MARTIN, Tenn. – University of Tennessee at Martin football player Kahlid Hagens became the first player since 2013 to be named FCS National Defensive Player of the Week by STATS following his dominating performance against No. 24 Eastern Illinois.
Fresh off his second adidas Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week nod of the season, Hagens became the first player to earn National Defensive Player of the Week honors since Tony Bell accomplished the feat on Nov. 4, 2013.
A native of Maplewood, Mo., Hagen earned his first national honor of the season after playing a major part in the Skyhawks’ road victory at No. 24 Eastern Illinois. Hagens tallied a game-high nine tackles in the contest while recovering a key fumble and returning an interception 52 yards for a touchdown.
With UT Martin leading 13-7 late in the second quarter, Hagens recovered a fumble on the UTM two-yard line to thwart a key scoring drive and preserve the team’s lead going into halftime. Later in the game with the contest at a nine-point margin, he returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown with just over two minutes to play to seal the team’s victory. The touchdown served as the team’s sixth defensive touchdown of the season, a mark which leads all FCS members.
Behind Hagen’s strong play the defense held its third consecutive opponent to fewer than 300 yards of total offense while tallying seven turnovers – the most since 2004. The Skyhawks have forced three turnovers or more on four occasions this season against Cincinnati, Hawai’i, Bacone College and Eastern Illinois.
On the season, Hagens leads the team with 82 total tackles – including 40 solo tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss. He has tallied a pair of interceptions on the year while forcing and recovering a fumble each. He rounds out his stat line with five pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.
Hagens and the Skyhawks will return to action when they look to close out the home portion of the 2016 schedule with a showdown against OVC foe Southeast Missouri. Kickoff from Hardy M. Graham Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m.