessee). Overall TSU ranked 24th nationally in total offense (416.0 yards/game) and 32nd in scoring offense (30.45 points/game). German is the second Tennessee State player to earn Freshman of the Year honors since the award was first given out in 2004, joining running back Javarris Williams (2005).
The All-OVC first-team was highlighted by Benford at wide receiver. Joining the three-time All-OVC selection on the first-team was Murray State junior quarterback Casey Brockman who set the OVC record for completions in a season (316) while passing for 3,276 yards, which was the second-most yards in OVC single-season history. In a win over Tennessee State during the year Brockman set OVC single-game records for passing yards (600) and touchdown passes (7) and capped his junior campaign by throwing for a touchdown, running for a touchdown and catching a touchdown in a win over Southeast Missouri (a feat that earned him National Player of the Week honors for the second time this season). Brockman, who threw for 25 touchdowns, ranked sixth nationally in total offense (315.45 yards/game) and points responsible for (16.91/game). Eastern Kentucky junior running back Matt Denham was the best running back in the FCS over the last seven weeks of the season, averaging 193.0 rushing yards/game (including four 200-plus yard games) over that time period in helping the Colonels go 6-1 in those games and earn an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs. Overall he ranked third nationally in rushing during the year (131.4 yards/game). Due to a tie in voting he is joined at running back by two individuals, Jacksonville State junior Washaun Ealey and Murray State senior Mike Harris. Ealey ranked second in the OVC in rushing (1,082 yards) and scored eight rushing touchdowns while Harris was third in the OVC in rushing (1,018 yards) and scored 13 rushing touchdowns while also catching 30 passes and scoring a receiving touchdown. Tennessee State senior wide out Calvin McNairl started his career as a quarterback but finished it by catching 42 passes for 742 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011; his 749 receiving yards during the year ranked 38th nationally. UT Martin senior Kenny Jones was the first-team selection at tight end after catching 25 passes for 334 yards and five touchdowns and also scoring a rushing touchdown. The offensive line included three Eastern Kentucky teammates in junior center O.J. Enabosi and junior tackles Aaron Adams and Patrick Ford; that trio was joined by Tennessee Tech senior guard Scott Schweitzer (left) and UT Martin senior guard Michael Mancini.
The first-team defense was headlined by Council, one of three players who were second-team All-OVC selections last year and who moved up to the first-team this season. The defensive line selections included two Eastern Kentucky teammates in sophomore Anthony Brown and senior Emory Attig. The Colonel duo combined for 115 tackles, 18.0 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks this season as EKU led the OVC and ranked fourth nationally in turnover margin (+1.45/game). Joining the duo on the defensive line is Jacksonville State senior Jamison Wadley and Tennessee Tech junior Marcus Edwards. ( left) Wadley had 45 tackles and 10.5 tackles-for-loss during the season in helping JSU to a share of the OVC Championship. Edwards ranked third in the league in sacks (5.0) while also adding 39 tackles. Joining Council at linebacker were Eastern Kentucky sophomore Ichiro Vance and Southeast Missouri State junior Blake Peiffer. Vance had 78 tackles, including 9.5 tackles-for-loss, during the season and was named National Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11 following his 19-tackle performance against Missouri State. Peiffer set the Redhawk single-season record for tackles (151), netting 79 solo and 72 assisted tackles during the year. His 13.73 tackles/game ranked second nationally and he had double-digit tackles in each of his last nine games, including a season-high 19 against Jax State (which matched Vance for the most in a game in the OVC this season). The first-team defensive backs included Austin Peay senior Amius Smith, Eastern Kentucky junior Justin Bell, Tennessee State senior Joseph Wylie and Tennessee Tech senior Richmond Tooley (right). Smith had 80 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and two fumble recoveries during the season for the Governors. Bell picked off two passes for the Colonels during the campaign, including returning one 79 yards for a touchdown; the junior also added 48 tackles and five pass breakups. Wylie had 66 tackles, an interception that he returned 59 yards for a touchdown and a forced fumble in 2011. Tooley had 72 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups and a fumble return for a touchdown.
The first-team All-OVC specialists included UT Martin junior kicker Cody Sandlin, Eastern Kentucky sophomore punter Jordan Berry and EKU senior return specialist Jeremy Caldwell. Sandlin ranked 27th nationally in scoring during the season, averaging 7.91 points/game. He converted 14-of-17 field goals for the high-octane Skyhawks, including one from 53 yards which was the longest in the OVC during the season. Berry earned first-team honors after being a second-team and All-Newcomer pick as a freshman. He averaged 40.24 yards/punt for a team that ranked 16th nationally in net punting (37.11 yards/punt). Berry had a long punt of 67 yards during the season and 22 of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line. Caldwell earned the first return specialist honors of his career after averaging 23.5 yards/kickoff return (44th nationally) and scoring a touchdown.
The All-OVC second-team offensive unit was highlighted by Southeast Missouri State senior quarterbackMatt Scheible, who became the first player in OVC history to pass for 4,000 and rush for 2,000 yards in a career during the season. Scheible finished the season with 1,459 yards and 12 touchdowns passing and 967 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. He finished his career with 7,436 yards of total offense, fifth-most in OVC history. The running back selections were Austin Peay senior Ryan White (1,101 yards, six touchdowns) and Tennessee Tech senior (left) Dontey Gay (1,009 yards, 15 touchdowns, ranked eighth nationally in scoring with 9.0 points/game). The wide receivers included a pair of juniors in Eastern Kentucky’s Tyrone Goard (38 catches, 11 touchdowns) and UT Martin junior newcomer Quentin Sims (54 catches, 712 yards, 10 touchdowns). The tight end spot was filled by Eastern Illinois junior Von Wise (32 catches, 348 yards, two touchdowns). The second-team offensive line included three players from Tennessee State in junior center Sherman Carter, junior tackle Rogers Gaines and sophomore guard Kadeem Edwards. Murray State senior tackle Raymond Hopson and Eastern Illinois senior guard Eric Zink rounded out the line.
The second-team defensive unit included EKU’s Caldwell (46 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups), who was also a first-team selection as a return specialist. The defensive line included Eastern Illinois junior Artavious Dowdell (45 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks), Jacksonville State senior Monte Lewis (32 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks), Tennessee State sophomore Antonio Harper (44 tackles, 9.0 TFL, 6.5 sacks) and Tennessee Tech senior (abaove right) Travis Adkins (23 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks). The linebackers included Murray State junior Sam Small (115 tackles, 9.5 TFL) and sophomore Qua Huzzie (80 tackles, 14.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) and Eastern Illinois senior Cory Leman (106 tackles). Including Caldwell there were five defensive backs selected (due to a tie in voting) and also included Eastern Kentucky senior Patrick McClellan (77 tackles, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries), Jacksonville State senior A.J. Davis (28 tackles, two interceptions), Murray State senior Dontrell Johnson (40 tackles, an OVC-best 11 pass breakups) and Tennessee Tech junior (left) Will Johnson (45 tackles, one interception).
The second-team specialists were Murray State senior kicker Kienan Cullen (made 15-of-17 field goals in becoming the OVC’s all-time field goals made leader with 58), Tennessee Tech senior punter (far left) Nick Campbell (39.6 yards/punt) and Murray State’s Johnson (16.5 yards/kickoff return and 16.2 yards/punt return), who also earned second-team honors as a defensive back.
Eleven players were selected to the All-OVC Newcomer squad. To be selected to the team an individual had to be a first-year player (freshman or transfer) in the OVC. One of the selections was Tennessee State’s German, who was named OVC Freshman of the Year. The team also included four players who were either first or second-team selections including Jacksonville State running back Ealey (first-team), Murray State linebackers Small and Huzzie (each second-team) and UT Martin wide out Sims (second-team). The remaining All-Newcomer selections were Eastern Kentucky junior linebacker Kevin Hamlin (62 tackles, an OVC-best four interceptions), Jacksonville State freshman offensive center Max Holcombe (graded out at 91%, 56 knockdowns), Southeast Missouri State redshirt freshman wide receiver/return specialist Spencer Davis (ranked 24th nationally in all-purpose yards with 138.7/game), Tennessee State redshirt freshman defensive back Steven Godbolt (37 tackles, two interceptions, 7 PBU’s), Tennessee Tech freshman defensive back (near left) Austin Tallant (a team-high 76 tackles) and UT Martin sophomore linebacker Ben Johnson (a team-best 96 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions and an OVC-best three forced fumbles).
2011 All-OVC Football Teams and Award Winners
OVC Offensive Player of the Year: Tim Benford (WR), Tennessee Tech
OVC Defensive Player of the Year: Rico Council (LB), Tennessee State
OVC Freshman of the Year: Michael German (QB), Tennessee State
OVC Roy Kidd Coach of the Year: Watson Brown, Tennessee Tech
QB - Casey Brockman, Murray State
RB - Matt Denham, Eastern Kentucky
RB - Washaun Ealey, Jacksonville State
RB - Mike Harris, Murray State
WR - Calvin McNairl, Tennessee State
WR - Tim Benford, Tennessee Tech
TE - Kenny Jones, UT Martin
C - O.J. Enabosi, Eastern Kentucky
OG - Scott Schweitzer, Tennessee Tech
OG - Michael Mancini, UT Martin
OT - Aaron Adams, Eastern Kentucky
OT - Patrick Ford, Eastern Kentucky
DL - Anthony Brown, Eastern Kentucky
DL - Emory Attig, Eastern Kentucky
DL - Jamison Wadley, Jacksonville State
DL - Marcus Edwards, Tennessee Tech
LB - Ichiro Vance, Eastern Kentucky
LB - Blake Peiffer, Southeast Missouri
LB - Rico Council, Tennessee State
DB - Amius Smith, Austin Peay
DB - Justin Bell, Eastern Kentucky
DB - Joseph Wylie, Tennessee State
DB - Richmond Tooley, Tennessee Tech
K - Cody Sandlin, UT Martin
P - Jordan Berry, Eastern Kentucky
RS - Jeremy Caldwell, Eastern Kentucky
QB - Matt Scheible, Southeast Missouri
RB - Ryan White, Austin Peay
RB - Dontey Gay, Tennessee Tech
WR - Tyrone Goard, Eastern Kentucky
WR - Quentin Sims, UT Martin
TE - Von Wise, Eastern Illinois
C - Sherman Carter, Tennessee State
OG - Eric Zink, Eastern Illinois
OG - Kadeem Edwards, Tennessee State
OT - Raymond Hopson, Murray State
OT - Rogers Gaines, Tennessee State
DL - Artavious Dowdell, Eastern Illinois
DL - Monte Lewis, Jacksonville State
DL - Antonio Harper, Tennessee State
DL - Travis Adkins, Tennessee Tech
LB - Cory Leman, Eastern Illinois
LB - Sam Small, Murray State
LB - Qua Huzzie, Murray State
DB - Jeremy Caldwell, Eastern Kentucky
DB - Patrick McClellan, Eastern Kentucky
DB - A.J. Davis, Jacksonville State
DB - Dontrell Johnson, Murray State
DB - Will Johnson, Tennessee Tech
K - Kienan Cullen, Murray State
P - Nick Campbell, Tennessee Tech
RS - Dontrell Johnson, Murray Stat
LB - Kevin Hamlin, Eastern Kentucky
RB - Washaun Ealey, Jacksonville State
C - Max Holcombe, Jacksonville State
LB - Sam Small, Murray State
LB - Qua Huzzie, Murray State
WR/RS - Spencer Davis, Southeast Missouri
DB - Steven Godbolt, Tennessee State
QB - Michael German, Tennessee State
DB - Austin Tallant, Tennessee Tech
LB - Ben Johnson, UT Martin
WR - Quentin Sims, UT Martin
Note: The All-Newcomer team is comprised of first-year players in the OVC - that can be either true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or first-year transfers. The team consists of 11 total players and is not voted on by position. There were 12 players on the All-OVC first-team (5 RB’s) and 12 players on the All-OVC second-team (9 DB’s) due to ties in voting.