MARTIN, Tenn. – After a dominant performance at Football Bowl Subdivision powerhouse Boise State, the University of Tennessee at Martin’s Tony Bell was named the National Defensive Performer of the Week and National Linebacker Performer of the Week by College Football Performance Awards, as well as the National Defensive Player of the Week by the Sports Network.
Along with Bell, Skyhawk senior Jeremy Butler was also named as one of 13 honorable mention nominees for CFPA Wide Receiver Performer of the Week.
A 6-1, 200-pound junior out of Memphis, Tenn., Bell stood out on Saturday against the Broncos. He recorded five tackles for loss for 26 yards, two of which were sacks for 12 yards. He forced a pair of fumbles and recovered one fumble, while five of his six total tackles were solo stops.
Bell’s impact was felt immediately. On Boise State’s fourth offensive play of the game, Bell busted loose for a sack, forcing Bronco quarterback Joe Southwick to fumble. Bell then got back on his feet and dove on top of the ball to force a turnover.
On Boise State’s next possession, it was Bell again who came up with a sack to push the Broncos back to their own 12-yard line. That would set the tone for a three-and-out for the Skyhawk defense.
Bell also came up with a tackle for loss on a rushing play on Boise State’s next drive, followed by yet another tackle for loss on another rushing play in the second quarter.
Later on in the second quarter, Bell once again got free in the backfield and forced another fumble, deflecting a pitch from Southwick on a quarterback option. The play pushed the Broncos back 13 yards.
Thanks to his outstanding effort at Boise State, Bell now leads the Ohio Valley Conference in tackles for loss (five) and forced fumbles (two), while ranking second in sacks (two) and fumble recoveries (one).
A 6-3, 205-pounder out of Bradenton, Fla., Butler accounted for game-highs in receptions (nine) and receiving yards (118) at Boise State last Saturday. It was Butler’s fourth game of at least 100-yards receiving out of 12 career games at UT Martin.
Six of Butler’s nine receptions against Boise State went for a first down for the Skyhawks. He hauled in a 45-yard reception from Dylan Favre in the third quarter and also accounted for a 28-yard catch from Jarod Neal later on in the quarter.
Through two games, Butler ranks second in the OVC in receptions (19), third in receiving yards (209) and eighth in all-purpose yards (214).
UT Martin’s next contest is the 2013 home opener, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 14 against Central Arkansas. Kickoff from Hardy Graham Stadium is set for 6 p.m.