Friday, August 31, 2007

Atlanta Football Classic Parade of Excellence


The 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc. announced today that it will, once again, partner with title sponsor Georgia Power to present the annual Georgia Power Parade of Excellence. This marks Georgia Power's fourth year as the Parade's title sponsor and its eighth year supporting the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic.

The Georgia Power Parade of Excellence focuses on outstanding academic achievement by featuring some of the area's best and brightest students. Students who finish in the top 10 percent of their class in the fourth through ninth grade will march in the parade.

The parade begins on Saturday, September 29, at 10:00 a.m. and the route will begin on Peachtree Street at Ralph McGill Boulevard, move south to Marietta St, turn west and end at Centennial Olympic Park, adjacent to the Georgia Dome. Proceeds from the weekend's events will benefit Project Success, 100 Black Men of Atlanta's flagship mentoring, academic support and scholarship program that supports students from the Atlanta Public School system.

This year's parade promises to be even more exciting than before, including more floats and thrilling entertainment from the FAMU Marching 100 and the TSU Aristocrat of Bands along with some of the most talented high school bands from across the nation. Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox and Georgia Power Executive Richard Holmes will be the grand marshals for the parade. In addition, "Stomp the Yard's" Brian J. White, "That's so Raven's" Kyle Massey from Disney and "Zoey 101's" Christopher Massey from Nickelodeon will be in the parade.

"100 Black Men of Atlanta, through the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic, does a tremendous job educating and empowering the youth of our communities," said Chris Womack, Georgia Power executive vice president for external affairs. "Georgia Power is proud to renew its support of this important event and remains proud of its long-standing support of the events surrounding the AFC.

"Georgia Power has been a long-term partner of 100 Black Men of Atlanta and a friend to our flagship program, Project Success," says John T. Grant, Jr., CEO, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, the weekend's organizers. "By sponsoring the state's only parade that celebrates academic excellence, Georgia Power continues to lead the corporate charge in dedication to educating our youth."

Past grand marshals for the Parade of Excellence have included Mayor Shirley Franklin, Cox, Georgia Power CEO Mike Garrett, Womack and Holmes.

Proceeds from the AFC also benefit students at the two historically Black college participants, Florida A&M and Tennessee State Universities. This event has raised more than $6 million in contributions to the participating universities and almost $3 million for Project Success.

Project Success

Project Success, created by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta in 1987, helps to prepare Atlanta Public Schools' students to successfully graduate from high school and helps to prepare them for post-secondary education. The mentoring program encourages urban youth to be self-motivated and confident while emphasizing the importance of a strong work ethic. Its long-term goal is to create an educated workforce of well-rounded individuals who understand the importance of giving back to the community. With this successful program as the cornerstone of 100 Black Men of Atlanta's activities, the organization continues to build its portfolio of services to improve the lives of young African Americans.

Simpson runs for 3 TDs as Bears tame Savannah State 47-7

MSU Sports Information

Senior RB Chad Simpson ignites the season with 3 TDs and 142 yards against Savannah State on Thursday night.

Boxscore: http://www.morganstatebears.com/Sports/foot/2007/msu01football.asp

NCAA Reported Attendance: 952

BALTIMORE, Md. – Chad Simpson has returned for the 2007 campaign as one of the most exciting talents in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and possibly one of the best in the NCAA Football Championship Series.

The Morgan State running back ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns and the Bears cruised over Savannah State 47-7 on Thursday night at Hughes Stadium.

The All-conference back was selected as the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Harlow Fullwood Youth Day game.

Morgan State rolled up 345 yards of total offense, despite being penalized for a whopping 149 yards. The teams combined for 284 yards of penalties.

Mario Melton looked sharp in the Bears season-opener as he connected on 10-of-17 passes for 112 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Roderick Wolfe to push the Bears lead to 30-0 at the end of the first half.

Wolfe, a Preseason All-MEAC selection, finished the contest with five receptions for 42 yards, while sophomore sensation Edwin Baptiste collected a game-high 70 yards on five catches.

Morgan State’s 47 points were the most since it scored 55 points against Savannah State in 2005 at the Proctor & Gamble Classic at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The Bears defense held Savannah State scoreless until the 8:32 mark of the 4th quarter when JaCorey Kilcrease threw to Isaiah Osbourne for a 45-yard touchdown strike.

Despite the touchdown, the Morgan defense gave the Tigers fits all night long. It didn’t seem to matter whether it was the first or second team defense, the Bears swarmed to the ball and compiled a total of 12 tackles in the backfield (-46 yards) and collected three interceptions.

Senior linebacker Bryan Wilson returned the first interception of the contest 23-yards for a touchdown to help push the Bears lead to 17-0 at the 8:42 mark of the 2nd quarter. Junior linebacker Jerrell Guyton led the Bears on defense and finished with a game-high 10 tackles, while Mark Hicks and Lamar West added five tackles each.

Kilcrease threw for 111 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers, and Savannah State’s ground attack was limited to 29 yards on 32 carries.

Morgan State will host Towson Saturday, September 8th for a cross-town duel. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Hughes Stadium.

FAMU's Quinn Gray promoted to 2nd string QB with NFL Jacksonville Jaguars


Photo: Jacksonville Jaguar QB Quinn Gray Sr., 5th Year, FAMU, 6-3/246

The story unfolding this afternoon from the offices of the Jacksonville Jaguars indicates that first string quarterback and four year starter, Byron Leftwich will be released or traded by the Jaguars immediately, and that East Carolina's David Garrard has been named the new starting QB for the Jags. FAMU's Quinn Gray was promoted to the 2nd string QB position.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio indicates that Quinn Gray, who played well in the preseason finale after missing most of camp because of a sprained ankle, will move into the No. 2 spot. No statements were issued regarding Jacksonville carrying a third quarterback at this time.

Del Rio further stated that Garrard has played better than Leftwich throughout the preseason, and Gray had played well in last night game against the Washington Redskins. Gray has stayed focused on the task at hand, although his father passed away two weeks ago.

Most in the MEAC remember Quinn Gray for having a rifle arm, running Billy Joe's Gulf Coast Offense to record levels, and getting Florida A&M to the 1999 semi-final round of the NCAA 1-AA Playoffs with Youngstown State.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native is entering his fifth season in the NFL, as the second quarterback behind David Garrard … Possesses strong arm and has displayed ability to make plays … Has played in three games over four seasons and served as backup quarterback in 2006 following injury to Byron Leftwich … Appeared in NFL Europe in 2003 and led the Frankfurt Galaxy to the World Bowl Championship.

2006:
Was third quarterback for first six weeks … Served as backup to David Garrard for the final 10 games … Saw action in the second half in season-finale at Kansas City on Dec. 31 and completed 13 of 22 passes for a career-high 166 yards. Had two rushes for 26 yards and two touchdowns against the Chiefs … Also saw action on Nov. 5 vs. Tenn.

COLLEGE

Played in 39 games and finished career with 7,368 passing yards and 57 TDs … Started every game as a senior in 2001, completing 210 of 415 passes for 2,717 yards and 19 TDs … Graduated with a degree in physical education.

PERSONAL

Single with son (Quinn Jr.) … Lives in Fort Lauderdale … Attended Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, where he earned All-District and All-Region honors … Father, Otis, retired as head coach at Dillard where he had won two state championships … Lettered in football, basketball and baseball as a pitcher … Participates in a variety of community outreach activities … Served as judge for the Delta Teen Pageant the last two years … Spent time at a local YMCA where he along with other teammates helped pass out sporting goods equipment to the youth … Regular visitor to elementary schools where he reads to students … Attends team sponsored events such as Operation Blessing, Draft Day Fan Fest and Food Drive Kick-off … Participated in the second annual Shop with the Cops sponsored by the Nassau County Police Department … Full name: Quinn Gray Sr.

Now the rest of the story from the main stream press....

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By Mark Long

Jaguars plan to trade or release Leftwich after 4 injury-filled seasons

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Jaguars are parting ways with quarterback Byron Leftwich after four frustrating, injury-filled seasons.

Coach Jack Del Rio said the team plans to trade or release the former first-round draft pick. Del Rio also named mobile backup David Garrard his starter heading into next week's season opener, believing Garrard gives the team a better chance to win.

Garrard outplayed Leftwich in the preseason, completing 36 of 47 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score. But his numbers came primarily against second-team defenses.

Leftwich, who missed 10 games last season because of an ankle injury, was 19-of-38 passing for 226 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games. He misfired on several passes, badly overthrew Dennis Northcutt on two deep routes against Green Bay and continued to show messy mechanics with his feet and throwing motion.

Making the decision easier, Leftwich hasn't played a full season since being the seventh overall selection in the 2003 draft. But the former Marshall star felt he was in the best shape of his life following ankle surgery and a rigid offseason conditioning program.

Del Rio seemed to agree, naming Leftwich his starter in February and backing him every day since - until now.

Leftwich was in the final year of his contract, so releasing him would not cost the team anything extra against the salary cap in 2007.

But it would leave the Jags with little room for injury at that position. Third-string Quinn Gray, who played well in the preseason finale after missing most of camp because of a sprained ankle, will move into the No. 2 spot.

Leftwich has completed nearly 59 percent of his passes for 9,042 yards, with 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. He started 13 games as a rookie, then missed two games in 2004 with an injured left knee.

He missed five games the following year because of his oft-injured left ankle. He returned to the starting lineup in the playoffs, but played poorly in a loss.

Ten new members selected to UAPB's Hall

Special to the Commercial

TEN NEW MEMBERS SELECTED TO UAPB’S HALL

An Olympic athlete, a pair of women’s basketball pioneers and two of the most respected coaches in the history of Arkansas high school athletics will be among ten new members comprising the 2007 class of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The late Charles “Pop” Spearman came to Arkansas AM&N in 1951 after graduating from LeMoyne-Owen College and quickly became a fixture for over three decades in the Golden Lion Athletic Department. Spearman was the head football coach for the Golden Lions from 1956 to 1961. His ‘60 team went 6-5, the most wins for a Golden Lion team since 1948. He also was a longtime fixture with the Golden Lions baseball team, leading that program from 1954 to 1977.

The late Allie Freeman, Jr. was a football pioneer of sorts. Freeman helped bring football back to the Arkansas AM&N campus after play was suspended during World War II. After a two-year hiatus, the Golden Lions fielded their first team since 1941 and Freeman was an intrical part of that ‘44 squad. In 1946, AM&N exploded onto the scene with an 8-2-1 record and with Freeman, who was captain of the squad leading the way.

Oliver Elders attended AM&N College from 1950-’54 and would later forge one of the most impressive High School basketball coaching careers in the state of Arkansas. When he retired in 1993, he was the most successful high school basketball coach in Arkansas history with 656 wins and 305 losses.

Caesar Belser was one of the first recognized AM&N football players to have a successful playing career in the professional ranks. Belser who was named to the All-SWAC team in both 1965 and 1966 played professionally for the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL and for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL.

Jesse Mason, a 1960 graduate of AM&N College, was one of the most exciting basketball players of his day. He earned All-SWAC honors in basketball in 1958, 1959 and 1960, was the captain of the Golden Lion basketball team during his senior year and won the scoring title in during the 1959-’60 season.

Roy Wade, who was a two-year letterman and an All-SWAC performer from 1960-’64, carved out quite a name for himself at Little Rock Hall High School from 1969-2005.

Demetrica Thomas, a 1997 graduate of UAPB, was one of the best women’s Track & Field performers in the history of the university. Thomas was a 1995 NAIA All-American in the Long Jump, 4x100 Meter Relay and Long Jump.

It’s ironic that both Susan Weaver-Vasser and Helen Hughes-Smith are inducted together as the pair played important roles on the Lionettes’ basketball squads of the late 70’s. Both led UAPB to Arkansas Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Association championships and both would be drafted by the Women’s Professional Basketball League upon the conclusion of their college careers.

Aaron Harris simply tore up the track in the early 70’s as a member of the successful AM&N/UAPB Track and Field team. He was an NAIA All-American in both 1971 and 1973 as he was honored for his performances in both the 60-yard Dash and the 440 Relay Team. Harris established school records in the 100-Meter Dash, tied the school record for the 200-Meter dash and received the Outstanding Athlete Award in 1973.

Beal joins three other ex-Jaguars in majors


By JOSEPH SCHIEFELBEIN, Advocate sportswriter

Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, San Francisco Giants outfielder Fred Lewis and Chicago White Sox reliever Dewon Day are not the only ex-Jaguars who played in the major leagues this season. Former pitcher Damien Beal on Friday worked third base as an umpire at U.S. Cellular Field as the Chicago White Sox hosted the Boston Red Sox.

“Making it to the big leagues as an umpire, let alone as a minority, is really huge. It’s tough,” Cador said.

Beal, the nephew of SU volunteer coach Calvin Beal, never pitched for the Jaguars but did catch Cador’s eye during intrasquad games.

“He called a lot of the intrasquad, and I said, ‘This guy has some ability,’” Cador said. “I saw something in him and made a recommendation.”

Signees, newcomers

Southern has brought in 17 signees and newcomers this semester. They are:

  • Freshman 3B Dominik Almanzar, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution All-Northside honorable mention from Class 3A state champion Dunwoody High in Georgia;
    Junior 2B Romey Bracey of Kankakee Community College after playing at Louisburg College;
  • Freshman 2B/SS Demario Ellis, a Pasadena (Calif.) Star News All-Area second-teamer from Pasadena High;
  • C/1B Frazier Hall, an All-District 7-1A first-teamer as a catcher (2007) and infielder (2006) and an All-District 8-2A first-teamer as a designated hitter (2008);
  • Freshman RHP Joseph Hughes of Murphy High in Mobile, Ala.;
  • Sophomore OF Ryan Lambert of Chesapeake College and a two-time first-team All-Bayside Conference player at Parkside High in Maryland;
  • Freshman OF Anthony Langston, an All-Western Conference National Division first-teamer at Middleton High in Tampa, Fla.;
  • Freshman LHP Darren McKnight, an All-District 23-5A second-team first baseman and a former teammate of SU catcher Michael Thomas, at Thurgood Marshall High in Missouri City, Texas;
  • Sophomore RHP Seth Monaghan from Spring Hill College and from Mandeville;
  • Freshman RHP Jeremy Morrison of Teurlings Catholic in Lafayette;
  • Junior SS Mike Olivar of Cosumnes River College;
  • Junior C/1B Jordan Palmer, who hit .309 with seven homers and 28 RBIs at Delaware Tech Community College;
  • Sophomore LHP Chase Richard, who did not play in 2006 or ’07 at Louisiana-Lafayette after helping Central Private to a state title in 2005;
  • Junior 3B Anthony Savage, who hit .263 with 22 RBIs, 22 runs and nine doubles at American River College;
  • Junior RHP Jamie Spear, who pitched just two innings last season, his second at Kennesaw State, after redshirting at Troy;
  • Freshman RHP Kyle Wahl, an honorable mention Pasco County Tribune at Wesley Chapel (Fla.) High;
  • Freshman IF/OF Stephen Womack, an All-District 23-5A outfielder at Elkins High in Missouri City, Texas.
    “Olivar is a big-time shortstop,” Cador said. “This was a good class.”
Summer ball
Five veterans spent the summer with the IMG Baseball Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Junior OF Brad McDavid led the Green Team with a .371 average, 22 RBIs, 21 runs, four homers and nine doubles, while senior RHP Christopher Donaby was 1-2 with a save, a complete game and a 3.56 ERA in eight appearances.

Junior 1B Calvin Anderson led the Red Team with a .375 average, 27 RBIs, five homers and two triples while adding 17 runs and seven doubles. Thomas, a sophomore catcher, was .358 with 15 runs, 11 RBIs and a team-high nine doubles. Sophomore right-hander Jarrett Malloy had a 0.55 ERA in 11 appearances, going a team-best 5-0 with one save.

Junior OF Juan Mujica hit a league-best .359 with three triples, 13 doubles, 39 runs and 18 RBIs for his Clark Griffith League team in Maryland and Virginia. He also led the league in stolen bases, with 23 in 25 attempts.  Meanwhile, senior OF Torey Brown, senior RHP Cody Elliott, senior 3B Theo Ycoy and senior RHP Marcus Moore all played in the South Louisiana Collegiate League.

The Howard Bison's 'Micromanager of Discipline'


By Kathy Orton, Washington Post Staff Writer

Bailey Stresses Details As He Tries to Reverse Howard's Fortunes

Howard center Travis Harmon sat with his teammates waiting to meet Coach Carey Bailey for the first time. They were nervous and scared, wondering what their new coach would be like. Bailey walked into the room, took one look around and began to speak.

"His first words were, 'Sit up before you all make me angry,' " Harmon said. "He had our attention from then on."

Ask any Howard player to pick one word to describe Bailey, and they all will pick the same one: disciplined. Since arriving on campus in February, the 38-year-old native of Morgantown, W.Va., has brought organization and structure to the Bison. These days at Howard, you aren't on time unless you are early, and if it isn't done right the first time, it's going to be done again until it's done right.

"I consider myself a micromanager of discipline," Bailey said. "I'm just a steadfast believer that if you're a disciplined football team, then you will not allow the game to beat you, but you can beat the game."

Bailey, whose 14 years as an assistant coach have taken him to West Virginia, VMI, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee State, Oklahoma State and most recently Minnesota, is the kind of guy who eats his chicken first, then his rice, then his peas. He's not going to go back and forth between the chicken and the rice. He craves order and stability, and he's working to impart those qualities on his new team. He doesn't want to see players slouching in their chairs with their feet up. He wants them focused and attentive.

"We're going to focus on the little things," linebacker Endor Cooper said. "The little things are what separated us from being 8-3 to being what we were, 5-6."

When Bailey replaced Ray Petty, whose contract was not renewed after he went 25-30 in five seasons, he reviewed the film from Howard's games last season. What stood out most to him was how close the Bison were to being a successful team.

Take the homecoming game against Morgan State, which Howard lost 18-12. The Bison had first and goal inside the Bears 1-yard line in the second overtime. Push the ball across the goal line, and their six-game Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference losing streak would be over. Instead, they fumbled away the ball, which was scooped up by Morgan State and returned for a touchdown. Howard went from a confidence-boosting win to a devastating loss within moments.

"It just seemed to me that there's good players, good talent, guys were coached up well, but in terms of the little itty-bitty things, other teams were not beating them, the game was beating them," Bailey said. "You're in a drive. Things are going well. It's first and 10, and somebody jumps offside. Now it's first and 15. So rather than being second and medium or short, now you're still second and long. Defensively, a guy makes a great play, sacks the quarterback, but he has a hand on a face mask. That's a five-yard penalty. Now it's first and five. Things like that, from a self-discipline standpoint, can cost you the game."

Bailey wants to eliminate the mental lapses that prevented Howard from being among the top teams in the MEAC, but he also wants to build team cohesiveness. To that end, he encouraged the players to spend more time with one another this past summer.

"It's been a smooth transition from the coaching standpoint, but it's been a really big transition in the team," defensive back Thomas Claiborn said. "You can definitely see the difference in team chemistry. Our mind-set is different."

Bailey calls it "yarn-ball camaraderie." A single skein turns into a greater force when wound into a tight sphere.

"I tell these guys this: 'You don't play for me.' " he said. "They don't play for me. They don't play for Howard. They don't play for the [athletic director], the president or the alumni. They play for each other . . . for the guys [they] eat, sleep, live, hang out with, play Xbox with, go home for Thanksgiving with. I'm doing this for you. You're doing this for me. Together we do it for everybody. That's the mind-set you have to have to be successful."

WSSU Football Notebook: Two defensive players won't play this year


COMPILED BY JOHN DELL

■ Winston-Salem State has lost two defensive players.

Brian Jones, a redshirt sophomore defensive lineman, has been ruled academically ineligible and linebacker Darrian Bynum has been kicked off the team.

Jones was slated to be a backup, but was ruled ineligible for lack of progress toward his degree.

Bynum, who was a part-time starter the past two seasons, was sixth on the team in tackles last season.

“It was for inappropriate behavior,” Coach Kermit Blount said about Bynum’s dismissal. “We just don’t have time to discipline somebody like that who made some inappropriate comments to a school employee.”

■ Blount will begin his 15th season on Saturday against N.C. A&T at Bowman Gray Stadium.

Blount, who is 81-64-3, is second on the school list for victories behind Bill Hayes, who had 89 career wins.

“No it doesn’t seem that long,” Blount said about his 15th year. “I guess it feels like it physically, but it’s flown right by, honestly. I never thought that I would be at one place that long, but that’s a tribute to the administration and the school for allowing me to be around that long.

“At some other places I might not have been allowed to stay this long.”

■ The Rams had their final scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday morning. The best news was they came out of injury free.

“It went pretty well,” Blount said about the 60-play scrimmage in which the defense scored twice and the offense scored three times. “There were some mistakes but we hope to correct those by the time A&T comes here.”

■ Much has been talked about in regards to the Rams opening things up a little more on offense. Offensive coordinator Nick Calcutta has been about as vague as he can be when talking about the changes.

Blount said that one thing his running backs need to do better is catch the ball out of the backfield.

Blount, who was the offensive coordinator as well last season, has been known to be conservative. He has always believed in the ball-control type of offense that starts with a good running game.

“That was what I knew as a player and a coach was the trap-option offense,” Blount said. “And we still have some of that offense in where we can run the ball, but we are just adding some variations that will make our opponents have to prepare for us a little more.”

■ The Rams’ special teams were one of their strengths last season, but this year that group is inexperienced.

Freshman Matt Mitchell has assumed the place-kicking duties and Jermaine Mack, a junior defensive back, will punt for the first time in his career with the Rams.

“Matt is doing excellent,” Blount said. “He’s going to kick off, and do field goals and extra points and be the backup punter. Jermaine Mack is doing a tremendous job punting for us right now.”

Blount acknowledged that Mack has had his ups and downs. “Jermaine is probably going to hit some good ones and some bad ones,” Blount said.

Stan Wright, who was the team’s long snapper for the past four seasons, exhausted his eligibility and Corey Plummer, a redshirt freshman running back, has assumed those duties.

■ Quarterback Monte Purvis, a fifth-year senior who is 13-13 in his career as a starter, has liked what he has seen so far.

“Offensivewise, we look pretty good,” Purvis said.

“And the defense is flying to the ball on every play just like they did last year.

“Expectationwise, they are a lot higher than last year. We have to finish the games off, something we didn’t do a good job with last year.”

■ Jed Bines, a fifth-year senior running back, has rounded into shape nicely this preseason. He was academically ineligible last season.

“It just feels good to back on the team and practicing,” Bines said.

Bines, who is the sixth leading rusher in school history, said he couldn’t wait to start practicing three weeks ago when camp opened.

“I’m not a secret weapon or anything like that, I’m just trying to get a feel for everything and work my way back in,” Bines said.

WSSU's receivers told to be aggressive going after the ball


By John Dell, JOURNAL REPORTER

When the Winston-Salem State Rams passed the ball last season, the results weren’t all that great.

There’s no statistic to get the exact number, but the Rams had plenty of dropped balls from their wide receivers. Nick Calcutta, the new offensive coordinator, has seen the films of last year’s games.

“We’ve tried to improve on that all preseason and for the most part they have done very well in that department,” Calcutta said.

The Rams are hoping to be more balanced, but to do that the receivers must catch the ball a lot better. The top four receivers from last season all exhausted their eligibility, which means that this season’s receivers are very inexperienced.

Despite the youth, Calcutta is optimistic.

“They are catching the ball a lot better, making the tough catches and they are all going after the ball,” Calcutta said. “Nobody is waiting for the ball to come to them and they are taking care of it when they do catch it.”

The expected starters will be sophomore Michael Scarbrough, who missed all of last season with a broken leg, senior Brent Thomas, who had three catches last season, and Bryant Bayne, a sophomore who saw little playing time last season.

Scarbrough has the chance to be one of quarterback Monte Purvis’ top targets.

“We worked on that over the summer because there were some dropped balls last season,” said Scarbrough, who has four career catches. “And we did a lot of ball-control things in camp as well.”

The Rams threw the ball 155 times last season, an average of 14 a game. That average is expected to go up this season.

Also hoping to add to the production is Jonathan Kinzer, a sophomore who had eight catches last season but fell out of the rotation late in the year. Freshman Avyd Baldwin, who has an eye infection and has missed practice time, could also play a big role.

Thomas has the most experience of the wide receivers, but he has four career catches. He will likely be Purvis’ possession receiver who can get open in the middle of the field.

“Everything has been going great in practice,” Thomas said. “The new offense is looking good for the wideouts and we are excited about it.”

Even though the receivers will be called upon to catch more, they also will have to take their turns blocking. It’s a premise that Kevin Downing, the wide receivers’ coach, has been stressing.
“They are responding very well to everything,” Downing said. “Some of the things we can’t control if they do drop some balls, but we can control our blocking so we’ve been focusing on that.”

Said Thomas: “Blocking is still something we need to do. We are working on that with making moves upfield and other things.”

If the Rams are going to be more of a balanced team instead of relying on their running game, it’s up to the receivers to respond.

“We’ve been working on seeing the ball all the way in,” Downing said. “I’ve loved working with those guys and we are pleased with how things are going.”

Calcutta has three scrimmages to base his judgment on how the receivers have fared, but he hopes that when the lights come on Saturday night against N.C. A&T the receivers will be ready.
“I’m sitting here with my fingers crossed, but we’ve been blessed with the way the receivers have picked up what we are trying to do,” Calcutta said. “They are trying to master it and we are going to play a lot of those receivers because we are always going to be moving.”

Hornets enjoy the challenge of a top opening opponent

By KRISTIAN POPE, The News Journal

DSU hopes to set tone vs. Coastal Carolina

DOVER -- Delaware State doesn't believe in taking the easy way out when opening the football season. Not since 2002, anyway.

Starting in 2003, the Hornets have played their first game against all types of opponents, but none of them could be considered a "gimme."

Instead of a struggling NCAA Division I-AA team or a mediocre foe from Division II, DSU has faced teams who have presented a significant challenge.

There have been nationally ranked powerhouses, seemingly unknown playoff contenders and even rivals from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

This season, DSU again must exit the starting blocks by going against the wind.

At 7 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Stadium, the Hornets face three-time defending Big South Conference champion Coastal Carolina, a team burning to make the Division I-AA playoffs for the second year in a row.

"It's not up to us," DSU senior kicker Peter Gaertner said of the schedule. "It's a game like any other, really."

Oh, really?

One must go back to 1986 for DSU's last season-opening win over a nonconference Division I-AA foe, a 21-14 victory at Southern University.

Since 2003, DSU has opened against Bucknell, Massachusetts and Florida A&M twice.

DSU, 8-3 last year, reached No. 23 in The Sports Network poll for one week before the Hornets bowed out of the MEAC race and missed the playoffs. While playing nonconference games against high-caliber opponents can boost a team's chances of making the postseason, suffering a loss at the start can have lingering effects.

DSU's recent opening games are a lesson in living up to the standards coach Al Lavan has set for his program.

Photo: RB Kareem Jones

"The conference is tough enough for us, but if you want to grow the program, you have to step up your level of competition," Lavan said. "It's as simple as that."

Coastal Carolina, which started its football program in 2003, continues DSU's history of bold season openers.

The Chanticleers beat the Hornets 24-6 in 2005, the only other meeting between the schools. CCU wide receiver Jerome Simpson was chosen a preseason All-American by the College Sporting News.

"In the case of Coastal Carolina, it's a win-win situation for us," Gaertner said. "If we win, we'll be in great shape. We might even be ranked. If we lose, well, it's a nonconference game. A loss always hurts, but it wouldn't have the same effect as a conference loss."

Last season, DSU finished one victory short of a share of its first MEAC title since 1991. A loss at Howard in DSU's final game gave Hampton the championship outright.

Senior linebacker Russell Reeves believes this season could play out differently, especially if the Hornets perform well against Coastal Carolina.

"In the winter and summer, I think these kinds of games are in the backs of everyone's minds, and they get us to prepare harder for the season," Reeves said.

"When you go to college, you want to play the best competition. You don't come to play Division II schools. You want to play the best."

Hornets buzz

Running back Kareem Jones, a transfer from Syracuse, appears to have earned the starting job for the opener. Senior Lennox Norville is expected to back up Jones. ... Coastal Carolina is scheduled to arrive by plane at Dover Air Force Base today. ... As of Wednesday, about 2,000 tickets had been sold. ... DSU has planned a memorial service before the game to honor the three students killed in Newark, N.J., this month.

UAPB Golden Lions wants another shot at SWAC title


By RONNIE TURNER, For The Chronicle

Arkansas-Pine Bluff ready to shine; Golden Lions want another shot at SWAC title

Last season was a surprising one in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, with traditional powers Grambling State and Southern each failing to crack the .500 mark.

Instead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff ran through the league with a 7-2 mark before falling to Alabama A&M in the SWAC championship game.

Alabama A&M returns 15 starters, including eight to a defense that led the SWAC in scoring defense (19.5 points per game). Arkansas-Pine Bluff placed eight players on the All-SWAC preseason team, none more notable than quarterback Chris Wallace, the 2006 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year. Last season, Wallace threw for 2,023 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Hard to read
Texas Southern faces tough non-conference matchups against defending Conference USA champion Houston and UTEP, with both games on the road. On top of that, TSU must travel to meet defending SWAC champion Alabama A&M, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State.

Picture books
Alcorn State will host Grambling State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama A&M, three of the league's better teams, while traveling to face Alabama State and Texas Southern, who figure to be two of the league's worst teams.

Plot twist
Prairie View A&M over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Nov. 3). The Panthers barely missed taking down the defending Western Division champions in a 28-21 home loss last season. However, Prairie View's improved passing game could make a difference.

Compelling reads
• Texas Southern at Grambling State (Oct. 27): TSU pulled off a stunning 33-28 upset when these two met last season, and Grambling State won't be able to live down the embarrassment of that loss until it returns the favor.
• Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Alabama A&M (Oct. 18): The league's top two teams from a year ago will meet up in what could be a preview of this season's SWAC championship game.
• Southern at Grambling State (Nov. 24): The winner of this matchup could wind up representing the Western Division in the SWAC title game.

Pop-up book
Prairie View A&M. The Panthers dropped five games by seven points or less a season ago but appear to be close to turning the corner. With 14 returning starters and even more confidence, Prairie View should be on its way to recording its first winning season since 1976.

Make book on it
Eastern Division: 1. Jackson State; 2. Alabama A&M; 3. Alcorn State; 4. Mississippi Valley State; 5. Alabama State.

Western Division: 1. Arkansas Pine-Bluff; 2. Grambling State; 3. Prairie View A&M; 4. Southern;. 5. Texas Southern.

Stout defense lifts chances for revival for PVAMU


By CHRIS ELLIOTT, For The Chronicle

After close calls in 2006, Panthers expect turnaround

They can feel it. There's an aura of confidence radiating from the Prairie View A&M players that wasn't there in previous years, and it's so evident that even coach Henry Frazier III said he has begun to take notice.

Frazier said he's noticed the greater effort players are putting into practices. He's noticed how few disciplinary problems he's been faced with. And he's taken particular notice of the awareness of the players' potential. Despite finishing with a 3-7 record in 2006, most of the players believe the Panthers will win the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.

"It was a tough year last year, but it was a process you go through with turning a program around," Frazier said. "And those are some of the growing pains you're going to have to go through. We lost five ballgames by seven points or less.

"What's important to me is that the players now realize that if we had put forth better effort on about seven plays last year, we would have been 8-2. They were able to see that. We've got the feeling that we're much better than our record indicated."

Prairie View will return seven starters on each side of the ball. Those seven defensive starters could make the difference in the Panthers' quest for their first winning season since 1976.

Prairie View finished with the SWAC's top defense last year, allowing a conference-low 266 yards per game. Sophomore strong safety Anthony Beck said this defense can be just as stingy.

"We've got an older defense," Beck said. "We're much more mature than last year. We didn't lose a lot of seniors. So we know what we're doing, and we're moving faster. I think that's going to make us a better defense overall."

If Frazier and his staff get the offense and special teams to operate as efficiently as the defense, Prairie View will be in good shape. Though the Panthers rushed for a SWAC-high 180.6 yards per game, they could muster only a dismal 69.2 passing yards per game.

Frazier will look to senior quarterback Chris Gibson, who has been known more for his legs than his arm, to turn the offense around.

SU soccer team to open season

Photo: Divinity Bradley, Goal Keeper, Freshman, 6-1, Fairfield HS, Fairfield, CA
The Southern University soccer team opens its home season at 7 p.m. today, facing the University of Louisiana at Monroe at A.W. Mumford Stadium.

It’s the season opener for ULM. Southern lost its opener at William Carey last week.

“The young ladies played real hard at William Carey,” coach John Knighten said. “They’ve been practicing hard and are really excited about playing at home.”

True freshman Divinity Bradley, in her first collegiate game, recorded 15 saves off of 33 attempts.

“Divinity played a great game considering it was her first time in goal on the college level,” Knighten said.

Britnee Matthews, Miriam Akinfosile, Renell Reid and Olyvhia Essien all the team’s four seniors who will be participating in their final home season opener.

Following the SCSU Bulldogs

By Thomas Grant, T&D Blog

Time to get to business
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
4 PM
After checking in, the offenses and defenses separate for team meetings prior to a 5 p.m. practice at Air Force Academy High School. It’s the first opportunity for many of the players to test themselves with the altitude. By the way, the temperatures are in the low 80s with some clouds hovering over the mountains.

So far, so good
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
The plane is about 90 minutes away from Colorado Springs. For the most part, there have been no commotions or jitters shown by first-time flyers like offensive lineman Jake Johnson. As the plane descends, Assistant Athletics Trainer Stephanie Troscinski is serenaded with ‘Happy Birthday’ and also receives a cake. Can’t tell what the time is since all cellphones are turned off the entire flight. As it turns out, we land at 4:10 Eastern Time. Next stop, the Antlers’ Hilton.

Off in the air
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
1:10 PM - Finally, the proper weight and balance is achieved and the plane is ready to depart. More good news comes in the fact that the pilot will not have to make a fuel stop, insuring the two-hour, 57-minute trip will be non-stop and should keep the Bulldogs right on schedule.

‘Smells like a Lockerroom’
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
12:36 PM

Departure time is still 24 minutes away and the inside of the airplane feels like a sauna. The pilot has yet to start the plane as the luggage carriers continue to work towards loading the plane. Needless to say, water is in high demand and some have resorted to use the exit seating instructions as a fan.

“It smells like a lockerroom and feels like hell,” one Bulldog party member was heard saying.

We later learn the carriers are having trouble balancing the weight of some luggage (I hope he wasn’t talking about me).
More water!

Ready to fly
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
12:03 PM

Word of advice to future travelers. Certain deodorants can possibly set off a metal detector. After three attempts through the security check, I was allowed to board the plane. The players grab a Chick-Fil-A bag and board an sky blue, white and gold Alligient Air aircraft. The craft apparently seats as many as 150 people and just about every seat is taken. Once aboard, I take the long walk to the rear of the plane and plant down at Row 35, Seat D. It’s a window seat, but much of the view is obstructed by one of the wings. The wait begins.

John Edwards ‘reunites’ with SCSU
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
11:20 PM

The Bulldogs’ buses arrive at Eagle Aviation 10 minutes early. In what had to be a sheer coincidence, Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards has just landed for more than likely a campaign stop in the capitol city. He had virtually no interaction with the team, save for accidentally bumping into one of the members of the Bulldogs’ travelling party on the way out. It never ceases to amaze me how smaller politicians look in person.

As SCSU head football coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough departs the bus, he does a brief interview with WLTX. During the interview, he said Saturday’s game was ‘real special for the program. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.” He also said the Bulldogs ‘we’re going out there to compete.”

Moving day
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
9:15 AM

Today is moving day for the South Carolina State football team. The team is currently eating breakfest at Truth Hall and are about an hour and 15 minutes away from leaving Orangeburg for Eagle Aviation. They are scheduled to depart for Colorado Springs at 1 p.m. with the flight lasting close to three hours. Once the Bulldogs settle in, they will waste little time getting down to business. A team meeting will take place at 6 p.m., followed by practice a half-hour later at Air Force Academy High School.

Hopefully, there will be no reports of players or school officials getting sick or passing out on the airplane. As for myself, I’ve only flown cross-country once back in 1995 to New Mexico. I understand the rules have become more stringent in regards to what is acceptable on board and when you can use a cellphone, DVD or CD player. As long as use of such items are still limited to takoff and landing, no one will have to worry about boredom.

Getting ready for Colorado
Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
8:12 p.m. Eastern Time

I’m still at the newspaper getting last-minute instructions from team officials and the higher-ups. Like the Bulldog players, this is definitely a business trip where I hope to provide exclusive game coverage of the Bulldogs.

For the first time, Lee Enterprises has given us the tools and capability to cover SCSU football like never before. Fans will be able to access this blog and the website for interviews, previews and game updates pertaining to Orangeburg’s only college football team. As the season progresses, we hope to have video footage showcasing the sights and sounds which make up Bulldog football. This is an ambitious challenge the newspaper has decided to undertake, but as SCSU aspires to reach another level in football, we hope to do the same with our coverage.

SCSU Bulldogs hit the ground in Colorado


By THOMAS GRANT JR., T&D Senior Sports Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Last time quarterback Cleveland McCoy practiced in long sleeves was during spring practice.

On Thursday, he and his South Carolina State teammates were greeted in Colorado Springs by temperatures more cooler and comfortable than the ones they left behind in Orangeburg. With the Rocky Mountains serving as the background, the Bulldogs held a light two-hour workout at Air Academy High School located on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy. Much of the workout on the thick grass was spent on special teams. At times, the Bulldog players found themselves having to avoid automatic sprinklers which kept popping out of the ground at random.

Overall, the Bulldogs seemed to be effected little by the altitude and the lower temperatures. In fact, McCoy came away even more optimistic about the Bulldogs ability to perform in the altitude.

"I wasn’t expecting it to be this cool," he said. "The main thing, it seems like an even swap. We came from Orangeburg where it was hot. We got a little tired. We come up here, it’s cool, the air is a little thin, but it’s not as bad as Orangeburg."

Thursday’s practice capped a long and somewhat frenetic day for the Bulldogs. The team arrived at Eagle Aviation at around 11:20 a.m. Before boarding the plane, SCSU head football coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough talked about the historic matchup for SCSU in facing a Football Bowl Subdivision team for the first time.

"We are going out there to compete," Pough said. "If we go out and win, that’s great. But, more importantly what we have to do is go up and play the best that we can and if we do let the chips fall where they may."

The flight took just under three hours, much to the relief of SCSU offensive lineman Jake Johnson who was making his first trip on a plane.

"It went alright," said Johnson, who chewed gum for most of the trip. "It went a lot better than I thought. After we got into the air I was good."

The trip to the practice field took longer than expected due to a traffic accident on Woodman Road which leads to Air Force Academy. With no lights on the soccer field where practice was scheduled to be held, SCSU spent the final 15 minutes of the workout in near darkness.

The Bulldogs are scheduled to work out again today, this time at Falcon Stadium, site of Saturday’s contest with Air Force Academy. Prior to the practice, the Bulldogs will receive a tour of the Academy and also visit some of Colorado’s famous sites such as the Garden of the Gods and the US Olympic Facility.

Alabama A&M's McCants hopes for grand ol' homecoming


By REGGIE BENSON, Times Sports Staff

Bulldog grew up in Nashville following Tennessee State

Growing up in Nashville, Kevin McCants rooted for Tennessee State. He lived 10 minutes from campus and attended most of the Tigers' big games. He believed he was going to be a Tiger.

But when it came time to go to college three years ago, McCants picked Alabama A&M over TSU.

"My family and I both made the decision," McCants said. "We met the coaches and we really liked the program and the atmosphere."

Saturday night, McCants will be back in Nashville as A&M's starting fullback when the Bulldogs visit the Tigers in the John Merritt Classic in the season opener for both teams. Kickoff is at 6 at LP Field.

A 5-foot-10, 201-pound redshirt sophomore, McCants played mostly on special teams in last year's game. He had one carry for 4 yards as A&M won 27-20. McCants hopes to play a bigger role this year.

"I'm very excited," he said. "This is what I've been waiting for since I came to A&M. I looked at the schedule and saw Tennessee State on there and that's a team I've been watching for years.

"I never thought I'd be playing against them ... let alone in Nashville. I've got so many high school teammates and friends that play for them, and I'm ready to go out there and compete against them."

McCants follows a long line of outstanding fullbacks for the Bulldogs. Over the past five years, Jonathan Rowland, Jacques Pyant and Trevis O'Neal have played major roles in A&M's offense.

"I know how good those guys were," said McCants, who will split time with redshirt freshman Generion McWhorter. "I want to keep the production going. There's a legacy there and we've definitely got to keep it rolling."

Nobody knows the importance of the fullback better than A&M coach Anthony Jones.

"Without a good fullback, we're not going to be very successful," he said. "Our fullbacks have been key components to us having success. They don't get a lot of publicity because it's not a glamour spot, but they play an important role on our football team."

Jones says McCants has put in the time to become a good player. He's eager to see how he responds.

"McCants is a kid that has always worked hard," he said. "He comes from a family that has spent some time with his upbringing and now it's time to turn all of that into being a good football player. Each one of the fullbacks we've had brought a little something different to the table, and what McCants has to do is understand what he can do to help this football team and do that.

"Is he going to be a big bruising fullback? No. He has to understand what he can do and do that to the best of his ability and make sure he's ready to perform at a high level."

McCants says he's ready.

"I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "I know the

B-CU walk-on gets his chance to run

By BRENT WORONOFF, Staff Writer

DATONA BEACH -- Senior Justin Brannon has patiently waited four years to become the starting running back for Bethune-Cookman University, and it's hard to determine who's more excited about it, the player or his coach.

"He's going to be our workhorse," said B-CU coach Alvin Wyatt. "He's built low to the ground, he's strong in the legs, holds onto the football and he has that burst of speed. He's going to make a difference for us."

Brannon, whose first game as a starter will be in the Wildcats' season opener against Jacksonville on Saturday at Municipal Stadium here, is grateful to finally have a featured role four years after deciding to walk on to the team.

"You've got to pay your dues," he said. "I've had people here in front of me, people who were recruited out of high school on scholarship. Being a walk-on I had to work a little harder, but it wasn't a problem."

As a high school junior at Jacksonville Englewood, Brannon knew he wanted to play football at B-CU, and he knew his coach, Lamonte Jones, would help get him there.

"I had been (to B-CU) for some of the high school camps they hold, and I knew this was where I wanted to play," Brannon said. "My name wasn't very big, but the coach I had, he could get you into school."

But Jones left Englewood before Brannon's senior season, and the running back fell through the cracks. He enrolled at B-CU on his own and showed up unannounced at the field for spring practice during his freshman year in 2004.

"You've got at least 50 walk-ons coming out every spring, and I believe it was just me and one other guy who made it to (preseason) camp," Brannon said. "To be singled out of that large a number, somebody had to be on my side."

Brannon believes coach Jeff Fagan, then the running backs coach who now coaches B-CU's offensive line, was instrumental in getting him invited back that summer. From there, Brannon did all the work himself, steadily moving up the ladder.

"He's paid his dues," Wyatt said. "He's been very patient, and I think he's going to have a great year for us."

As a third-string running back last season, Brannon rushed for 222 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries (5.7 ypc). He was second on the team in rushing behind quarterback Jimmie Russell (427 yards).

With the Wildcats committed to returning to the option this year after passing for an unusually high 2,230 yards last season, Brannon will be counted on to provide what had been the missing ingredient.

"We haven't had a consistent runner out of that B-back position since Jay Rogers was here (1998-2002)," Wyatt said. "You look at the great Georgia Southern teams of the 1990s, they had Adrian Peterson rushing for 1,600 yards out of that position."

Running the same kind of option offense, the Wildcats' quarterbacks have always carried the load running the ball. This year B-CU is looking to spread the ball around more, but the B-back is always the first option.

"We need to feature Justin, it's the only way we're going to have success," Wyatt said.

Said Brannon: "I hope to be the guy that receives a lot of carries and has that workload on my back. I feel like I can handle that."

Jumbo Williams shores up JSU O-line


The moment mammoth freshman offensive lineman Terrael Williams stepped on Jackson State's campus, there were plenty of guesses regarding his weight.

The Jackson State media guide lists him at 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds. Coach Rick Comegy says it's closer to 390. Williams says it's probably somewhere in between.

Whatever it is, Williams has shown a good enough combination of strength and agility to be listed as a starter for JSU's opener at 6 p.m. on Saturday against visiting Delta State.

"It's certainly a thrill, but I'm not trying to be a big shot," Williams said. "I'm just glad the coaches feel I can help the team by being on the field."

The offensive line has been in a state of flux all month, but the first team has become clearer over the past few days. The most recent depth chart had Michael Smith listed at left tackle, Eric Jones at left guard, Lorenzo Breland at center, Mikael Harshaw at right guard and Williams at right tackle.

"I'm sure there will be some growing pains with Terrael, but he's been too good to leave off the field," JSU coach Rick Comegy said.

WILL HULL BE ELIGIBLE?

Eligibility concerns continue to surround senior running back Cody Hull, who has also occasionally worked out at receiver during fall practice.

JSU running backs coach Greg Ruffin said he hoped to hear from the NCAA today about a ruling for Saturday's game.

"That's a guy we'd really like to have," Comegy said. "He's running the ball maybe the best out of anybody on this team."

INJURY REPORT

Fullback Edward Lee (ankle) practiced on Thursday, but coaches said he'd be used sparingly on Saturday.

- David Brandt

Tenneessee State University sneak peek


Ohio Valley Conference capsules

COACH: James Webster (8-14 in 2 seasons, both at TSU)
2006: 6-5, 5-2 OVC.

RETURNING STARTERS: Seven on offense and five on defense.

KEY STORYLINE: The Tigers are making the type of progress Webster had in mind when he began his rebuilding process three years ago.
REVEALING STAT: Antonio Heffner (passing and rushing) and Javarris Williams (rushing) combined for 3,073 yards and were responsible for 25 of TSU’s 30 TDs last season.

KEY RETURNEES
QB Antonio Heffner: Can be a playmaker if he overcomes shoulder injury.
RB Javarris Williams: One of TSU’s best ever wants another 1,000-yard season.
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: An exceptional athlete who was third in the nation with six interceptions last year.

TOP NEWCOMER
WR Jonathan Moore. Former Maplewood standout already has impressed coaches with his intense work ethic.

SCOUTING QUICK-HITTERS
Rodgers-Cromartie could be one of the nation’s best cornerbacks. The offensive line welcomes back tackle Avern Alexander from an ankle injury, but lost three key contributors. LB Kalvin Baker had 47 tackles last year.


— MIKE ORGAN

FAMU Backup QB Camel gets a strange shave

By Heath A. Smith, DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

Senior quarterback Leon Camel is one of the smallest players on the team, but he made a big statement with his haircut at Thursday's practice.

Camel, who is the unofficial team barber, had the school's Rattler head logo design cut into the back of his head.

"I guess he got a design based on his personality," FAMU coach Rubin Carter joked at Thursday's practice. "He's a barber, but I don't think he did it himself with mirrors. Then again, it kind of looks like he did it with mirrors. It adds a little spice to his life.

"I want the players to have fun as long as it is not anything that is degrading. It looks like a road map from where I'm standing. He must have went on the Internet and got some directions to Birmingham and got somebody to put it on his head. "

Photo: QB Leon Camel

Making an adjustment

Redshirt sophomore Joseph Wims has been moved from defensive end to tackle. Wims, 6-5, 250 pounds, came to FAMU two years ago from Miami City Carol High School as a physical specimen.

Coaches had high hopes that Wims would make an instant impact as a pass rusher at end, but a knee injury derailed his freshmen year.

Last year Sims was a reserve at end, but was unable to work his way into one of the starting spots.

"We put Wims inside to put him in a spot where he would feel more comfortable and allow him a chance to use his natural ability," Carter said. "Joe has adjusted extremely well to the position itself. He's getting better."

Eligibility and injuries

Defensive back Donovan Johnson, linebacker Bryan Parker, defensive end Marquis Mathews and receiver Ronald Wright will not play in Saturday's game because of eligibility issues.

Defensive tackle Demetris Lane (finger) and running back Anthony Edwards (conditioning) will not play in Saturday's game because of injuries.

FAMU Chester should be ready


Photo: FAMU QB Albert Chester II--#2


By Heath A. Smith, DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

It looks like Florida A&M will have its starting quarterback for Saturday's season opener against Southern. The same can not be said for one of the Rattlers' starting cornerbacks.

Redshirt-senior quarterback Albert Chester II participated in all of Thursday's practice after complaining of a painful tingling sensation in his right arm, which forced him to sit out the second half of Wednesday's practice.

While the news appears good for Chester, it wasn't so good for sophomore cornerback Donovan Johnson, who did not make the trip to Birmingham with the team Thursday afternoon.

Carter said Johnson, a starter last season as a true freshman from Miami Booker T Washington High School, wasn't cleared to play before the team left Thursday.

Johnson is one of a handful of players who won't be traveling to Birmingham with the team because of eligibility issues.

Carter said those players may still be able to return to the team if they can get their eligibility issues resolved.

"The thing is we're not alone in this type of thing occurring during this time of the year," Carter said. "Usually you have an extra day. You don't leave on Thursday.

"That allows you to have until Friday to be able to assess your team and for the kids to get issues resolved academically. We're a day short and this is what has occurred with our football team. We'll weather the storm and get ready for the game Saturday."

Redshirt-sophomore Gregory Clark, and freshmen Qier Hall and Curtis Holcomb, are the top candidates to step in for Johnson across from sophomore cornerback Michael Creary, who has missed the last two practices with a hip flexor.

Creary, a preseason All-MEAC first team selection, is expected to start against Southern.

"Mike is making progress and it appears that he will be ready to go," Carter said. "He's a fierce competitor and he wants to be out there for the first game of the season."


FAMU, Southern have long history







By Heath A. Smith, DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER

Florida A&M and Southern had two of the premier programs in Black College Football during the mid to late '90s.

When those teams faced each other then, sparks flew and the scoreboard lit up. Some of the classic battles during that era include Southern's two wins during the 1995 season, a 52-38 win in Tallahassee and a 30-25 win at the Heritage Bowl in the Atlanta Georgia Dome.

Then there was the 50-48 shootout at Southern, when the Rattlers escaped with a victory in 1998. The Rattlers repeated the feat in 2000, escaping Baton Rouge, La. with a 50-49 victory.

Florida A&M and Southern haven't played each other since the 2001 season, meaning the history of this series may be lost on the current players who are set to face each other Saturday at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.

"I really don't think they understand," said Southern head football coach Pete Richardson about his current players' understanding of the history of this series. "We haven't played FAMU in fives years. This game means a lot to each school and the fans."

This game also means a lot to both programs - which are in rebuilding modes. This is year three in the rebuilding process for FAMU under head coach Rubin Carter, while Southern is trying to pick up the pieces from a 5-6 finish in 2006.

"I think their coach (Carter) has built their program back up and they appear ready to go," Richardson said. "They have some outstanding receivers and they have a huge offensive line as usual. Defensively, they are attacking. They also have an All-America kicker. Those are going to be the challenges for us."

Like most head coaches, Richardson is more concerned about what his team is or isn't doing than what the opponent has waiting for them.

One of Richardson's concerns heading into Saturday's game is the state of the Jaguars' running game.

"That was our nemesis last year," Richardson said. "I think running the ball will be important for our quarterback. He is young and we want to take some of the pressure off of him."

Last year's leading rusher Kendall Addison is gone, leaving redshirt-sophomore quarterback Bryant Lee as the Jaguars' leading returner (302 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns).

Senior Darren Coates, who rushed for 119 yards and one touchdown in 2006, is listed as the Jaguars' starting running back.

If you think Carter has any sympathy for Southern's rushing issues, think again - especially after seeing his defense give up more than 250 yards rushing a game in 2006.

"We definitely want to make sure it doesn't happen on us," Carter said about Southern running the ball. "I believe we'll be more organized as far as the schemes are concerned defensively against the run.

"The players will be more in sync with a year of experience. We had a lot of young players that didn't understand their responsibilities or their roles. They were just trying to make plays."

Walk-on player helps anchor Florida A & M defense

#28 Jason Beach defends pass in practice.

BY PERRY GATTEGNO, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

South Florida players help Rattlers stop run and pass

Florida A&M is looking to improve on a seven-win season and will rely on a number of South Florida players who can't wait to play.

The Rattlers are ready to contend in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and need their young defense, anchored by Deerfield Beach cornerback Michael Creary and Hollywood defensive tackle Demetrius Lane, to grow up quickly.

Coming off a 7-4 record that included a loss to Miami, the Rubin Carter-led squad returns 20 starters.

But FAMU hopes players such as Creary, a walk-on, and Lane, who was almost converted to offensive line because of a lack of "urgency," according to Carter, will allow a program like FAMU's to win.

"The job description is to be able to work with young men, to develop their skills and to teach," Carter said. "They're not going to come to our program as polished athletes. The other institutions will get those players. We're usually in development mode."

Creary is a sophomore Carter's staff found on campus. At 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, he does not look the part of a traditional physical cornerback. Carter, though, was impressed by Creary's agility and athleticism and invited him to the team. "I think it's his ability to cover," Carter said. "He's an excellent one-on-one cover corner. He also has the physical attributes to hit receivers. He's a good tackler. He can balance and wrap up on his tackling. Those are assets you have to have."

Photo: Michael Creary prepares to defend WR.

Creary started nine games in 2006 and had 31 unassisted tackles and two interceptions. He is one of five players out of nearly 200 who tried to walk on in 2006 and one of only two — Miami's Donovan Johnson, another cornerback, is the other — to start. He said he has "some pretty high goals" that include winning the national title and becoming an All-American.

"I have to give 110 percent [and] work on my technique and fundamentals," he said.

Creary and all-MEAC free safety Jason Beach lead a secondary that allowed only 141.4 yards passing per game. It was the rushing defense that was primarily responsible for giving up almost 30 points a game, allowing an average of 215 yards. That's where redshirt junior Lane comes in.

Carter called the 6-2, 295-pound Lane a "late bloomer" who didn't initially have the speed and energy to play defensive tackle. And then?

"Overnight the light just came on," Carter said, "and he said, 'I can play this position.'"

Lane credited his ascent to a new mindset that calls for focusing, preventing repeated mistakes and attacking, as well as hard work.

"[I was] doing things I didn't want to do," Lane said about his offseason workouts. "I just wanted to make a mark on the university."

Lane played in only five games in 2006 but had three tackles for loss for a defense with only linebacker Dannel Shepard, hitting double digits in that category.

On offense, quarterback Albert Chester II and running back Anthony Edwards replace graduated wide receiver and return man Roosevelt Kiser. "I think you're going to see a lot of energy and effort out of our kids," Carter said. "They're going to play until the very last seconds remain on the clock, and anytime you do that, there's usually positive results.

SU's Richardson coy about QB rotation

By JOSEPH SCHIEFELBEIN, Advocate sportswriter

When Bryant Lee edged Warren Matthews in a duel of sophomore quarterbacks this month in preseason camp, Southern University coaches said they’d plan to use both.

Asked how that would translate to the season opener, against Florida A&M on Saturday in Birmingham, Ala., SU coach Pete Richardson didn’t offer an exact plan, being perhaps expectedly coy so soon before kickoff.

Richardson wouldn’t reveal if the staff had scripted the alternation of quarterbacks.

“It all depends on how the game is going,” Richardson said. “I don’t think you can play scenarios on quarterbacks.

“Lee is our quarterback. He’s a young individual. He’s learning. Hopefully, we can get some help around him, so all the pressure is not on him.”

Injury, of course, is always a possibility and forced SU into three different starting quarterbacks last season.

With Southern’s quarterback expected to run more and thereby be exposed to more hitting, Lee, Richardson and SU offensive coordinator Mark Orlando talked much in the preseason about having Matthews ready.

Matthews has never played in college. A nonqualifier in 2005, Matthews joined the team last fall. He then developed rapidly in the spring and continued that progress in preseason camp to challenge Lee.

Lee started the final two games last season and went 1-1 while leading another victory when he came off the bench for an injured J.C. Lewis.

Lewis, a fifth-year senior who was the team’s No. 1 quarterback the last two seasons, is third on the depth chart. He has the most accurate arm of the three, but he has the least mobility.

George on Buchanan list

Southern senior free safety Jarmaul George is among 16 seniors on the Buck Buchanan Award watch list announced by The Sports Network. The award named for the former Grambling great goes to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

George is the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year and has been a first-team all-SWAC member in his two other seasons at Southern. George had 51 tackles, five interceptions and 10 pass breakups last season.

Photo: #16 QB Bryant Lee vs. ASU '06

West Virginia ties

Richardson said the staffs of both Southern and FAMU visited West Virginia over the summer. Richardson and staff used to visit West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez when Rodriguez was the head coach at Tulane. Calvin Magee, West Virginia’s assistant head coach/offensive coordinator and running backs coach, is also a former All-American and three-time All-SWAC tight end who is already in the Southern’s athletic hall of fame.

“It’ll be interesting to see which one can matriculate and operate it (better),” Richardson said.

Richardson said the FAMU and SU offenses are similar, depending on a quarterback who will run.

“It’s almost a mirror copy of what we do offensively,” Richardson said.

“They run basically the same thing we see every day in practice,” George said of the Rattlers.

Introductions necessary?

Though Southern and FAMU had black college football’s longest non-conference rivalry, running from 1946 to 2001, no current players have been in one of those games and the Rattlers have a new coaching staff.

“I’ve been in Baton Rouge, but I really haven’t heard too much about the rivalry,” said SU defensive end Vince Lands, of Glen Oaks High School.

While the rivalry seemed to be turning bitter toward its final seasons, Richardson said he’s happy to see the game back on the schedule.

“You’re talking about a rivalry that goes a long way back. I’m real excited about playing them again, because it’s a rivalry that’s surely needed between two great institutions,” he said.

Said FAMU coach Rubin Carter, who played at Miami, “There’s a great level of excitement going into the game. We want to represent the (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) well.”

Lagnniappe

The playing gear for SU sophomore center Ramon Chinyoung and junior running back Kendrick Smith was packed onto the team’s bus and went ahead of them as the Jaguars left Thursday, but Chinyoung and Smith did not travel, because they have yet to be cleared to play. If one or both get cleared by today, they could drive to Birmingham for Saturday’s game, SU spokesman Kevin Manns said. Southern’s defensive line has worked with its traditional four-man front as well as doing a lot of three-man looks in preseason camp (mostly because of a lack of depth). “However the situation plays out, we’ll be ready,” Lands said.

FAMU: A few more steps to go


By Izzy Gould, St. Petersburg Times

The Rattlers, steadily improving under coach Rubin Carter, look to catch the MEAC's elite this season.

Rubin Carter said he's feeling the pressure in Year 3.

The Florida A&M coach can only blame himself for exceeding expectations since his arrival. His Rattlers have endured everything from their coach's late hire in 2005 to scholarship limitations to the attempted jump to Division I-A.

FAMU's record has continued to improve each season from 6-5 in '05 to 7-4 in '06, including consecutive victories in the Florida Classic against rival Bethune-Cookman.

The scholarship sanctions handed down by the NCAA because of improprieties before Carter took over won't go away until 2009. That hasn't stopped him from bringing in the talent and depth he wants.

With one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and 18 returning starters, this could be the season FAMU contends with the likes of Hampton, South Carolina State and Delaware State - three teams Carter has not defeated - for the conference crown.

"Certainly we've had to overcome some adverse situations prior to my arrival and after my arrival my first year," Carter said. "We were able to overcome those and still go out and play with a lot of enthusiasm from our players and show perseverance through those adverse situations."

Winning will hinge heavily on the offense and the arm of Albert Chester II. The senior quarterback threw for 1,986 yards and 18 touchdowns with just five interceptions last season. He also rushed for 320 yards and four touchdowns.

"He's got to be a young man that leads us and guides us on the field," Carter said. "He's shown his ability to be able to do that. He's won some big games for us."

Chester is 12-5 as a starter, and to improve on that record he'll have to do it without Roosevelt Kiser, who was among the top receivers in 2006 with 63 catches for 647 yards and five touchdowns.

The receiving corps is still solid with Willie Hayward leading the way; he had 49 receptions for 674 yards and five touchdowns last season. Receivers Derek Williams and Ronald Wright combined for 679 yards and five touchdowns in 2006.

Success on the ground is up to Demetric Henry and Anthony Edwards, who combined for 896 yards and seven touchdowns last year. They'll run behind a line anchored by 6-foot-2, 328-pound tackle Justin Delancy.

Injuries hampered a defense that gets 10 starters back including top tackler Vernon Wilder, who had 89 tackles at middle linebacker, and outside linebacker Dannel Shepard, who had 14.5 tackles for losses.

"We had some problems stopping the run," Carter said. "That's a priority for us."

The secondary has a pair of leaders in safety Jason Beach 70 tackles, four interceptions and Michael Creary (39 tackles, two interceptions, five pass breakups).

And the line is highlighted by defensive ends Tyrone McGriff and Carlos Rolle.

FAMU also boasts one of the top kickers in the MEAC in Wesley Taylor (Riverview), who was 14 of 22 for field goals, 27 of 29 extra points and an punting average of 41.3 for first-team all-MEAC honors.

"This year is certainly going to be a very important year for me," Carter said. "It's the third season for me and I want to be able to show we've made some improvement in a lot of areas.

"We're starting to develop our program to where it really needs to be. We're doing things that are consistent for a Division I program."

Stakes High In B-CU Vs. Jacksonville

Photo: BCU Coach Alvin Wyatt, SR.

By BILL FAY, Tampa Tribune correspondent

The stakes surrounding Saturday's season opener between Bethune-Cookman University and Jacksonville University will be higher than either side dreamed when this contract was signed a year ago.

That's because former University of Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell has taken over as JU's head coach, bringing credibility and vision to a program that had neither its first nine years of existence (35-54 record).

Bell led Ocala Trinity Catholic to a state football championship in 2005 and runner-up finish in 2006.

Although the program competes in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA), it offers no scholarships and there are no plans to change that. Still, Bell thinks he can get the Dolphins competitive.

"I love challenges," Bell said. "I have a passion for doing things people say can't be done."

B-CU coach Alvin Wyatt likes the sound of Bell's aspirations. The current contract is only for two years, but if Bell is successful at quickly upgrading JU's program, this game could be the start of an annual series that would be profitable for both programs.

"I hope this does develop into a rivalry," Wyatt said. "That's going to mean a lot more people in the stands, a lot more interest in the game and I like being involved in games like that."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

SU Richardson speaks on job security


The Southern Jaguars will open their season this Saturday against Florida A&M. Southern Head Coach Pete Richardson held his first press conference of the season on Wednesday and spoke briefly about his job security.

VIDEO: http://media.swagit.com/s/wbrz/The_Advocate_Sports/08292007-17.high.flash8.html

SU pair awaits NCAA ruling


By JOSEPH SCHIEFELBEIN, Advocate sportswriter

Southern sophomore center Ramon Chinyoung and junior running back Kendrick Smith have yet to be cleared to play Saturday in Southern’s season opener against Florida A&M in Birmingham, Ala.

Chinyoung is not listed on the team’s two-deep chart as of Wednesday, but Smith is, as the backup to senior Darren Coates.

“I haven’t received the paperwork back, and if I haven’t received it by the time we leave, those individuals will not take part in the first game,” Southern coach Pete Richardson said.

Southern leaves by bus this afternoon.

Chinyoung practiced Monday but not Tuesday and Wednesday.
Smith has practiced throughout the week, and Richardson said the school feels Smith will be cleared. The question is when.

“We’re in a situation now trying to get Smith straight from the NCAA,” Richardson said. “We feel confident from that aspect.”

Chinyoung, a Class 5A All-State selection as a schoolboy in Texas, emerged as the starting center during last season.

His development allowed Demarcus Stewart, who started the opener at center, to move to guard. Now, however, Stewart has slid back to center.

Meanwhile, Smith, who starred at Patterson High and Coffeyville Community College, sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules (because he had signed with Southern Illinois, a Division I-AA school like SU).

“They have parts of it,” Richardson said. “Hopefully, we can get parts of it straightened out.”

Richardson said he’s confident in Stewart.

“I feel comfortable with him, because he played center for us last year,” Richardson said. “He’s been playing center (in preseason camp) since we knew we had an issue at that spot.”

Starting right tackle Myles Williams, and sophomore Daniel Stephens, ineligible last season, are the other options.

Two-way Harry?

Junior Frank Harry, a transfer from South Florida in the spring, joined the offensive line, leaving his role as defensive tackle for cross-training at guard.

Richardson said Harry went back to the defense for brush-up work Wednesday.

“It’s a possibility (Harry plays on offense and defense),” Richardson said. “He played on offense in high school. We put him on offense to learn the system. We’re going to bring him back to defense (Wednesday) for our basic defense. He understands that.

“I’m not calculating he will play both ways, but that means he can.”

Welcome back

Besides the return of wide receiver Gerard Landry on Tuesday, SU had others return.

Alec Hawkins, the director of sports medicine, came back Monday. He had been out since Aug. 13, with Carl “Doc” Williams taking over in his place, for the birth of Hawkins’ son, Myles Sutton Hawkins. Hawkins said he’ll have to stay on campus for other activities this weekend and won’t make the trip.

Also, true freshman defensive tackle Calvin Cunningham (shoulder) returned Tuesday.

And junior quarterback C.J. Byrd at least wore practice gear — shirt and shorts but no shoulder pads like the rest of the team — for the first time Tuesday. He was in an automobile accident at the end of July.

Richardson, however, on Wednesday said again Byrd might miss this season.

“There’s a possibility we’ll probably have to redshirt him this year,” Richardson said, “because it looks like they may have to operate on his leg.”

Notes

FAMU is celebrating two anniversaries this season. The Rattlers went 11-0 and won the black college national championship in 1977 (a year before going 12-1 and winning the first Division I-AA championship along with another black college national crown). And they were 9-0 and won the black college national championship in 1957. FAMU leads the series 33-24-1. SU has practiced in at least some light rain Monday through Wednesday. The forecast for Saturday, according to weather.com as of Wednesday evening, was for scattered thunderstorms, a 50-percent chance of rain and a high of 83 degrees.

Tonight's game: Savannah State at Morgan State

Matchup: Savannah State (0-0) at Morgan State (0-0)

Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Site: Hughes Stadium (10,000)

LIVE AUDIO BROADCAST VIA WEB:
mms://streamer.morgan.edu/wmtencoder/weaa
(cut and paste address above to your browser)

Outlook: Morgan is 4-0 against Savannah State, scoring a total of 100 points in the past two games, including a 55-26 win in 2005. The Bears would like a breakout night for their offense. They'll lean on RB Chad Simpson and the running game behind a big offensive line. QB Mario Melton has a nice combination of speed and possession receivers but needs to improve his accuracy. The Bears will play pressure defense and must improve in pass coverage, where they were especially weak in 2006. The Tigers, who play as an independent, went 2-9 last season, including a 55-6 loss at Bethune-Cookman.


-KEN MURRAY