TSU Athletics salute student-athletes during annual affair
Wednesday, April 21, 2010


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Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Department of Athletics honored the student-athletes of the 2009-10 season during the annual athletics banquet held inside Kean Hall on Tuesday evening (4/20).

Tennessee State University President, Dr. Melvin N. Johnson, Director of Athletics, Teresa Phillips, along with alumni, supporters, and coaches were on hand to salute TSU athletes for their achievements on and off the field.

Seniors Oby Okafor (women's basketball) and Chris Seibel (men's golf) received the TSU Female and Male Athlete of the Year Award.

Okafor was recognized for her career numbers which place her among the Lady Tiger basketball elite in points, rebounds and steals. This past season, Okafor elected to return as a graduate student to play out her remaining year of eligibility. She suffered a season ending injury during the preseason of her senior year. 

For his yearly growth and improvements on the green, TSU men's golfer, Seibel, was honored after improving his stroke average per season while currently averaging his best numbers during his senior campaign. He was also noted for help leading TSU in winning the PGA Division I Minority National Championship last year.

Receiving the Academic Female and Male Scholar-Athlete Award for consecutive years were Meredith Stafford (women's basketball) and Charles Sparkman (football). Both received the award last year for holding the best GPA among male and female athletes.

Stafford and Sparkman also received their respective team's academic award. Among others awarded academic honors for holding the highest grade point average on the team: Martinique Guice (women's track and field), Jamie Pierce (women's golf), Bridgett Metzger (softball), Meagan Haynes (women's tennis), Yamari Padilla-Collazo (volleyball), Lonnie Funderburke, Jr. (men's basketball), Justin Hamm (men's tennis) and Printence McMurtrey (men's track and field).

McMurtrey, Padilla-Collazo and Metzger picked up the award for the second straight year. Pierce and Guice also added to their academic recognition receiving their respective team MVP title.

Tiger Football's list of awards capped the night with Calvin McNairl (Eldridge Dickey Offensive Player of the Year) and Eugene Clifford (Joe W. Gilliam Defensive Player of the Year) recognized as the MVPs of the separate sides of the line of scrimmage.

TSU Football awards are named after legendary players in Big Blue gridiron history, saluting standouts that contributed to the success of the program. Others receiving significant honors included: Preston Brown (Alvin "CAT" Coleman Back of the Year) Brandon Bather (Sidney Crutchfield Special Teams Player of the Year) Alex Davis (Vernon Holland Lineman of the Year), Anthony Levine (Ed "Too Tall" Jones Most Improved Player) and Duvall Young (Fred Lee Spirit Award).

Receiving football's inaugural awards were Rodney Fritz (Richard Dent Defensive Lineman of the Year), Marquez Hall (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Defensive Back Award) and Rico Council (Heart of a Tiger Courage Award).

Council, after being awarded the George Ballhazer Rookie of the Year Award at last year's banquet, received the newly noted honor for his comeback and recovery after a gunshot wound during the summer. 

During the night, others were declared their team's most valuable players as Jasmine Jacobs (women's cross country), Christopher Hobbs (men's cross country), and Arthur Combest (men's indoor track) were named.

Men's basketball, women's basketball, men and women's tennis, volleyball, softball, and men and women's outdoor track and field did not recognize a valuable player. Softball along with men and women's outdoor track and field announced they will name an outstanding player at the conclusion of their seasons.

TSU Athletics Associate Athletics Director for Academics, Dr. Johnnie Smith (center) with Female Academic Achievement Award recepient, women's basketball Meredith Stafford (right) and Male Academic Achievement Award recepient, football's Charles Sparkman (left).