Thursday, July 31, 2008

Colonie's Newsome Picks Mississippi Valley State

MVSU new head basketball coach Sean Woods has first blue chip commitment from 6-2 guard, Tashan Newsome from Colonie Central H.S., Albany, New York.

Another former Section II basketball standout is will be playing Division I college ball next season, with Colonie's Tashan Newsome giving his verbal commitment to Mississippi Valley State University. The Delta Devils won the SWAC last season, advancing to the NCAA's where they lost to UCLA.

"They were very interested in me. They didn't want me to do anything else. They wanted me bad and when you show that kind of loyalty and interest in me, I'm going to show it back," Newsome said. Newsome, and his AAU coach Antwan Morrison said the list of schools interested in the 6-2 senior guard was extensive.

North Carolina Central, Villanova, Sacred Heart, VCU, Norfolk State, St. John's, Virginia Tech, George Mason were schools on that list.

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Quinn Gray working on intricacies of Peyton Manning's offense

Former MEAC star quarterback Quinn Gray (FAMU) is grasping the Colts complex offense.

TERRE HAUTE — Peyton Manning might not be on the field at Colts training camp in person, but his influence over the franchise has as much to do with mind and spirit as it does body. Just ask quarterback Quinn Gray.

After Manning had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his left knee, Gray was one of two quarterbacks the Colts signed (Jared Lorenzen was the other) last week to bolster depth at the position. Gray was with Jacksonville from 2002-07, with a brief stay in Houston this spring before he was released in June by the Texans. Since the Jaguars ran a run-oriented, ball control offense, it was a given that Gray would have an adjustment period when he came to the pass-oriented Colts. He wasn’t shy about just how challenging that adjustment has been.

“The offense has been a real [expletive], but it’s coming, I’m getting it, I’m staying with my book constantly because everything’s in and it’s a full go,” Gray said.

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Laurel coach appears headed to Hampton University

Hampton University head basketball coach Kevin Nickelberry (Mark's Digital Photography)

Coutreyer led Spartans to Final Four

Laurel High (Maryland) boys basketball coach Keith Coutreyer plans to sign a contract Aug. 4 to become an assistant basketball coach at Division I Hampton University in Virginia, he said July 29. Coutreyer said he interviewed in person with Hampton head coach Kevin Nickelberry in mid-July.

"I have been offered the job," Coutreyer said. "It looks like it is going to be a positive move for me. The final piece to the puzzle will be Monday." Coutreyer said he plans to meet with school president William R. Harvey and other personnel at Hampton. He said he is "98 percent" sure he will leave Laurel High, where he also teaches special education students, to take the job in southeast Virginia.

Coutreyer said he informed current Laurel High players that he plans to accept the job at Hampton. Division I schools are allowed three full-time assistants in men's basketball.

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Alabama A&M Bulldogs lose huge blocker

Poor grades cost All-SWAC tackle his senior season

Alabama A&M lineman Darius Turner's college career is over after the left tackle was ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season. Turner, a 6-foot-5, 293-pound fifth-year senior named to the preseason All-SWAC squad, didn't make the necessary grades in summer school to gain his eligibility.

"He gave me the impression all summer that he was getting it done," A&M coach Anthony Jones said. "He knew the path he had to travel and from all indications he was on the right path. Unfortunately, when the grades came out, I started hearing a different story." Slated to start for the third straight year, Turner was expected to bolster a unit considered one of the strengths on the team.

While the Bulldogs still return All-SWAC center Xavier Manuel and guards Charles Meade and Russell Jackson, the unit will take on a different look with Turner out.

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AAMU Bulldogs' title hopes tied to young players

If Alabama A&M is to contend for a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship, coach Anthony Jones says some of his young players will have to play key roles. Offensively, the Bulldogs must fill holes at quarterback, tight end and fullback. Defensively, help is needed at tackle and inside linebacker.

"We've got some talented players at those positions, but they're not as experienced as we'd like them to be," Jones said Monday, two days before the Bulldogs report for training camp. "Our job is to try to get those guys ready to play and that's what we're going to try to do."

The biggest concern as A&M enters preseason practice is at quarterback where redshirt sophomore Kevin Atkins takes over for All-SWAC performer Kelcy Luke. Atkins appeared in five games last season, but attempted only two passes. "I've been waiting on this opportunity for three years," Atkins said. "I haven't played a full game since high school. I'm ready."

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FAMU coach Gibson puts together staff, plan

(Mark's Digital Photography)

Excerpt:

LeDawn Gibson hasn't been able to find a quiet moment yet since beginning her job two months as the new women's head basketball coach at FAMU.

So far she has found two experienced coaches in Stephen Joyner Jr. and LaTasha Shipman. Joyner comes from Johnson C. Smith University (Charlotte, N.C.), where he was a women's assistant coach. Shipman played at Shaw University (Raleigh, N.C.) and is joining Gibson's staff after four seasons as an assistant with the women's team at Shaw.

Gibson also has signed two players — Tameka McKelton and Antonia Bennett — who both come to FAMU ranked by Floridahoops.com as top-40 players in the state.


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Sports information directors worth their weight in info

Bryan Harvey has a new gig. Now most of you are probably going "Bryan who?" Harvey is the soon-to-be departed sports information director at Bethune-Cookman, a historically black university in Daytona Beach, Florida. N.C. Central fans may remember Harvey as an assistant to current SID Kyle Serba a few years ago. (He had a good teacher.) You only had to meet Bryan one time to know he was destined for good things.

Harvey left NCCU, which was Division II at the time, for an assistant SID job at Hampton. He left there to head his own ship at B-CU, where’s he’s been for the last three years. On Aug. 1, he will become an assistant SID at Miami. There he will cover the Hurricanes volleyball, swimming & diving, women’s rowing and women’s tennis programs. He will also assist at home football games and be the secondary contact for men’s basketball.

You know that old saying, "You don't miss the water till the well runs dry?" Well, the Wildcats are going to be dying of thirst when Harvey leaves.

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North Carolina A&T Aggies pull together at first practice

GREENSBORO -- Three months ago, the N.C. A&T Aggies learned there is, in fact, something worse than losing 27 consecutive football games. What could be more disturbing than losing a teammate? In this case, the question is not rhetorical. As intolerable as Chad Wiley's death was, they said, relenting in its wake might be worse.















Quarterback Herbert Miller, 6-2/200 r-Junior, Winston-Salem, N.C. (Carver H.S.) looks to help break Aggies 27 game losing streak in 2008.

So today, they take the field as a full team for the first time since Wiley collapsed after an off season conditioning drill and died 18 hours later as a result of what was reported as heat-related illness. And they say there will be no way to go but all-out. "It was sad," said linebacker Brandon Long, a co-captain. "It was a tragedy. But guys look at it as something to pull the team together."

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Southern's Williams out to better himself

Will Michael Williams’ better be better than everyone else’s better? He hopes so. As one of the two leaders in Southern’s secondary, the team wants to see that, too. The Jaguars have always gotten the best out of the fifth-year senior and graduate student. He’s always been a model of consistency. But better is better.

Williams didn’t hang around campus this summer attending classes and going through voluntary conditioning. He sure didn’t get all flabby, though. He was out there making sure his better got better. Williams spent the summer in Houston, with a job as an Office Max salesman — to help pay for those high gas prices he said — and as a participant in a training program at Velocity Sports — to hone his conditioning.

So, what’s all this about getting his better to be better?

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SU Jaguars to report for camp today

SU Jaguars head football coach Pete Richardson signed a three year contract extension after leading the Jaguars to an 8-3 record in 2007.

Southern coach Pete Richardson is looking forward to the actual start of Camp Richardson XVI. These last few days, as his staff focused on lists of players and all sorts of paperwork related to his team checking in, aren’t his favorite. “It’s rough,” Richardson said. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today, Southern’s football players report to campus.

The last few days, SU’s staff has been working through all the details related to having a football program — checking grades, assigning housing, making sure meal plans were in place. Richardson said running back Brian Threat, offensive lineman Myles Williams and defensive back Justin Foster, are expected to report late. Camp Richardson XVI starts with the first preseason practice Saturday afternoon.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coaches like direction SWAC headed

University of Arkansas Pine Bluff new head football coach Monte Coleman will look to move the Golden Lions forward from a 4-7 record of last season.

BIRMINGHAM - Southwestern Athletic Conference coaches said the league is getting better and more competitive. Each of the last two seasons, five teams have finished with winning records. That's the most since seven teams compiled winning records in 2000. "I think it's an outstanding league," said Grambling coach Rod Broadway, who led the Tigers to the SWAC Western Division title last season in his first year.

"There isn't much difference between the top team in the league and the middle team. The top four or five teams you can flip a coin." Prairie View coach Henry Frazier agreed.

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Former DSU's McCants hopes to stick with team No. 6

Darnerien McCants--multitalented professional artist who can compose, play and sing music, as well as paint and design. See more of McCants works at: http://www.darnerien.com

WESTMINSTER, Md. -- Darnerien McCants could have given up by now, and maybe he should have given up by now. And he would have given up by now, except for one thing. "I still dream about it," he said. "And I figure that as long as I dream about it, I've got to chase it."

In that dream, he makes a spectacular catch in the end zone in a big game, maybe even a Super Bowl. It's a dream that's kept him going the past eight years, with six different teams in four different leagues.

Team No. 6 is the Baltimore Ravens, whom McCants joined just five days ago. McCants, one of the best receivers in Delaware State history, hadn't played much football since he was released by the Eagles in training camp in 2006.

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Darnerien McCants grew up in Odenton (near Fort George G. Meade) and starred at Arundel High School in Anne Arundel County.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder signed as a free agent after spending last season with the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. McCants, who was drafted by the Redskins in the fifth round of the 2001 draft, spent four seasons in Washington before playing mainly on special teams for the Eagles in 2005 and 2006.

In 41 NFL games, McCants has 58 receptions for 774 yards and eight touchdowns. Last season in Hamilton, he played in one game, where he made one catch for seven yards.

Next up for FAMU football: the preseason

The rah-rah had subsided. So did the grunts and groans of FAMU football players going through strength and conditioning test. The weight room inside Galimore Fieldhouse was so quiet that running back Greg Arline could be heard breathing hard between his sets of testing. He completed 16 reps on the bench press, tying his previous high when the team was tested at the end of spring practice.

"I don't even know how I did it," Arline said. "Everything is the same."

FAMU's offensive lineman DeWayne Lanier, 6-7/315.

He completed another round of lifting from a standing position called the power clean, then went to sit-ups. Every other player did the same routine for strength and conditioning coach Antonio Wallace, who documented their scores on his computer.

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MEAC's Thomas misunderstood

Commissioner thought that FAMU, B-CU supported MEAC-SWAC clash

MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas on Tuesday clarified his response to a question from the Democrat concerning the participation of FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge.

A story in Sunday's sports section quoted Thomas' initial response to the schools' decision. The story also prompted the presidents of FAMU and B-CU to issue a joint statement reiterating their position to not support the game.

Thomas said he thought the question — answered during a MEAC Media Day session last week — implied that the two universities had reversed their decision about participating, and he responded favorably. FAMU and B-CU decided last spring that they would not play in the MEAC-SWAC game after it was moved to Orlando.

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You draw your own conclusion from these articles, but if I had the authority to hire and fire--Thomas would be history!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

B-CU and FAMU slaps MEAC Commissioner with Press Release

B-CU Press Release, July 28, 2008

Office of Institutional Advancement
(386) 481-2950

Joint Statement of B-CU President Trudie Kibbe Reed and FAMU President James H. Ammons Regarding Florida Classic and MEAC-SWAC Challenge

"It has come to our attention that a recent article in the Tallahassee Democrat incorrectly indicates that we, as presidents of Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU), support the relocation of the MEAC-SWAC Challenge football game to Orlando and to play in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge.

We wish to correct the information that was erroneously printed in the Tallahassee Democrat.

As we have made clear in earlier statements, we do not support any Historically Black College and University (HBCU) athletic event in Orlando. We believe such a contest would negatively impact the annual Florida Classic. In addition to being a much-loved tradition for our alumni, the Florida Classic is a critical revenue source for both B-CU and FAMU. It is our strong belief that scheduling an HBCU football event in Orlando prior to the Florida Classic will erode its brand and put this critical funding source at risk.

We have advised MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas of our concerns, noting that HBCUs should not infringe on each other's markets for signature events, whether it be the Florida Classic in Orlando or the Bayou Classic in New Orleans.

In addition, we want to dispel a rumor that the Florida Classic will move to Miami in 2009. This is also not true.

Information regarding the official positions and statements of B-CU or FAMU are issued by the President's Office of each institution. We urge everyone alumni, friends, and media to check with our offices to get the most accurate information on this or other issues."


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Four Aggies are honored

Four members of the N.C. A&T football team are preseason second-team all-conference picks in the MEAC -- senior running back Michael Ferguson, junior linebacker Andre Thornton, senior safety Brandon Colbert and senior defensive end Tyre Glasper.




















After two straight winless seasons, the Aggies were picked to finish last in the conference by both the league's coaches and sports information directors. S.C. State was picked to win the conference. S.C. State running back William Ford was named MEAC preseason offensive player of the year, and Howard linebacker Endor Cooper was preseason defensive player of the year.

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Grambling reports today with looming question at quarterback

GRAMBLING — Old conventional wisdom at Grambling: The offense will have to adjust in the absence of departed record-smashing receiver Clyde Edwards. New conventional wisdom: Let’s worry about the situation at quarterback first.

It appears that starting quarterback Brandon Landers forgot about his responsibilities as "student" first and may be ineligible to play in his final year for the Tigers.

Grambling players report for fall practice sessions today, with Edwards in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ training camp — and fifth-year senior passer Brandon Landers teetering on the edge of ineligibility. The Monroe product confirmed his academic struggles late last week, putting into question the effectiveness of an offense built around Landers by a second-year coaching staff.

Ex-Gopher Dominic Jones: 'My name now is Inmate'

Former Gopher Dominic Jones, once an admired team leader, says he is accepting full blame for his crime.

Excerpt:

Former University of Minnesota football star Dominic Jones offered some high school football players $100 recently if they could come up with his previous jersey number and his current one. One raised his hand and said Jones was No. 2 as a Gopher. Correct. Nobody knew his current number. "Number 00425759. That's my number," Jones said. "My name now is Inmate. It's not Dominic Jones."

In the past year, the 21-year-old Jones has gone from an admired team leader with realistic NFL dreams and a college diploma within reach to a sex offender serving a one-year sentence in the Hennepin County workhouse. "I am not blaming a white man. I am not blaming a prosecutor. I'm not blaming a judge. I'm blaming me. That was hard for me to do at first," he said. "I'm human. I made a mistake."

Jones had a full-ride football scholarship to Texas Southern University. Instead, he reported to the workhouse on July 7, after the state Court of Appeals declined a stay pending his appeal. He can get out during the day for work or studies. (An appeal of the guilty verdict is still pending.)

VIEW VIDEO #1: http://www.kare11.com/video/player.aspx?aid=76091

VIEW VIDEO #2:


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The Skinny...

The state Appeals Court says former Minnesota Gophers football player Dominic Jones must still report to the workhouse pending his appeal. Jones had filed a motion to remain out of the Hennepin County workhouse while he appealed his fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction. To win, Jones had a prove there was no "substantial risk" that he would not appear at the conclusion of the appeal.

However, Appeals Court Judge Edward Toussaint ruled that with Jones' family in Ohio and his acceptance to Texas Southern University meant there was such a risk. In May, Jones was sentenced to a year in the workhouse after being convicted of performing a sex act on a drunken 18 year old woman that was recorded on a cell-phone camera by a team mate.

The all-star defensive back "starter" was offered a full ride athletic scholarship by new Texas Southern University head coach Johnnie Cole, who's Tigers ended 2007 with an 0-11 record. Jones was a junior strong safety from Columbus, Ohio, prior to being expelled by Minnesota. He was one of the Gophers' best defensive players, a two-year starter who was a standout kick returner and high school All-American.

Jones had faced up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine on the initial charges. The three other football players who had sex with the woman have not been charged with a crime, but are still suspended from the Minnesota football team.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Former Kentucky QB named AD at Coppin State

Former University of Kentucky quarterback great Derrick Ramsey has been named athletic director at Coppin State University, the school announced on July 25. Ramsey, a native of Hastings, Florida, served as AD at Kentucky State from 1999 to 2003. He most recently worked for the Commonwealth of Kentucky as Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

Ramsey played tight end in the NFL from 1978 to 1987 for Oakland, New England and Detroit. He led the Cats to an SEC Championship in 1976 when Kentucky finished with a 10-1 record and #4 ranking in the final AP poll. Ramsey was named first team ALL-SEC and third-team All-American as QB in 1977 and had a long career in the NFL, playing in two Super Bowls.

Ramsey was inducted in the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame charter class of 1988.

Dr. Mary Wanza has been running the administrative side of Coppin's athletic department since June 2006, after Fang Mitchell resigned from the position to focus on his duties as men's basketball coach. Ramsey will be introduced at a news conference on a date to be determined.

Ramsey plans to keep his home in Kentucky and return to the Bluegrass someday.

FAMU Harris: His time came

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Eugene Harris always thought one day he would be a college basketball head coach. And though there were times when he might’ve seemed was a long way from that goal, Harris himself kept thinking it eventually would happen.

“I always thought I was ready for a head coaching job,” said Harris, a Scottsboro native. “You have to persevere. I’ve been one of those guys that never gives up on anything.” Last September, Harris’ patience was rewarded. That’s when he was selected from among an applicant pool of 200 to become the new head men’s basketball coach at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.

Harris was heading into his first season as an assistant at Georgia State when the FAMU job opened after the former coach left under a cloud of controversy.

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UMES Art Shell Celebrity Golf Classic returns in September

PRINCESS ANNE, MD -- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore Art Shell Celebrity Golf Classic will return to the Shore on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008 at Glen Riddle Golf Club. A 5 p.m. "meet the celebrities" party will be held Tuesday, September 16. The tournament has an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start. Afterwards there will be an awards dinner.

In previous years, there have been numerous NFL Hall of Famers, including: Lenny Moore (Baltimore Colts 1956-1967 and NFL HOF Class of 1975), Bobby Mitchell (Cleveland Browns 1958-1961, Washington Redskins 1962-1968, coach for Redskins 1969-2002, NFL HOF Class of 1983) and Charley Taylor (Washington Redskins 1964-1975 and 1977 and NFL HOF Class of 1984.

The registration fee is $200 per person or $750 per foursome. The pre-tournament "meet and greet" is free to registered golfers and $10 for guests. Call Chenita Kollock 410-651-7773.



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Sunday, July 27, 2008

MEAC season's recipe: 'Thicker' on top

Morgan State University head football coach Donald Hill-Eley has the Bears in contention for the MEAC championship (Mark's Digital Photography)

NORFOLK - — South Carolina State is the favorite to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football title. That is, if you believe the ballots cast by conference coaches and sports information directors, announced Friday during the league's media day.

Thing is, virtually no one on hand took the results seriously, South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough included. Sure, the Bulldogs were on the lips of every player or coach willing to discuss the league race. Then again, so were Delaware State and Norfolk State and Hampton and Morgan State.

Joe Taylor earned so much respect for guiding Hampton to three consecutive titles (2004-06) that some on hand were speculating he could win another in his first season at Florida A&M.

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NSU football has eyes on the prize in MEAC

NORFOLK - It took a decade, but Norfolk State is finally rising to the top of the MEAC. The Spartans were picked to finish third in the MEAC preseason football poll by the conference's coaches and sports information directors. The poll was announced Friday at the league's media day.

(Mark's Digital Photography)

Norfolk State, selected to finish behind South Carolina State and defending conference champion Delaware State, never has been projected to finish higher than sixth before this season. Last season, the coaches picked the Spartans seventh, only to see them go 8-3 for second place in the MEAC and their first winning record in their 11 years in Division I-AA.

"It's a nice sign for our program," coach Pete Adrian said. "It doesn't mean anything because it's where you finish, but it's a sign that our coaches recognize what we did last year."

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Former Oklahoma State player finds home in SWAC

Sitting at a small table, his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame bent into an even smaller folding chair, Bobby Reid smiles politely and seems at ease. He repeats the same answers over and over again to at least a half-dozen reporters who all ask the same questions. Yes, he likes it at Texas Southern. Yes, he's very happy to be back home in Houston. Yes, he's put all that happened at Oklahoma State behind him.

Despite the polite demeanor and confident, if not believable, answers, Reid appeared woefully out of place at the SWAC media event Tuesday in Birmingham. Not since the days when Doug Williams, a Super Bowl MVP with the Washington Redskins, coached at Grambling State has a more recognizable face been associated with SWAC football. And rarely has a conference player even approached Reid's celebrity.

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Commissioner Thomas looks to lift MEAC profile

Dr. Dennis E. Thomas, Commissioner - Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (Mark's Digital Photography)

NORFOLK, Va. — For most of the two hours or so that the MEAC football kickoff luncheon lasted, Dennis Thomas quietly sat on the stage. He seemed to be admiring his work. That more than 200 people packed a conference room at the Sheraton Waterside was an accomplishment. Thomas later told his audience that their presence is indicative of the MEAC growth and encouraged them to come back next year when it should be even bigger.

Thomas has been thinking big since he became commissioner six years ago. He's pushing academic standards and athletics, especially football. "Part of my vision is impressing on Corporate America that the MEAC and our institutions are an investment," he said. "We have a strategic plan about going to pursue Corporate America about an investment."

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Time Out: SWAC teams get most out of schedule

Once again, in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, seven means seven, for sure, but not necessarily just seven. The 10-team Southwestern Athletic Conference is returning to its seven-game format this season — going away from making teams play all nine conference teams.

Seven games — with four against teams in one’s own division and three against the five teams from the opposite division — will be used to determine a team’s run at the division title. However, teams are allowed to schedule conference opponents as non-conference games.

Grambling, Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State will play a full nine games against SWAC opponents, with just seven of those counting toward conference standings. Southern, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Jackson State and Prairie View will play eight. Alabama A&M, Alabama State and Texas Southern play just the seven required.

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Delaware State Hornets' nest

Former Delaware State wide receiver Shaheer McBride is in camp trying to make the team as an undrafted free agent. Though the odds may be long, McBride could benefit from studying Jackson, who also attended Delaware State.

Jackson made the team as an undrafted rookie in 2003 and started eight games at center in 2005. After beating out Hank Fraley for the starting center job in 2006, Jackson signed a seven-year contract extension with the Eagles.

Jackson said he met McBride during spring workouts, and will seek out the rookie in training camp. "I'll be talking to him, trying to keep his head on straight for him," Jackson said. "Let him know it's not the whole bullets flying and all that; just take it in stride."

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Improving APR score big key for SU football

As Southern gets ready to welcome back its football players to the practice fields this week, the program’s future depends more on what they’ll do in the classroom rather than on the playing field. In May, the NCAA slapped Southern’s football program with the loss of scholarships and practice time because of unsatisfactory scores in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate. Further troubles could result, by next year, in the loss of postseason play and, in two years, could mean the loss of the school’s Division I status.

Southern University Jaguars head football coach Pete Richardson

“It’s scary,” Southern Athletic Director Greg LaFleur said.

Effective immediately this season, Southern will lose 8.75 football scholarships — limited to 54.25 of a maximum of 63 — and four hours of practice time, reducing the Jaguars to 16 per week from 20. LaFleur said the four hours of practice time must be used in study hall. Also, Southern can sign no more than 20 players for next season’s class in February.

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Tennessee State's Rodgers-Cromartie reports to Cardinals camp

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made the 2 1/2-hour drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff with an Arizona Cardinals staffer on Saturday. Rodgers-Cromartie had a chance to take in some pretty scenery and think about an even longer journey - his transformation from a skinny, unrecruited cornerback at Tennessee State to a first-round NFL draft pick.

"It gave me a lot of time to just think about what I've got to do and the work I've got to put in and all the things that I overcame just to get here," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed a six-year contract on Friday.



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Bulldogs’ Ford and Bison’s Cooper Earn Top Preseason Honors

South Carolina State’s Will Ford and Endor Cooper of Howard earned the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s (MEAC) top football preseason awards, as announced by the league on Friday afternoon at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel. Ford was selected as the preseason Offensive Player ofthe Year and Cooper was named the Defensive Player of the Year by the MEAC head football coaches and sports nformation directors.

For the second year in a row the South Carolina State Bulldogs were the consensus pick to win the MEAC title in 2008. The defending MEAC Champion Delaware State Hornets finished second in the preseason poll.

Ford led the Bulldogs in total rushing yards with 1,389 yards on 210 attempts and four touchdowns. He finished second in the MEAC in rushing yards per game with an average of 126.3. Ford earned the MEAC’s Rookie of the Year honor his freshman season and was selected to the All-MEAC First Team as a sophomore.

Cooper earned the defensive player of the year honor after leading the Bison with 50 solo and 87 total tackles in 2007. He finished fifth in the league in tackles and tallied three forced fumbles, fourth best in the MEAC.

Hampton led all teams with six players on the preseason All-MEAC first team. The Pirates also had three second team selections for a total of 11. South Carolina State had 12 total selections on both teams; five were recognized on the first team. Delaware State, Morgan State and Norfolk State had six total selections each.

The 2008 Preseason Predictions and All-Conference teams are listed below.

2008 MEAC Football Preseason Predicted Order of Finish

1. South Carolina State (6) 272
2. Delaware State (6) 252
3. Norfolk State (2) 216
4. Hampton (2) 214
5. Morgan State 170
6. Florida A&M 120
7. Bethune-Cookman (1) 91
8. Howard 85
9. North Carolina A&T (1) 35

Photo: Preseason Offensive Player of the Year - Will Ford, South Carolina State, #28

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year - Endor Cooper, Howard University

2008 All-MEAC FIRST TEAM


Offense
Pos Name CL School Hometown
QB TJ Mitchell r-Jr. Hampton Virginia Beach, Va.
RB William Ford Jr. South Carolina State Travelers Rest, SC
RB Philip Sylvester So. Florida A&M Marianna, Fla.
TE Taj Jenkines Jr. Florida A&M Jacksonville, Fla.
WR Jeremy Gilchrist r-Sr. Hampton Virginia Beach, Va.
WR Jamar Johnson r-Sr. Norfolk State Norfolk, Va.
OL Dennis Conley Sr. Hampton Suffolk, Va.
OL Jamien Banks r-Sr. Norfolk State Tappahannock, Va.
OL Devon Dawson Jr. South Carolina State Greer, SC
OL Dwayne Delaney Sr. Morgan State Amelia, Va.
C Raymond Harrison r-Sr. South Carolina State Columbia, SC

Defense
DL Clarence McPherson Sr. Morgan State Miami, Fla.
DL Ronn Spinner Sr. Delaware State Lofton, Va.
DL Dexter Jackson Jr. Bethune-Cookman Jacksonville, Fla.
DL Cedric Lloyd Sr. South Carolina State Manning, SC
LB Endor Cooper Sr. Howard Woodbridge, Va.
LB Josh Pope r-Jr. Delaware State Philadelphia, Pa.
LB Jarrell Guyton* Sr. Morgan State Miami, Fla.
LB Vernon Wilder* r-Sr. Florida A&M Miami, Fla.
DB Terrell Whitehead Jr. Norfolk State Virginia Beach, Va.
DB Markee Hamlin Jr. South Carolina State Lamar, SC
DB Sam Pope Sr. Hampton St. Helena Island, SC
DB Chris Williams Sr. Morgan State Miami, Fla.
P Jahmal Blanchard Jr. Hampton Lauderdale Lake, Fla.
P/K James Meade Sr. Morgan State Upper Marlboro, Md.
Ret Jeremy Gilchrist r-Sr. Hampton Virginia Beach, Va.

2008 All-MEAC SECOND TEAM

Offense
Pos Name CL School Hometown
QB Vashon Winton Sr. Delaware State Chicago, Ill.
RB Michael Ferguson Sr. North Carolina A&T Norfolk, Va.
RB Kareem Jones Sr. Delaware State Lansinburg, NY
TE Octavius Darby Sr. South Carolina State Hollywood, Fla.
WR Kevin Teel Sr. Hampton Bowie, Md.
WR Oliver Young* Jr. South Carolina State Charleston, SC
WR Jeremy Wicker* r-So. Norfolk State Quantico, Va.
OL Anthony Collins r-Jr. Florida A&M Miami, Fla.
OL Reubin Mordecai r-Sr. Bethune-Cookman Daytona Beach, Fla.
OL Robert Norris Sr. Morgan State Houston, Texas
OL Michael Ola* r-So. Hampton Riverdale, Ga.
OL Adrian Brown* Sr. Delaware State Baltimore, Md.
C Nick Richmond r-Jr. Delaware State Lampeter, Pa.

Defense
DL Tyre Glasper Sr. North Carolina A&T Detroit, Mich.
DL James Simmons Sr. South Carolina State Greenville, SC
DL Keyon Brooks Sr. South Carolina State Miami, Fla.
DL Dennis Marsh r-Sr. Norfolk State Greensboro, NC
LB Andre Thornton Jr. North Carolina A&T Charlotte, NC
LB Tony White Sr. South Carolina State Seneca, SC
LB Charles Robinson r-Sr. Hampton Hampton, Va.
DB Curtis Holcomb So. Florida A&M Miami, Fla.
DB Antwane Cox Jr. Bethune-Cookman Miami, Fla.
DB Don Carey Sr. Norfolk State Norfolk, Va.
DB Brandon Colbert Sr. North Carolina A&T Fayetteville, NC
P Aaron Haire Jr. South Carolina State Orangeburg, SC
P/K Carlo Turavani So. Hampton Ontario, Canada
Ret Corey Council Sr. Bethune-Cookman Valdosta, Ga.

** indicates tie

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Savannah to get ABA team?

Savannah State alums own league franchise

Two former Savannah State University men's basketball players are looking to bring professional hoops to SSU Tiger Arena. Brothers Levi and Mark Williams have purchased an expansion franchise in the minor league American Basketball Association for the Savannah market. They would like the Savannah Pride to play this upcoming season starting in December, preferably at their old gymnasium.

"I had the opportunity to put a team in four, five places," said Levi Williams, 28, who played for the Tigers from 1998-02. "I think Savannah is a basketball town and a wonderful city. The people in Savannah really grab hold and take to things that represent them in a good way."

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Only award that matters for FAMU LB Wilder is title

NORFOLK, Va. — Less than an hour after FAMU linebacker Vernon Wilder got through telling reporters how he could have made a few more tackles last season, he got some incentive Friday to try harder. Wilder was one of three Rattlers selected to the MEAC All-Conference preseason first team. Running back Philip Sylvester and receiver Taj Jenkines also were first-team selections by the league's coaches and sports information directors.

Wilder, a senior who led FAMU in tackles the past two seasons, is gunning for the bigger prize. "I just want to try to get that MEAC ring," he said in a conference room packed with members of the media, coaches and players. "I want to lead the nation in sacks, and I feel this is the year."

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Taylor may be gone, but not forgotten by Hampton

NORFOLK, VA - It all seemed so familiar at first, to the point where you started to wonder, "Maybe the guy didn't leave after all." Upon entering the ballroom for the MEAC football kickoff news conference, Joe Taylor paused for a moment, then - just as he'd done so many times before - made his way to the Hampton area.

Expect Joe Taylor to have a hall of fame run with the Rattlers over the next five years, surpassing the achievements of another former Rattlers Hall of Famer in Coach William "Billy" Joe.

He hugged Pirates offensive lineman Dennis Conley and embraced defensive end Charles Young before the two players shared small talk with a man both call a father figure. Only this time, Taylor didn't settle in with the other Pirates. He kept moving until he found his new table, the one adorned by an orange helmet with the word "Rattlers" arched along the side.

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2008 Florida A&M Football Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time
August 30 ALABAMA STATE HOME 6:00 P.M.
September 4 at Delaware State* Dover, DE 7:30 P.M.
September 20 at Howard* Washington, D.C. 1:00 P.M.
September 27 at Tennessee State Atlanta, GA 3:00 P.M.
October 4 SOUTH CAROLINA STATE* HOME 6:00 P.M.
October 9 WINSTON-SALEM STATE* HOME 7:30 P.M.
October 18 at Southern Baton Rouge, LA 6:00 P.M. CST
October 25 at Norfolk State* Norfolk, VA 1:00 P.M.
November 1 MORGAN STATE* HOMECOMING 3:00 P.M.
November 8 at North Carolina A&T* Greensboro, NC 1:30 P.M.
November 15 HAMPTON* HOME 3:00 P.M.
November 22 Bethune-Cookman* Orlando, FL 2:00 P.M.
*-denotes MEAC games

FAMU Coaching Staff - 2008

Joe Taylor - Head Football Coach

Earl Holmes and Tim Edwards - Defensive Coordinator/Secondary Coach
George Small - Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach
Juan Vasquez - Special Teams Coach
Lawrence Kershaw - Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach
Tim Edwards - Outside Linebackers Coach/Recruiting Coordinator
Earl Holmes - Inside Linebackers Coach
Steven Jerry - Quarterbacks/Wide Receivers Coach
Edwin Pata - Offensive Assistant
Aaron Taylor - Runningbacks Coach
Jimmie Tyson - Defensive Assistant/Safeties Coach
Antonio Wallace - Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

Former Lehigh Senior High School (Alcorn State) football player Adams dies in car accident

Ladarrius Adams remembered

The Lehigh Senior High School weight room has been quiet the last two days. “Pure silence,” Lehigh running back Otis Jiles said. “You could only hear the AC running. I’ve never seen it like that before.” That’s the impact Ladarrius Adams’ death has had on the school’s football team as well as his family.

Adams, 17, was killed Thursday morning in a car accident near Fayette, Miss. An incoming freshman at Alcorn State University, Adams had arrived early to go to class and take part in summer workouts. Teammates D’Angelo Buckner and Isaac Williams were also injured.

“I lost my husband (Robert) two years ago, but this is nothing like that,” said Lorraine Curry, Adams’ mother. “Your child comes from you and I just can’t tell you the pain my family is going through; but we stick together and keep the faith and believe that we will make it. But right now, it’s devastating to get that kind of phone call.”

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QB Battle selling FAMU on his skill

NORFOLK, Va. — The Green team had a commanding lead over the Orange squad in FAMU's annual spring game when Eddie Battle erased whatever uncertainty coach Joe Taylor might have had about his starting quarterback. Battle had his team in the red zone with just a few yards to go for a first down. He couldn't find an open receiver after setting up for a pass on a second-down play.

He pulled back and scampered for just enough yards to get a first down. Taylor was sold. "Those are the kinds of little things that you look for in your quarterback," Taylor said. "You always have to be in a thinking mode, and a thinking mode means you can't get too excited and you can't get too low.

"He is a good decision maker — he knows when to put it up and pull it down."

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Former SU's Williams still preaching excellence

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When he wanted to better himself as a cornerback, Aeneas Williams sought out the best and relentlessly pursued them. Chased after them as if the knowledge they carried were the ball.

He flew to Houston at his own expense to meet with Pro Football Hall of Famer Kenny Houston. He tracked down former Oakland Raider Marcus Haynes through his post-football employer, Callaway Golf, just to get a few words from the nine-time Pro Bowler over the telephone. Each summer for years he would train with former San Diego Chargers cornerback Gill Byrd, lessons soaked in sweat and stamped into his consciousness.

“He’d say, ‘Aeneas, what is your mindset on how to play the cornerback position?’” Williams recalled Byrd asking him. “I said, ‘Man, I can’t get beat.’ He said...

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Taylor's replacement set for Hampton-Florida A&M

NORFOLK, Va. — FAMU's new football coach Joe Taylor has left some kind of legacy in the Hampton Roads area. He received one of the loudest applauses when he was introduced Friday at the MEAC football season kickoff luncheon. But even bigger is the handprint that he's left on the Hampton football program.

Taylor departed Hampton after 17 seasons to become FAMU's new head coach this season. He was replaced by his former defensive coordinator, Jerry Holmes, who credits Taylor for opening the door to his first head-coaching job after 10 years in the NFL.

Hampton University head football coach Jerry Holmes is on a collision course with his mentor, Joe Taylor. Who will prevail is the question on every one's mind (Mark's Digital Photography).

"Every individual has a foundation," said Holmes, who played for three NFL teams between 1980 and 1991. "Coach Taylor is a great part of Jerry Holmes' foundation. "I've learned so much from coach Taylor, not just football but character, how to treat other people and how to handle different situations."

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Hampton University 2008 Football Schedule
Date Opponent Location Time/Result
8/31/2008 Jackson State (MEAC-SWAC Challenge) Orlando, Fla. 2 p.m.
9/6/2008 Southern Illinois Carbondale, Ill. 6 p.m. (CST)
9/13/2008 * Howard Hampton, Va. 6 p.m.
9/20/2008 * North Carolina A&T Hampton, Va. 6 p.m.
10/4/2008 * Delaware State Dover, Del. 1 p.m.
10/18/2008 * Norfolk State - Battle of the Bay Hampton, Va. 1 p.m.
10/25/2008 * South Carolina State Orangeburg, S.C. 2 p.m.
11/1/2008 Winston-Salem State - Homecoming 2008 Hampton, Va. 2 p.m.
11/8/2008 * Bethune-Cookman Hampton, Va. 2 p.m.
11/15/2008 * Florida A&M Tallahassee, Fla. 3 p.m.
11/22/2008 * Morgan State Baltimore, Md. 1 p.m.

Head Coach: Jerry Holmes (West Virginia '79)
Running Backs: Milo Austin (West Virginia '05)
Offensive Line: Terry Beauford (Florida A&M '91)
Defensive Line: Canute Curtis (West Virginia '97)
Defensive Backs: Devan Hill (Hampton '04)
Quarterbacks: Roy Johnson (Hampton '99)
Director of Football Operations: Andrew Rhoden (Hampton '04)
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator: Donovan Rose (Hampton '79)
Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers: Corey Sullivan (Tennessee State '02)

B-CU Freeman's coaching success keeps coming one at a time

Coach Gary Freeman has set the benchmark for achievement in golf. The 1955 Morgan State University graduate is a native of Washington, D.C. and has won 10 Division I national minority collegiate golf championships with the Wildcats.

A drama of life concluded here at Palm Harbor some 10 years ago, but the memories of love and appreciation for the work and standards of golf director Gary Freeman have stayed as strong as ever.

Freeman now is the successful men's and women's golf coach at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, but the six years he gave at Palm Harbor set a standard that might never be equaled. Ten years ago might be a long time for some to remember, but Freeman managed without much effort.

At Bethune-Cookman, Freeman has guided the men's team to four Division I national Minority Collegiate Golf Championships and his women's squad six of them, including the last three. That's quite a stack of hay for a coach who went for one year and is now in his 10th one year.

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Academics could sideline Grambling's senior quarterback

GRAMBLING — Monroe product Brandon Landers, a three-year letterman at Grambling State, will likely miss next season over an academic issue. “I’m trying to see what I can do,” the quarterback said. “I didn’t get the grade I needed (in a history class), so it’s up in the air right now if I will even play.”

Landers, a fifth-year senior after redshirting in 2005 at Grambling, most recently posted career highs for completions, yards and touchdowns in the inaugural season under GSU coach Rod Broadway. That helped the Tigers advance to their fifth Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Game since 2000, before falling to Jackson State last December.

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DSU Hornets picked second in MEAC

NORFOLK, Va. -- Delaware State was picked to finish second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason football poll, voted on by conference coaches and sports information directors. South Carolina State led the poll, which was released during MEAC media day on Friday.

"The thing that I expect for our team is a higher and more consistent level of play, especially from our senior leadership," DSU coach Al Lavan said in a press release. "I think the players that are in our program have taken a step forward each year."

The Hornets earned their first NCAA Division I-AA playoff berth last season, when they went 8-0 in the MEAC and finished 10-2 overall. "It would be very special to win back-to-back championships, especially with this being our senior year," wide receiver Derrick McNeil said.

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Annual PVAMU-TSU Football Lucheon & Gala set for Sunday, August 27th

Prairie View A&M University Marching Storm

HOUSTON, Texas - The Touchdown Club of Houston will host the Annual Prairie View A&M- Texas Southern luncheon and gala on Wednesday, August 27th at the Power Center, located at 12401 So. Post Oak.

Prairie View A&M head football coach Henry Frazier will co-headline the event with first-year Texas Southern head coach Johnnie Cole. Also speaking will be PVAMU acting athletics director Fred Washington and first-year TSU athletics director Charles McClelland.

The special guest speaker will be Steve McNair, former quarterback for the Houston Oilers, Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.

"All fans of PVAMU and TSU are invited to attend this event, which always spices up the rivalry between the two schools the week of the game," said TD Club executive director Neal Farmer. "And this year promises to be even more spicy."

Texas Southern University Ocean of Soul Marching Band


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Three from NSU are first-team preseason picks

Norfolk State University head football coach Pete Adrian has the Spartans knocking on the championship door (Mark's Digital Photography).

NORFOLK, VA - Norfolk State's Jamar Johnson, Jamien Banks and Terrell Whitehead were selected to the preseason All-MEAC first team, chosen by conference coaches and sports information directors Friday. The Spartans never have had as many as three players receive first-team preseason honors under coach Pete Adrian, entering his fourth season.

Johnson, a redshirt senior from Lake Taylor High, led the Spartans in every major receiving category last season with 42 receptions for 565 yards and six touchdowns. Banks, a redshirt senior, started all 11 games at left guard. Whitehead, a junior defensive back from Kempsville High, ranked sixth nationally with six interceptions.

Norfolk State's Don Carey, Dennis Marsh and Jeremy Wicker are second-team picks.

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Lady Hawks' Jessica Worsley Named 2008 MEAC Woman of the Year

NORFOLK, Va. - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore's (UMES) Jessica Worsley was named the 2008 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Woman of the Year during an awards luncheon held at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, Virginia.

"This is such an accomplishment and an honor," said Worsley in her acceptance remarks. "It is a very prestigious award and a nice recognition of sorts for the four years of hard work and effort put into academics and athletics."

The award, selected annually by the MEAC Senior Woman Administrators, celebrates
the achievements of senior student-athletes who have excelled in academics, athletics, service and leadership.

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TSU Cole rebuilds teams and his reputation

He lands SWAC job with fresh slate from NCAA

BIRMINGHAM - Johnnie Cole is a fixer-upper. The new head coach at Texas Southern has developed a reputation of rebuilding ailing football programs. He did it at Tennessee State along with his brother, L.C. Then he did it at Alabama State and, most recently, at Division II Lane College in Jackson, Tenn.

Now Cole is embarking on perhaps his biggest rebuilding project yet - trying to revitalize the moribund program at his alma mater, Texas Southern, which was 0-11 last season. "I'm in familiar territory," Cole said Tuesday during the Southwestern Athletic Conference's annual Media Day and Kickoff Luncheon. "I joke with people that I don't know if I could take a job that was already established. I can put my brand on it and implement the same system we've had in other places."

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FAMU Camp Leads a Drumbeat for a Marching Band’s Style

Excerpt:

In the nation’s historically black colleges, marching bands have long provided far more than “The Star-Spangled Banner” for football crowds, and none, arguably, has grown more famous than Florida A&M’s.

The group’s traditional and official name, the Marching 100, is a rare bit of false modesty: the group now numbers upward of 350 musicians, drum majors and flag-carriers. The unit has built a national, even global, following with appearances at the Super Bowl, both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugural parades, the Grammy Awards and the bicentennial of the French Republic.

The Marching 100 has created a revolution in band style, radically infusing the traditional catalog of songs and formations with the sounds and dances of black popular culture. “It slides, slithers, swivels, rotates, shakes, rocks and rolls,” the band’s founding director, Prof. William P. Foster, wrote in his memoirs. “It leaps to the sky, does triple twists, and drops to earth without a flaw, without missing either a beat or a step.”

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2008 FAMU Summer Band Camp Half-Time Show, Parade, Dance Routine & More

2008 Florida A&M University Summer Band Camp - Total: 450 middle & high school students

Florida A&M University Summer Band Camp Parade July 24, 2008

Florida A&M University Summer Band Camp Dance Routine

The Saxophone Choir performs a medley of cartoon themes: "The Simpsons, Flintstones, Inspector Gadget, & Family Guy" conducted by FAMU Professor Diron T. Holloway and arranged by Chandler Wilson.

Dr. Julian E. White talks about life at the FAMU Marching "100" Summer Band Camp in this excerpt.

Friday, July 25, 2008

S.C. State Bulldogs picked to win MEAC Football Crown

NORFOLK, VA – For the second consecutive year, South Carolina State (7-4, 6-2 MEAC) has been picked to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football championship, edging out defending champion Delaware State (10-0, 8-0 MEAC) in an announcement made at the league’s annual Football Press Luncheon.

Coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough's Bulldogs have the conference championship target on their backs again in 2008 (Mark's Digital Photography).

Also, the Bulldogs (7-4, 6-2 MEAC) placed 10 players on the preseason All-MEAC squad, among them junior running back Will Ford, tabbed as preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and one of five S.C. State players earning first-team honors.

In being named as the team to beat in the MEAC again, Coach Buddy Pough’s team, which has finished tied for runner-up in the league the last two seasons, received 272 points to 252 for Coach Al Lavan and the 2007 champion Hornets.

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SCSU Bulldogs 2008 Football Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time/Result
8/30/2008 UCF Orlando, FL 6 PM
9/6/2008 BENEDICT$ Orangeburg, SC 6 PM
9/13/2008 BETHUNE-COOKMAN Charleston, SC 4 PM
9/20/2008 Clemson Clemson, SC 1 PM
9/27/2008 Winston-Salem State Winston-Salem, NC 6:00 PM
10/4/2008 * Florida A&M Tallahassee, FL 6 PM
10/11/2008 * NORFOLK STATE ! Orangeburg, SC 1:30 PM
10/18/2008 Open TBA
10/25/2008 * HAMPTON Orangeburg, SC 2:00 PM
11/1/2008 * Delaware State Dover, DE TBA
11/6/2008 * HOWARD Orangeburg, SC 7:30 PM
11/15/2008 * Morgan State Baltimore, MD 4:00 PM
11/22/2008 * North Carolina A&T TBA 1:30 PM

Home Games are in bold
Neutral Site Games are in italics
* Denotes a conference game.

!-Denotes Homecoming
$-Denotes Hall of Fame Game

Head Coach: Oliver "Buddy" Pough (Sixth Season)
Asst. Head Coach/Def. Line/Def. Ends: David Blanchard
Asst. Coaches: Demetrius Davis (Off. Line/Tightends); Joe Blackwell (Off. Coordinator/Off. Line); Gerald Harrison (Def. Line/Tackles); Mike Adams( Def. Coordinator/Linebackers); Maurice Drayton (Secondary); Kevin Magouirk (Quarterbacks); Howard Feggins (Receivers); Daniel Lewis (Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator); Joel Taylor (Defensive Assistant ); Rawn Miro (Videographer).

Car Crash Kills Alcorn State Athlete; Two Other Alcorn Student Athletes Injured

FAYETTE, Miss. -- Alcorn State University officials said that a car crash has claimed the life of freshman football player Ladarrius Adams. The wreck, which occurred on Highway 61 south near Fayette early Friday morning, also injured D'Angelo Buckner and Isaac Williams. The university said that Buckner and Williams are also incoming freshmen and members of the football team.

Adams was a native of Fort Meyers, Florida and was recruited as a running back to Alcorn State. Buckner and Williams are natives of Clinton, Mississippi and were recruited as corner back and offensive lineman, respectively.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson not offended by Brett Favre speculation

Former Alabama State University Hornets quarterback Tarvaris Jackson handles Favre speculation with maturity.

MANKATO — Tarvaris Jackson said the Brett Favre speculation would never have come up if Jackson were an established, proven quarterback. But he's not. The Vikings reportedly are considered Favre's ideal destination if he were to work his way out of Green Bay, with which he remains under contract. Jackson has heard all the speculation regarding Favre, and he's taking it in stride. He said he's not offended by the talk.

"I know I've got to get better to the point where if it happens again with any other guy, it wouldn't be a question," Jackson said today after the first practice of training camp at Minnesota State Mankato. "I've still got some improving to do, and I know that. It's only speculation. I know it was going to happen because the type of quarterback he is, and I haven't proved myself yet."

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MEAC expresses academic concerns

Photo: Florida A&M University director of athletics, William "Bill" Hayes

NORFOLK, Va. — There's no middle ground when it comes to meeting the NCAA-mandated Academic Progress Report standards. That was the message FAMU athletic director Bill Hayes and other MEAC officials heard for more than 90 minutes Thursday.

Hayes came away from the all-day meeting, promising to make FAMU a flagship school for graduating student-athletes. FAMU will use money from a grant it recently received to hire a full-time monitor to gauge athletes' classroom performance, Hayes said.

"We're going to put more teeth into it," he said. "We've got to have better supervision. It can't be lax. It's got to be matter-of-fact. Once we do that you will see an improvement." FAMU's APR rating wasn't immediately available, but in a recent report it hovered close to 50 percent.

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A long, happy journey for SSU's Jessie Kenlaw

Savannah State University graduate now interim head coach for WNBA team, Washington Mystics

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Jessie Kenlaw, while at Savannah State in the 1970s, was among a group of students who petitioned the office of the president to begin a women's basketball program. Their efforts paid off after a few years as Kenlaw played in her only season as a senior, 1976-77, when she was named the team's most valuable player. The Guyton native said the school did not offer basketball scholarships for women at the time.

"We knew there was a lot of talented players there through AAU, travel teams and intramurals," said Kenlaw, who graduated from Savannah State with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1977. "We had to fight but we ended up getting it." Some 30 years later it was a person in authority - general manager Linda Hargrove of the WNBA's Washington Mystics - who recently came to Kenlaw with a proposal. Hargrove asked Kenlaw to take over as the interim head coach of the Mystics.

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MVSU Delta Devils seek fresh start

BIRMINGHAM, AL — Last year, Steven Fulbright experienced the nightmare of any senior player who sweated through an entire offseason of work: He was injured, lost for the season with a ligament tear in his knee, on the first play of Mississippi Valley State's first game. So how did the defensive back deal with this crushing disappointment?

"Every game, I was in the press box writing down the plays," he said. "I learned more about the game and I just learned a lot being in the press box with the coaches, and learning the game from a higher point of view."

If anything gives Valley coach Willie Totten reason to believe his team can shake off its 3-8 season from a year ago and return to winning ways, it's players like Fulbright. He'll return, the recipient of a medical redshirt, with added knowledge about the game and a bunch of optimism, too.

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Alcorn Braves planning to aim high

BIRMINGHAM, AL — Anyone paying attention to the Alcorn State football program can tell there's a stark difference between the lively new coach Ernest Jones and his stoic predecessor Johnny Thomas. But as the saying goes, "Talk is cheap." Jones can say all the right things, but if players don't buy what he's selling none of it will matter for a team picked to finish dead last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Eastern Division.

But when Emmanuel Arceneaux drops the phrase, "It's a new day," in a casual conversation at the Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day in Birmingham, you get the feeling he's been paying attention to the new face of Alcorn football. "It did need to change," said Arceneaux, the team's top returning receiver. "The mindset is the pride and tradition that he's trying to bring back to Alcorn. No disrespect to the former coaches, but they came in and gave a boost of energy. Everything is just fired up."

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