Barnett, Lovingood Garner SEC Weekly Honors


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Tennessee junior defensive end Derek Barnett has been named SEC Defensive Player of the Week and redshirt freshman long snapper Riley Lovingood has been named SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week, as announced by the Southeastern Conference on Monday.

The Vols have two SEC honorees earning weekly awards for the second-straight week. Last week, Joshua Dobbs was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and Barnett was the SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Barnett is the first Vol to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Week since Brian Randolph earned the honors on Sept. 7, 2013.

Lovingood is the first Vol to earn SEC Special Teams Player of the Week since Evan Berry was recognized on Oct. 31, 2015.

For the second-straight week, Barnett’s standout play in the second half helped Tennessee seize control of the game en route to the Vols’ 34-31 comeback win over Georgia at Sanford Stadium. He finished with five tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble in the end zone that resulted in a defensive touchdown.

Both of Barnett’s sacks came at key moments. Georgia’s opening drive of the third quarter halted at midfield when Barnett broke through the offensive line for a nine-yard sack. With 2:56 remaining in the game and the Vols down 24-21, Barnett sacked Jacob Eason on 2nd-and-11 in the UGA end zone and stripped the ball, which was recovered a split second later by teammate Corey Vereen to give the Vols their first lead of the game.

Barnett now has 24 career sacks and leaped Todd Kelly Sr. (22.5 from 1989-92) for fifth-most in Tennessee history. He also now ranks second among all active FBS players in career sacks.

He also has 41.5 career tackles for a loss, leaping Dale Jones (39.5 from 1983-86) and Eric Westmoreland (40.0 in 1996, 1998-00) to move into third-place on UT’s all-time list.

Lovingood was part of one of the most unique plays late in the game on Saturday. With 3:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, Lovingood snapped the ball to punter Trevor Daniel, who booted the ball 37 yards high in the air to the UGA 6-yard line. Lovingood raced down the field to make the catch, downing the ball at the UGA 6. That set the field position for Barnett’s strip sack of Eason and Vereen’s fumble recovery in the end zone two plays later.