Benford named Freshman of the Year, Eller, Smith all-OVC second-team

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech wide receiver Tim Benford has been named the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, while Golden Eagle seniors Scott Eller and Maurice Smith earned second-team all-OVC honors.

The league announced its annual post-season awards Tuesday.

Tennessee State runningback Javarris Williams is the OVC Offensive Player of the Year while linebacker Nathan Williams of Murray State harvested the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Eastern Kentucky's Dean Hood, who led his team to the OVC title in his first season at the helm, was named the Coach of the Year.

Benford, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound speedster from Chattanooga, set one school record and tied another in his rookie season. He had 68 catches, breaking the previous mark of 55, and he tied the Tech record with 10 TD catches. Benford finished with 782 receiving yards, the seventh-highest single-season in school history.

"We knew that Tim was a special kind of player, and each week he proved that on the football field," said second-year head coach Watson Brown. "He has all the skills to be a great player for Tennessee Tech, and he also has the kind of work ethic that will only make him better."

This marks only the fifth year that the league has named a Freshman of the Year, and Benford is the second current Golden Eagle player to win the honor. Quarterback Lee Sweeney was selected as a redshirt freshman in 2006.

Smith, an all-OVC selection last season and a preseason all-OVC pick this year, backed up those honors by repeating his post-season selection by the league's coaches and sports information directors.

A 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior from Athens, Tenn., Smith ranked second on the team and fifth in the OVC with 128 total tackles in 2008, the 10th highest single-season tackle total in school history. He also posted 11 tackles-for-loss for 25 yards, had one interception and broke up seven passes.

For his career, Smith finished with 336 total tackles to rank sixth all-time. He also wrapped up his career record with 24 tackles-for-loss, eight interceptions and 29 passes defended.

"Maurice was a leader all year long on our defense," Brown said. "We knew we could always count on him on the field to play at the very top of his ability. He never quit and he never gave up."

Eller, a 6-foot-, 302-pound offensive guard from Collierville, Tenn., closed his career by starting in 34 consecutive games over the past three season. After playing in two games as a true freshman in 2005, Eller earned a spot in the starting lineup as a sophomore and never relinquished that role.

Eller graded out at 85 percent during the 2008 season and didn't allow a single quarterback sack.

"It was a pure joy having Scott Eller on this team," Brown said. "He was a quiet leader, and he did a fantastic job leading by example. He played as well as he could on every snap, whether it was a game or in practice, and no matter what we asked of him. There wasn't a player in the conference more deserving of this type of recognition that Scott Eller.

"Both Scott and Maurice, along with our other five seniors, really did a great job for this team," Brown said. "We were so young, and had so many freshmen who were out there learning, and it took a lot of class on the part of the seniors to keep us moving ahead and I couldn't be more proud of their effort."

The 2008 All-Ohio Valley Conference Team

Offensive Player of the Year:
Javarris Williams, TSU
Defensive Player of the Year: Nathan Williams, MUR
Freshman of the Year: Tim Benford, TTU
Coach of the Year: Dean Hood, EKU

All-OVC First Team

QB - Cade Thompson, UTM
RB - Javarris Williams, TSU
RB - Travorus Bess, EIU
WR - Mike Hicks, UTM
WR - Maurice Dupree, JSU
TE - Stephen Sizemore, EKU
C - Cecil Newton, TSU
G - Chaz Millard, EIU
G - Kevin Bannon, UTM
T - Derek Hardmann, EKU
T - Cornelius Lewis, TSU

K - Taylor Long, EKU
P - Doug Spada, SEMO
RS - Terrence Holt, APSU

DL - Pierre Walters, EIU
DL - Chris Coy, EKU
DL - Austen Lane, MUR
DL - Ray Williams, UTM
LB - Alexander Henderson, JSU
LB - Nathan Williams, MUR
LB - Nick Stauffer, SEMO
DB - Kevis Buckley, APSU
DB - Brandon Gathof, EKU
DB - Dontrell Miller, UTM
DB - Carnell Clark, JSU

All-OVC Second Team

QB - Ryan Perrilloux, JSU
RB - Daniel Jackson, JSU
RB - Brandyn Young, UTM
WR - Derrick Townsel, MUR
WR - Walter Peoples, SEMO
TE - DeAngelo Nelson,MUR
C - Sam Reid, EKU
G - Keith Gergel, JSU
G - Scott Eller, TTU
T - Dumaka Atkins, TSU
T - Joe Gibbs, UTM

K - Gavin Hallford, JSU
P - Adam Ivey, UTM
RS - Maurice Dupree, JSU

DL - Donovan Johnson, EIU
DL - Jeff Sobol, EIU
DL - Brandt Thomas, JSU
DL - Maurice Davis, TSU
LB - Daniel Becker, APSU
LB - TyJuan Jones, EKU
LB - Josh Bey, UTM
DB - Zach Denton, EKU
DB - Eugene Clifford, TSU
DB - Larry Williford, TSU
DB - Maurice Smith, TTU

All-Newcomer Team
RB - Ryan White, APSU
WR - Stephon Fuqua, EKU
DB - A.J. Davis, JSU
QB - Ryan Perrilloux, JSU
LB - Phillip Klaproth, SEMO
DL - Marcus Broxie, TSU
DB - Eugene Clifford, TSU
LB - Rico Council, TSU
WR/KR - JaJuan Spillman, TSU
WR - Tim Benford, TTU
WR - Mike Hicks, UTM