NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State defense returns eight members from the 2016 squad, which includes one of the top defenders in the nation. Ebenezer “Ebo” Ogundeko, fresh off being named to the 2017 STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List, returns for his final season in Blue to help lead the defense.
Ogundeko poses a threat to opposing quarterbacks after recording 5.5 sacks, five quarterback hurries and 11 tackles for loss in just eight games. The defensive end finished fifth on the team in tackles with 48.
Latrelle Lee registered 25 tackles, 11 solo, as a junior. Lee provides support to Ogundeko as he has totaled 11 tackles for loss in his career, including 4.5 last season to go along with 2.5 sacks.
Reggie Gunn will be asked to step up to replace Antonio Justice after seeing action as a true freshman a year ago. Gunn began on special teams before being propelled into a bigger role as an outside linebacker midway through the season. The sophomore will be pushed by highly touted newcomer James Green.
Andrew Cothran played in nine games last year, looks to battle for more time in the Tigers defensive plans. Cothran will be challenged by redshirt freshman Ian Martin, special teamer Timerik Cook and true freshman Michael Crawford.
Defensive End Andrew Cothran
- On progress in camp
“In camp, things have been going really well. We’re getting tested with the heat and then going inside and changing the elements, but as a team, we’re getting better as a whole.”
- On what he wants to see from the defensive ends and outside linebackers
“Over the next couple of weeks from our group, I want to see us get better at making big plays. We are the playmakers on the team on defense, that’s the way it’s designed, and we’ll just have to step up with more technique and get the job done.”
Linebacker Ian Martin
- On learning from the veterans
“It’s been going great. You’ve got to listen to the old heads, they know what’s going on. They’ve been here before, so I just listen to them, take notes and pay attention to the details.”
- On picking up the defense
“Coach (Garry) Fisher, Coach (Gerald) Chatman, they’re great coaches. We just do what they do and do what they tell us to get it done.”
Linebacker James Green
- On the transition to TSU
“Camp’s been going really well. It’s an adjustment, of course, because it’s not high school, but I’m loving it so far. They’re making football fun, so it’s been good.”
- On having older players to learn from
“Learning from the older guys, I’ve been picking everything up fast. They’re always hitting me with the details that I need to know and the key points to make it easier for me, so it’s been good.”
- On getting through camp
“Getting through it, it’s just mental. You have to be mentally tough. You have to love the game. You can’t be out here and not love it. I’ve been loving the game and been mentally tough, so that’s really helped me get through camp.”