MARTIN, Tenn. –Jason Simpson, the seventh-year head football coach at The University of Tennessee at Martin, said 95 players participated in the Skyhawks first practice of fall camp Monday night at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.
“We have things to improve on, but there is so much carry over,” Simpson said Tuesday morning as his team went through a walk-through.
Simpson has 17 seniors on this year’s team, and nine of the 17 are fifth-year seniors.
“We are very experienced,” Simpson said. “We have our all-conference kicker returning along with two tailbacks and our quarterback.”
All-OVC place kicker Cody Sandlin returns for his senior campaign. Sandlin made 14-of-17 field goals, including a record-tying 53 yarder. He also made 45-of-48 PATs.
Seniors Jason McNair and Tevin Barksdale, along with junior DJ McNeil will see plently of action in the backfield for the Skyhawks. Both McNair and Barksdale finished among the top 10 rushers in the OVC this past season. McNair was seventh with 166 attempts and 782 yards. Barksdale was tenth with 107 carries for 685 yards.
Fifth-year senior Derek Carr will call the signals for the Skyhawks. The McKenzie native threw for more than 300 yards three times in 2011, including an ominous 387 yards against Austin Peay. He finished 27th in the nation in total passing yards (2,482) and 34th in the country for completions per game (18.18).
Carr finished third in the OVC in passing average (225.6 per game) and fifth in the league in passing efficiency (136.1).
“The question is how well we will play defense,” Simpson said.