MARTIN, Tenn. – A total of 10 University of Tennessee at Martin football players have been recognized by College Sports Madness in its selection of preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference teams.
Jeremy Butler, Tyler Eady, DJ Roberts and Ben Johnson were each named to the first team, while Charles Sweeton, Kevin Barfield, Thad Williams and James Satterfield notched second team accolades. Mathew Axline and Tony Bell wrapped up the Skyhawk honorees with mentions on the third team.
Johnson was also named as a second team Preseason All-American defender, his fifth preseason All-American nod so far heading into the 2013 campaign.
Butler is the Skyhawks’ top returner at wide receiver, as the 6-3, 205-pound senior out of Bradenton, Fla. caught 51 passes for 750 yards in 2012. He tallied 10 touchdown catches – all against OVC competition – and led the league with three multi-touchdown games, including a four-touchdown effort at Murray State on Oct. 13. He was named an OVC All-Newcomer last season.
A 6-2, 270-pound redshirt senior, Eady has helped bolster the Skyhawk offensive line into one of the best in the league. The Smyrna, Tenn. native has started in all of his 33 career games at center, taking part in over 2,300 snaps. He helped the UT Martin offense rank in the top-25 in the nation in passing offense (299.55 yards per game), scoring offense (33.55 points per game) and total offense (427.45 yards per game) in 2012.
Roberts is coming off a monster 2012 season, accumulating 53 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss (third in the OVC). The 6-2, 245-pound redshirt senior defensive end out of Knoxville, Tenn. captured All-OVC second team accolades after he also pitched in 11 quarterback hurries, 3.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries last season. He made at least eight tackles in three games in 2012, including a season-high nine (six solo) in UT Martin’s 23-20 win over Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Memphis on Sept. 1.
The OVC leader in tackles (131) last season, Johnson racked up at least eight tackles in all 11 games last season at linebacker. The 6-2, 235-pound redshirt senior accumulated five tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on his way to All-OVC first team accolades in 2012. He notched a career-high 17 tackles in a win against Jacksonville State on Nov. 3 and also added 16 stops in the victory over Eastern Illinois on Oct. 6.
A 6-5, 291-pound left tackle, Sweeton has earned the starting nod in 21 straight games for UT Martin. The redshirt junior from Lawrenceburg, Tenn. has helped the Skyhawk offensive line yield just 17 sacks in the past two seasons while the offense has generated 92 touchdowns over that same stretch.
Barfield found himself on the preseason All-OVC list as a return specialist. The 5-9, 167-pound senior averaged 24.5 yards per kick return in 2012, which ranked second in the OVC. The speedster out of Memphis, Tenn. took back 29 kickoffs for 711 yards and a touchdown – occurring in UT Martin’s 51-37 win over Eastern Illinois on Oct. 6.
An All-OVC second team defensive back in 2012, Williams registered 44 tackles (29 solo) last season. The 5-9, 190-pound redshirt senior from Adel, Ga. led the Skyhawks with a pair of interceptions, seven pass breakups and nine passes defended while also adding a fumble recovery. His interceptions occurred in back-to-back OVC road victories against Murray State (Oct. 13) and Southeast Missouri (Oct. 20).
Satterfield is coming off an All-OVC second team mention last season, when he punted 41 times for 1,744 yards. His 42.5 yard average ranked second in the conference, while the 6-1, 171-pound redshirt junior out of Gallatin, Tenn. produced seven punts of at least 50 yards. That included the two longest punts in the OVC (a 73-yarder at Tennessee Tech on Nov. 10 and a 70-yarder against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 29) last season.
A 6-5, 310-pound right guard, Axline has started in 21 out of a possible 22 games in his two-year Skyhawk career – including all 11 games in 2012. One of four returning starters on the UT Martin offensive line, the redshirt junior out of Shelbyville, Ky. had a major hand in a Skyhawk offense that produced 45 touchdowns in 2012.
Bell ranked second on the squad with 78 tackles last season. The 6-1, 200-pound linebacker also was responsible for nine tackles for loss, four sacks, five quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles in 2012. The junior who hails from Memphis, Tenn. put together four double-digit tackle performances in the span of five games last year – including a career-best 13 tackles (nine solo) in a victory at Murray State on Oct. 13.
Overall, UT Martin returns 61 players – including 12 starters – from last season’s team who went 8-3 and 6-2 in the OVC. The Skyhawks kick off the 2013 campaign with an Aug. 29 showdown at Chattanooga.