SIX SKYHAWKS EARN PRESEASON HONORS BY COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS
August 2, 2016
MARTIN, Tenn. – Six players from the University of Tennessee at Martin football team have earned a spot on the Ohio Valley Preseason All-Conference Football Teams by College Sports Madness as announced this afternoon. Damani Taylor and Kevin Prather Jr. earned first team defense honors while Caylon Weathers notched a spot on the second team. The trio of Ladevin Fair, James Gilleylen and Caleb Counce garnered third team honors, respectively.
Taylor, senior defensive lineman and a Martin native, added to his preseason accolades after earning preseason All-OVC honors at last month’s OVC Media Day in addition to second team and All-Newcomer honors in 2015. Taylor made the most of his debut season with the Skyhawks ranking sixth in the OVC with 5.5 sacks while finishing 13th with 9.0 tackles for loss to lead the squad in both categories. Starting in all 11 games, Taylor tallied 54 total tackles while tabulating 38 yards of loss with two quarterback hurries.
Hailing from Nashville, Prather made an immediate impact during his true freshman campaign from the linebacker position, recording 57 tackles in 11 starts. Prather tallied 8.0 tackles for loss along with 2.5 sacks. His menacing defense forced one fumble along with seven quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. He posted six games with five tackles or more while notching a season-best 11 tackles against Bethel on Sept. 10. During the Sgt. York Trophy series, Prather tallied 11 tackles including 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries.
A native of Germantown, Weathers dazzled during his breakout sophomore campaign, starting in all 11 games while ranking second on the team in nearly every receiving category. Weathers tallied 62 receptions for 726 yards (11.7 yard average) and eight touchdowns. He posted his first career multi-touchdown game against Bethel on Sept. 10, tallying five receptions for 105 yards and three touchdowns. He tallied another multi-touchdown game against Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 7, notching seven catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Fair enters his senior campaign following a year in which he provided versatility in the backfield. Fair notched 68 rushing attempts for 375 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while tallying 13 receptions for 114 yards through the air. His best game of the season came against Tennessee Tech on Oct. 3, tallying 18 carries for 99 yards and 108 all-purpose yards. He scored touchdowns against Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois.
Gilleylen made a big impact during his freshman season after being thrown into a starting linebacker role. He made the most of it however, starting the final 10 games of the season while tallying 55 tackles. He registered 5.5 tackles for loss while recovering one fumble and tallying an interception. He also notched seven quarterback hurries and two pass breakups. Against No. 1 ranked Jacksonville State, Gilleylen tallied eight tackles for a career high while posting seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and an interception one week later against Tennessee Tech.
Hailing from Paris, Counce posted a breakout season by tallying 41 tackles in 11 starts for the Skyhawks as a linebacker. Counce tallied 6.0 tackles for loss along with 2.5 sacks. His best game came against Murray State on Oct. 24 where he tallied six tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks on the afternoon in addition to a fumble recovery, quarterback hurry and pass breakup.
UT Martin will officially open preseason preparations with the beginning of fall camp on Friday, Aug. 5. Players will report to campus on Thursday, Aug. 4 before donning helmets for the start of camp with a 7 p.m. practice. All practices are free and open to the public at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.