For the third-straight week, Tennessee was represented in the SEC Player of the Week awards. And for the second time in that three-week span, Daniel Bituli has received the Defensive Player of the Week honor.
The SEC announced on Monday that Bituli was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Bituli was given the award this week after setting a new season-high with 19 tackles and half a tackle for loss in Tennessee’s 17-13 win over Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday.
Bituli’s 19 tackles in the game are the second-most in his career, and it’s tied for the fifth-most tackles in a single game by a Power Five player this season. The biggest stop of the game Bituli made came in the fourth quarter when he and Ja’Quain Blakely tackled Kentucky quarterback/wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. short of the goal line on fourth down to seal the victory for Tennessee.
Two weeks ago, Bituli was named the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Week after amassing 15 tackles and a tackle for loss on defense and blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown on special teams in Tennessee’s 41-21 victory over South Carolina at home.
That same week, offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, and wide receiver Jauan Jennings was named the co-Offensive Player of the Week in the SEC. Last week, cornerback Bryce Thompson was named the SEC Defensive Player of the week after intercepting three passes against UAB.
On the season, Bituli has totaled 62 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, two passes defended, a blocked punt, and a touchdown off that blocked punt. Bituli missed the first two games of the season for Tennessee as he recovered from a minor procedure late in fall camp.
Bituli wasn’t the only Vol recognized on Monday, though.
Jauan Jennings was named to the Biletnikof Award Watch List on Monday as well. The Biletnikof Award is given annually to the best wide receiver in college football.
On the season, Jennings has been the heart and soul of Tennessee’s offense. The redshirt senior leads the team in all major receiving categories. His 771 receiving yards are the fifth-most by a single player in the SEC, and his seven touchdown catches are also the fifth-most in the conference. Jennings’ 50 catches on the year are the sixth-most among SEC pass catchers.
Jennings has eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark three times this season, including a career-high 174 yards during the Vols’ 41-21 win over South Carolina. That performance was the most yards by a Vol wide receiver in an SEC game since Denarius Moore amassed 228 yards against South Carolina in 2010.
Not only has Jennings been a weapon in the passing game, but he’s helped spur on UT’s offense as a wildcat quarterback at times, too, most notably against South Carolina. Jennings scored his first rushing touchdown of his career against UAB on November 2nd, and he has 45 rushing yards and a touchdown on nine carries this season.
Jennings’ stellar final season as a Vol has helped him climb up the record books. The redshirt junior currently sits sixth all-time in school history in career receptions (137), eighth in career receiving yards (1,995), and tied for eighth in career receiving touchdowns (17).