MARTIN, Tenn. – After arguably his best career game in the University of Tennessee at Martin’s season-opening road win at No. 24 Chattanooga last Thursday, senior running back DJ McNeil has been spotlighted as an honorable mention performer of the week at running back by College Football Performance Awards.
McNeil was one of seven running backs from around the Football Championship Subdivision level to garner honorable mention accolades. Northern Iowa’s David Johnson (199 rushing yards, four touchdowns in a win over Football Bowl Subdivision member Iowa) was named the National Running Back of the Week.
Facing a defense that ranked 10th in the nation in total defense in 2012, McNeil achieved career-highs in rushing attempts (26) and rushing yards (134) against Chattanooga. He scored the game’s opening touchdown – a two-yard scamper – with 3:56 to go in the second quarter to give the Skyhawks a lead they would not relinquish.
McNeil’s rushing touchdown was the 15th of his UT Martin career, which ranks him seventh all-time in program history. The 6-2, 205-pound Collierville, Tenn. native also joined the illustrious 1,000 career rushing yard club in the season-opener, accomplishing the milestone in the third quarter. Despite this being his first year as the featured running back, he now has 1,073 yards in 34 career games.
The 134-yard performance was the second 100-yard rushing game of McNeil’s career. He – along with teammate Trent Garland – was part of a Skyhawk rushing attack that produced 289 net yards against Chattanooga last Thursday – the most UT Martin had gained against a Division-I opponent in 50 games dating back to 2008.
The Skyhawks return to action on Saturday, Sept. 7 when they make the 1,820 mile trip to FBS member Boise State. Kickoff time from Bronco Stadium is set for 2 p.m. CST.