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Tucker leads group of five Golden Eagles in all-OVC selections

Tucker leads group of five Golden Eagles in all-OVC selections

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – Several Tennessee Tech football players put up big numbers in the 2021 season and their efforts were awarded Tuesday morning as the Ohio Valley Conference released its end-of-season team.

In all, five Golden Eagles made the All-Ohio Valley Conference team as graduate defensive end Chris Tucker was named to the first-team defense, redshirt sophomore Quinton Cross, junior running back David Gist and graduate offensive lineman Kurt Huff were selected to the second-team offense and redshirt junior defensive back Josh Reliford was picked to the second-team defense.

For Tucker, it is his third first-team All-OVC selection, earning nods following the 2019 and Spring 2021 campaigns. It is Reliford's second pick to the second-team defense, also selected following the Spring 2021 season. For Gist, Cross and Huff, it is their first selection to the all-conference team.

Tucker's numbers were incredible as the defensive end from Jackson recorded 29 tackles, three sacks, nine quarterback hurries and forced a fumble. He helped anchor a defensive front that was second in the OVC in rush defense, allowing an average of 142.7 yards per game.

Gist, a local product from Cookeville, was fourth in the conference in rushing. After missing the vast majority of the Spring 2021 campaign from an injury in the second game at Jacksonville State, Gist returned with a vengeance. He became the first Golden Eagle to rush for 100 yards in four consecutive games since Derek White in 2007. Gist ended the campaign with 901 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 81.9 yards per game. He ran for a career-high 143 yards against NC Central. He was also Tech's second-leading receiver with 220 yards and another touchdown on 37 catches. Gist led Tech in all-purpose yardage with 1,139 yards, standing in third in the OVC.

Cross had a breakout season in the spring campaign but flourished in the fall season. The Clarksville native scored three touchdowns – including one against his hometown Austin Peay squad – as he hauled in 41 catches for 574 yards. Cross averaged 14.0 yards per catch and 52.2 yards per game. Cross had two 100-plus-yard receiving games in Fall 2021, collecting a career-high 140 yards on seven catches and a score against Eastern Illinois, then 106 yards on seven catches at Murray State.

Huff has been a Golden Eagle through and through for years. He's been through it all, seen coaching changes and persevered. A crucial member of the Tech offensive front, the Camden, N.J., native, helped the Golden Eagle offense compile 1,605 rushing yards, 1,760 passing yards and 25 total touchdowns this season.

Reliford has made the most of his time after transferring in from Hutchinson CC in Kansas. In 2019, he had 54 tackles. Spring 2020, he had 41 and two interceptions. This fall, he finished with a team-best 69 tackles with 4.0 for-loss for seven yards, while the Fitzgerald, Ga., native also broke up six passes and had a quarterback hurry. Reliford tied his career-high 11 tackles three times in the fall 2021 season, tallying that mark at Samford, at Tennessee and against Southeast Missouri.

Photos | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

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