CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- It's not hard to determine what drives Davis Tull.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive end was a highly-touted high school recruit entering his senior year at Bearden High, but the phone calls and letters stopped coming when he broke his leg two games into the season.
"I think about that everyday," Tull said Tuesday. "Other schools passed up on me or didn't want me because I got hurt. That motivates me a lot."
Chattanooga took a chance on the Knoxville native, inviting him to camp as a preferred walk-on.
Fueled by that motivation, Tull dove into the weight room, the film room and his studies, not to mention opposing backfields.
A year later he had a scholarship in hand, and Tuesday he became just the third player in UTC history to be named the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
"It was a huge blessing in disguise by far," Tull said of his high school injury. "If that hadn't happened, I don't know what I'd be doing because I can tell you I wasn't working half as hard before."
That work translated on the field this season with monster numbers for a defensive end.
Tull, who joins former Appalachian State and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley as the only other sophomore to win the award, led the SoCon and ranks among the nation's leaders in sacks (12.5) and tackles for a loss (19).
Huesman said its clear Tull is now the focal point of opposing gameplans on a Chattanooga defense that led the SoCon in both total defense and scoring defense for a second straight year.
"(Elon coach) Jason Swepson walked off the field and asked if number 90 was a senior," Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman said. "I told him he was just a sophomore, and Swepson groaned 'Oh no.'"
Tull was joined by eight teammates on the SoCon all-conference rosters released Tuesday, and that's where he chose to direct his attention.
"I'm just so grateful for everyone that helped me get to this point," Tull said. "This award is a testament to the defense more than me individually. Without them playing as well as they had, I wouldn't have had any of these numbers."
Mocs' linebacker Wes Dothard (coaches and media) and safety D.J. Key (media) joined Tull on the All-SoCon first team defense, while defensive back Kadeem Wise and defensive tackle Derrick Lott were second-team selections.
Tight end Faysal Shafaat (coaches and media) and offensive tackle Adam Miller (media) were second-team offensive selections, while quarterback Jacob Huesman was named to the SoCon All-Freshman team.
And while the individual honors are humbling, there's another piece of hardware Tull and most of his teammates prefer.
"I walked by yesterday and said told him I hoped he wins defensive player of the year," Huesman said. "He just looked at me and said, 'Coach, I just want to win a championship.'"
2012 Coaches All-Southern Conference Football Team
Offensive Player of the Year – Eric Breitenstein, Sr., RB, Wofford
Co-Defensive Player of the Year – Jeremy Kimbrough, Sr., LB, Appalachian State
Co-Defensive Player of the Year – Davis Tull, So., DL, Chattanooga
Freshman of the Year – Sean Price, WR, Appalachian State
Jacobs Blocking Award – Mike Sellers, Jr., OL, The Citadel
Co-Coach of the Year – Kevin Higgins, The Citadel
Co-Coach of the Year – Pat Sullivan, Samford
First Team Offense
QB Jamal Jackson, Jr., Appalachian State
RB Jerodis Williams, Sr., Furman
RB Eric Breitenstein, Sr., Wofford
OL Mike Sellers, Jr., The Citadel
OL Dakota Dozier, Jr., Furman
OL Dorian Byrd, Jr., Georgia Southern
OL Ryan Dudchock, Sr., Samford
OL Jared Singleton, Jr., Wofford
TE Colin Anderson, Sr., Furman
WR Sean Price, Fr., Appalachian State
WR Aaron Mellette, Sr., Elon
First Team Defense
DL Josh Lynn, Sr., Furman
DL Dion Dubose, Sr., Georgia Southern
DL Brent Russell, Sr., Georgia Southern
DL Davis Tull, So., Chattanooga
DL Nicholas Williams, Samford
LB Jeremy Kimbrough, Sr., Appalachian State
LB Wes Dothard, Jr., Chattanooga
LB Alvin Scioneaux, Jr., Wofford
DB Demetrius McCray, Sr., Appalachian State
DB JJ Wilcox, Sr., Georgia Southern
DB Jaquiski Tartt, So., Samford
DB Darius Eubanks, Sr., Georgia Southern
First Team Specialists
PK Cameron Yaw, Sr., Samford
P Sam Martin, Sr., Appalachian State
RS Jerodis Williams, Sr., Furman
Second Team Offense
QB Thomas Wilson, Sr., Elon
RB Steven Miller, Sr., Appalachian State
RB Fabian Truss, Jr., Samford
OL Justin Ward, Sr., Elon
OL Jacob Kirschenbaum, Sr., Samford
OL Calvin Cantrell, Sr., Wofford
OL Tymeco Gregory, Jr., Wofford
OL Jake Miles, So., Wofford
TE Faysal Shafaat, So., Chattanooga
WR Andrew Peacock, Jr., Appalachian State
WR Kelsey Pope, Jr., Samford
Second Team Defense
DL Ronald Blair, So., Appalachian State
DL Chris Billingslea, Sr., The Citadel
DL Derrick Lott, Jr., Chattanooga
DL Tarek Odom, So., Wofford
LB Brandon Grier, Sr., Appalachian State
LB Rock Williams, Sr., Western Carolina
LB Mike Niam, Sr., Wofford
DB Troy Sanders, Sr., Appalachian State
DB D.J. Key, Jr., Chattanooga
DB Kadeem Wise, Jr., Chattanooga
DB Blake Wylie, Sr., Wofford
Second Team Specialists
PK Sam Martin, Sr., Appalachian State
P Cass Couey, Sr., The Citadel
RS Tony Washington, Appalachian State
Shaq Counts, OL, Appalachian State
Malachi Jones, WR, Appalachian State
Sean Price, WR, Appalachian State
Tracey Coppedge, RB, Elon
Reese Hannon, QB, Furman
Jordan Snellings, WR, Furman
Joe Turner, OL, Furman
Tony Philpot, TE, Samford
Jacob Huesman, QB, Chattanooga
Darius Ramsey, RB, Western Carolina
Troy Mitchell, QB, Western Carolina
Stephen Burns, DL, Appalachian State
Davante Harris, DL, Appalachian State
Mitchell Jeter, DL, The Citadel
James Riley, LB, The Citadel
Mark Thomas, DE, The Citadel
Reggie Thomas, DB, Furman
Patrick Flowe, LB, Georgia Southern
James Bradberry, DB, Samford
Trey Wesley, DB, Samford
Sertonuse Harris, DB, Western Carolina
Jaleel Lorquet, DB, Western Carolina
Alex Hanks, PK, Georgia Southern
Cam Flowers, RS, Wofford
Danny LaMontagne, LS, Furman