Monday, January 16, 2017

Donika Sutton Named TSU Volleyball Head Coach

NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- Tennessee State University Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips announced the hiring of Donika Sutton as the next head volleyball coach on Monday.

Sutton brings more than eight years of Division I coaching experience to the new role and will become the program’s seventh head coach. She has been an assistant coach at Tennessee State for the past three seasons and previously served on the staff at South Carolina State University.

“Coach Sutton is a passionate, knowledgeable and driven volleyball coach who has experience as a head coach. She has established relationships with our players and knows our program well. We are excited to have Coach Sutton lead our program into the future.”

As an assistant at TSU, Sutton coached three All-OVC first-team selections, the OVC Defensive Player of the Year, an OVC All-Tournament team member and two OVC All-Newcomer selections. Away from the court, two student-athletes achieved OVC Academic Medals of Honor and six players made OVC Honor Roll.

“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. I would like to thank President Glover, AD Teresa Phillips, the administration, and the team,” Sutton said, “They have shown confidence in me to lead this program into the future. I am excited and thankful for the support the players showed during this process. Tennessee State is a wonderful institution and this program has a tradition of excelling. More importantly, Tiger volleyball is all about family and that will continue to be the foundation for the program to grow moving forward.”

Before joining the staff at TSU, Sutton served as the head coach at South Carolina State for two seasons. While at the helm of the program, Sutton led the Bulldogs to their first winning season in seven years in 2011. Sutton coached the MEAC Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012. She had four All-MEAC selections in two years. During her tenure, the Bulldogs had 10 All-MEAC academic team honorees and South Carolina State led the NCAA in service aces per set in 2011.

Prior to taking over as head coach at South Carolina State, Sutton served as the assistant coach from 2009-2010, helping the Lady Bulldogs capture their second Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2010.

Sutton began her collegiate playing career at Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains where she competed for one season. During that season she was a member of the Region 16 championship team. That team also competed in the National Junior College Championships. Sutton went on to have a standout career as a middle-hitter at Alcorn State. In her first season (2003) she was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Newcomer-of-the-Year and Second Team All-SWAC.

In her final season (2004) she was named First Team All-SWAC and to the SWAC All-Tournament Team. In that same season she was the recipient of her team's Most Outstanding Blocking Award and was named the team’s captain.

Sutton graduated from Alcorn State University in 2005 where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in pre-law.


TSU Seeks Brutal Schedule in Hope of Boosting NCAA Chances

HOUSTON, Texas -- It’s not so much that TSU destroyed Grambling State 76-55 on Saturday night. It’s not so much that Texas Southern is now a perfect 4-0 in SWAC conference play, or even so much that the Tigers have won four straight games. Instead, it’s about this. TSU played its 17th game of the season Saturday night. And it was TSU’s first home game.

TSU is now 8-9, but don’t be fooled by that record because TSU has played a difficult ridiculously difficult non-conference schedule that has included facing No. 1 Baylor, No. 14 Louisville, No. 16 Arizona and No. 22 Cincinnati (all rankings as of Sunday). The schedule has also included games against 14-3 TCU and 12-6 Rice.

Playing all of these non-conference games on the road has become a common occurrence since Mike Davis took over the program five seasons ago. Davis realizes his team should always compete for the SWAC title, and that winning the SWAC tournament means an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. But Davis wants more for his team than just that automatic bid because that usually means getting stuck with a No. 16 seed or a play-in game.

So Davis takes his team on the road. He schedules difficult games. And he does with one goal in mind, raising his team’s RPI as high as it can get before the team gets into conference play.


From Rochester to Miami, 2017 MLK Celebrations & Parades

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Trailblazer Award a ‘key accomplishment’ for former WVSU and SCSU football coach Oree Banks

INSTITUTE, West Virginia -- There is an added sense of pride for Oree Banks, the former West Virginia State football coach who won this year’s American Football Coaches Association Trailblazer Award. For one, it recognizes Banks’ contributions as a coach at historically black colleges and universities. He served as head coach at both South Carolina State and WVSU.

It also is an award he helped create.

“It was a great honor,” Banks said. “I felt that it was one of the key accomplishments in my life, making sure that these people are recognized.”

Since 2004, the award has honored legends like Hampton’s Charles Williams, the first African-American member of the AFCA, Florida A&M’s Jake Gaither and Grambling State’s Eddie Robinson. The seeds of the award were planted in 2001 and 2002, when Banks approached college football coaches, and then approached AFCA executive director Grant Teaff, about the need to recognize the contributions and achievements of HBCU coaches from 1920-80.


The AFCA Trailblazer Award was created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities. Past Trailblazer Award winners include Charles Williams of Hampton (2004), Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee (2005), Arnett Mumford of Southern (2006), Billy Nicks of Prairie View A&M (2007), Alonzo “Jake” Gaither of Florida A&M (2008), Fred “Pops” Long of Wiley (2009), Harry R. “Big Jeff” Jefferson of Bluefield State (2010), Edward P. Hurt of Morgan State (2011), Vernon “Skip” McCain of Maryland-Eastern Shore (2012), Marino Casem of Alcorn State (2013), Gideon Smith of Hampton (2014) and Eddie Robinson of Grambling State (2015). The award is given each year to a person that coached in a particular decade ranging from 1920-1970. This year’s winner coached from 1960 to 1970.

EHS senior commits to Tuskegee

ENTERPRISE, Alabama -- Enterprise senior defensive lineman Jaren Jones committed to accept a football scholarship with Tuskegee University Tuesday night.

Jones committed to Tuskegee over offers from Miles College, William Penn, Arkansas-Monticello and Union College.

“It feels really great to get the recruiting process over with,” Jones said. “It feels like a weight off my shoulders has been released.”

The Tuskegee Golden Tigers football program has a long tradition of success with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) National Championships in 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 2000, 2007 and 2015.

Tuskegee also has 38 conference championships in the Division II program’s storied history.

“It felt good to get offered by (Tuskegee) and what led me to choose them was how they are always competitive in their division and I just want to help out,” Jones said. “Talking to my D-Line Coach I will have a chance to play early as a freshman if I just put in the work. Also, the tradition there, what more can I say about that?”


Grambling's next step: Operate like champions

GRAMBLING, Louisiana — Grambling's start to 2017 began just as it ended — the champions of black college football.

For players, and to some extent the coaching staff, Grambling is basking in the glory of an HBCU national championship, the program's first since 2008 and the first under coach Broderick Fobbs, who is leading a transformation from the ground up.

But just a few days after a Dec. 17 win over North Carolina Central in the Celebration Bowl to earn the label as the top HBCU team in 2016, Fobbs was already in his office with his mind set on 2017. There, he visualized the information he will later use in a PowerPoint presentation for the 2017 season. Preparations to repeat as champions began last week with staff meetings.

"2017 is more about motivating to be who we should be. Now that we’ve been crowned as the champions, now we have to walk in it and be in it," Fobbs said. "If you’re going to be the champion, you have to operate that way. You have to carry yourself that way. You have to do all the necessary things the right way if that’s what you are. A champion eats a certain way. A champion walks a certain way. A champion works a certain way. That’s what we have to get across to our players."


Path to the NFL: DB prospect Nehemiah Coward, Central State University

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Nehemiah Coward comes from a small school in division II football from Central State University Marauders (HBCU) in Ohio. On the field, he has a knack for making the big plays particularly on special teams as he has five career blocks and a 109-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown. Marauders coaches have utilized Coward’s athleticism as he has the ability to play cornerback, nickleback and both safety positions.

Gamer’s like Coward tend to fly under the radar when the NFL Draft rolls around every year but the best organizations do their due diligence to find gems at small schools. A perfect example of finding a gem would be a player like Baltimore Ravens defensive back Lardarius Webb who was drafted by the team in 2009 out of Nicholls State (FCS school).

Coward took the time to talk to me on Baltimore Beatdown about his journey in football and what he thinks he can bring to the table on the NFL level.

Coward’s Measurable’s via Capfigure

Positions: CB, FS
Height & Weight: 6’0″ 183 lbs.
40 Yard Dash: 4.36 sec.
Vertical: 38 in.
Bench: 315 lbs.
100 Meter Dash: 10.62 sec.
Squat: 285 lbs.