Mocs signee Bryce Nunnelly is joined by his family as he signs his letter of intent to UT-Chattanooga. In the front row, from left, are Jeff, Bryce and Deanna Nunnelly. In the second row are Drew and Trent Nunnelly. The Nunnelly family legacy covers 50 years of athletes at Charleston and Walker Valley High Schools. (Banner Photo, Patrick MacCoon)
Last Wednesday on college football’s National Signing Day, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Mocs added what they expect to be an important piece to their receiving corps for years to come.
As one of 10 in-state players for new head coach Tom Arth’s first recruiting class, the Football Championship Subdivision D-I squad will receive an all-around weapon in speedy wide receiver Bryce Nunnelly.
“What shows up the most when you watch Bryce is his competitiveness,” said Arth in a statement released on the Mocs’ official website. “So often you see he is the best player on the field offensively, defensively and on special teams. He is one of those guys you know is going to give you everything he has, every single game.”
As a four-year letterman on the Walker Valley varsity football team, Nunnelly was one of the toughest to contain in all of District 5-AAA with his unique tool set.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver broke out in his junior season for 1,347 all-purpose yards (607 receiving) and nine overall touchdowns before helping his program win seven games and its first ever TSSAA playoff game with 1,402 all-purpose yards (796 receiving) and 10 overall touchdowns as a senior.
Not only did Nunnelly haul in 110 career receptions for 1,821 yards and 16 touchdowns, his big-play potential was made evident over his junior and senior season as he averaged 17.8 yards per catch. He also had a 206-yard receiving game in a 68-36 win over Cleveland this past season.
“My junior year I started scoring quite a bit and then I broke out in the Soddy-Daisy game,” said the 4.0 GPA student-athlete, who is set to play his college football close to home. “That’s when I knew I could keep putting in the work and being consistent. You have to be able to make plays happen after the catch as a receiver, too.”
Contributing all-around, the two-way talent totaled 1,258 special teams yards while on defense racking up 171 tackles and six interceptions.
Nunnelly’s game-changing speed takes after his older brothers Drew (2007 WVHS graduate) and Trent (2010 WVHS graduate), who both coach track and field for the Mustangs. He also is a part of a family that has had a Nunnelly play a sport at either Charleston or Walker Valley over the past 50 years, according to his grandfather.
The three-sport athlete during his junior year was an all-state decathlete for the track and field team and an all-district and region point guard for a Mustang, Cinderella-story basketball team that advanced to the Class AAA state tournament.
“My brothers both being track guys helped my speed a lot,” the youngest of the three brothers. “Being in track and doing their workouts made a big difference for both my speed and quickness. It really translated easily onto the football field.”
Although a basketball postseason remains, and a final track and field season, Nunnelly cannot help but be excited about his future college, where he hopes he can earn his touches.
UTC has won 36 games over the past four seasons, and in three of them they were Southern Conference champions or co-champions.
“I am humbled to be a part of a Division I program like the Mocs have,” Nunnelly said. “I love the atmosphere and team. I am going to do everything I can in the film room, weight room and practice field to get bigger, better and stronger.”
Both Nunnelly and another Bradley Central standout and friend Cole Copeland will play in a pro-style offense brought in by Arth, who backed up Peyton Manning at quarterback for three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.
“The offense is going to be a lot like the one the Atlanta Falcons ran this season, along with a lot of pro teams,” said Nunnelly, who plans to major in mechanical engineering. “The pro-style offense can bring four or five receiver sets in, so it will definitely benefit the receivers. I am bought in to the program, and will do exactly what they ask of me.”