Things are busy but going pretty well for Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ott DeFoe, who recently accepted a prestigious award in his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn.
“It was a pretty cool deal, pretty exciting,” said DeFoe, who was honored as the Pro Athlete of the Year at the 36th annual Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony on Aug. 3. “Kind of something I never expected. Pretty cool evening, and pretty cool award.”
DeFoe was presented the award after a fantastic 2016, where he won the Elite event on the Mississippi River and finished ninth in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. It probably didn’t hurt that he had friends in high places.
Retired NFL lineman Tim Irwin is on the HOF’s board, and the former Tennessee Volunteer is big into bass fishing. Irwin, who became a lawyer then a judge after 14 seasons in the NFL, has sponsored the Tim Irwin/Food City Bass Tournament for 30 years.
“He’s always been a bass fisherman, has always been big into helping promote it,” DeFoe said. “He hosts a tournament every spring to benefit the Boys and Girls Club.”
So when a 6-foot-7, 300-pound judge wants to nominate a bass fishing brethren for the Chad Pennington Professional Athlete of the Year, folks listen. At 31 a little young to be making any sports hall of fames, DeFoe was happy to be alongside the induction class of 2017,
“I was technically an honoree,” said DeFoe, who got to visit with sports figures he grew up watching. One, longtime NFL quarterback Todd Collins, attended DeFoe’s high school, Jefferson County, although years before he did.