College Football Performance Awards announced its 2014 Football Championship Subdivision National Defensive Performer of the Year watch list today and the University of Tennessee at Martin linebacker Tony Bell has made the final cut of 30 players.
Bell joins Southeast Missouri linebacker Roper Garrett as the only Ohio Valley Conference players to make the CFPA’s list. The 6-1, 200-pound senior out of Memphis is also represented on the Sports Network Buck Buchanan Award watch list, which recognizes the best defensive players in the FCS ranks. He was also named the College Sports Madness Preseason National Defensive Player of the Year.
Bell was named as the CFPA National Linebacker of the Week for Week 6 while earning honorable mention accolades from CFPA during Week 5 and Week 7.
A Preseason All-American selection by six different media outlets, Bell became UT Martin’s all-time sacks leader on Oct. 9, as he now has 20 for his career. He currently leads the OVC (and ranks third nationally) with three fumble recoveries and 17 tackles for loss while his 5.5 sacks rank fourth. Overall, he has made 60 tackles with an interception, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles and fumble recovery for a touchdown in 2014.
The Skyhawks travel to Starkville, Miss. this weekend for a matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the No. 1 team in the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks. The SEC Network will provide live coverage for the contest, which kicks off at 3 p.m.