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Benford wins Robert Hill Johnson Award, eight others honored

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Junior wide receiver Tim Benford received the prestigious Robert Hill Johnson award for the second time in his decorated career and eight other teammates accepted honors Sunday evening as the 2010 Tennessee Tech football squad was recognized at the team’s annual Awards Dinner.

Fourth-year head coach Watson Brown and his staff handed out five long-standing awards plus five newer honors after the Golden Eagles posted a 5-6 overall record in 2010.

Among winners selected by team voting, Tre Lamb received the Sonny Allen Leadership Award, Kelechi Ordu accepted the Tech Pride Award, and Cass Barnes the Unsung Hero Award.

Three awards that were established last year included the Offensive MVP (Jocques Crawford), Defensive MVP (Dustin Dillehay and Kelechi Ordu) and Special Teams MVP (Henry Sailes). Brown and his staff added awards for the top Offensive Lineman (Slade Adams) and top Defensive Lineman (Justin Hilliard).

Tim Benford, a junior from Chattanooga, is a three-year starter for the Golden Eagles and a three-time all-OVC selection. He also received the Robert Hill Johnson Award following his freshman season in 2008.

In 2010, Benford led the team and ranked among OVC leaders with 50 catches for 812 yards and tied the school record with 10 touchdowns. His 812 yards ranks as the fourth-highest season in school history and his 50 receptions is the sixth-best season total. Benford was third in the OVC and 29th nationally in receiving yards per game, and sixth in the OVC in receptions per game. With 148 career catches, he is listed second all-time in the Tech record book, and his career yardage total of 2,174 ranks third all-time.

The Sonny Allen Leadership Award went to sophomore Tre Lamb, a quarterback from Calhoun, Ga., who was the team’s starter for the first eight games before being sidelined by an injury. Lab passed for 974 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions. He also ranked fifth on the team in rushing yards with 100 in 82 attempts. He finished the year first on the squad in total offense with 1,084 yards. 

Linebacker Kelechi Ordu, a senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., received the Tech Pride award and shared the Defensive MVP honor with Dillehay. Ordu started all 11 games and led the team with 90 total tackles to rank fourth in the OVC. He wrapped up his Golden Eagle career with 186 tackles and 12.5 tackles-for-loss.

After quietly filling a backup role for much of the season, Cass Barnes stepped into the starting role at quarterback late in the year and led the offense with poise and strong play. In the season finale, Barnes passed for 271 yards and ignited a fourth quarter comeback that lifted the Golden Eagles to a stunning 25-24 victory over No. 4 Jacksonville State. He was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Week following that effort.

A senior from Tullahoma, Tenn., Barnes passed for 758 yards and three touchdowns and had a team-best 135.93 quarterback rating. He had just one interception in 99 attempts. The fleet-footed signal-caller also ranked third on the team in rushing with 250 yards in 68 carries, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. He was second on the team in total offense with 1,008 yards.

Dustin Dillehay
shared the Defensive MVP award with Ordu, the second consecutive year that the senior safety from Hartsville, Tenn., has received the honor. Another 11-game starter, Dillehay ranked third on the team and 12th in the OVC with 73 total tackles. He grabbed two interceptions, broke up four passes, caused a fumble and recovered a fumble. He closed his career with 184 total tackles and five interceptions.  

Jocques Crawford, a senior runningback from Memphis, won the Offensive MVP award in his only season in action for the Golden Eagles. Crawford wound up as the team’s leading rusher with 625 yards and nine touchdowns in 118 attempts, ranking eight in the league. Crawford caught three passes for 24 yards, finishing third on the team in both all-purpose yards and total offense. Twice named the OVC Newcomer of the Week, Crawford earned selection to the OVC All-Newcomer team.
 
The Special Teams Player of the Year honor went to Henry Sailes, a multi-dimensional senior from Palmetto, Fla. Moved to wide receiver for his final season, Sailes finished second on the team in receiving with 18 catches for 186 yards. He also had nine carries for 75 yards. As a returner, Sailes averaged 18.1 yards in 22 kick returns and 19.3 yards in nine punt returns. During the year, he broke the school record for most kickoff return yards in a career.
 
The two new awards started this year by Brown honored linemen, with sophomore Slade Adams earning the Offensive Line MVP award and senior Justin Hilliard capturing the Defensive Line MVP honor.
 
Adams, a sophomore from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., started all 11 games at left guard and was a key player up front for the Golden Eagles. He was one of three offensive front men to start every game, finishing the year with 111 total knockdowns, an average of 10.1 per game.

A senior from Pikeville, Tenn., Hilliard was named second-team all-OVC following his final season. The only Golden Eagle to start all 11 games in the defensive line , he was tops among linemen with 47 total tackles. He ranked third on the team in tackles-for-loss with 6.5 for 15 yards, and had one of the team’s two blocked kicks in 2011. He finished his career with 112 total tackles and 20 tackles-for-loss.

The staff also recognized eight seniors, a group that included Barnes, Dillehay, Hilliard, Ordu and Sailes, along with Corbin Miles, Dedrick Miley and Charlies Seivers.

Peggie Parrott, the popular TTU football secretary for 28 years, was also recognized by Brown and the coaching staff, and received a standing ovation from the audience.