McClendon Curtis, Jay Person among SoCon football honorees for Mocs

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Samford (20) Jay Stanton carries the ball as UTC (30) Jay Person defends at Finley Stadium on Saturday, November 12, 2022.

McClendon Curtis recently summed up his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga career by speaking of influencing a young offensive line room that underwent massive changes after the 2021 season.

After Tuesday, there's another way he'll be remembered: By continuing a recent UTC standard, as the former Central High School standout was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, awarded to the best offensive lineman in the Southern Conference.

Curtis became the fifth winner of the award in the last nine years for UTC, with current Tennessee Titan Corey Levin winning the award in 2014 and 2015 and New England Patriot first-round pick Cole Strange in 2020-21 and in 2021. Mike Nease also won it in 1983 before playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Edge rusher Jay Person was named the conference defensive player of the year, with league highs of eight sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.

"Both of them are very deserving," UTC head coach Rusty Wright said in a press release. "They both elevated their games and played at a high level. It shows what kind of players they are, and what they do during the course of a game.

"It's great to see people recognize them that way."

The Mocs -- who finished 7-4 and were one of the top teams left out of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs -- finished with 15 players selected between the first, second and All-Freshman teams as voted by the league's coaches. Ailym Ford finished with a career-high 1,199 rushing yards and 12 scores, while adding 184 receiving yards and two more scores.

Defensive end Devonnsha Maxwell (eight sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss), linebacker Ty Boeck (97 tackles, two sacks, interception) and cornerback Kam Brown (six interceptions, touchdown) also received first-team honors, while defensive linemen Ben Brewton (eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss) and Marlon Taylor (4.5 tackles for loss) and defensive back Reuben Lowery III (8.5 tackles for loss, 45-yard interception return for a score) and offensive lineman Reid Williams made the second team.

Receivers Sam Phillips (44 catches, 661 yards, two touchdowns) and Javin Whatley (29 catches, 451 yards, three scores), linebacker Alex Mitchell (16 tackles, one tackle for loss), safety Josh Battle (47 tackles, interception) and offensive lineman Bryce Goodner made the all-freshman team.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

  photo  Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / UTC 52 McClendon Curtis talks to a teammate during a practice Wednesday. The Mocs took to Scrappy Moore Field for practice Wednesday, August 4, 2021.