Monday, August 31, 2009

DSU putting final polish on preseason

DOVER, DE -- Having wrapped up a busy preseason camp with a pair of practice sessions Friday, Delaware State University's football team is now focusing on dotting the i's and crossing the t's. The Hornets will conduct a "game simulation" scrimmage at 6 tonight at Alumni Stadium before turning their eyes toward their season opener on Sept. 5 at Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Florida A&M. DSU coach Al Lavan will be looking closely at all the details in tonight's scrimmage.

"We plan to focus on simulating game situations these next couple of days," said Lavan, who is 34-22 in five seasons with the Hornets. "During [today's] final session, we'll try to go over all situations that may be encountered in a game, from A to Z. "We'll focus on everything from our various packages to sideline and press box personnel. It will amount to a mental exercise to determine how prepared we are for next week's opener." There is a sense of anticipation among the Hornets as the regular season looms.

Anthony Glaud, who earned the job as DSU's starting quarterback, has been studying and working to be as prepared as he can be. "Right now, we are working on execution and polishing up the playbook," Glaud said. "We are trying to get in as many plays and formations as possible before the end of camp. About 95 percent of the offense is in place."

Coach Al Lavan (center).

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2009 Hornets Football Schedule (Record: 0-1; Forfeit to NCAT)

Date Opponent Location Time (ET)

Sat, Sep 05 Florida A&M * at Tallahassee, Fla. 6:00 p.m.
Sat, Sep 19 Delaware at Newark, Del. 12:00 p.m.
Sat, Sep 26 Hampton * at Hampton, Va. 6:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct 10 Bethune-Cookman * Dover, Del. 7:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct 17 Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mich. TBA
Sat, Oct 24 Morgan State * Dover, Del. 1:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct 31 South Carolina State * at Orangeburg, S.C. 1:30 p.m.
Sat, Nov 07 Winston-Salem State at Winston-Salem, N.C. 1:00 p.m.
Sat, Nov 14 Norfolk State * Dover, Del. 1:00 p.m.
Sat, Nov 21 Howard * Dover, Del. 1:00 p.m.


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WSSU may be eyeing Hayes for vacant AD job

FAMU athletic director William "Bill" Hayes.

Winston-Salem State might reach back to its glory days in football to find its next athletics director. Bill Hayes, who led the WSSU football program to its greatest heights in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is being targeted by Chancellor Donald Reaves for the AD's position, several sources said. Reaves was hoping to introduce the new athletics director today at "Meet the Rams," a fall-sports pep rally at Bowman Gray Stadium scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. However, those plans fell through when Tim Grant took himself out of contention earlier this week.

Hayes, currently the AD at Florida A&M, said Thursday night that he hasn't been contacted by WSSU officials. "I haven't heard anything from them officially throughout this whole process," said Hayes, who is 64 and still owns a home in Winston-Salem. "I don't know what they have planned, but I haven't talked to them at all in an official capacity." Hayes said he has been working hard at Florida A&M, getting ready for another football season.

2009 WINSTON-SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION

SEPTEMBER 5, NORTH CAROLINA A&T, WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM, 6:00 PM

SEPTEMBER 10, FLORIDA A&M, WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM, 7:30 PM, (ESPNU-HD)

SEPTEMBER 19, MORGAN STATE, (N.Y. URBAN LEAGUE CLASSIC)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., GIANTS STADIUM, TBA

SEPTEMBER 26, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE, ORANGEBURG, S.C.
BULLDOG STADIUM, 6:00 PM

OCTOBER 3, HOWARD UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON, D.C.
GREENE STADIUM, 1:00 PM

OCTOBER 17, UC DAVIS, DAVIS, CALIF.,
AGGIE STADIUM, 6:00 PM

OCTOBER 24, BETHUNE-COOKMAN, DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.
MUNICIPAL STADIUM, 4:00 PM

OCTOBER 31, HAMPTON UNIVERSITY, (HOMECOMING)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM, 2:00 PM

NOVEMBER 7, DELAWARE STATE, WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM, 1:00 PM

NOVEMBER 14, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL, WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM, 1:00 PM

NOVEMBER 21, NORFOLK STATE, NORFOLK, VA.
DICK PRICE STADIUM, 1:00

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Former Hillside star Michael Johnson earns starting QB job at N.C. Central

DURHAM, N.C. -- Michael Johnson is fulfilling a dream. Growing up, he was a ballboy for N.C. Central and now he is the starting quarterback for the Eagles. The former Hillside standout saw action in four games, including three starts, a year ago after transferring from Tulsa, and said his experience at Tulsa established a foundation that has allowed him to thrive with the Eagles. "I learned so much while I was there [at Tulsa]," Johnson said. "It made me a better quarterback. It made me a better student."

Johnson's decision to transfer back to his hometown university was based primarily on being closer to family so they could see him play. "It was a good experience but it was just difficult for my family to get out there to see me play," Johnson said. "My family likes to see me play so it was best for all of us for me to come back." Johnson said he feels like he has improved a lot since last season when he was thrust into action in the sixth game of the year against Presbyterian.


2009 NCCU Eagles Football Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time Affifiliation Series (Last Meeting)
Sept. 5 at Hampton “Pirates” Hampton, VA 6:00 pm
FCS HU leads 13-5 (11/14/1992 - L, 19-31)

Sept. 12 at Liberty “Flames” Lynchburg, VA TBA
FCS First Meeting

SEPT. 19 MOREHEAD STATE “Eagles” DURHAM, NC 1:30 PM
FCS First Meeting O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium

Sept. 26 at Duke “Blue Devils” Durham, NC TBA
FBS First Meeting

Oct. 3 at North Carolina A&T “Aggies” Greensboro, NC TBA
FCS A&T leads 45-30-5 (10/3/2008 - W, 28-27)

Oct. 10 at Appalachian State “Mountaineers” Boone, NC TBA
FCS First Meeting

OCT. 17 CENTRAL METHODIST “Eagles” DURHAM, NC 1:30 PM
NAIA First Meeting O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium

OCT. 31 CENTRAL STATE “Marauders” DURHAM, NC 1:30 PM
II Series tied 1-1 “Homecoming” O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium (10/19/1996 - W, 24-6)

Nov. 7 at Old Dominion “Monarchs” Norfolk, VA 2:00 pm
FCS First Meeting

Nov. 14 at Winston-Salem State “Rams” Winston-Salem, NC 1:00 pm
FCS Series tied 21-21 (11/15/2008 - W, 23-16)

NOV. 21 SAVANNAH STATE “Tigers” DURHAM, NC 1:30 PM
FCS NCCU leads 3-0-1 O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium (11/22/2008 - W, 10-7)

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UAPB Beginning Transition to Game Week Preparations

UAPB Golden Lions head coach Monte Coleman believes the Lions to roar this season.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff took a break from its usual practice schedule on Saturday to show off its new jerseys and pose for a few pictures. The Golden Lions did do a short walkthrough at Golden Lion Stadium, but most of Saturday’s media day session was meant as a short pause before fall camp gives way to season-opening preparations. Exactly a week before UAPB’s season opener against Arkansas-Monticello, UAPB coach Monte Coleman stood near the 50-yard line and addressed reporters on the Golden Lions’ being more prepared heading into his second season than they were his first. He also discussed using the end of last season as momentum heading into this year, as well as his evolving role as an overseer of the program.

Countdown to KICKOFF 2009




“It’s been one of the best training camps I’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Coleman, who joined the staff as an assistant in 2003. “We fought each other, we ate lunch together. It was just a good training camp. A good start for a new season.” Heading into their final week of preparations the Golden Lions still have a few unanswered questions. The top priority on that list is deciding between a pair of quarterbacks who have risen to the top of a pool that included four candidates when camp opened Aug. 8.

Rontrell Bailey and Josh Boudreaux are still taking snaps with the No. 1 offense in practice, and Coleman said he would be comfortable if either one of them started against the Boll Weevils (0-1), who beat UAPB 21-7 last season in Coleman’s first game as coach. Coleman, who has relinquished defensive play calling duties this season in order to take more of a role within the offense, said healthy quarterbacks, a more experienced offensive line and group of wide receivers should make a unit that ranked ninth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in total offense improve in 2009.

2009 Golden Lions Football Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time
9/5/2009 Arkansas-Monticello (Sponsored by Tyson) Pine Bluff 4:00 pm
9/12/2009 Langston (Sponsored by State Farm) Pine Bluff 4:00 pm
9/19/2009 Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, Miss. 4:00 pm
9/26/2009 Alabama A&M Huntsville, Ala. 3:00 pm
10/1/2009 Alcorn State (Wal-Mart Community Day) Pine Bluff 6:30 pm
10/10/2009 Jackson State Jackson, Miss. 4:00 pm
10/24/2009 Edward Waters (Homecoming) Pine Bluff 2:30 pm
10/31/2009 Southern (Senior Day) Pine Bluff 2:30 pm
11/7/2009 Grambling State (Delta Classic 4 Literacy) Little Rock, Ark. 2:30 pm

11/21/2009 Prairie View A&M Prairie View, Tex. 1:00 pm
11/28/2009 Texas Southern (Dallas Lonestar Classic) Dallas, TX

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South Carolina State team preview

QB Malcolm Long, 6-3 Jr., Gaffney, SC/Gaffney HS will lead the defending MEAC Champion Bulldogs in a strong season opener against 2008 SWAC Champions, Grambling State Tigers at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando, FL on Sept 6.

Bulldog Offense: South Carolina State running back Will Ford is a guy that many FBS coaches would gladly add to their offense. The 5-foot-11-inch senior from Travelers Rest, S.C. was picked as the MEAC's preseason Offensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. In the last two years combined, Ford has rushed for 2,888 yards and 17 touchdowns, including a 112-yard effort against the Gamecocks in 2007. Ford is joined in the backfield by quarterback Malcolm Long, a 6-foot-3 senior that set two school passing records last season. Long and Ford headline an experienced offense that returns six starters from their 2008 MEAC Championship squad.

Bulldog Defense: The Bulldog defense allowed only 17 points per game last season, including a stretch of three straight shutouts against MEAC rivals Howard, Morgan State and North Carolina A&T. That defensive squad returns seven starters, headlined by linebacker Marshall McFadden and safety Marquais Hamlin, who were both preseason All-MEAC selections. The one glaring blemish on SCSU's record last year was a 54-0 defeat at the hands of Clemson. The Tigers racked up 416 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns on the Bulldogs.

2009 Bulldogs Football Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time/Result Details
9/6/2009 Grambling State@ Orlando, Fla. 2 PM
9/12/2009 * Bethune-Cookman University Daytona Beach, FL 4 PM
9/26/2009 Winston-Salem State# Orangeburg, SC 6 PM
10/3/2009 University of South Carolina Columbia, SC TBA
10/10/2009 * Norfolk State University Norfolk, VA 1 PM
10/17/2009 * Florida A&M University$ Orangeburg, SC 2 PM
10/24/2009 * Hampton University Hampton, VA 2 PM
10/31/2009 * Delaware State^ Orangeburg, SC 1:30 PM
11/7/2009 * Howard University Washington, DC 1 PM
11/14/2009 * Morgan State University& Orangeburg, SC 1:30 PM
11/21/2009 * NC A&T State University Orangeburg, SC 1:30 PM


Home Games are in bold
* denotes a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference contest
@ MEAC-SWAC Challenge
# Faculty & Staff/Senior Citizen Appreciation Day
$ Greek Day/Youth Day
^ Homecoming
& Senior Day

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Fullbacks an Alabama A&M key

When Alabama A&M's offense has been good, the Bulldogs' fullbacks have been key. Not only have they been effective run blockers, they have been solid receivers out of the backfield. Early during Anthony Jones' tenure, Jonathan Rowland handled most of the fullback duties. Jacques Pyant and Trevis O'Neal were a terrific tandem on A&M's 2006 Southwestern Athletic Conference championship team, and O'Neal and Generion McWhorter were solid the next season as the Bulldogs finished 8-3 and just missed getting back to the title game.

Last season, A&M lacked a quality fullback. McWhorter left the team with personal problems and Roger Smith and Chris Terry, a pair of converted defensive linemen, couldn't master the position. As a result, the Bulldogs struggled. Fast forward to this season, and Smith said he believes A&M's fullback job is in far more capable hands. Now in his second full season playing the position, Smith said he and Dash Buntjer, a junior college transfer, can be as effective as Pyant and O'Neal.

2009 Alabama A&M Football Schedule

Date Opponent Location Time
9/5/2009 at Tennessee State Nashville, TN, LP Field
9/12/2009 HAMPTON Huntsville, AL, Louis Crews Stadium 6:00 PM
9/19/2009 JACKSONVILLE STATE Huntsville, AL, Louis Crews Stadium 6:00 PM
9/26/2009 HC * ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF Huntsville, AL, Crews Stadium 3:00 PM

10/3/2009 vs. Tuskegee Indianapolis, IN, Lucas Oil Stadium
10/10/2009 * at Grambling Grambling, LA, Eddie Robinson Stadium
10/17/2009 * at Alcorn State Alcorn State, MS, Jack Spinks Stadium
10/31/2009 * vs. Alabama State Birmingham, AL, Magic City Classic, Legion Field 2:30 PM
11/7/2009 * at Prairie View A&M Prairie View, TX, Backshear Stadium
11/14/2009 * JACKSON STATE Huntsville, AL, Crews Stadium 1:00 PM
11/21/2009 * MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE Huntsville, AL, Crews Stadium 1:00 PM

12/12/2009 SWAC Championship Game Birmingham, AL, Legion Field

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College Football Preview '09: Grambling State Tigers

GRAMBLING, LA - Rod Broadway gets a great deal of credit for the recent revival of Grambling State football, and well he should. The Tigers put together an 8-4 record in Broadway's first year as head coach in 2007 and reached the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game, even though losses to Southern in the Bayou Classic and to Jackson State in the title game marred that debut season. GSU avenged those two setbacks in a big way last fall, as the Tigers handled Southern 29-14 in the Bayou Classic and pounded JSU 41-9 for the conference title. That capped an 11-2 season and convinced the voters in the Sheridan Poll to declare Grambling the black college national champions.

GSU Tigers head coach Rod Broadway, third year, 19-6.

Broadway's name and stamp is on those teams, but Cliff Yoshida should get his share of acclaim - especially last year, when the Tigers fielded a defensive unit worthy of mention with Grambling's all-time best. Yoshida, in his second year as defensive coordinator under Broadway, engineered a platoon that recorded 29 interceptions and 44 quarterback sacks (double the previous year's total). GSU held opponents well under 30 percent on third-down conversions, and led the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision with a plus-1.85 turnover margin. More importantly, 43 percent of the time that Grambling opponents penetrated the Tiger 20-yard-line, they didn't score.

2009 GSU Tigers Schedule

Sept. 6 South Carolina St. (1 p.m., Orlando), MEAC/SWAC Challenge
Sept. 12 Northwestern State (6 p.m.)
Sept. 19 at Jackson State (3:30 p.m.)
Sept. 26 at Oklahoma State (6 p.m.)
Oct. 3 *vs. Prairie View A&M (6 p.m., Dallas), State Fair Classic
Oct. 10 Alabama A&M (3 p.m.)
Oct. 17 *at Alabama State (TBA)
Oct. 31 *Mississippi Valley State (2 p.m.)
Nov. 7 *vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4 p.m., Little Rock), Literacy Classic
Nov. 12 *Texas Southern (7 p.m.)
Nov. 28 *vs. Southern (1 p.m., New Orleans), Bayou Classic
Home games in bold. *denotes Southwestern Athletic Conference games

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

History maker: JSU-MSU is 1st SEC-SWAC football matchup

Little did Greg Byrne know it when he did it, but the first football game contract he signed as athletic director at Mississippi State made college football history. That would be the one that pays Jackson State $315,000 to come play at Starkville on Saturday. It will mark the first football meeting in history between a school from the Southeastern Conference and a school from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

"To be honest, we weren't thinking of it in terms of a historical perspective," Byrne said. "We want to play one game a year against a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly Division I-AA) team. "We felt it made more sense to play, if possible, a regional team or someone in our own state. It also made sense to find a team that has a history of its fans traveling well. That was what we had in mind when I approached Bob Braddy (JSU's athletic director).

"Now, we're excited about bringing their band, their team, their fans to our campus. The historical part? We're honored to be a part of that." A week out, the game is nearing a sellout. From Braddy's point of view, it's a no-brainer: the largest payday in Jackson State history and a short trip besides. There is some historical irony at work here: The sons and grandsons of players who once made the SWAC perhaps one of the most talent-laden conferences in college football, now do the same for the SEC.

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Memo to A.D. Bob Brady--You gotta push the money envelop back for more cash in negotiations, especially with the Sonic Boom Marching Band and possibly 8,000+ JSU fans travelling to MSU. With only 148 miles separating MSU and JSU, the Bulldogs need only 7,326 additional fans to cover the JSU payout of $315,000. JSU averaged 21,263 fans for four home games in 2008, ranking #4 in the FCS in attendance. MSU averaged 43,453, ranking #54 in FBS average home attendance, with only one saleout (#7 ranked Auburn) at 55,082 Davis Wade Stadium. Expect the stadium record for attendance at 56,188 to be broken for this anticipated game. Game tickets are $43.00 each for JSU fans.

$315,000!! We're talking about a SEC school buying a FCS victory to become bowl eligible with a 6 win season. Surely a guaranteed victory is worth more...even for a bottom dwelling SEC Bulldog program.

Jackson State alters recruiting philosophy

For most football teams, a 7-5 record can be viewed as a good season. Darius Bolela didn't come to Jackson State for good seasons. Growing up in Jackson, Miss., Bolela is well versed in the tradition of JSU football. He understands the importance to Tiger fans and boosters of winning Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, especially after watching his hometown team win the 2007 league title.

That's why after seeing his team fall short of the SWAC title last year, he is entering his sophomore season on a mission. "I want to lead my team to victory and getting back to the championship,'' Bolela said. ''I came into this season saying, 'I'm from Jackson. I know how Jackson State ball is supposed to be...' I'm putting the team on my back this year."

Bolela isn't the only one looking to change things at JSU. Coach Rick Comegy took a different approach toward recruiting. Rather than going after a host of junior college transfers as he had in the past, and like most of his fellow coaches at historically black colleges do, Comegy decided to focus on recruiting freshmen. In doing so, Comegy hopes to build a solid foundation that will serve his program well in the years to come.

The combination of Darius Bolela (Smash), Luther Edwards (Crash) and Bloi-Dei Dorzan (Dash) are poised to make the Jackson State running game one of the best in the SWAC - no exceptions. Senior RB Dorzon, a 5-9/205 speed demon (#2 in photo) is from New Carrollton, (Prince George's County) Maryland.

JSU Tigers 2009 Schedule

09/05/09 at Mississippi State, Starkville, MS 2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
Southern Heritage Classic:
09/12/09 vs.Tennessee State (Memphis, TN) 6:00 p.m. CT
W.C. Gorden Classic:
09/19/09 Grambling St. Jackson, MS 3:30 p.m. CT
10/03/09 at Southern Jackson, MS 6:00 p.m. CT
10/10/09 vs. Arkansas - Pine Bluff Jackson, MS 4:00 p.m. CT

10/17/09 vs. Texas Southern Jackson, MS 4:00 p.m. CT
10/24/09 at Mississippi Valley State Itta Bena, MS 1:00 p.m. CT
Homecoming:
11/07/09 vs. Alabama State Jackson, MS 4:00 p.m. CT
Magic City Classic:
11/14/09 at Alabama A&M Huntsville, AL 1:00 p.m. CT
11/21/09 vs. Alcorn State Jackson, MS 1:00 p.m. CT
12/12/09 vs. SWAC Championship Game Birmingham, AL 1:00 p.m. CT

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Alabama State Hornets '09 Preview

THE CRYSTAL BALL SAYS...Quarterback Chris Mitchell, who was a rather solid passer two years ago, has returned from grade issues. That gives ASU's offense a boost. Offensive coordinator Richard Moncrief, a former Division I quarterback, understands the game and has the respect of the players. That means something. The defense, as it has been the last three years, should be very solid again. Just looking at the first 22, this is a solid team that could challenge for the SWAC. Depth, however, is a big issue -- one that will likely cost the Hornets a couple of games. ASU goes a respectable 7-4 and is in the SWAC East discussion until late in the year.

Hornets Coach Reggie Barlow (8-14 in two seasons at ASU), 2008 record 3-8 overall, 2-5 SWAC .






QUOTEBOARD...According to Barlow: "It's time to get this done and show some progress on the field. I've been here two years, and I feel like we've done some good things, but we have to start turning some of this into wins, because fans won't stand for it if that doesn't happen. I understand that. I knew the expectations and the situation going in here. I have to produce ... or find something else to do."

According to defensive coordinator Jo Nixon: "I'm just ready to get this season kicked off. When I was at (NAIA) Langston, we had some tight games with some of the teams from the SWAC. (The coaches) would always be like, 'We weren't really looking at y'all' and stuff like that. Things to just discredit us. Well, now I'm over here and everything's equal. I wonder what excuse they're going to use now?"

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2009 Hornet Schedule

9/5 Concordia College 7pm
9/12 at Savannah State 4pm
9/19 Edward Waters (Fla) 7pm
9/26 at Mississippi Valley State 4pm
10/10 Prairie View A&M 1pm
10/17 Grambling State 1pm
10/24 Alcorn State 1pm
10/31 at Alabama A&M 2:30pm (Magic City Classic)
11/7 at Jackson State 4pm
11/14 at Southern University (Mobile, AL) 2:30pm
11/26 Tuskegee 3pm (Homecoming/Turkey Bowl)

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After consecutive seasons of 5-6 and 3-8, who blames Coach Barlow for padding the schedule with lower division cupcakes like Concordia, Edward Waters and Savannah State. Add Valley, Alcorn, A&M and D-II, Tuskegee, the Hornets have an opportunity to finish with a 7-4 season. It's more important for Coach Barlow to just WIN, even if the Hornets opponent is Wetumpka High School. FAMU's A.D. Bill Hayes decided to delay a return date with the Hornets to play two money games at the University of Miami in '09 and '10. Sort of unfair to the Hornets schedule and for Rattler and Hornet fans that had waited more than a decade for this series to return.

College Football Preview '09: Southern University Jaguars

SU Jaguars head coach Pete Richardson (16th year, 128-57)

To listen to the media types covering Southern University's football team, the Jaguars sound ready for prime time. Optimism abounds in the Southern camp, with a lot of the key cogs among 17 returning starters that were a couple of close losses away from playing in the Southwestern Athletic Conference title game. Even venerable coach Pete Richardson, entering his 17th season with the Jaguars, broke out of his stoic fa├žade to voice high hopes for his team.

"I'm excited to see what kind of team we can have," Richardson said. "We've got a lot of guys back who have been through some battles for us, and we're coming into the season pretty healthy. A lot of these guys worked hard, stayed here during the summer, and I think a lot of them have really matured in a year."

Still, all the talk of going from the "Bluff to Birmingham" for the SWAC Championship Game might be a little premature. After all, the Jags haven't claimed a SWAC title since 2003 and haven't even won their own division since 2004. Last season, SU had to win two of their last three - one in overtime -- just to finish with a winning 6-5 record in 2008, and the squad showed a disturbing knack for self-destructing at crucial times last year. Fourth-quarter losses to Florida A&M and Prairie View A&M punched a hole in what could have been a banner year.

Jaguar senior All-SWAC QB Bryant Lee #16

2009 JAGUAR SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 at UL Lafayette (6 p.m.)
Sept. 12 Central State (OH) (6 p.m.)
Sept. 19 Tennessee State (6 p.m.)
Sept. 26 *Alcorn State (6 p.m.)
Oct. 3 *at Jackson State (6 p.m.)
Oct. 17 Fort Valley State (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 22 *Prairie View A&M (6:30 p.m.)
Oct. 31 *at Ark.-Pine Bluff (2:30 p.m.)
Nov. 14 *vs. Alabama State (2:30 p.m., Mobile, Ala.)
Nov. 28 *vs. Grambling (1 p.m., New Orleans)
Dec. 5 *at Texas Southern (1 p.m.)

Home games in bold. *denotes Southwestern Athletic Conference games

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Keys: Run game just keeps on giving
Southern fine-tunes coverages

Sunday, August 23, 2009

MEAC/SWAC/OVC Sports: This Week in Review

Pro Football and Basketball

Grambling State University Tigers
The New Orleans Saints have signed cornerback Greg Fassitt


The New Orleans Saints have signed local cornerback Greg Fassitt, according to the team’s Web site. Kennedy High School graduate and Gentilly native Greg Fassitt, a cornerback from Grambling University, was signed by the team. “Fassitt, 5-11, 186 pounds, is a first-year player who originally signed with the Saints as a free agent on January 18, 2008 and was with the team during training camp last season. A former member of the Chicago Bears’ practice squad (2007), the Grambling product was a two-time member of the all-SWAC second-team after playing in 32 games, tallying 110,” said the team’s Web site.


University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions
Former UAPB Has a Breakout Performance Versus Hamilton

Former University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff football player Martell Mallet has begun to make a name for himself as a member of the British Columbia Lions football team. Throughout his professional debut Mallet has shown the work ethic and the tenacity it takes to be successful at the next level. "Martell was an extremely dedicated and humble football player while at UAPB," said Arkansas-Pine Bluff head football coach Monte Coleman. "He was a quiet leader that led by example and the amount of success he's had at the professional level this far is not a surprise to me or our coaching staff. We always knew he was a special player with big time potential."

Mallet rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries and also caught 6 passes for 82 yards in the B.C. Lions second regular season game of the season against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The 6'0, 195 pound running back caused a match-up nightmare for the opposing defense throughout the duration of the contest as he ran his way to over 160 yards of total offense. To stay informed about Martell Mallet and the B.C. Lions please continue to visit their official website at http://www.bclions.com/
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Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats
What's Up in the NFL ...

Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers
Outlook: Collins has established himself as a strong NFL player, having already reached one Pro Bowl. He has been highly upset about his contract during the offseason but is having a good camp and should be a starter this season.

Rashean Mathis, Jacksonville Jaguars
Outlook: Mathis, a defensive back, is once again primed for a great season with Jacksonville, following a 2008 year that saw him miss the last four games with a knee injury. He should again anchor the Jags' secondary.

Eric Weems, Atlanta Falcons, Pre-Season: 3 catches for 32 yards; 2 punt returns for 39 yards.
Outlook: Weems, a wide receiver, looks to have a legitimate shot to make the Falcons roster again after playing in six games last season. He's been returning punts and getting time as the No. 3 and No. 4 wideout for a Falcons team riddled with injuries.

MEAC/SWAC/OVC Championship Sports

Alabama State University Hornets
Hornets heat up in scrimmage

Alabama State ran 69 plays during its second scrimmage of fall practice Saturday. Alabama transfer Jermaine Preyear led the Hornets in rushing with 81 yards on 14 carries. Quarterback Chris Mitchell was 10-of-21 for 118 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell also scored on a 1-yard run. Nick Andrews finished with a team-high 85 yards receiving on four catches and a touchdown.

"Chris Mitchell had a good day managing the game and moving the ball," Hornets head coach Reggie Barlow said. "Jermaine Preyear had some impressive runs, but that was partially a tribute to the solid blocking of the offensive line and fullback Ronald Belser." Anthony Speight finished with 80 yards on 4-of-13 passing. Devin Dominguez, who also worked at wide receiver, went 1-of-2 for 10 yards in his one series at quarterback.

Hornets hit the field

With classes having started at Alabama State University, the football team began its regular-season practice schedule Thursday at Hornets Stadium with a one-hour midday session in helmets and shoulder pads. The squad participated in a variety of drills, including work on the two-minute drill and several sessions in the red zone.

The ASU coaching staff continues to install portions of the season gameplan while building depth on both sides of the ball. "The defense has been flying around the field making plays and that is good to see," said head coach Reggie Barlow. "However, the last two days our offense has struggled in some situational work and that is something we need to get cleaned up."

ASU's roster takes shape

Life was a bit busier around the Alabama State football complex Tuesday afternoon. The first full day of classes was less than 24 hours away -- which meant the final notices had arrived for several bubble players and the entire student body, including players, trainers, work-study students and office helpers, were going about the process of setting up life for another semester. "It's been a busy day," said ASU head coach Reggie Barlow, who still was holding meetings with players and various others in his office well after the 3 p.m. start of practice. "We've had to work with some players -- final decisions came down today. We've got some guys who didn't make it, and we've been trying to make sure everything is set up for them so they can get what they need."

ALABAMA STATE NOTEBOOK: Former Gator set to transfer

Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow said former University of Florida defensive back Jacques Rickerson, who was kicked off the UF team after being arrested twice, will join the Hornets pending clearance by the NCAA. Rickerson, a redshirt sophomore last year, got the boot from Florida head coach Urban Meyer last November after he was picked up on charges of domestic battery by strangulation.

University of Alabama signee Jermaine Preyear is interested in joining ASU .

Coach Reggie Barlow said former University of Alabama signee Jermaine Preyear is interested in joining ASU. Preyear, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back from Davidson High School in Mobile, sat out last season at Alabama while recovering from shoulder surgery. When coaches informed him that he was destined to be a cornerback for the Crimson Tide, he elected to look elsewhere. "That's a three - or four-star player that we could pick up there," Barlow said. "We're just trying to make sure everything's in order, but he should be with us."

South Carolina State University Bulldogs
SC State Holds Media Day

It was a busy Saturday for the reigning MEAC champion Bulldogs who held their annual media day in the morning and scrimmaged in the afternoon. The big news out of Orangeburg concerns the broken wrist suffered by All-MEAC linebacker Marshall McFadden. The senior, who is responsible for making the defensive calls during games, suffered the injury earlier this week on the first day of full contact. While the odds are McFadden is done for the season, there is a small chance he could return later in the year. The S.C. State defense should still be stout this season and after Saturday's scrimmage, head coach Buddy Pough would agree after he watched the that unit hold the Bulldog offense scoreless.

Rocky’ preseason start for running back King

Classes at South Carolina State University are scheduled to begin Tuesday. In the case of freshman running back Rockarius King, he’s quickly learned the challenges of college life as compared to high school. Specifically, the former Timberland standout has already received his first lesson - dealing with the heat in Orangeburg.“ I would describe it as hell,” said King at Saturday’s Media Day. “It’s very, very hot. It’s very different from where I come from. Much hotter here, but it’s something to get along with.”

The notoriously torrid summer temperatures of the Garden City made for a rocky first practice for King during the team’s first practice. He received treatment for heat exhaustion and did not resume practicing with the team until the morning two-a-day sessions last Wednesday. “I started to cramp up the first day, so I was out a week,” King said.“But other than that...it’s been pretty good. I’ve got a lot to learn.”Along with acclimating himself to the temperatures and longer practice days by drinking more fluids, there’s also studying the playbook and mastering all the responsibilities of a Bulldog running back.

Bethune Cookman University Wildcats
Ex-Buc Ross to sit out season at B-CU

Greg Ross Jr. will play college football on the same field where he starred as Mainland's quarterback. It will just be a little later than planned before he steps back onto the grass at Municipal Stadium. At Bethune-Cookman's football media day Sunday, head coach Alvin Wyatt revealed the local star will be greyshirting this season because of an overabundance of talent at the signal-calling position.

"We over-recruited," Wyatt said. "You don't know who's going to qualify and who's not going to qualify (academically), and we had a lot of guys who qualified. His dad is one of my coaches and he understood the situation." The fierce competition at quarterback likely would have left Ross little playing time, if any. Maurice Francois, the true freshman who went 3-0 last season in place of injured Matt Johnson, figures to be the starter, but Wyatt said Francois is being pushed hard by Johnson and redshirt freshman Courtney Keith.

True freshmen Ben De La Cruz and Michael Adams, who Wyatt called the biggest quarterbacks the Wildcats have had to run their patented "Wyattbone" offense, also look to compete for playing time. Ross was recruited by Miami, Middle Tennessee and Michigan State as well as B-CU. Turning down Miami was especially hard for the lifelong Hurricanes fan, but after looking at the situation there, he said he felt it wasn't right for him.

"I had to look and see how things were going to be for me," Ross said. "They had a few guys in front of me who were more experienced." The senior Ross has coached at B-CU for 20 years, meaning his son has been around Wildcats football since he was born. Although he said he stayed out of the recruiting process, the close bonds Ross Jr. developed with the coaching staff factored into his decision.

Wildcats receives another D-1A transfer

Western Michigan University football coach Bill Cubit has confirmed that linebacker Harrison Porter has transferred to Bethune-Cookman. The 6-0, 200 lb. junior is from Dillard High School, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2008, Porter appeared in eight games and made five starts. He had four tackles with 1.0 TFL of one yard at Nebraska (8/30) and had two tackles and a sack for a loss of nine yards at Idaho (9/13). Porter had five tackles and registered first career interception with a 31-yard return vs. Ohio (10/4) and had season-high seven tackles with 0.5 TFL of one yard at Buffalo (10/11). He
appeared in the Texas Bowl vs. Rice (12/30).

In 2007, Porter appeared in nine games, had four tackles in collegiate debut against Indiana (9/8) and assisted on three tackles at Missouri (9/15). He had two solo tackles with four total tackles vs. Central Conn. State (9/22) and assisted in a total of five tackles vs. Akron (10/6). Porter had three total tackles vs. Eastern Michigan (10/27) and missed remainder of season due to injury.


At Dillard H.S., Porter was a three-year starter and two-year team captain ... Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald News All-County as a junior and senior ... team captain in North/South Broward All-Star Game ... team captain and MVP of Broward Team in Broward-Dade County All-Star Game ... named high school team MVP ... member of student government, key club and crime watch.

· B-CU's Castro Wins FCSL Home Derby

There's something about a home run derby that gets extra attention, so with that in mind we congratulate Bethune-Cookman's Emmanuel Castro for his recent Florida Collegiate Summer League Home Run Derby crown. The B-CU rising junior who plays for the DeLand Suns hit five home runs at Sanford Memorial Stadium. The FCSL captured Castro's winning homer on video. It was first called a catch, because the kid in the outfield makes a tremendous leaping grab of the ball that was clearly on its way over the wall. (Yes, the kid avoided colliding into the concrete block wall.) But then it was correctly ruled a home run, because there is no actual fielding in a home run derby.



Alcorn State University Braves
Trinity product to play at Alcorn St.

Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic High graduate Sean Major is a Brave. An Alcorn State University Brave, that is. The defensive standout, who played nose tackle and linebacker for the Celtics, was granted a spot on the team as a freshman with a scholarship to follow next season. “It feels good,” said Major, who is the youngest of five children and the first to attend a four-year college. “Coming into to Trinity Catholic I wasn’t very big. I weighed 101 pounds in eighth grade and 119 in ninth. Now I’m 215. I know hard work got me to where I’m at.” Major got the news from the Southwestern Athletic Conference member earlier this summer after nearly enrolling at Florida State University.




He also had preferred walk-on opportunities at Missouri Western, Gardner-Webb and Charleston Southern, but opted for Alcorn State because the historically black college offered a diversity grant to offset expenses during his freshman season. “I was looking at FSU as a walk-on, then Alcorn got in touch with me and assured me of a spot on the team,” Major explained. “All I really know about them is Steve McNair went there.”

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Rattlers
Elliott has makeup to be premier receiver »

Sophomore receiver Kevin Elliott is beginning to draw all sorts of comparisons to some of the top receivers who played at FAMU. As a freshman last season, Elliott led the Rattlers in receptions with 58 catches for 817 yards, but he is still very far from his best season — at least, by receivers coach Steven Jerry's estimates. Given his selection to the All-MEAC pre-season team, this might just be his breakout year. "He doesn't realize how good he could be," Jerry said. But right now he is good enough to be one of the Rattlers' deep threats. Just thinking about his potential sometimes could be surreal, Jerry said.

FAMU linebacker has adopted new attitude, prepared to make impact »

Parker sheds the dreads, means business...
Bryan Parker has a more traditional haircut these days. No more dangling dreadlocks. His new look is the obvious change for FAMU's senior linebacker. The more inconspicuous differences are he's attending classes more regularly, showing more commitment to developing his tackling techniques and has the attitude to go along with all the changes. He couldn't see a better time to change, especially since pro scouts are watching.

"Everything plays a big part of me," he said. "I'm a man and I'm going to have to fend for my family. I can't act like a little kid anymore. It's go time right now. This is my last year so right now I'm thinking now or never to make it to the league."

Big season expected for FAMU Rattlers football

Legendary all-black Lincoln High School football coach Jesse Heard, left, speaks to FAMU players on 8/10.

Excerpt:
The Florida A&M University Rattlers football team are preparing to embark upon a return to glory this season. Taylor said he can feel the FAMU fan base getting more and more excited about Rattler football. "I have been told that ticket sales are way up compared to this time last year," Taylor said. "To me, that indicates that it appears the Rattlers are waking up." Taylor said the team has brought into his philosophy, which stresses discipline.

Taylor invited legendary all-black Lincoln High School football coach and captain of the 1956 Rattlers' football team Jessie Heard to speak to the team at the beginning of the first day of orientation. Heard talked to the team about what it means to be a Rattler. He said the teams he played on were coached by FAMU legend Jake Gaither, who is in the college football Hall of Fame. Heard said the teams he played on from 1953-1956 only lost four games in those four years, and won a national championship.

"When me and my former teammates found out a couple of years ago that one of our teammates was homeless, we did something about it," said Heard, who is on the FAMU Wall of Fame. "He is not homeless any more." Heard told each class of players what they must do to make FAMU successful this season, and when he got to the seniors on the team, he said, "Lead, or get out of the way!"

Heard said he was honored to be the first former player Taylor brought back to speak to the team, and he said it is something he does not remember any other coaches doing. Taylor said he wanted Heard to share his story with the players because Heard represents the finest in FAMU tradition. "He is a living legend, and he is here to let you all know what it means to be a Rattler," Taylor said. "It's about P-H-D. You have to have a lot of pride, hustle and desire."

FAMU RBs see own chance in QB's style

Quarterback Curtis Pulley is going to run with the ball for the FAMU football team. No question about that, it seems, considering how much he carried the ball last season. Two weeks away from the season opener against Delaware State, the players who work out of FAMU's back field can only see opportunities for themselves if Pulley runs like he's expected to. "With Pulley running, not only does it open up the passing game, but it opens lanes for me because other teams might have a spy to just keep their eyes on him," said running back Philip Sylvester. "That will take it off of me and open up the running game."

Pulley added an unexpected wrinkle to the Rattlers running game when he came to FAMU just before the start of last season. His penchant for making something out of nothing when a play — running or passing — breaks down is one reason that he ended up as the team's leading rusher. That's doesn't take the load off the running backs, though. In fact, they are inspired to do even more — no matter how many times Pulley might choose to take off with the ball, said running backs coach Aaron Taylor.


Grades keep Ferrell brothers apart, for now


FAMU safety Jonathan Ferrell knows exactly what his younger brother, Willie, is going through as he sits out a year from playing football. But the older Ferrell said he also understands it's for a good cause, after taking last season himself to concentrate on becoming academically eligible. "It showed me they don't care what you can do on the field," Jonathan said, following Sunday's walk-through practice. "It's all about your grades." Both brothers were major contributors two years ago when FAMU High won a Class 1B state title.

Willie helped FAMU High reach the final four last season, coming one win short of playing for a second state title. Willie Ferrell, a highly touted linebacker, wasn't expected to attend FAMU. He had originally signed a letter-of-intent to play for Mississippi, before an academic setback changed his plans. Willie enrolled this summer at FAMU. A first team selection to the Tallahassee Democrat All-Big Bend team the last two seasons, Willie Ferrell was ranked the No. 6 inside linebacker in the country by ESPN. His older brother also had the credentials to play at a bigger school then FAMU.

FAMU hires new track and field coaches »

FAMU president James Ammons set the bar high, reflecting on the school's past track and field success Thursday morning, while introducing Walter McCoy and Darlene Moore as the Rattlers' new men's and women's coaches. Both coaches said they plan to integrate their teams' practices to attain the goals set by Ammons. Their benchmark is to reestablish the standard set by former FAMU greats Bob Hayes and Pam Oliver, Ammons said.

"With the addition of these two new coaches, we hope to reignite the fire we know exists in FAMU track and field community," Ammons said during a mid-morning press conference. "We hope to continue to produce track Olympians and attract athletes from across the state of Florida, across the nation and across the globe." McCoy and Moore can relate. They've either been there themselves or have coached athletes who have gone on to win national titles.

Purcell accepts role as FAMU tight end »

Junior tight end Max Purcell snagged the ball out of the air at midfield and dragged a few linemen about two yards. The rest of his Thursday afternoon was spent blocking during practice. Such is the life for a FAMU tight end who, if he is fortunate, gets called to run a receiver's route for a play or two. The chance to catch the ball is a precious opportunity in the Rattlers' offensive scheme. "If I catch the ball, I like to get as much (yards after the catch) as I can," Purcell said. "That makes my job a lot easier and takes the pressure off the receivers."

FAMU's Brazzle pushes for full, healthy season »

They were down to the last few practice plays Wednesday. On every snap, nose guard Cameron Houston and center Steve Brazzle locked up. The two FAMU big men pushed and shoved like two rhinoceroses in a fight. "That's a strong man right there," Brazzle said. "I give him all the credit in the world. He gives me a good look every day. "He never comes half-stepping. I think he is one of the premier tackles in the league so it shows me where I stand. It's key that the defense, whoever I go against, gives me a good look so I can go hard on Saturdays in the games."
FAMU receivers must fill multiple roles »

FAMU receivers coach Steven Jerry is quick to turn to a little mathematic division when one of the players in his group asks about playing time. It's pretty simple, the way he figures it: Thirty pass plays divided by his five key receivers will always equal six minutes. But this is football, so give or take a play or two per man. But that doesn't mean there is a lot of time to sit around on game day. All of FAMU's receivers have been given multiple duties on special teams in addition to their primary roles. And even when they aren't part of the offense, every receiver has to throw a block or two.

Weather slows FAMU's practice »

Practice provided mixed results for the FAMU football team Tuesday afternoon — a lot of heat and rain and too much lightning. All of that on a day when young linebackers were making a strong case for playing time during 7-on-7 drills in the heart of the afternoon. The strikes of lightning forced coach Joe Taylor to halt practice about 10 minutes early, skipping the cardio portion of the workout. But by the unexpected end, Taylor got a glimpse at his players' will to endure the conditions. During a 20-minute downpour, not a man flinched.

Ex-ASU track coach Moore eager to get going after being hired ...

"Florida A&M got a steal with that woman," "She'll take that program a long way." ...Albany State University Rams track coach Kenneth Taylor. Photo: New FAMU's Men track coach Walter McCoy (L) and Coach Darlene Moore.

Darlene Moore's introduction Thursday as the new Florida A&M women's track and field coach marked the achievement of a long-term goal in more ways than one. First of all, she always wanted to coach a NCAA Division I school. Also, she wanted specifically to coach the Lady Rattlers, who often competed in meets hosted by Albany State. After coaching the Fort Valley State women for six years, and then being an Albany State assistant the past two, she now embarks on a challenge she feels comfortable with.

"When I took over the Fort Valley State program, they were rebuilding," Moore told The Herald. "I'm used to rebuilding. I feel comfortable in this setting and want to get it back to a powerhouse. I'm just ready to get everything started." Moore, who starred at Albany State during the 1980s and once held the school's 400-meters record for women, was inducted in the school's Sports Hall of Fame last fall. She coached eight cross country/track SIAC team champions in six years at Fort Valley State while also training two NCAA Division II event champions. At Albany State, she groomed the Rams' Ronnie McGirt into a 110 hurdles national champion last spring.

Replacing fired coach Maicel Malone, Moore was not the only new track coach hired by FAMU on Thursday. The Rattlers also hired former Olympic gold-medal winner Walter McCoy (4x100 in 1984 in Los Angeles).

"Track and field is a very special part of the athletics program at Florida A&M University. We feel that we have selected two coaches who have a burning passion for track and field, a great appreciation for the FAMU track tradition, and who will work hard to restore the sport to a championship level," FAMU athletic director Bill Hayes said in a press release.

FAMU's Taylor: The Dean of the MEAC

Coach has Rattlers in midst of a turnaround...
Ask Joe Taylor how many championships he's won, players that went to the NFL from his program or the number of trips he's made to the NCAA postseason and he'll pause. There have been so many. He might start going through the list, then decide to hit the highlights. There could be many more before he is done coaching. "As long as I can do it the right way, I'm going to keep doing it," Taylor said. "But if it ever becomes drudgery to put in the time for the game plan or organize and I don't feel like getting up, then I know it's time to do something different.

"I still get excited about seeing it all unfold." That's from a man who has been coaching for almost three decades. He's now in his 18th year as a coach in the MEAC and that puts Taylor five years ahead of Bethune-Cookman's Alvin Wyatt, who has the second longest tenure in the league. Taylor begins his second season as FAMU's head coach this fall with the distinction of being the dean of MEAC football. FAMU is the third MEAC program Taylor has coached, including stops at Howard and Hampton.

Defense rules the day for Rattlers

Curtis Pulley wasn't sure. There was no signal that he had scored a touchdown. Maybe that's why the defense, which had swarmed Pulley and every player who touched the ball on offense all morning during FAMU's first scrimmage, just stood around and watched the quarterback run.

It almost seemed as if the defense wanted to give the offense something for all that it had taken away on a balmy morning. The times the defense didn't strip the ball away, the offense turned it over on interceptions. That summed up FAMU football coach Joe Taylor's biggest concern after watching his team go full throttle for the first time this season.

Past year has been whirlwind for FAMU's Pulley »

Transfer QB has revived his career at FAMU...
One coach compared Curtis Pulley's popularity in the MEAC to that of a rock star. That might be a bit over the top. But Pulley, FAMU's new-found leader on its football team, is on the Walter Payton Award watch list. He topped the list of first-team selections for the MEAC preseason team. What a turnaround. A year ago, Pulley was without a football team. He had lost his scholarship at Kentucky for multiple run-ins with the law. One school after another wanted no part of him.

Pulley, named Kentucky's Mr. Football in 2005, was in an upside-down world until Joe Taylor gave him new life at FAMU. "After being told no here and there and wondering if I'd ever play football gain, and for (Taylor) to accept me and bring me down here, that was big," Pulley said. "Coach Taylor makes me feel like I'm part of a family and not just playing on a team." Pulley definitely isn't just on the team. He has become an integral part of an offense that is talented enough to help FAMU finish better than its predicted second.

Trinity's Barnaby now a D-1 prospect

Excerpt:
There's plenty of room for positive feelings inside Barnaby's body -- he's about the size of a small truck. At 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, Barnaby has become an enormous presence, literally, on Trinity Christian's offensive and defensive lines. From a kid who four years ago "didn't have any clue where to put his hands or anything," coach Allen Johnson said, Barnaby has become a Division I prospect. He has received a scholarship offer from Navy, and he has received heavy interest from Mississippi, Duke and Florida A&M.

But Barnaby is a different kind of star player. For one thing, he has a 4.1 grade point average. So when he answers a question, he doesn't spout cliches like a lot of players do, but offers thoughtful answers. "People see all the big schools offering and they're like, 'You've got to go to the biggest one,' " Barnaby said. "But it's not like that. You've got to look around, see which one would be the best fit for you and then go there."


Southern University and A&M College Jaguars
SU avoiding injury bug

Senior cornerback Brandon Green stood on the sideline for Southern’s first fall scrimmage Saturday morning, resting a stubbornly sore hamstring. The same was true for freshman cornerback Pierre Warford. Elsewhere, right tackle Lee Almanza dressed in uniform Saturday, but with a minor groin pull, he stayed out of the action for the first time since training camp began Aug. 5. On the injury front, that’s about as bad as it’s been so far. And coach Pete Richardson is thankful for that.

Although Green, Warford and a half-dozen others have minor pulls, sprains or bruises, Southern has avoided serious injuries through the first two weeks this preseason. While Richardson conceded a major injury can happen at any point, he’d like to believe scheduling has played a part in the almost-injury-free training camp. SU has practiced 12 times since camp began, but only twice did the Jaguars conduct two-a-days. They could afford to do that because classes begin Monday and the season opener isn’t until Sept. 5, some three weeks away.

Miss. SWAC teams savor challenges

Can Jackson State coaches instill discipline in their players? Can Mississippi Valley State stop anyone on defense? And have the players at Alcorn State put the school’s bizarre coaching carousel behind them? The key questions are different for each of Mississippi’s three Southwestern Athletic Conference teams as they open the 2009 season and so are the challenges. While Jackson State is seeking to advance to its third straight SWAC title game, MVSU and Alcorn State are looking to regroup from disappointing seasons — one with a veteran coach and the other with a first-year coach for the second straight season.

At Alcorn State, players had to deal with the firing of first-year coach Ernest T. Jones. The Braves were 2-10 last year, but lost six games by a touchdown or less and four games in the final minute. The school promoted defensive coordinator Earnest Collins Jr. to head coach after Jones’ firing. It was a reversal of fortune for Collins, who was one of seven assistants fired before Jones’ dismissal, then reinstated.

'Country strong' RB helps lead Jaguars

Byron Williams is a country kid. As such, he is country strong. A native of Clinton, even he concedes that life away from the city is usually dull. For a youngster, that is both a blessing and a curse. For Williams, it was mostly a blessing. “It’s a country life up there. There’s really not much to do,” Williams said. “So a lot of people look at football — or basketball, or track — as a chance to get away from home.

What we do on weekends is, instead of going out to a party, we work out all day. Maybe we go run on the track or take a walk into town. Or we ride our bikes together.” Oh, those bikes. They were really good for the lower body. “I had a 10-speed, and I put on the hardest pedals so I could make my legs stronger,” Williams said. “So we start to ride at, say, 1 o’clock, and we come home at about 10. That’s nine hours of riding, and by that time your legs are tired. So you go soak them in the tub and go to bed.”

Jaguars get antsy for start of season

Two-a-days are in the rear-view mirror. The regular season is nearly here. And lately, the Southern football team has practiced in mild conditions, thanks to dark clouds and rain. Yet as the Jaguars prepare for their second scrimmage of fall practice this morning, they can argue that this coming week will be the toughest of them all. The dog days are dead ahead, if they’re not here already. “I think every camp is like that. It starts out (and) everybody is enthusiastic and ready to roll,” offensive coordinator Mark Orlando said.

“Then, after about four or five days, you kind of see it. All of a sudden, one guy is down. Then two guys are down. ... It’s psychological. So the mental toughness is what we’re looking for now at this point — fighting through the two-week doldrums.”

Responsibility grows for SU defensive line

In three seasons at Southern, Jordan Miller has learned that changes in football are similar to changes in life: They often come with positives and negatives. Miller walked on to the Southern football team and began as a defensive end, waiting for a chance to play. He got it, shuttling in and out of games as part of the Jaguars’ steady rotation. Then, just as Miller settled in, the SU coaches made another change. This spring, they asked Miller to move inside, to defensive tackle. They also gave him a scholarship — and the chance at a starting job. Those were the positives. As for the negatives ...

Keys: For SU, true storm begins in October

They could not believe their good fortune. Tuesday afternoon, dozens of Southern football players shuffled through the ground floor in the F.G. Clark Activity Center, preparing themselves for more of the same. Another day of practice. Another day of drills, blocking sleds and wind sprints. Another day like the one before. And the one before that. Just then, a vicious storm rolled through campus, knocking out power in the Clark Center. Minutes later, the call came from coach Pete Richardson to the locker room: Be ready for a meeting at 6 p.m. today. No practice. All at once, players erupted. If only for one day, they’d been saved by the thunder gods.

SU players bemoan dreaded 'up-downs'

Less than a week into his first college training camp, Southern guard Adrian Banks got his first taste of the up-down. He didn’t enjoy it then. He doesn’t enjoy it now. Four years have passed, and some things never change. Misery is still misery. “My freshman year, a guy missed breakfast while we were in camp,” Banks recalled. “Everybody had to go in a circle. ... We had to do, like, 25 down-ups in a row. My arms were getting numb and cramped up. You’ve got to pump your feet, fall on your chest and get right back up. If you don’t, they’ll add more. It’s crazy, man. I hate it.”

Jaguars LBs have depth, chemistry

Marcus Clark was barely into his first college start when he learned two hard lessons. Lesson No. 1: When you can make a tackle, do it like you’re supposed to — get in position, wrap up, and drive your momentum through the ball carrier. In the first quarter of Southern’s game at Alcorn State on Sept. 27, Clark did not do any of that. He was starting at okie (inside) linebacker in place of Johnathan Malveaux, the team’s leading tackler last year. He saw Alcorn wideout Emmanuel Arceneaux coming across the middle. “I tried for the kill shot,” Clark said. “That man took my momentum and went all the way up the sideline for about 60 yards before we caught him.” (Actually, Arceneaux gained only 35 yards on the play.)

Jackson State University Tigers
Quarterbacks quiet skeptics

The Jackson State offense showed some big-play ability in its first scrimmage of the preseason Saturday with five passing plays going for more than 20 yards. The sight was a relief for those with doubts regarding the quarterback situation. "I was happy for the quarterbacks," coach Rick Comegy said. "The success really needs to (come) from there." Starter Tray Rutland was 10-for-17 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Demario Pippen for a 35-yard score and hit Antoine Ott-Terrell for a 2-yard touchdown off play action.

Backup Dedric McDonald took the rest of the snaps and completed 3 of 8 passes for 169 yards with a touchdown and an acrobatic interception by Anthony Johnson. The redshirt freshman had a 65-yard completion to Spencer Spane and a 95-yard touchdown to Anthony Mayes. McDonald also ran for 74 yards, including a 60-yard scramble up the middle for a touchdown.

Former JSU Golfer Caddies For PGA Champion

Former Jackson State golfer A.J. Montecinos has found success on the PGA Tour in recent years. That success has not come as a player, but rather a caddy. Last Sunday, Montecinos and Y. E. Yang shocked the world (of golf) when Yang defeated Tiger Woods for the 2009 PGA Championship. The duo, which has been together for nearly two years, could not have come from any more seemingly different backgrounds have made things work to near perfection on the golf course. Montecinos, who is 35 years old, grew up in California and Yang, 37, is from South Korea.

Montecinos, who is Italian on his mother’s side and Spanish on his father’s side, played his collegiate golf at JSU under head coach Eddie Payton from 1993-97, winning four straight SWAC titles. Yang, who was in PGA Tour qualifying school nine months ago, spent about two years in the South Korean military (beginning at age 21) before going to New Zealand after his military duty to pursue a golf career.

And there is a bit of a language barrier. Yang speaks limited English. “Our communication is fine. He understands more than people think,”Montecinos said. Montecinos got into caddying through his collegiate teammate Tim O’Neal.Montecinos and O’Neal were members of the JSU men’s golf team that went on to become the first from a historically black university to play in the NCAA Championships in 1995.

“I got into it through Tim,“ said Montecinos. “We were together for two years.“The relationship between a golfer and his caddie is one of the closest in sports.“Caddying is like a marriage. You have to know everything about that golfer. Like, what to say and not to say at the right time. " Being a caddy, we also have to be able to calm the player down and get them pumped up at the right times. We have to know everything about the greens, the club the player needs to use at that specific point and time. How far he can hit that specific club, and how the ball is rolling with the wind conditions, if any. A caddy basically makes the player’s job as easy as possible.

To date, Yang has played in 19 tour events and has made more than $3.2 million. He has finished first on the PGA Tour two times in 2009 and ranks ninth in Money Leaders on the tour.

Woody has been by Comegy's side for going on 15 seasons

James Woody has been an offensive coordinator under Rick Comegy during 14 collegiate football seasons. This fall at Jackson State will mark No. 15 - the crystal anniversary - but another set of diamond championship rings would be the preferred gift. Relationships evolve in any successful partnership and the Comegy-Woody combination has done the same. In May, for example, the two got into such a heated exchange that Woody was suspended for five days without pay and JSU message boards nearly melted down with rumors that Woody had been fired.

The two have never publicly addressed the suspension, or its cause, and that riff appears to have been put in the past with hopes of an improved offense dominating the present. "We're professional, everything's professional," Comegy said. "We've got to be professional about the business." One possible cause of the friction: After JSU lost the 2008 SWAC title game 41-9 to Grambling State, Comegy decided he would spend more time with the offense during practices in the spring and fall and that Woody would move from the sidelines to the press box during games this fall.

JSU learns how to play in mud

Thunderstorms in the area put a crimp in the plans of the Jackson State football team on Thursday. Players and coaches practiced outside for a little over an hour before the downpour forced everyone inside. Practice was bumped to 2 p.m. from 3 p.m. in hopes of pre-empting the showers. The team also moved from the normal practice field to an open area off to the side. "We (did) more close-quarter things and hope you don't slip and get anybody really hurt," JSU coach Rick Comegy said. "Only thing you can do is pound the running game because that's what people are going to do in the rain, mostly.

Young keeps surprising at CB

Short, skinny and not that fast. Marcell Young flashes that gap-toothed smile at the self-description while reminiscing about high school days at Hinds A.H.S. The Jackson State cornerback remembers not causing much of a stir and being overshadowed by teammates like Austin Divinity, who was the No. 19 rated recruit in Mississippi in 2005, according to Rivals.com. The trend has followed Young throughout his career, first at Hinds Community College where his mom expected two years of football would be the end of his career.

Young had other plans and last season transferred to JSU, where he started immediately. "Marcell, he's unassuming," JSU coach Rick Comegy said. "When he came we had an idea, but we didn't know he could play like that. We thought he was good, but he's become an exceptional player."

Transfer corner getting notice

Transfer cornerback Jalil Johnson has made an early impression on the Jackson State coaching staff. Three weeks into camp, the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder from Mississippi Delta Community College is getting snaps with the No. 1 defense as starter Marcell Young has nursed an injured leg. Johnson graded out at 90 percent in the first scrimmage of camp Saturday. "Every time I look Jalil's way he's batting that ball down," coach Rick Comegy said. "Jalil could play for a lot of people and he's going to play a lot here, too. If we have to find a nickel package, a dime package, we're going to have to play it. He's got that swagger that you need. And that confidence. He comes to play every practice."

Delaware State University Hornets
DSU Complete 10 Days Of Camp

The Hornets took to the practice field twice on Friday, the third of six scheduled "two-a-days." The players endured humid conditions in full pads during the morning session. The second practice was scheduled for 3:00 p.m., but moved to the evening due to the extreme heat. A late afternoon thunderstorm provided welcome relief for the players as Friday evening's session featured less humid conditions. Among the question marks surrounding the 2009 Hornets is the play of the defensive line. Four linemen with starting experience will anchor the unit; however, the next eight consist of first-year players. Tackles Andre Carroll (jr. 6-2, 260) and Tyron Hurst (sr. 6-2, 295) provide experience in the middle, while Joe Mendes (jr. 5-11, 220) and Fabian Dunn (sr. 6-2, 275) will man the ends.

Savannah State University Tigers
Savannah State football coach to have TV show

Robby Wells is coming into your living room on Saturday mornings beginning Sept. 5. Savannah State University's second-year football head coach has his own television show, "The Robby Wells Coaches Show," on the NBC digital station MyNetworkTV. WSAV-DT2 is the area's MyNetworkTV affiliate. "The Robby Wells Coaches Show" will be televised from 10:30-11 a.m. each Saturday during the football season on Comcast digital channel 237 in Georgia, and on Time-Warner Cable channel 72 in South Carolina.

"This is a Division I football program, and we're doing what Division I football programs do. And that's part of it," Wells, 41, said at the Tigers' practice Thursday. The show's format includes commentary from Wells, game highlights and a behind-the-scenes look into SSU's football program. A host for the show is still in the works. Wells said the program primarily will be produced by SSU's mass communications program. "The Robby Wells Coaches Show" will debut the day of SSU's season opener against Livingstone College in the HBCU Classic in Greenville, S.C.

University of Arkansas Pine Bluff
Coleman Believes Lions Will Roar This Year

The UAPB Golden Lions have high expectations this season. Second year coach Monty Coleman says the Lions will be a lot better this year. They have plenty of experience at the skill position. At running back is Mickey Dean, a preseason first team all SWAC selection. The Golden Lions also have a host of returners coming back on the defensive end of the ball. Jared Dorn and Kevin Thornton are just a couple of them along with Razorback transfer Freddie Fairchild.

QB'S FIGHTING FOR PLAYING TIME IN UAPB SCRIMMAGE

As Arkansas-Pine Bluff holds its first major scrimmage of fall practice today, coach Monte Coleman and his staff will be closely watching position battles at several spots. But nothing will be watched more closely than what transpires at quarterback. For 10 days of practices now four players have taken an almost equal number of snaps to decide who will eventually lead the Golden Lions when they open the season Sept. 5 against Arkansas-Monticello.

Though progression has been made by all, Coleman said neither Rontrell Bailey, Josh Boudreaux, Gvona Turner or William Dunn have made any sort of jump beyond the other. “We don’t have a Usain Bolt right now,” said Coleman, referring to the Jamaican sprinter who has made a habit of running away from his competition. The second-year coach hopes one of the four will begin to pull away today. Bailey, who entered the fall as the No. 1 quarterback because of his performance last spring, will begin today’s scrimmage on the practice field adjacent to Golden Lion Stadium leading the top offense. Boudreaux will also get work with the top offense, and Turner and Dunn will also get snaps.

Arkansas Pine Bluff Week 1 Camp Report

A highly competitive scrimmage brought an official close to the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff football teams' first week of training camp. UAPB Head Coach Monte Coleman was pleased with what he saw during his teams' first scrimmage but cited a need for overall improvement in the coming weeks. "I'll give the offense a 'B' on performance and the defense would get a 'C,'" said Coleman after watching his team compete against each other on Saturday afternoon. "I thought they threw the ball well," added Coleman. "We still have some mishandles of balls, but all that is going to be corrected by Sept. 5th."

The Golden Lions will return to the practice field on Monday at 2:15 pm. The team will host its second scrimmage of fall camp on Thursday afternoon. UAPB will open their season at Golden Lions Stadium on Saturday, September 5th as they host the University of Arkansas-Monticello. Season tickets are still available starting at the unbelievably low price of $55. To order your season ticket package call (870) 575-8675 or (870) 575-7930.

YOUNG CORNERBACKS MATURE QUICKLY FOR GOLDEN LIONS

It took until the eighth game of the season for James Harrell to make his mark in the Arkansas-Pine Bluff secondary. On a clear afternoon last October, a homecoming crowd of 14,852 watched as Harrell, a freshman cornerback just a year removed from high school, noticed a play his coaches had reminded him of all week. He watched as the opposing receiver’s legs came to a stop, darted in front of a pass and sprinted 91 yards to add the final score in an eventual 42-0 UAPB win over Lincoln (Mo.) University.

“I was just watching his knees like (then defensive backs coach Alonzo Hampton) said. His knees stopped and I just ran through the ball,” Harrell recalled. “It felt good.”Harrell had contributed most of the season but, prior to the interception, it was mostly on special teams. That afternoon was when his potential began to meet reality and the son of former NFL linebacker James Harrell sparkled the rest of the season.The next week Harrell returned a kickoff 32 yards against Southern, and he was in the starting lineup for the final three games.

WITHERSPOON'S SPEED, FAIRCHILD'S ATHLETICISM BRING POTENTIAL TO ...

When he’s pressed to take a second to think about it, Michael Witherspoon guesses he’s been away from the Arkansas-Pine Bluff football facilities just one day this summer. And the only reason for that absence was a scheduled dentist appointment in Little Rock. Every other day, though, the senior middle linebacker is inside the J. Thomas May Fieldhouse by early afternoon, lifting weights before taking part in strength and conditioning coach Nick Latham’s offseason program. He’s got no other choice, he said. As the only returning starter among a group that has high expectations this season, Witherspoon has taken on the role as the player who shows others the way.

“I couldn’t tell (younger players) to do something that I wouldn’t expect myself to do,” Witherspoon said. “I had to be here and lead by example.”Last season Witherspoon didn’t have to do any of that. He didn’t enter the starting lineup until the fourth game and even then seniors Tim Turner and John Keith took on most of those responsibilities. He quietly made 70 tackles, third most on the team behind Turner and Keith, and then emerged as a stable and experienced element in the middle of the defense.

UAPB D-LINE SEARCHING FOR REPLACEMENTS AT THREE POSITIONS

Most of the questions surrounding Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s defense concern its ability to replace departed linebackers Tim Turner and John Keith and defensive end Ledarius Anthony. UAPB second-year coach Monte Coleman doesn’t at all downplay those losses. He knows replacing his top two tacklers and leader in sacks over the past two seasons will be difficult. But just as difficult he thinks will be replacing a player whose contribution last year went largely unnoticed by anyone outside of Golden Lion Stadium.“Not by the coaches,” said Coleman, when asked if defensive tackle Aaron Hence was forgotten last season.

“We appreciated everything he did. He played extremely well for us.”Coleman understands Anthony’s 14 sacks over the past two seasons garnered the most interest. But Hence’s 63 tackles, including 21/2 sacks, last season were just as important. That tackle total was fourth best on the team and the most of any defensive lineman. But the departure of Hence and Kenneth Leichman, who battled injuries last season, have left a rather sizable hole in the middle of the Golden Lions’ defensive line. And the loss of Anthony has made it so UAPB will be replacing three of its four starters along the front.

Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University Bulldogs
A&M's O-line source of pride


Bulldogs' hopes are high with five returning starters. Cedric Pearl doesn't move as quickly as he did a couple of months ago. He recently underwent surgery that has cost him a step or two. But Pearl, Alabama A&M's offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, isn't the one who needs to move quickly. That's a task for his players. Pearl has a history of putting together one of the better units in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Unfortunately for A&M, that wasn't the case last season. Injuries and a lack of quality depth finally reared its ugly head.

"We've got to make a 180-degree turnaround," he said. That shouldn't be that difficult. All five starters return, led by All-SWAC center Xavier Manuel. Throw in Jerrell Doom, a highly touted junior college transfer, and Jamaal Johnson-Webb, a talented redshirt freshman, and this is a unit that has all the makings to be special.

Veteran-loaded secondary gives A&M confidence

Three seniors, four juniors lead experienced corps. Deep. Experienced. Talented. It sounds like a slogan for a top-notch company. Instead, those three words describe the players who make up Alabama A&M's secondary. Their names are arguably the most recognizable on the team because they've been around so long. Maurice Thomas, Julius Pruitt and Justin Borden are seniors. Korey Morrison, Marcus Thomas, Chris Faush and Raymond Segura are juniors. Rico Porch and Clarence Morris are sophomores. Junior college transfer Abraham Felton is the only newcomer who figures into the playing rotation.

"This is the deepest secondary we've had since I've been here," said Maurice Thomas, who is expected to start at left cornerback. "Not only do we have a solid group of starters, but we trust the second team. It doesn't matter who starts because we know they're going to go out and do a good job. They know what to do and they know what we expect out of them."

Jones likes looks of Bulldogs

Coach says A&M's focus is becoming stronger every day...Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones was frustrated with his team a week ago. The Bulldogs hadn't played up to the level he expected in their second scrimmage, and Jones voiced his displeasure. "I'm not concerned about why we haven't done what we think we should be doing," Jones said. "I'm more concerned about getting us there. We've just got to get better.

"My expectations are very high. Everybody's expectations aren't where mine are and I'm not going to compromise them until I get what I want." Lightning and rain forced the Bulldogs off the field early Thursday afternoon, but that didn't dampen Jones' enthusiasm. Over the last three days, he says his team has turned the corner. "Their focus is now on the big picture," said Jones, who will lead A&M against Tennessee State on Sept. 5 in the season opener for both teams. "We've got 11 more opportunities to get this thing right before we're standing at LP Field and everything counts.

Second scrimmage frustrates A&M coach

Jones says offense 'absolutely awful' under the lights...Alabama A&M's defense dominated the offense for the second time in four days Saturday night as the Bulldogs held their second scrimmage of the preseason. Quarterback Kevin Atkins and his offensive teammates managed just one touchdown and one field goal during the 85-play scrimmage at Louis Crews Stadium. "That was awful ... absolutely awful," A&M coach Anthony Jones said. "Our execution was awful. Our decisions were awful. Part of it is due to injuries, but that's no excuse. We're doing stuff we don't even practice.

"When you turn the lights on, some people tend to panic. I saw a lot of that tonight. Some of them looked like deer in headlights. It wasn't just the quarterbacks. It was everybody. Everybody had mental breakdowns that they shouldn't have had."

A&M notebook

Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones had a hard enough time watching Saturday's scrimmage live. Despite that, Jones went back and watched the video and things didn't get any better. "Watching the film confirmed what I already knew," Jones said after watching the Bulldogs' offense struggle for the second time in as many scrimmages. "We're a long ways away from where we need to be. We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there

Grambling State University Tigers
Grambling enters new season with future in sight but past goals in ...

The accolades were lengthy. An 11-2 record. Bayou Classic winners. Southwestern Athletic Conference Champions. Black College National Champions. Don’t ask the Tigers to talk about them now though. That was last season. “It’s definitely in the past,” senior defensive end Christian Anthony said. “We’re looking at the 2009-2010 season now, but we’re looking for the same outcome. It starts today. We don’t talk about the past.”

GSU looking for receivers

Take a look at the Grambling roster and you won’t find a lot of experience among the wide receivers. The Tigers’ top returner in the passing game is sophomore wideout Kiare Thompson, who had 25 receptions for 310 yards and seven touchdowns in 2008. Beyond Thompson, the returnees who made the best targets for quarterback Greg Dillon last season are two running backs (Kenneth Batiste and Frank Warren) and a tight end (Larry Donnell). Finding a few more reliable receivers to stretch opposing defenses is one of the Tigers’ biggest concerns as the Sept. 6 season opener against South Carolina State approaches.

Hampton University Pirates
Smells like team scrimmage

Hampton University's scrimmage this afternoon was typical of early season football - there was some good, some bad and some ugly. LaMarcus Coker broke several runs, Herb Bynes completed some crisp passes and the Pirates' defense did a good job swarming to the football. Late in the afternoon, with storm clouds closing in, quarterback David Legree, a transfer from Syracuse, took exception to being thrown to the ground by preseason all-MEAC defensive tackle Kendrick Ellis, who didn't pay much heed to Legree's no-contact jersey.

Legree came up shoving, and a brief melee broke out - not exactly to head coach Donovan Rose's chagrin. "It’s good. I like it," Rose said of the competitive fire that spawns such chippiness. "Right now we’ve got a lot of guys that are big, that are strong, that are physical. (But) even though we’re going against one another, we’re still teammates. I don’t want them to lose their aggression, but I’ve got to make sure that they save that for the opponent."

Impact player?

LaMarcus Coker is both Hampton University's leading rusher and receiver, but his 713 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 20 catches (for 265 yards and two TDs) fell short of what some people expected from the Tennessee transfer in 2008. As he watched quarterback Herb Bynes throw for a school-record 2,713 yards in the absence of a consistent running game, Coker expected more from himself.

Alums help guide football fortunes at Hampton U.

In his last job, Keith Goganious worked with lawyers. Now he deals with linebackers.
There's really not much difference, Goganious says. "They've both kind of got a mean streak, and you're not quite sure what they're going to do if you say the wrong thing to them," he said.

Goganious, 40, smiled and wiped his brow. He was standing under the hot sun at Hampton University's football media day, clad in coaching attire - shorts and an HU T-shirt. It was a far cry from the work uniform he wore in the sales and marketing jobs he's held since retiring from the NFL more than a decade ago. "I was a corporate guy: power suit, power tie," he said.

Pilgrim gets waiver by NCAA to play for OSU

Matt Pilgrim has been granted a waiver by the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Friday afternoon, allowing him to compete immediately this season for the Oklahoma State Basketball team. “We are excited that Matt will be able to be a part of the program this season,” said head coach Travis Ford. “He will make an immediate impact on this team with both his abilities and his experience. He will make us a better team and brings a toughness with him.

“More importantly, I’m excited for Matt,” continued Ford. “He’s been through a lot deserves this outcome. We appreciate the speed in which the NCAA processed his appeal, showing that the best interests of the student-athlete are being considered.”
Pilgrim, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Hampton University in Virginia. He played 47 games and started 30 for the Pirates, averaging 9.2 points and 5.2 rebounds over two years. He was named to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference all-rookie team following his freshman season.

Pilgrim transferred to Kentucky prior to the 2008-09 season and sat out as a redshirt due to NCAA Division I transfer rules.

Star Track: Troy Fullwood

Former HU Pirate Troy Fullwood, who grew up in Hampton, has enjoyed a sort of homecoming this week while umpiring the International League series between the Gwinnett Braves and Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park. The patient Fullwood is in his 14th season of umpiring pro baseball, and he occasionally has been among the officials called up to work as a substitute in the majors. He is in his eighth season of working Triple-A ball, where salaries are listed from $2,600 to $3,500 per month, and his travels have been extensive.

He made his major-league regular-season debut in 2004 and worked the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Fullwood went to the Harry Wendelstedt School of Umpiring in Daytona Beach, Fla., in early 1996 and began working minor-league games that year, paying his dues. Among the leagues in which he was worked, besides the IL: Gulf Coast, South Atlantic, Florida Instructional, Florida State, Carolina, Southern, Venezuelan, Pacific Coast and Arizona Fall. And those are just in the pros. Before pro ball kicks into high gear, Fullwood also has served as a collegiate umpire for Colonial Athletic Association and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference contests, among others.

Headed to FCS school in Virginia

Washington State University CB Romeo Pellum says he's headed to Hampton University to continue his football career and college education. Hampton is an FCS school (formerly D-IAA) located in Virginia with an enrollment of a little over 6,000. The Pirates were 6-5 last year. Pellum is not yet listed on the Hampton roster nor is he in on campus but said he'll be arriving shortly."I'll be out there in a few days, I'm just wrapping some final things up and then I'll be there," said Pellum.

Pellum, formerly of Washington State, was suspended back in the early spring and left WSU at semester's end. As has been widely reported, Pellum has been charged with felonies for attempting to burglarize a teammate's dorm room. Pellum is scheduled to face a jury trial later this year.

Phoebus' Griffin commits to play football for HU

Andre Griffin, part of Phoebus' undefeated state football championship team last fall, has given a verbal commitment to Hampton University. Griffin was offered a scholarship by the Pirates Wednesday and quickly accepted. He is being recruited at wide receiver, where he is expected to start this season for the Phantoms as well as cornerback. "He has deceptive speed and he runs excellent routes," Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said. "He has great hands, that's the thing HU liked most about him. And he has an ability to make guys miss. He makes a move on you and next thing you know, he's 20 yards downfield."

Tennessee State University Tigers
Calvin McNairl seeks TSU's starting quarterback job


Calvin McNairl went from starting for Tennessee State to standing on the sideline. The former Henry County quarterback replaced injured Antonio Heffner his freshman season in 2007, then was redshirted when Heffner recovered in 2008 and three other quarterbacks were added to the roster. Heffner is gone, but two of the others — Dominic Grooms and Jeremy Perry — are still around and along with McNairl are in the mix for the starting assignment. If the staff is interested in a replacement who most resembles Heffner, McNairl says he is the man. After Heffner broke his leg against Eastern Kentucky in 2007 McNairl led the Tigers to a 2-2 record.

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