Vols LB Ben Bolton continues to ignore ‘outside noise’after ninth pro Bowl year

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The College Sports Communicators (CSC) announced Tuesday that five Tennessee football student-athletes were named to the 2023 NCAA Division I Football Academic All-District Team. Ben BoltonGabe Jeudy-LallyJackson RossDylan Sampson and Jacob Warren were recognized for their combined efforts on the field and in the classroom.

Tennessee’s five Academic All-District recipients topped the previous program record of four set in 2019 and tied South Carolina and Vanderbilt for the most by an SEC school on the 2023 list of honorees.

Bolton saw action in all 12 games for the Big Orange this fall and was a key member on all Tennessee special teams units, playing 240 total snaps on the year. He helped UT rank first in the SEC in punt return average (14.67) and third in the league in punt return yards allowed (5) on the season, which also ranked 13th and fifth in the FBS, respectively. The redshirt freshman linebacker from Memphis is working toward his undergraduate degree in management and was tabbed to the Dean’s List in each of his first two semesters on Rocky Top during the 2022-23 academic year.

In his first season at Tennessee, Jeudy-Lally played in all 12 games with 10 starts at cornerback. The Austin, Texas, native ranked third on the team with five passes defended (four PBU, one INT) and sixth on the squad with 36 total tackles. He completed his undergraduate degree in three years from Vanderbilt University, majoring in human & organizational development, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in sport management.

Ross, an SEC All-Freshman selection this season, played in all 12 games as Tennessee’s starting punter and holder. He booted 48 punts at a clip of 42.8 yards per punt, which included nine punts of 50-plus yards and 18 downed inside the 20. The Aussie made history in UT’s road trip to Alabama on Oct. 21, setting the Tennessee single-game record for punting average (53.2). Ross was a 2022-23 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll member and is currently majoring in advertising.

Sampson saw action in 11 games, averaged 5.48 yards per carry and scored a career-best and team-high eight touchdowns (seven rushing, once receiving) during the 2023 campaign. The sophomore running back from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ranks third on the team with 471 rushing yards (42.8 per game) and added 175 receiving yards in his second season on Rocky Top. Sampson was an SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll recipient last year and is currently working toward his undergraduate degree in information sciences.

Warren rounds out Tennessee’s Academic All-District honorees, earning the recognition for the second year in a row. The redshirt senior tight end holds two degrees from Tennessee, earning his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in August 2021 and his master’s degree in agricultural leadership, education and communication in May 2023. On the field, Warren started all 12 games this season and pulled in 15 catches for a career-best 182 yards and four touchdowns during his sixth year with the program. The five-time SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree represented Tennessee as an NFF Campbell Trophy Semifinalist, Wuerffel Trophy Nominee and Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Nominee this year and was a member of the 2023 NFF Hampshire Honor Society.

Select Academic All-District honorees will advance to the CSC Academic All-America ballot, voted on by CSC members. First-, second- and third-team Academic All-America honorees will be announced Jan. 23, 2024.

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