Tim Benford, Red Bank: The two-star recruit was a standout at wide receiver and safety in high school but found his niche immediately at wideout at Tennessee Tech. He was the Ohio Valley Conference freshman of the year after his school-record 68 receptions led the league. He was selected all-conference each of the next three seasons, including pffensive player of the year as a senior with his school-record 923 receiving yards. He was chosen an FCS All-American last season when the Golden Eagles earned their first playoff berth. With more than 200 catches for more than 3,000 yards, Benford ended up second all-time in the OVC in both categories and started in the East-West Shrine Game.
Taylor and Tylor Chambers, Red Bank: Tylor was a two-star recruit who first committed to Marshall but reconsidered and signed with Jacksonville State, which offered scholarships to him and his twin. Tylor lettered his first two seasons, having a banner year at guard in 2009 when JSU led the OVC in rushing (188.8 yards per game), scoring (35.0) and total offense (431.1 ypg). He had 103 knockdown blocks, grading out at 88 percent on the season, and was a first-team all-conference selection. But he suffered an injury in the subsequent spring practice and quit playing football for medical reasons. Taylor never played.
Nick Davison, Calhoun: The two-star recruit at noseguard signed and spent two years with Alabama-Birmingham before transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At UAB he played in all 24 games and totaled 33 tackles with 4.5 for loss. In 10 games as a junior at UTC he had 31 solo stops among his 45 tackles, with eight for loss and two sacks. Last year he tore an ACL in the Mocs' second game while combining on a sack against Jacksonville State and missed the rest of the season. He's expected to be cleared to play again next season, but he will miss participating in spring practice while rehabilitating from the surgery he had late in 2011.
Dominique McDuffie, Red Bank: Signing with Appalachian State, he immediately became a starter at right cornerback, debuting at defending national champion LSU and making four tackles. He suffered a knee injury in practice the week after the Mountaineers' third game and missed the rest of the season, although he did receive a medical redshirt that year. The ongoing effects of the injury along with learning a new position were reasons McDuffie rarely played in the first six games in 2009, but he started at nickel safety in seven of the last eight. The next year he appeared in 12 of 13 games and was in on 51 stops. Four of his six career interceptions, which have resulted in 100 return yards, came that season. Last year he was limited to seven starts and missed one of ASU's 12 games, but his 26 solo tackles were fifth on the team. He has one season of eligibility remaining.
Jake McIntosh, Dalton: He got on the field for Tennessee Tech at inside linebacker in the fourth game of his freshman season and was basically a starter from that point forward. He was in on 252 tackles in his career with 15 coming in the backfield. His two career interceptions came as a senior when he helped the Golden Eagles become OVC champions for the first time in 36 years.
Brandon McLeroy, Rhea County: The two-star recruit was already a 300-pounder when he signed with Middle Tennessee State. He played guard in all 12 games, including six starts, and earned a spot on the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal's All-Sun Belt Conference freshman team. Despite missing three games late in his senior year with a broken bone in his shoulder, McLeroy was a second-team all-conference selection in 2011. His blocking graded out at 81 percent or better all year, and he did not give up a sack. He played a total of 2,855 snaps in 48 career games, 37 of them starts, and he registered 174 knockdown blocks in his final three seasons.
Jonny Newman, McCallie: The two-star recruit proved at McCallie he had the ability to play tight end, fullback and linebacker. He signed with the Air Force Academy, but his college career was derailed by injury. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee twice. His last appearance on a Falcons roster was as a sophomore linebacker in 2009.
Nigel Nicholas, Ridgeland: The class's only three-star recruit in this area weighed 245 pounds then and was rated a top-30 prospect at tight end by Rivals. After a redshirt year and gaining about 40 pounds, Nicholas has played end or tackle on defense in all 39 games the last three seasons for Oklahoma State, which ended up ranked No. 3 in 2011 in both national polls. His first game with the Cowboys was against his home-state university, Georgia, and he had a sack and a fumble recovery. He got his first three starts the next year. This past season he was second on the team with 10 tackles for loss. Of his 61 career tackles, 43 have been solo stops. He has one season of eligibility remaining.
Adam Urbano, Calhoun: The two-star recruit at running back signed with Georgia Southern, where in 2008 he became a member of the All-Southern Conference freshman team. In two seasons with the Eagles he ran for 926 yards and 13 touchdowns on 193 carries. After transferring to Tennessee Tech and sitting out 2010, his first play with the Golden Eagles was against Iowa, and at the end of an 18-yard run he suffered a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss about half of last season. In seven games at Tech he has rushed 77 times for 475 yards and a TD. He has one season of eligibility remaining.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.