Athletic Highlights

Filed Under: President's Post, Featured Articles

Blue Raider sports teams had another exciting and productive year in 2014. Since our University accepted an invitation to join Conference USA in November 2012, Blue Raider squads have consistently attended postseason play, won championships, and achieved C-USA All-Academic team status. Here are just some of the many recent athletic and academic highlights achieved by MTSU student-athletes.

Along with a bowl-eligible football team for the fifth time in the last six years, MTSU had a women’s cross country team that won its first-ever conference championship; tournaments hosted by both men’s and women’s golf; and a soccer team that produced its 11th winning season in the last 12 years.

During the fall 2014 semester, 11 of 15 teams had semester team GPAs of 3.0 or higher, 104 student-athletes made the Dean’s List (3.5+), and 32 had perfect 4.0 GPAs. Overall, 191 of 343 student-athletes had a 3.0 or higher (56 percent).

Five student-athletes made the Conference USA All-Academic Team during the fall season (below). They were Jordan Parker (football), Kelsey Branstetter (soccer), Kelsey Brouwer (soccer), Tori Hawkins (soccer), and Shadrack Matelong (cross country).

In nine years under Coach Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee football has achieved bowl-eligibility six times (including five in the last six years).

The Blue Raider football team finished second in the C-USA East Division for the second straight season with a 5–3 record. All three losses were on the road, and two were to eventual bowl teams.

Conference USA’s 2014 All-Conference football teams, as selected by the 13 head coaches, included nine MT players: safety Kevin Byard (1st Team), offensive lineman Darius Johnson (2nd Team), offensive lineman Isaiah Anderson (2nd Team), linebacker T. T. Barber (2nd

Team), running back Reggie Whatley (Honorable Mention), running back Shane Tucker (Honorable Mention), defensive end Shubert Bastien (Honorable Mention), defensive tackle Pat McNeil (Honorable Mention), and linebacker DJ Sanders (All-Freshman Team).

Linebacker Leighton Gasque finished his Blue Raider career with 22.0 quarterback sacks to rank second all-time at Middle Tennessee.

Safety Kevin Byard led C-USA with six interceptions, giving him 15 for his career so far. That ranks second all-time at Middle Tennessee and is first among all active NCAA players. In the 2015 campaign, Byard will be chasing the Blue Raider career record of 17 set by James Griffin (1979–82).

Middle Tennessee became just the 31st NCAA Division I women’s basketball program to reach 800 all-time victories with its 76–68 win at UAB on January 4.

On November 23, Middle Tennessee was at Ole Miss for a historic women’s basketball game: for the first time in Division I women’s basketball history, a father and son coached against one another. Coach Rick Insell faced off against his son, Coach Matt Insell of the Rebels. (MT won by six.)

Middle Tennessee’s senior forward Jacquez Rozier (from Waynesboro, Georgia) has been nominated for the 2015 Allstate Good Works Team, announced by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Rozier, the lone four-year senior on the Blue Raider squad, has logged nearly 50 hours of community service since his arrival on campus. This prestigious community service award recognizes distinguished student-athletes who have demonstrated commitment to enriching the lives of others and contributing to the greater good of their communities.

Volleyball’s Chelsea Ross enjoyed a strong fall campaign, earning First-Team All-Conference honors after finishing the year second in kills with 280. The junior also won the C-USA Spirit of Service Award, which recognizes significant community service, academic standing, and participation in their sports.

Middle Tennessee senior soccer player Kelsey Branstetter (pictured on page 18) garnered CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District honors. Branstetter holds a perfect 4.00 GPA as a double major in Athletic Training and Exercise Science.

On November 1, the women’s cross country team won its first-ever conference title by capturing the Conference USA Championship at Eagle Point Cross country Course in Denton, Texas. Coach Dean Hayes earned his 49th career conference title in his 50th year, and Assistant Coach Keith Vroman was named C-USA Coach of the Year.

Hannah Maina represented Middle Tennessee at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana, in November. Maina became just the second woman in Middle Tennessee history to reach the NCAA Championships.

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