It comes as no surprise that a former Bradley Central Bear is continuing to standout out both on the football field and in the classroom in his second year at the collegiate level.
Now playing for Tusculum College, Justin Houston has emerged as one of the top receivers in the country and is listed amongst the national leaders in receptions, receiving yards and all-purpose yards, plus has been recognized for his academic achievements.
Houston and Pioneer quarterback Bo Cordell have been named to the 2013 Beyond Sports Network NCAA Division II All-America Football Team. Cordell garnered second team honors, while Houston received third team recognition.
Recently switching his major from physical education to math, Houston is a member of the South Atlantic Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll and has been named to the 2013 Capital One NCAA Division II Academic All-District Football Super Region 2 Team, as selected by members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He now advances to the Academic All-America® ballot, which will be announced later this month.
“Justin is a great kid with tremendous ability and character,” declared Bradley head coach Damon Floyd. “He not only has great speed, but has great moves and is able to make people miss. He obviously has a tremendous God-given ability that not a lot of people have.”
“Justin is the type of person who does the right thing both on and off the field, as well as the classroom,” his former coach commented. “He wants to come back here to teach and coach some day. We’d welcome him with open arms.”
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound sophomore slot receiver was also one of four Tusculum players to make the Hansen Football Gazette All-Super Region Two team for 2013. Houston was a second-team choice after setting Pioneers single-season records with 110 receptions, 1,347 receiving yards and 1,914 all-purpose yards.
He set another school record with 317 all-purpose yards against Brevard this past season, and his 11 catches per game led the South Atlantic Conference and were the second best in NCAA Division II.
Houston also led the SAC in all-purpose yards per game (191.40 ypg — 10th in NCAA II) and is second in the conference in receiving yards per game (134.7 ypg — 4th in NCAA II) and eighth in total receiving yards (1,347 — 9th in NCAA II).
He also tallied seven touchdown catches and returned a kickoff for a program-best 99-yard return for a score earning him SAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
“I had a pretty good season,” Houston modestly remarked in a phone interview this week. “Our quarterback (Cordell) had a great year. He and I had good chemistry and were able to work together well.”
“We return the majority of our starters next year, except for him (Cordell), so we’ll have to build a connection with the new quarterback,” added Houston, who has 150 receptions (sixth in Tusculum history) for 1,740 yards (eighth in TC history) and 11 touchdowns in just two seasons with the Pioneers. “We have a red-shirt senior and a red-shirt freshman who are the two top contenders for the starting job. They are both good quarterbacks.”
Houston is not the only local player on the Tusculum squad. His former Bradley teammates Tucker Bolton and Patrick Benson earned playing time with the Pioneers this past season, while former Bear DJ King, along with Walker Valley products Jason and Justin Ware, plus Chazz Fulford and Kelvin Wells (who played his final season at McMinn County) all red-shirted this past season.
Bolton, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound freshman had 20 tackles from his defensive end position, including nine solo tackles, 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. Benson, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound red-shirt freshman, saw work on the offensive line.
— Dom Donnelly, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Tusculum, provided information and photos for this story.