Three who can: Look for Fritz, Mack to help UTC Mocs' defense

Three who can: Look for Fritz, Mack to help UTC Mocs' defense

July 31st, 2015 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

C.J. Fritz participates in work outs in 2014 at Scrappy Moore Field.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

Editor's note: This is the third part of a five-day series. UTC beat writer Gene Henley is tackling topics in countdown order prior to the Mocs' first practice on Aug. 3.

Isaiah Mack

Isaiah Mack

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Alex Trotter

Alex Trotter

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team has enjoyed back-to-back recruiting classes ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision by 247Sports.com. A few of the 2014 signees made an immediate impact as the Mocs enjoyed a 10-win season and advanced to the national quarterfinals — namely Richardre Bagley, Tavon Lawson and Trevor Wright. They were half of the six Mocs named to the Southern Conference All-Freshmen team, the others having signed and redshirted in 2013.

Could lightning strike twice?

Three receivers who redshirted from that 2014 class could contribute immediately this season: DeJuan McQuarters, who turned down scholarship offers from four Football Bowl Subdivision teams (including Kentucky) to come to UTC, and Bingo Morton and Wil Young, who each passed on three FBS offers.

Morton and Young were three-star prospects, while McQuarters was a two-star. All three have the potential to work their way into the rotation at receiver in their initial college season, as they had their moments in spring practices and scrimmages. McQuarters also could figure into special-teams work due to his speed.

The Times Free Press looks today at three other players or combinations who could make impacts in their first season on the field:

1. C.J. Fritz, defensive back. The former McCallie School standout was in a battle for a starting spot as a true freshman before a torn ACL sidelined him for the 2014 season. He could have the toughest job making the rotation, as the Mocs' defensive backfield is now a strength with sophomore Wright and junior Dee Virgin entrenched in the starting lineup, but Fritz is one of the fastest players, if not the fastest, on the team.

2. Isaiah Mack, defensive tackle. The Northwest Whitfield graduate really started to come on strong toward the end of spring practice. He will start preseason camp in a battle with sophomore Taylor Reynolds for the starting position vacated by Danny Ring, but Mack will have opportunities to wreak havoc no matter when he's called upon. His energy level caused some FBS programs to try to steal him away from UTC late in the recruiting process.

3. Kyle Nalls/Alex Trotter, running backs. With 1,100-yard rusher Keon Williams gone, there is an opportunity for carries in the backfield. Junior Derrick Craine and sophomore Bagley are certainly in the lead, but don't be surprised to see one or both of these true freshmen getting chances. Trotter rushed for 2,266 yards and 33 touchdowns in his senior season at McCallie and was the Times Free Press male prep athlete of the year, while Nalls had 2,284 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior at Fayette County High School in Alabama.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.