HALL OF FAME SPOTLIGHT: Panther MVP JT Hassell Named to Four All-American Teams, All Gulf South Conference
By Space Coast Daily // February 22, 2020
2019 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: JT Hassell set Florida Tech records for total tackles and solo tackles in a game and was named to four All-American teams, which included first-team All-America by both the American Football Coaches Association and the D2CCA, and a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame) – It’s unusual for a player to be inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame just six months after playing his last down for the sport and category for which they are being inducted.
JT Hassell was born with just two fingers on his left hand, but if you didn’t pay very close attention, you simply would never know. Especially when he’s is on the football field.
Hassell grew up with a loving and supportive mom, Kimberly Hassell, who taught JT that he could do anything he put his mind to.
Not only did JT put his mind to it he put his heart body and soul into playing football. He grew up idolizing the great Astronaut High teams under head coach Randy Hallock.
He played youth football for the Titusville YMCA and then for the Titusville Bears for coaches Dink Johnson and Shugg Mitchell.
Aside from JT’s mom, Hassel grew up with positive influential women surrounding him, like his grandmother Gayle and Aunt, Carey.
From these strong women, he learned that God, family and love would be the best way to lead his life.
Attending high school with Hassell’s disability provided some difficult days for the budding tackling machine. Teenagers can be cruel but he persevered.
War Eagles defensive coordinator Chuck Aigee took Hassell under his wing and made sure he stayed on the right path.
Aigee picked up Hassell for school every day for three years and made sure he was doing what was necessary to be successful, not just on the field, but in life.
While at Astronaut, Hassell recorded more than 100 tackles per season and earned all-conference, All-Space Coast and second-team all-state honors during a prep career in which he forced 20 fumbles, intercepted five passes and scored four touchdowns.
His exceptional play opened the eyes of many recruiters, but wanting to get away, Hassell attended South Dakota State where he played Division I football.
He started 14 games as a freshman and played in 26 games as a freshman and sophomore, recording 62 tackles.
However, due to family commitments, Hassell decided to return to Brevard County to play for coach Steve Englehart and the Florida Tech Panthers.
At Florida Tech, Hassell dominated the opposition. In his junior season, he was named to the second-team All-Gulf South Conference, and led the team and finished fifth in the conference with 78 total tackles.
During the 2018 season, there wasn’t an award Hassell wasn’t’ considered for in Division II college football. Hassell produced and led the Gulf South Conference in tackles (124), solo tackles (76), tackles per game (10.3) and forced fumbles (3).
He set Florida Tech records for total tackles and solo tackles in a game and was named to four All-American teams, which included first-team All-America by both the American Football Coaches Association and the D2CCA, and a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.
Hassell was also named theGulf South Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was tagged a finalist for the 2018 Cliff Harris Award, presented to the Small College Defensive Player of the Year, and was a nominee for the 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy.
He was also named the Panther’s Most Valuable Player for the 2018 season.
Hassell’s future is still ahead of him and it is highly likely that he will be on an NFL sideline when the season starts, but all that will do for Hassell is provide him the tools he needs to be the man he wants to become.
A man that worships God and cares for and loves his family immensely. He’ll also be a man that was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame just six months after his last play in the sport and category he was a first-time nominee for.
THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 8.
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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