Daniel Ring is by no means new to college football having already played a season at Navy, with three starts. But the redshirt sophomore transfer is new to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga this season and he’s one of several first-year Mocs that are making an impact.
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive lineman played plenty at defensive tackle in the Mocs’ season opener — he was part of a three-man rotation inside — and he made his first start with the Mocs (1-1) in last week’s win at Georgia State.
Ring started at nose guard, but also played a lot of snaps at defensive end. He finished with a pair of tackles, but his impact — like defensive end Davis Tull who had only one tackle, a sack — went far beyond statistics. Ring was part of a UTC front that repeatedly pushed its way into the backfield and disrupted plays.
“The last time I played outside was probably my [true] freshman year at Navy, so I haven’t done it in a long time,” Ring said. “I actually enjoyed it a lot. … Right now I kind of like it because they’re putting me at every position. That means I’ve got to know every role and I can play anywhere.”
Even though Ring started for a Bowl Subdivision team last season, he’s had to work to move up the depth chart at UTC, which is well stocked with experienced playmakers on the defensive line. Mocs coach Russ Huesman said Ring has been a valuable, and versatile, addition.
“He’s just a relentless worker, and I’ve been really pleased with him,” Huesman said.
Leading the Mocs in receptions through two games is another first-year player, redshirt freshman wideout C.J. Board, who has seven catches for 72 yards.
“C.J. Board’s been phenomenal,” Huesman said. “He doesn’t look like a deer in the headlights out there. He’s looked very, very comfortable for his first time playing.”
Board, from Clarksville, will be going up against his hometown team Saturday when the Mocs host Austin Peay (0-2). His first career catch was a leaping grab against UT-Martin that went for 20 yards.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I just came out and did whatever I had to do.”
The other first-year players contributing on offense are starting left tackle Corey Levin, a redshirt freshman, and a pair of true freshmen in receiver Xavier Borishade (three catches, 27 yards) and running back Derrick Craine (six carries, 53 yards and a touchdown last Saturday).
“We were all pretty excited to see what he can do,” Huesman said of Craine’s performance against Georgia State. “He looked like a running back in there.”
On defense, redshirt freshman cornerback Dee Virgin has started both games. In his first college game, against UT-Martin in the opener, Virgin had an interception and recovered a fumble. Cedric Nettles, another redshirt freshman, has played a lot at safety and has been solid, Huesman said.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Will Johnson was having a very good preseason and fighting for a starting job when he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the opener. He returned against Georgia State and had five tackles and one hard hit that impressed his coach.
“The one on the sideline, he lit the kid up pretty good,” Huesman said.
A less known about true freshman is long snapper Joe McMahon, who has handled all of the special teams snaps so far. With Will Sharpton back from suspension, Huesman said Sharpton might handle the short snaps and McMahon will continue to snap on punts.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...