MARTIN, Tenn. – It was announced this afternoon that the University of Tennessee at Martin’s Jarod Neal and Tony Bell earned the Tennessee Sportwriters Association Offensive and Defensive Football Players of the Week, respectively.
This marks the sixth player of the week honor for Bell in the past four days and the second recognition for Neal. Overall, UT Martin has accounted for at least one TSWA Player of the Week in seven out of nine weeks this season.
Both Neal and Bell were responsible for career days in the Skyhawks’ 45-17 victory over Ohio Valley Conference foe Murray State last Saturday.
Neal went 18-for-24 (75 percent) for 245 yards and a career-high three touchdowns while adding a career-high 38 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. His rushing touchdown in the third quarter provided a lead for UT Martin that the team would not relinquish the rest of the way.
A 6-1, 180-pound redshirt sophomore, Neal has thrived in a starting role this past month, as he has averaged 262.5 passing yards in the last four games. On the season, he ranks third in the OVC in completion percentage (63.3) and passing efficiency (133.5) while ranking fourth in passing yards (139.6 per game) and total offense (140.4 yards per game). The Hendersonville, Tenn. product has thrown for seven touchdowns and added three more on the ground.
Bell tied an all-time OVC record with 4.5 sacks, which was also the most sacks in a single game by an NCAA player at any level this season. The 6-1, 200-pound Memphis, Tenn. native made plays all over the field, chalking up a career-best 16 tackles. That total is tied for the most tackles made by any OVC player in 2013.
The double-digit tackle performance was the sixth in the past two seasons for Bell. The junior linebacker ranks first in the OVC with 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss while ranking fifth in fumble recoveries (two), seventh in forced fumbles (two) and eighth in tackles (61, 6.8 per game). His 8.5 sacks currently rank fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision.
UT Martin returns to the gridiron on Saturday, Nov. 9 when it travels to in-state Football Bowl Subdivision rival Memphis for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. Last season, the Skyhawks defeated the Tigers 20-17 for their first-ever victory over a FBS squad.