Simpson announces 2011 signing class
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2011 21:04
MARTIN, Tenn. - Jason Simpson, the head football coach at The University of Tennessee at Martin, has picked up commitments from 23 student-athletes who will suit up for the Skyhawks in the 2011 season. Simpson and his staff spanned six states to pick up this year's signing class. The freshman class includes 13 signees from the state of Tennessee, three from Kentucky, and two from Missouri and one from Alabama. UT Martin also picked up commitments from three junior college players from Mississippi and a transfer from Georgia Tech.
"We had some specific needs we had to address and I think we were able to fill our needs," Simpson said. "We were able to sign some quality receivers and a tight end and we picked up two running backs and two offensive linemen that will help us put more points on the board."
The Skyhawks also had to fill a void at linebacker with the departure of All-OVC product Josh Bey. "We added three linebackers and added some depth on the defensive line and at defensive back," Simpson said.
Overall, the Skyhawks signed 11 offensive players (four wide receivers, two quarterbacks, two running backs, two offensive linemen, and a tight end) and 10 defensive players (three linebackers, three defensive linemen, two safeties and two defensive backs). UT Martin also inked an athlete and a kicker.
2011 UTM Football Signing Class:
Ben Axline (WR, 6-3, 185, Martha Layne Collins High School, Shelbyville, Ky.)
High School - Played football at Martha Layne High School for head coach Jerry Lucas .... Was a three-year starter and varsity letterman ... Elected team captain his senior year ... Named the Most Valuable Player of the Bluegrass Bowl in 2010 ... Named first team all-district wide receiver, safety and punter ... Earned all-state honorable mention recognition as a senior ... Named his team's Most Outstanding wide receiver ... Help the Titans win the district championship with an 11-2 record and finish the 2010 season as the regional runner-up ... made 57 catches for 928 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior ... Averaged 16.3 yards per catch and 84.4 yards per game ... Punted 14 times for 527 yards and averaged 46.7 yards per punt ... Made 35 tackles, four interceptions for 131 yards and one touchdown ... Also returned punts and kickoffs.
Personal - the son of Matt and Beth Axline of Shelbyville, Ky. ... His brother Matt is a member of the UT Martin football team.
Tony Bell (Athlete, 6-1, 200, Kingsbury High School, Memphis, Tenn.)
High School - Played football at Kingsbury High School for head coach Earl Lester ... Was named to the Commercial Appeal's Best of the Preps 1-4A team ... Named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class 4-A All-State team ... Played in the Liberty Bowl AutoZone High School All-Star game as a senior ... Had 18 carries for 162 yards and 21 receptions for 439 yards as a senior ... Made 74 total tackles, 56 solo and 18 assisted as a senior ... Recorded eight sacks, three interceptions and scored nine touchdowns for the Falcons in 2010 ... Led Kingsbury to a 7-6 won-loss record his senior season ... Was a wide receiver and 21 catches for 440 yards ... Rushed for 170 yards on 18 carries ... Scored 12 total touchdowns.
Marquis Clemons (Safety, 5-11, 175, Webster Groves High School, St. Louis, Mo.)
High School - Played football for head coach Cliff Ice at Webster Groves High School ... Is listed as a St. Louis today Super 30 recruit ... Led his team to a 13-1 record and the state championship game in 2010 ... Was named a two-time first-team all-state selection, a two-time all-conference pick and a two-time all-metro honoree ... As a quarterback he completed 47 of 76 passes for 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns his senior season ... Piled up 1,747 total yards and accounted for 34 touchdowns as a senior ... Helped his team to a 14-0 won-loss record and the Missouri state championship in 2009, his junior season.
Personal - Plans to major in sports management ... is one of two Webster Groves High School student-athletes to sign with UT Martin for the 2011 season. The other signee is Jackson Roberts.
Dylan Davis (WR, 6-2, 195, Hinds Community College, Jackson, Miss.)
Community College - Played wide receiver for two years at Hinds Community College where he led the Eagles in receptions (39), receiving yards (594) and receiving touchdowns (seven) in 2010 ... Named to the Mississippi Junior College second team all-state squad.
High School - Prepped at Forest Hill High School in Jackson, Miss. ... Helped lead the Patriots to the postseason ... A physical wide receiver who proved to be elusive for Class 4-A defenses ... Perhaps the most overlooked prospect in Mississippi out of high school according to Scout.com.
Anthony Gardner (RB, 5-9, 175, Pleasant Grove High School, Pleasant Grove, Ala.)
High School - Was named an All-Metro Super Senior ... Made the All-Metro West and the All-Magic City all-star teams ... Named the offensive player of the game after Pleasant Grove defeated No. 4 Hueytown ... Racked up 348 all-purpose yards against Hueytown, including 198 rushing yards ... Led his team to a 10-2 record and an undefeated division slate ... Runs the 40 yard dash in 4.29 ... Rushed for 1,969 career yards on 251 carries.
Jarvis McCann (Linebacker, 6-1, 230, Pearl River Community College, Poplarville, Miss.)
Community College - Played linebacker for two years at Pearl River Community College for head coach Tim Hatten ... Played in nine games as a sophomore and made 41 total tackles ... Had one TFL and a sack ... Also recovered a fumble.
High School - Prepped at Hattiesburg High School where he played football for head coach William Hoehn.
Keland McElrath (Defensive line, 6-4, 285, Ripley High School, Ripley, Tenn.)
High School - Played offensive and defensive line for head coach Al Peligrino ... Was named the 2010 District 13-AA Defensive Player of the Year ... Selected to the 2010 all-regional first team ... Helped the Tigers compile an 8-4 won-loss record and advance to the second round of the state playoffs where they lost to Kingsbury ... Ran track and field at Ripley and won the state championship in the shotput in 2009 and 2010.