GoMocs.com continues its Training Camp Rundown today with a group that includes one of the most talented players in the entire Football Championship Subdivision. Junior Davis Tull leads a strong contingent of defensive ends that is expected to be the anchor of an impressive defensive unit for the Mocs.
“Our defensive ends are simply what they’ve been – the best players on the field,” stated defensive line coach Marcus West. “That’s what they train to be. They are led by an All-American, and he is an All-American for a reason. He works that way and he deserves it. He knows he has to hold up to it and everyone falls in line with him. They work to be the best.”
Tull is coming off a monster campaign in 2012, leading the Southern Conference in sacks with a school-record 12.5 last season. He also set a new UTC mark with 19.0 tackles-for-loss, took home the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year honors and was on everyone’s All-American team.
At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Tull is a very athletic end and has impressed coaches and media across the nation. The Knoxville, Tenn., native is a consensus preseason All-American and is one of 20 players on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List for national Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Phil Steele rated Tull as the No. 1 defensive end in the nation and the No. 6 overall player in the FCS. He is the preseason SoCon co-Defensive Player of the Year, according to the league’s coaches, and is on the College Football Performance Award Watch List for Defensive Linemen.
Tull has obviously solidified his spot on the left side, but there is a good battle brewing for the No. 1 position on the right end. Juniors Zack Rayl (Englewood, Tenn.) and Toyvian Brand (Greensboro, Ala.) are both competing hard for it.
Rayl (6-3, 240) is currently No. 1 after playing in every game in 2012. He totaled 22 tackles, 2.0 sacks and five TFLs in 2012. He also forced and recovered a fumble in 11 games off the bench.
“I like the group,” stated head coach Russ Huesman. “I think we have some nice depth there. Obviously, everyone knows about Davis Tull so we don’t need to talk about him. We moved Toyvian Brand back out there. He had a really nice spring, and he has looked good out there so far. Zack Rayl played a lot of football for us last year, so we expect big things from him this season.”
Brand (6-2, 260) started every game at defensive tackle last season and also had five starts as a true freshman in 2011. He finished 2012 with 25 tackles, while playing on the interior. He also had three hurries and recovered a fumble.
“Moving Toyvian to end has been a pleasant surprise,” added West. “We threw him over there in the spring just to see how he would perform and by the end of the spring he was a dedicated end. He has really switched up and fallen into the mold. He is a special player.”
Junior Devin Scates (Memphis, Tenn.) has also moved outside after playing tackle last season. He has played in 10 games with two starts over the last two years and is the only other tackle with game experience on the depth chart.
Redshirt freshman Keionta Davis (Chattanooga, Tenn.) has also been impressive in camp. He has not played a snap of football over the last two years, redshirting in 2012 and missing all of his senior year of high school with an injury. He is healthy for the first time in a long time and should be able to work his way into the lineup.
True freshman D.J. Prather (Calhoun, Ga.) is an all-state prep player from nearby Gordon Central High School in Calhoun, Ga. He has a bright future at UTC and should benefit from learning from a talented group of upperclassmen. Fellow freshman Trevor Jachimowicz (Orchard Park, N.Y.) spent last season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy and is the first Moc from the state of New York since QB Cedric Stevens of Syracuse in 2004.
“Keionta is young and he hasn’t played football in a while,” said Huesman. “He has a ways to go but we feel pretty good about it. Then we have D.J. Prather who is coming along pretty good, and we moved Devin Scates back out there for more depth.”
The Mocs open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29, against UT Martin. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. (E.D.T.) and tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). Be sure to click here for more information on getting a FREE T-shirt by taking the “Tried & True Blue Pledge.”
“I think the defensive line has been working hard these last three days,” concluded Tull. “I am really excited about who we have on paper. We look very talented so now we just have to put the work into it and meet everyone’s expectations.”
Defensive End Depth Chart
|LE||90||Davis Tull||6-3||240||Jr-2L||Knoxville, Tenn.||Buchanan Watch List...SoCon Def. POY|
|93||Keionta Davis||6-4||240||Fr.-RS||Chattanooga, Tenn.||Has not played a snap since 2010|
|7||D.J. Prather||6-4||240||Fr.-HS||Calhoun, Ga.||All-state as a prep player|
|RE||31||Zack Rayl||6-3||240||Jr-2L||Englewood, Tenn.||5.0 TFLs & 2.0 sacks|
|or||44||Toyvian Brand||6-2||260||Jr.-2L||Greensboro, Ala.||Started every game at DT in 2012|
|92||Devin Scates||6-2||260||Jr.-2L||Memphis, Tenn.||Played in10 career games|
|98||Trevor Jachimowicz||6-3||210||Fr.-HS||Orchard Park, N.Y.||Spent last season at Fork Union Military Academy|