NASHVILLE -- Tennessee State senior linebacker Rico Council from Chattanooga, a former Howard standout, was a preseason co-defensive player of the year in a poll of the Ohio Valley Conference head football coaches and sports information directors released Monday. He was joined on the All-OVC team by Tennessee Tech senior wide receiver Tim Benford from Red Bank and two Chattanooga standouts for Eastern Kentucky, senior defensive back Jeremy Caldwell from Red Bank and junior receiver Orlandus Harris from Brainerd. Jacksonville State was picked to win the league, getting 13 of the 18 first-place votes, with Murray State second, EKU third, Southeast Missouri fourth, TTU fifth, UT-Martin sixth, Eastern Illinois seventh, TSU eighth and Austin Peay ninth. Council had 79 tackles last year, including six for loss and four sacks. Harris had 56 catches for 940 yards and seven touchdowns last year, when Benford made 47 receptions for 779 yards and nine TDs, giving him 151 career catches. Caldwell shook off early-season injuries to make 32 tackle and three interceptions, one of which he returned 80 yards for a touchdown against Louisville, and he earned All-America recognition as a return specialist.
- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga announced several promotions within the athletic department Monday, along with the addition of a staff member. Ryan Peck has been promoted to assistant athletic director for the UTC Mocs Club and marketing after serving as the director of marketing for three years. Erika Lerum has been promoted to director of marketing, and William Kent, a former graduate assistant in the marketing department, was named assistant director of the Mocs Club. UTC has hired Jay Harris, a former Troy University golfer, to raise funds and awareness for the Mocs' Golf Player Development Complex.
- Giorgi Koguashvili has followed Hamilton Heights teammate Pedro Faller in signing to continue his basketball career at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and Jordyn Wolcott from the Hamilton Heights girls' team has signed with Three Rivers College, a two-year school in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Union coach David Niven wanted Koguashvili while recruiting Faller, according to Hamilton Heights headmaster Duke Stone, but the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from the Republic of Georgia had considerable NCAA Division I interest. He averaged 17.9 points a game in his one Hawks season after the closing of Mountain State Academy. He qualified for NCAA eligibility with his grade point average but not with his ACT score -- language issues hurt him, Stone said. "The Union coaches have said all along that they think Giorgi will contribute immediately," the headmaster added. The 6-foot-4 Wolcott averaged 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior, but those numbers were down from her junior year when D-1 schools including Liberty, High Point and Charleston Southern were interested. Wolcott was part of a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 Lady Hawks front line this past season, including a talented arrival from Serbia, but they were lacking in guard play and had a down year, Stone noted. Still, Wolcott had "probably 15 community college offers," he said, and ultimately picked Three Rivers over Dodge City (Kan.).
- Maryville's Jason Welshan, the Crate Late Model points leader at Boyd's Speedway, added another win at another of his favorite tracks last Saturday night at Crossville, Tenn. Like the previous Saturday at Crossville, he won one of two Late Model races and finished in the top four of the other. That gave him three wins in three nights, following Crate victories Thursday and Friday at Cleveland and Boyd's.
Get breaking news from the Times Free Press on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timesfreepress