BELL NAMED NATIONAL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK BY TWO OUTLETS; NEAL, WILLIAMS ALSO RECOGNIZED
MARTIN, Tenn. – For the second time this season, University of Tennessee at Martin junior linebacker Tony Bell has earned National Defensive Performer of the Week and National Linebacker Performer of the Week by College Performance Awards and National Defensive Player of the Week by the Sports Network.
A 6-1, 200-pounder out of Memphis, Tenn., Bell also earned adidas Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sunday afternoon.
Bell put together one of the most dominant defensive games in OVC history on Saturday in a 45-17 victory over Murray State. He tied an OVC single-game record with 4.5 sacks, which is also tied for the most sacks in a single game by an NCAA player at any level in 2013. He also recorded a career-high 16 tackles, which is tied for the most tackles by any OVC player in a single game this season.
Bell, who was also recognized by CFPA and the Sports Network after Week 2, currently leads the OVC in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (13) 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 rank fourth amongst Football Championship Subdivision players.
Along with Bell, CFPA also recognized Jarod Neal and Thad Williams for their contributions to the Skyhawk victory. Neal was one of 15 signal callers to earn Honorable Mention National Quarterback of the Week while Williams was one of 18 players to be named Honorable Mention Defensive Back Performer of the Week.
A 6-1, 180-pound redshirt sophomore out of Hendersonville, Tenn., Neal chalked up a career day against the Racers – accounting for four touchdowns. He completed 75 percent of his passes (18-for-24) for 245 yards and a career-best three touchdowns while adding a career-high 38 yards on the ground, including a go-ahead rushing score in the third quarter to give UT Martin a lead it would not relinquish the rest of the way.
Neal currently ranks third in the OVC in completion percentage (63.3) and passing efficiency (133.5) while coming in at fourth in passing yards (139.6 per game) and total offense (140.4 yards per game).
Williams also had a career day on Saturday, coming away with two interceptions to go along with eight tackles. The two picks marked the first time a Skyhawk had a multi-interception game since Markei Guy accomplished the feat at Tennessee State in 2010. Williams now has four interceptions over the last two seasons at UT Martin.
A 5-9, 190-pounder redshirt senior out of Adel, Ga., Williams jumped into seventh in the OVC in interceptions (two).
The Skyhawks carry a 6-3 overall record into their Nov. 9 matchup at Football Bowl Subdivision member Memphis. UT Martin will look to make it two straight victories over the Tigers, as the Skyhawks earned a 20-17 victory in Memphis in the 2012 season opener. Kickoff from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m.