MARTIN, Tenn. – Tony Bell, a rising senior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, was recognized by College Football Performance Awards as one of 38 linebackers on its national watch list for the 2014 season.
A 6-1, 200-pound defensive standout from Memphis, Bell was the only player from the Ohio Valley Conference to earn a spot on the prestigious list.
Last season, Bell was named an All-American by four different media outlets (Associated Press, College Sports Madness, Beyond Sports Network and Phil Steele Publications) in addition to earning All-OVC first team accolades. He led the OVC and ranked sixth in the nation with 10.5 sacks while also tallying an OVC-best 15 tackles for loss. He also ranked second in the league in both forced fumbles (three) and fumbles recovered (three) while amassing 80 tackles, which ranked ninth.
Bell was named National Defensive Player of the Week after a pair of dominant performances last season. He wrapped up five tackles for loss at traditional power Football Bowl Subdivision member Boise State on Sept. 7, which ranked as the fifth-best single-game effort in the Football Championship Subdivision ranks. He then followed that with a career-high 16 tackles and 4.5 sacks against Murray State on Nov. 2. The 16 stops were tied for the most by any OVC player in 2013 while the 4.5 sacks tied an OVC single-game record and was the second-best performance by an FCS player all season.
UT Martin kicks off the 2014 season at the University of Kentucky on Saturday, Aug. 30. Kickoff against the Southeastern Conference rival is set for 11 a.m. CST and will be nationally televised on the new SEC Network.