Friday, August 31, 2012

Bowie State, Benedict Tigers Live on CBS Sports Network

BOWIE, Maryland - The NCAA Division II and CBS Sports Network have announced their 2012 regular-season football television schedule and Bowie State University will hit the airwaves first on Thursday (September 6th) on the road at Benedict College at 8 pm.  Bowie State defeated Benedict last season (31-14) on the Bulldogs' home field in the inagural contest.

The Benedict Tigers are a member of Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).

Division II Vice President Mike Racy said the program, now in its seventh year, has been good for the participating institutions and Division II in general.

“This will be the seventh season of Division II regular-season coverage on CBS Sports Network,” Racy said. “After this year, national telecasts will have originated from 35 different Division II football stadiums, and about 25 percent of our football-playing members will have had regular-season national television exposure. It's been great for the division, and the schools say it's also been valuable for them.”

This will be the first appearance on the CBS Sports Network series for eight institutions in football or basketball.

After the Bowie State / Benedict contest, the series will include  five conference matchups, including a Sept. 13 game between Texas A&M-Commerce and Midwestern State. That contest will be part of a Lone Star Football Festival – a three-day, six-game event at Cowboy Stadium that will include all nine LSC teams.

The remaining matchups include: Truman State at Central Missouri (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association), Sept. 20. This will be the only 2012 football matchup between founding members of the MIAA, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Wingate at Carson-Newman (South Atlantic Conference), Sept. 27. Carson-Newman is a three-time Division II finalist.  Wayne State (Mich.) at Saginaw Valley State (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), Oct. 11. Wayne State lost to Pittsburg State in the 2011 championship game. New Haven at Stonehill (Northeast-10 Conference), Oct. 18. New Haven received a first-round bye in last year's Division II championship playoffs.



Southern gets important paycheck, exposure for New Mexico game

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana - Asked how competitive his team can be against the Football Bowl Subdivision’s New Mexico Lobos in the season opener, Southern coach Stump Mitchell made his feelings clear.

“We’re not just going up there to collect a paycheck,” Mitchell said. “We’re going up there to try to get win No. 1.” But the paycheck will sure be nice.

For making the trip out to Albuquerque, N.M., the Jaguars will receive a guarantee of $350,000 — a sum that goes a long way toward boosting the SU athletics budget. In total, the school will receive a little more than $1.1 million between the New Mexico game, a guarantee from the Atlanta Football Classic against Florida A&M and ticket revenue from the Bayou Classic against Grambling.

Altogether, that amounts to more than 13 percent of Southern’s projected athletics revenues.


MSU will look to unleash passing attack on Jackson State

STARKVILLE, Mississippi - Mississippi State University football coach Dan Mullen says the winning formula for his football team won't change.

However, with four senior starting wide receivers and a former Parade All-American -- junior Tyler Russell -- at quarterback, the prevailing thought is MSU will become a pass-first football offense. MSU's season opener at 6 p.m. Saturday (Fox Sports South) against Jackson State University should give Mullen and his assistant coaches an opportunity to define the personality of the offense again.

"Our personality is never going to change," Mullen said. "We want to run the football and be a very physical team, but the expectations the guys have in themselves of making plays in the passing game can make you a more explosive offense."

In Mullen's first three years at MSU, his offense has averaged at least 175.3 yards rushing per season. It also has had a passing game without experienced receivers and quarterbacks who are true pocket passers.


D.J. Williams out to make his own name at Grambling

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana - When D.J. Williams lined up under center at Independence Stadium last September, he found himself in the worst position possible.

Williams was a quarterback with too many thoughts running through his head, most of them relating to his coach and father, legendary Grambling quarterback Doug Williams.

“Going into my first game, I’m like, ‘I wonder how many passes my dad threw in his first game?’” D.J. Williams said. “All kind of stuff like that. It was just bad for me. It should never have gone that way. That wasn’t a good way to go.”

As Grambling lurched to a 1-3 start, things got worse for the younger Williams. In addition to battling a turf toe injury, he found himself on the bench as Frank Rivers helped rally the Tigers.


GSU opens against Alcorn

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana - Alcorn State's Jay Hopson said he has fielded "8,000 questions" regarding his becoming the SWAC's first white football coach this summer.  Grambling's Doug Williams, whose Tigers open the season against the Braves, can empathize.

Williams is still answering questions about his place in history as the first black quarterback to play in and only black quarterback to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins' 42-10 victory Jan. 31, 1988.

Hopson in particular downplayed the importance of his own race-related distinction, but both men understand the interest in their respective roles.

"That's the great thing about football is football's not a political game," the Alcorn State coach said. "We're just gonna try to do what we came here to do and do everything in our power to build a successful program."


Howard University marching band prepares for annual football classic

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Saturday, RFK Stadium will be filled with thunderous cheers as the Howard University Bison and the Morehouse College Maroon Tigers take the field for the annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic.

The decibel level is unlikely to subside when the linemen and running backs jog off at halftime. The reason: Howard’s famed Showtime Marching Band.

The band’s 110 members — helped along by a dozen Ooh La La! Dancers, an eight-person Flashy Flag Squad and one hyper-dynamic drum major — will strut, high-step and slip-and-slide between notes and syncopated drum beats.

“The marching band is another aspect of the football game,” says John Newson, director of bands for Howard University. “It’s not only about playing music, but entertaining the audience and motivating the football team.”

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About the AT&T Nation's Football Classic™
The AT&T Nation's Football Classic™ is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. This year, the game features Howard University against Morehouse College.

Organized by Events DC, the AT&T Nation's Football Classic™ was created to celebrate the passion and tradition of the college football experience, recognize the
history of service to others by the students, faculty and alumni of historically black colleges and universities, highlight the unity of African American culture, and honor the heritage and excellence of these proud institutions.

Tickets for the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic™ are on sale now at, Ticketmaster outlets, the Howard University Box Office at Cramton Auditorium and the Morehouse College Bookstore. Seats are priced $25 to $50.

Georgia State pounded in opener by MEAC powerhouse S.C.State, as growing pains continue


ATLANTA, Georgia - If you haven’t kept up on the uniquely metamorphosing Georgia State football program, it goes something like this:

The Panthers started playing games in 2010. Their first schedule of Colonial Athletic Association games is this season (Year 3). But they’re not eligible for the CAA championship because they’ve already decided to jump to the Sun Belt. The NCAA’s mandated two-year transition to FBS means they can’t compete for championships or bowls until 2014 — not that it was realistic anyway — which effectively means they will have played four years of exhibition games (45) by the end of 2013.

And you thought the NFL preseason was long.

There’s an obvious advantage to this: New programs typically get beat up, and Georgia State has been no exception to this. So this extended stretch of unofficial-ness allows Georgia State athletic director Cheryl Levick to tell prospective donors, “Don’t worry, it’s just growing pains. Just wait until the games really count. Would you like another shrimp?”


SSU: Scheduling Losses to Start a Turnaround

SAVANNAH, Georgia — On a resplendent afternoon in late August, when no college football team in the country had yet lost and no player blessed with youthful confidence expected to, the Savannah State Tigers were immersed in a spirited practice peppered by the language of positivity: “Good block.” “Nice tackle.”

Just beyond one end zone, cheerleaders rehearsed the fight song. “Our team is strong,” it went. “Victory’s our guarantee.”

This show of optimism spilled forth from a university that could justifiably claim — not that anyone would — that it had the worst Division I program since the turn of this century.

Over 11 seasons, Savannah State, the self-proclaimed University by the Sea, in a charming city distinguished by oak trees that sprout Spanish moss, has won 17 games, just five against Division I teams. It has changed coaches six times — once because of a death — and had nine athletic directors, including interims. It has been placed on N.C.A.A. probation twice and faced a pair of embarrassing lawsuits that claimed racial discrimination.


Tennessee Tech thwarts Hampton's comeback 41-31

COOKSVILLE, Tennessee - Tennessee Tech dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage Thursday night in Tucker Stadium, posting a season-opening 41-31 non-conference victory over Hampton. The game saw highly touted Tennessee transfer Da'Rick Rogers make an impact to an already-potent Tennessee Tech offense.

Rogers caught three passes for 75 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown from Tre Lamb with 4.6 seconds left in the first half that gave the Golden Eagles a 31-7 halftime lead.

Rogers joined the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions' program less than a week ago after being dismissed from Tennessee for failing multiple drug tests.

After being outgained 384-80 in the first half, Hampton bought itself a chance with great third-quarter work in the kicking game. Jorrian Washington returned the second half's opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and Taurean Durham kicked a 40-yard field goal at the 8:45 mark to make it 31-17.


Charleston 44, Shaw Bears 26

CHARLESTON, West Virgina - Senior All-American Jordan Roberts (Madison, WV) racked up a school-record 238 yards on just 23 carries as the University of Charleston football team rolled past Shaw 44-26 in the 2012 season opener at UC Stadium.

Roberts got the season off on the right foot by scampering for a 13-yard touchdown run to cap a quick 45 second drive for the early 7-0 advantage that proved to be just the start of a great night. The short touchdown was setup by a stellar defensive stand that was capped by Ahmed Shakoor (Stone Montain,GA) recoving a blocked Shaw punt at the 14 yard line.

On their next possession the Golden Eagles sustained a longer drive after taking over at the SU 39 yard line. The other every down threat Maurice Leak (Waxhax, NC) provided the highlights for the second scoring drive as he went to the air for a 16-yard completion to Roberts. The pass got UC within striking distance and Leak closed the door on the drive with a two yard touchdown run for a controlling 14-0 lead.

Shaw showed some fight as the first quarter closed by marching 75 yards for a touchdown to pull within a possession at the 14:54 mark of the second stanza. Charleston showed off more options with an answer to the Bear's score as C.J Stallworth (Orange Park, FL) and Darrell Byrd (Columbus, OH) took some of the pressure off Roberts with double-digit yardage runs, which setup the scoring strike from Leak to freshman Shaq Williams (Charleston,WV).

SU All-American James Langford pulled his squad within a possession with 5:21 remaining in the opening half with a touchdown run from 13 yards out making the score 21-13 as the extra point was missed.

The University of Charleston took control of the final five minutes of the second quarter and put on a clinic for how much can be accomplished in a short period of time as the Golden Eagles managed two field goals and a touchdown before heading into the locker room. Leak put the touchdown on the board with a five yard run before handing the scoring reigns to Puma Nuredini (Naples, FL) who put away back-to-back field goals from 43 and 27 yards out. Shakoor was credited with a fumble recovery to give UC a quick turnaround to setup the first Nuredini score.

After giving his team a 34-13 lead headed into halftime Nuredini picked up where he left off in the second half by drilling a 39 yard field goal five minutes into the third period. The third field goal of the game handed Nuredini a school-record of his own for most field goals in a game.

Shaw quarterback and former University of Wisconsin signee James Stallons put together a solid effort on the next drive by marching his team down the field and booking a two yard touchdown toss to pull within 37-20 at the 8:29 mark of the third quarter.

A comeback attempt was never allowed to materialize as Charleston again expanded their advantage when Leak connected with Dustin Phelps (Roanoke, VA) for a 30-yard touchdown just four minutes later giving the home standing Golden Eagles plenty of breathing room at 44-20. SU grabbed six more points for the road to set the final score at 44-26, but would never threaten in the final quarter of play.

For the night Roberts was the work-horse on offense taking 23 carries, yet he managed a double-digit average of 10.3 yards per carry on his way to setting the school single-game mark with 238 net rushing yards. Stallworth provided plenty of relief with what on any other night would have been a stellar 5.2 yard per carry effort as he racked up 42 yards on eight carries.

Leak kept the Bears defense honest by completing 11-of-20 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, which included connecting with Williams and Ryan Foster (Cincinnati, OH) four times each on the evening.

The Golden Eagle defense kept Shaw held in check all night by allowing just 292 yards of total offense. Shakoor and Matt Kelly (Cincinnati, OH) led the way for the defensive unit with nine tackles apiece. In the trenches Rockford Stone (Charlotte, NC) booked a sack and tackle for loss in the win.

Charleston possessed the ball 37 minutes to just 22 by the Bears in the game.

UC keeps in the weeknight game mood next week when Saint Joseph's (Ind.) comes calling upon UC Stadium. Kickoff next week is set for 7:00 pm on Thursday, Sept. 6.


Redemption Awaits Albany State

ALBANY, Georgia - Albany State has waited ten months for a redo with the North Greenville Crusaders.

Still reeling from the SIAC Championship loss to Miles College, the Golden Rams entered the Division Two postseason as an at-large seed, but were never much of a factor in their loss to North Greenville. The Golden Rams were thrashed in the first round by the Crusaders 63-14 ending the 2011 season abruptly.

“Things didn't go the way we planned it...we lost early in the playoffs. We're just glad to have another opportunity to play them. First game of the season, we want to go out there and give it our best shot,” running back Nathan Hoyte said.

This go-around, North Greenville travels to Albany for Saturday’s season opener with a lighter load.


Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame class announced

NORFOLK, Virginia  -  Two NBA champions, two championship coaches and two decorated athletic directors comprise this year's class for the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame.

The class features basketball stars Dave Twardzik and Bobby Dandridge (NSU), coaches John Brophy and Nancy Fowlkes, and athletic directors C.J. Woollum and Marty Miller.

Dandridge averaged 22.5 points and 12.9 rebounds from 1965-69 at Norfolk State. He later won two NBA titles, averaging 18.5 points in regular-season games and 20 points in playoff contests.

Twardzik was a two-time All-American at Old Dominion. He played four seasons with the ABA's Virginia Squires and four more with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, who won the 1977 NBA title. He has spent 25 years working in the NBA as an assistant coach and executive.

Brophy coached ...


Five things to watch against Virginia State

NORFOLK, Virginia - How Nico Flores plays?

Yeah, I've been harping on Flores a lot early on, but the quarterback is kind of important. Even if Flores plays great, it’s against Virginia State and it doesn’t guarantee success, but he can allay at least some of the concerns with a solid performance. But if he struggles, fumbles and makes poor decision against an over-matched opponent, he’s going to have major problems going against an equal. The big thing will be watching how he handles pressure, blitzes and whether his mechanics hold up in game situations. There are times he slips into bad habits.

How will the running game fare?

Norfolk State pretty much faked a run game last year with the spread. It left opponents thin on defenders in the box, allowing NSU to run the ball well between the 30s, but making it difficult the closer the Spartans got to the end zone. Norfolk State ran it enough to keep opponents honest. The game-plan this season calls for a power-run game. If the Spartans can’t do it against Virginia State, they can't expect to be able to do it against anyone.


Signs point to big season for WSSU Rams, Smith

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina - Kameron Smith's grin tells the story of how excited he is heading into his senior football season at Winston-Salem State.

Smith, the starting quarterback, seems to have everything in his favor. He's healthy, and he will have a massive and experienced line in front of him when WSSU opens Saturday at home against UNC Pembroke.

He also remains humble, not inclined to muttering expletives when things go poorly or to bragging or displays of emotion when things go well.

"Having a veteran at quarterback is so huge," coach Connell Maynor said. "It's a tremendous advantage to have a three-year starter coming back, but to also have an All-CIAA quarterback coming back is great. He's a guy that should have been an All-America, but that's another story."

Smith (listed at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds) has led WSSU to a 19-3 record since taking over as the starter in the third game of the 2010 season. He leads WSSU in many career passing categories and needs 266 yards to pass Tory Woodbury as the all-time yardage leader.


Benedict Tigers ready for season debut

COLUMBIA, South Carolina - The Benedict College Tigers kick off the 2012 season on Saturday at Virginia Union. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Hovey Field in Richmond, Va.

The Tigers will be young, especially on offense. Redshirt freshman Marcus Graham is set to take over the reins at quarterback.

The main area of improvement head coach James Woody wants to see from his offense is to cut down on turnovers. Last year, the Tigers turned the ball over 37 times.

The Tigers have more experience on the defensive side, led by preseason All-SIAC safety Martin Epps and defensive lineman Dyrell Porcha.


17-TD runner gets ready for senior season at VUU

RICHMOND, Virginia - After completing a four-year letterman campaign at Westwood High School in Fort Pierce, Fla., Jerrell Washington was on his way to the military until he got a phone call.

"Coach (Calvin) Randall gave me a call and told me that he wanted me to come up (to Virginia Union)," Washington said. "So I came up without a visit. "At first, I was like 'OK' but then after awhile, I got used to it and I felt welcomed. And that's the big thing that really helped me here."

For Washington, moving to Richmond was culture shock. Fort Pierce, with a population of 37,516, is in St. Lucie County, located between Orlando and Miami. The Richmond metro area has 205,533 people.

"Here in Richmond, there are city buses. In Fort Pierce, they don't have that. To get around, we'll either walk or ride bikes, so to me, Richmond is a real city," Washington said. "It was amazing to get out of Fort Pierce and see something bigger and better."


Georgia State Panthers falls to South Carolina State 33-6

ATLANTA, Georgia - Richard Cue was just too much for Georgia State in Thursday’s 2012 season opener. The South Carolina State quarterback threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Bulldogs defeated the Panthers, 33-6 in front of 18,921 at the Georgia Dome.

Georgia State scored on its first possession of the second half, getting a 25-yard field goal from Matt Ehasz to get to within 14-6. But the hosts never got closer.

On the ensuing drive, Cue, who a year ago threw for just 900 yards in nine games, completed all three of his pass attempts, including a 13-yard touchdown toss to Tyler McDonald that put the Bulldogs up 21-6.

In between two Georgia State drives-one that ended on a punt and the other when Matt Ehasz’s 36-yard field goal attempt was wide right-Nick Belcher kicked a pair of field goals from 20 and 27 yards, the last of which capped a 17-play drive and made it 27-6 with just under six minutes to play.

A late touchdown pass helped South Carolina State build a 14-3 halftime lead. With 40 seconds left in the second quarter, Cue led the visiting Bulldogs on a two-play drive, culminating in a 22-yard touchdown toss to McDonald. The junior wide receiver made a great catch, then tight-roped the sideline and reached the end zone.

Georgia State, kicking off its third season and final one under coach Bill Curry, had cut the deficit to 7-3 on a 36-yard field goal by Matt Ehasz. But the Panthers couldn't capitalize after Cue was intercepted for the second time in the half, this time by Brent McClendon with 5:40 to play in the second. Minor's 24-yard attempt hit the right upright to keep it a four-point game.

South Carolina State struck first. On a third-and-seven deep in their own territory, the Bulldogs got a 73-yard touchdown connection from Cue to Lennel Elmore to make it 7-0 just 54 seconds into the game.

Georgia State had a pair of record-breaking plays in the opening half. Senior running back Donald Russell (120 yards on 12 carries) tied teammate Kelton Hill for the fourth-longest run from scrimmage in the Panthers’ three-year history with a 52-yard scamper midway through the first quarter. That gave the Panthers the ball at the South Carolina State 32-yard line, but the drive stalled after three short runs and an incompletion on fourth-and-two.

Punter Matt Hubbard bested his own school record with an 80-yard punt that pinned South Carolina State to its two-yard line. Hubbard’s previous best was a 64-yarder against Texas-San Antonio in October, 2011.

That set up the Panthers’ defense, which came up with a big stop on third-and-two to force a punt. Redshirt-freshman Ben McLane, making his first collegiate start at quarterback, came through with his first big play, hooking up with Danny Williams for a 20-yard completion. It allowed Ehasz to boot his field goal with 6:33 left until halftime.

McLane struggled in his debut. He completed just 7 of 15 passes for 54 yards and was sacked five times. Hill relieved McLane on a number of possessions, and the redshirt-junior was 7 of 13 for 76 yards.

Late in the game, Georgia State was driving when Parris Lee fumbled, Dominique Mitchell recovered and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown and a 33-6 cushion.


XU's Echebelem is GCAC Player of the Week

Chinedu Echebelem
NEW ORLEANS — For the second consecutive year, Xavier University of Louisiana has the season's first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Week in women's volleyball. Chinedu Echebelem won the award for Aug. 20-26, the conference announced Thursday.

Echebelem — a 5-foot-6 outside hitter from Dallas and a graduate of Duncanville High School — earned the award after recording 30 kills and 29 digs in three matches during the Lee Invitational at Cleveland, Tenn. Echebelem had a pair of kill-dig double-doubles, including 12 kills and 14 digs Saturday against Union (Ky.) in the Gold Nuggets' 25-20, 25-23, 18-25, 25-16 victory. Echebelem had two double-doubles in 29 matches in 2011.

Xavier's home opener, scheduled for Tuesday against city rival Loyola at The Barn, has been postponed. Xavier has been closed since late Monday afternoon due to Hurricane Isaac, and the university will reopen Tuesday. No makeup date for the match has been determined.

By Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Alabama State athletic director Stacy Danley placed on leave

MONTGOMERY, Alabama - Stacy Danley’s future as Alabama State University’s athletic director is cloudy after school officials confirmed Wednesday that Danley had been placed on administrative leave. The Montgomery Advertiser broke the story Wednesday afternoon on

“Stacy Danley, ASU’s athletic director, is on administrative leave with pay,” according to ASU spokesman Kenneth Mullinax. “Since this situation is a pending personnel matter due to protocol at ASU, I am not allowed to discuss any of the details.”

The Hornets’ athletic director, who has served a little more than 25 months on the job, said from his home in Auburn that there were “fundamental differences (on) how you operate, but let’s see how we can get past this adversity.”

“Alabama State, with or without Stacy Danley, has a chance to be extremely special,” he added.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

S.C. State Bulldogs looking for 'good time' in Atlanta opener

ATLANTA, Ga. – Georgia State is not a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference member.

Yet for South Carolina State, tonight’s season-opener on the road is as important as pending conference matchups against Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State. With all the talk in the preseason focused on regaining the MEAC title, getting positive momentum early is vital.

“Oh, it’s big,” head coach Buddy Pough said. “It’s a ‘live or die’ kind of deal here. We can’t be messing around these first couple of games. We’ve got to hit the ground running. The fact that we’ve got that two-game swing out West (Sept. 22 at Texas A&M and Sept. 29 at Arizona) means that we don’t need to let any of these slip through our fingers because ... it’s going to be hard to make up time on those guys, so we’ve got to make it happen now.”

Under Pough, the Bulldogs are 4-6 in season-openers and have dropped their last two meetings against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents Georgia Tech (41-10) in 2010 and Central Michigan (21-6) last year. In Georgia State, they face a program entering its third season of existence, playing for the first and only time on the Football Championship Subdivision level in the Colonial Athletic Association before moving up to FBS play in the Sunbelt Conference.


DSU's Tarpley focused on wins, not milestones

DOVER, Delaware — Travis Tarpley can laugh about it now, but he still remembers looking for someplace to hide after fumbling away the opening kickoff to Delaware State’s football season last year at Virginia Military Institute.

But Tarpley didn’t dwell on the miscue for too long. He went on to score the Hornets’ first touchdown of the season by catching a 19-yard pass from Nick Elko in DSU’s 24-21 win.

“I was so excited, getting all nervous and everything, and then I fumbled,” said Tarpley, a 5-foot-7, 175-pound wide receiver and kick returner. “This [Saturday], hopefully I’ll get another chance to take a crack at it, and I’m going to try to take it to the house this year.”

Tarpley, a redshirt senior, promises to play a key role when Delaware State hosts Virginia Military Institute at Alumni Stadium in its season opener on Saturday at 2 p.m.


HBCU FOOTBALL PREVIEW – FAMU Rattlers face tough football schedule

TALLAHASSEE, Florida - Florida A&M has been a steady football program over the years. The Rattlers are ready to take a shot at a MEAC title and FCS playoffs. Here is a sneak peak at the 2012 FAMU football squad.

2011: 7-4 overall;
5-3 tied for third in MEAC
Head coach: Joe Taylor 32-14-0 in fifth season at FAMU; 230-90-4 overall in 30 years. Taylor is the winningest coach in MEAC history and second winningest coach in Black College football behind Eddie Robinson.

Gone: Running back Lavonte Page (329 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns, one receiving score); quarterback Austin Trainor (877 passing yards, five touchdowns); wide receiver Kevin Elliott (41 receptions, 720 yards, five touchdowns); wide receiver Brian Tyms (38 receptions, 538 yards, three touchdowns); LB Greg Harvey (40 total tackles); defensive back/kicker Jarel Stewart (32 total tackles, three interceptions); linebacker Demarius Folsom (68 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, one interception); kicker Trevor Scott (13/16 field goals, 44 yards long); offensive lineman Branden Curry, offensive lineman Anthony Shelley; defensive lineman Nicholas Hollinghead (37 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, five sacks); defensive lineman Jerry Willis (27 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks); linebacker John Williams (27 total tackles, three interceptions); linebacker Alvis Graham.


Geovonie Irvine does whatever it takes to get the job done

DURHAM, North Carolina - — It’s one thing to play hurt, as in faking an injury to avoid grinding in practice. Then there’s playing hurt, or approaching the business of football the way N.C. Central wide receiver Geovonie Irvine did last season when he’d suit up for the Eagles despite his small body being battered and worn.

Irvine, a redshirt senior, can expect his number to get called more than ever before this season. He’s got just four games in front of the home crowd at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, the first on Saturday against CIAA foe Fayetteville State (6 p.m., WNCU-FM 90.7,

“He is a really dynamic football player,” NCCU coach Henry Frazier III said.

So Frazier plans on getting the football in Irvine’s hands by any means necessary.

Irvine (5-6, 161) is not very big, but he is very good. Last season, he led NCCU with 47 catches for 580 yards and five touchdowns. Irvine enters this season as NCCU’s fourth all-time leading receiver with 138 career catches for 1,920 yards and 13 touchdowns.


TSU Men and women's golf schedules released

NASHVILLE, Tennessee - The Tennessee State University men and women's golf teams recently released the 2012-13 season schedules.

The men's team will participate in nine tournaments this season while the women will compete in seven events.

Both squads will have their first opportunity to tee-off this weekend at the ASU Fall Golf Classic hosted by Alabama State, Sep.1-3.

Later in the month, the women will travel to the MSU Drake Creek Invitational (Sept. 16-18) and the SIUE Intercollegiate (Sept. 23-25) while the men's team will look to three-peat at the National Black College Hall of Fame Invitational in Atlanta, Sept. 28-30.

October will be a test of endurance for the relatively young men's team composed of four sophomores, two juniors and a lone senior. The month presents three consecutive weekends of play beginning October 7-9 with the Tigers traveling to Paris, Tenn. to participate in UT Martin's annual Skyhawk Classic.

The following weekend Tennessee State will visit Morganton, N.C. for the Donald Ross Intercollegiate before closing out the month at the F&M Bank Intercollegiate Tournament hosted by Austin Peay.

For the women, October will look slightly different, as the team's only tournament of the month will be the Charles Braun Jr. Intercollegiate (Oct. 28-30).

The men pick up competition again when they spring forward March 10, 2013 at the Grover Page Classic. The Tigers will conclude the month with the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate (March 17-19) and the ASU Red Wolves Intercollegiate (March 31- April 2).

Also in March, women's golf will see action at the Murray State Invitational (March 3-5) and the Alabama A&M Classic (March 24-26).

April 14-16, the Tigers will play host as they swing away in the Big Blue Intercollegiate Tournament held in Old Hickory, Tenn.


5 names to know in the football-rich CIAA

NORFOLK, Virginia - Basketball is still king in the CIAA, but with the resurgence of Winston-Salem State in football, the round ball’s crown has gotten a bit smaller. The Rams (13-1) rumbled through the conference undefeated and advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals before losing to Wayne (Mich.) State 14-7. The Rams are preseason No. 9 nationally and favored to win their division, and their rise has elevated the entire league and expectations for 2012.

As the season gets under way Thursday, five area players not named Tyron Laughinghouse could be the difference makers between their team hoisting the championship trophy or watching from the stands.

1. QB Kameron Smith, Winston-Salem State: The Rams are coming off their best season. Smith, a Garner High graduate, led a potent offense that averaged 39.6 points per game and 421.4 yards of total offense. While senior running back Nicholas Cooper – now with the Green Bay Packers – was terrorizing opponents on the ground, Smith was picking them apart through the air for a school record 2,706 yards and 33 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. He is 21-3 as a starter, and his 147.7 passer rating was the best in the conference.


From walk-on to dynamic running back, Carter enters final season at Morehouse

MARIETTA, Georgia - Talented athletes with a strong work ethic tend to get noticed. That wasn’t the case for David Carter.

Lightly regarded coming out of Sprayberry High School, the running back had to walk on to the football team at Division II Morehouse College — despite rushing for more than 3,000 yards during his career as a Yellow Jacket. To imply that Carter had something to prove to all of the programs that overlooked him would be an understatement.

“I definitely had something to prove,” he said about not being recruited, “and I’m thankful Morehouse gave me the chance to play football and extend my career.

“When I got here, my goal was to work hard to make the travel bus. But, to get the starting job was even better. I’ve worked as hard as I could since then to hold onto it and help my team win.”

Carter has completely changed his fortunes at Morehouse since walking on to the Maroon Tigers’ roster. In rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman, he quickly earned a scholarship at the conclusion of the season.


What led Oklahoma State to scheduling Savannah State

STILLWATER, Oklahoma — Riding on an Arkansas-bound bus with the Oklahoma State cross country team last fall, Dave Martin had football on the brain.

It wasn't the historic season that the Cowboys were in the midst of that he was thinking about but rather the season that was still a year away. The man who makes OSU's football schedule usually has contracts for nonconference games signed, sealed, delivered at least five years ahead of time, but last fall, he still needed one more nonconference game for a season that was less than a year away.

The situation was dire.  Calls to dozens of schools hadn't panned out, but Martin had a promising lead on a program that might be more desperate to schedule a game than he was.  It was on that bus ride that Martin first called Savannah State.

“Did we plan that?” he said of the scheduling scramble. “No.”


Winning football helping Winston-Salem State Rams off field

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina - The best football season in Winston-Salem State history has provided a boost, and it's showing in Horns Club memberships but not yet in season-ticket sales.

Membership in the $1,000 Horns Club, a separate fund-raising effort within the athletics department, has increased about 38 percent, according to figures provided by athletics director Bill Hayes. Before WSSU's first game last season, the Horns Club had 115 members. Now there are 159.

Season-tickets sales, however, are down slightly, from 462 in 2011 to 444 this year. WSSU, which finished 13-1 and reached the NCAA Division II semifinals in 2011, will open its season at 6 p.m. Saturday, with a home game against UNC Pembroke.

Joining the Horns Club does not give members season tickets but does give them special parking for games, a suite to use at Bowman Gray Stadium and other perks, including live music in a field-house suite during games.


ASU names FAU transfer Kooi starting QB for Saturday's season opener

ALBANY, Georgia - — Albany State football coach Mike White ended weeks of speculation Tuesday, naming David Kooi the starting quarterback for Saturday’s season opener against North Greenville.

Kooi, a transfer from Division I Florida Atlantic, had been battling for the starting job for the past month with Gardner-Webb transfer Keenan Grissett.

The duo had been neck-and-neck for the job and traded an equal amount of snaps in the team’s only scrimmage Aug. 18, but Grissett was sidelined late last week with back spasms, making the decision of naming Kooi the starter an easy one.

Once Grissett went down with his back spasms, it became a lot clearer that David was going to run our offense,” White said.


ECSU Football Preview 2012: Motivated Vikings thinking big

ELIZABETH CITY, North Carolina - Last November’s bus ride back to campus from California, Pa., covered 450 miles.

Plenty of time for Elizabeth City State defensive end Brad Davis and his teammates to dwell on the 44-0 pounding the Vikings absorbed in a first-round NCAA Division II playoff game.

“There wasn’t much talking, mostly just thinking to yourself,” the 6-1, 245-pound senior said.

“It hurt so bad. It didn’t feel real. It was no way to end the season. It was a big motivator for us to work harder.”

ECSU head coach Waverly Tillar can attest to the fact that the Vikings will be motivated to prove themselves when they open the season Saturday at Newberry College.


New Mexico Lobo Volleyball Travels to Savannah State for Tiger Invitational

UNM to take on UNC Asheville, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Kennesaw State and Savannah State

Enjoy Lobo Volleyball with the Lobo Pride Pass

Lobo Volleyball (3-1, 0-0 MW) - Tiger Invitational (hosted by Savannah State - Savannah, Ga.

Friday, Aug. 31: Lobos vs. UNC Asheville (0-4), 9 a.m. MT; Lobos vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore (3-0), 5 p.m. MT
Saturday, Sept. 31: Lobos vs. Kennesaw State (3-0),11 a.m. MT.; Lobos at Savannah State (0-3), 5 p.m. MT. Box Scores and match recaps

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - The University of New Mexico volleyball team travels to Savannah State to take part in the Tiger Invitational, Aug. 31-Sept. 1.

The Lobos (3-1) will face tough competition while on the east coast, particularly Maryland-Eastern Shore, a 2011 NCAA tournament participant who returns five of its top scorers, including three all-conference players from last season and the 2011 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in Saitaua Iosia. Iosia was picked as the MEAC 2012 Preseason Player of the Year and was named Sports Imports Division I National Player of the Week by American Volleyball Coaches Association on Aug. 28 for her play last weekend in the St. Francis Terrier Invite.

"We'll play four matches while out on the east coast," head coach Jeff Nelson said. "Maryland-Eastern Shore will be a bit of a test of where we're at and what we've got. We'll be tested in terms of a high-quality player (in Iosia) that we'll have to handle, and in terms of a team that is experienced and competitive."

Nelson saw some great things from his Lobos last weekend in the Sheraton Airport/LA Boxing Lobo Classic.

"Alijah Gunsaulus played really well for us," he said. "She was steady and consistent. Another new face, Hannah Johnson, a redshirt freshman, had a really good weekend setting for us. Lena Skipper (junior transfer) also started last weekend and what we saw from her in the back row was exactly what we needed. She was really tough and was our best passer all weekend.

"Overall, the newcomers did a great job and the players that needed to step up, particularly Chantale Riddle, did, and then the rest of the group followed that lead."

Last time out

The Lobos won their season-opening tournament, the Sheraton Airport/LA Boxing Lobo Classic, finishing the weekend with a 3-1 record -With it's 3-0 win over Southern  University on Aug. 24, UNM improved to 6-0 in season-opening matches since the arrival of Jeff Nelson in 2007, and 20-12 since 1980 -The Lobos lost to Duquesne, 2-3, on Aug. 24 -On Aug. 25, UNM defeated Southern, 3-0, and beat Duquesne, 3-1.

On UNC Asheville, 0-4 (Ashveville, N.C. - Big South Conference) - First Meeting

-The Bulldogs finished 15-14 (7-7, fourth in Big South) in 2011 -UNC Asheville returns eight letterwinners players from last year's squad, including five starters -The Bulldogs were picked to finish fourth in the Big South and are 0-4 after opening with the Gamecock Invitational hosted by South Carolina, dropping matches to East Tennessee State (2-3), Akron (1-3), Temple (0-3) and South Carolina (0-3) -Senior MB Holly Shelton leads the Bulldogs at the net, averaging 2.93 kills/set and connecting with .229 accuracy -Freshman MB Christine Lakatos adds 2.13 kills/set and RS junior Anna Moore is averaging 1 block/set -Freshman Katie Davis handles setting duties, averaging 7.53/game

On Maryland-Eastern Shore, 3-0 (Princess Anne, Md. - Mid-Eastern Atheltic Conference) - First Meeting

-The Hawks are coming off their most successful season in career history, finishing 24-7 overall and 12-0 in the MEAC to earn a trip to the 2011 NCAA Tournament -UMES returns its five top scorers, including three all-conference players from last season -The Hawks won the St. Francis (NY) Terrier Invite last weekend with victories over NJIT (3-1), St. Francis (3-1) and Radford (3-1) -The team is led by 2011 MEAC Rookie of the Year/2012 MEAC Preseason Player of the Year OH/RS Saitaua Iosia who is averaging 5.33 kills/set -The sophomore outside hitter was named National Player of the Week by AVCA for her play last weekend, earning a double double in all three matches, leading off with 21 kills and 14 digs on Friday against NJIT -The next day, she followed up with 19 kills and 16 digs against St. Francis, and ended Saturday hitting .408 against Radford, tallying 24 kills and 17 digs -In total, Iosia hit .359 over the weekend with 64 kills and 47 digs and seven blocks

On Kennesaw State, 3-0 (Kennesaw, Ga. - Atlantic Sun Conference) - First Meeting

-The Owls finished 13-16 (8-5, fourth in A-Sun) in 2011 -KSU returns nine letterwinners from last year's squad, including fours starters -The Owls are 3-0, having picked up wins against Louisiana-Monroe (3-1), Jackson State (3-1) and Miss. State (3-2) -Junior setter Sarah Metroka averages 10.54 assits/set while RS senior OH Turea Jones leads the Owls with 3.77 kills/set

On Savannah State, 0-3 (Savannah, Ga. - Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) - First Meeting

-The Tigers finished 0-27 (0-9, MEAC) in 2011 - Savannah State returns 10 letterwinners

-New Mexico won the Sheraton Airport/LA Boxing Lobo Classic in its opening weekend, defeating Southern ce by 3-0 marks and splitting with Duquesne, 2-3 on Friday night and topping the Dukes, 3-1, on Saturday night -RS sophomore RS Chantale Riddle leads the Lobos with 4.31 kills/set, hitting with a .320 clip -Senior S Jordan Russell and RS freshman S Hannah Johnson split setting duties and after four matches, Russell is averaging 4.33 assits/set while Johnson averages 6.20 -The Lobos are outhitting opponents, 13 kills/set to 8.6 kills/set and are hitting with better accuracy than opponents, .284 to .094

Double-Double time
-Senior setter Jordan Russell recorded her first career double-double -- 24 assists and 11 digs -- on Aug. 24 in the Lobos' 2-3 loss to Duquesne -Russell doubled her double-double total the following night in UNM's 3-1 victory over Duquesne, tallying 26 set assists and 12 digs -Chantale Riddle also recorded a double-double on the weekend with 20 kills and 13 digs in UNM's 2-3 loss to Duquesne on Aug. 24

Nelson Nears a Milestone

-With a 3-1 weekend in the Sheraton Airport/LA Boxing Lobo Classic (Aug. 24-25), head coach Jeff Nelson's record at New Mexico improves to 95-56, just five shy of his 100th Lobo victory -Nelson's all-time record is 338-201 -His 100th career win came on Sept. 12, 1999 when he was coach at Texas Tech when the Red Raiders defeated his alma mater Ball State, 3-1, in the Nanook Classic in Fairbanks Alaska -Career win No. 200 was recorded while he was with San Francisco, when the Dons defeated Portland, 3-0, on Nov. 6, 2004 -His 300th career win came on Nov. 27, 2009 when the Lobos topped New Orleans, 3-1

Feel that freshmen impact

-A few of New Mexico's freshmen are seeing plenty of court time and are making an impact for the Lobos -Redshirt freshman Hannah Johnson played in every set in the Lobos' opening weekend, recording 92 set assists for an average of 6.20 per game -Johnson also had two kills, two aces and seven total blocks -True freshman Alijah Gunsaulus saw action in every match last weekend and started three matches, posting double-digit kills in New Mexico's 3-1 win over Duquesne on Aug. 25, connecting on 11 of 25 attempts -Gunsaulus also had 12 digs in the Lobos' 2-3 loss to Duquesne on Aug. 24 -Skye Gullatt, another true freshman, played in both of the Lobos' matches against Southern and recorded 12 kills and hit with .647 accuracy (12k - 1e - 17ta) -Gullatt finished the weekend with 13 kills on 21 attempts (.476)

Career weekend for several Lobos

-All six of the Lobos' returners from last season recorded and/or tied personal bests in UNM's opening weekend -Riddle recorded a career-high 20 kills on Aug. 24 in the Lobos' 2-3 loss against Duquesne and then topped that performance for a new career high of 22 in the Lobos' 3-1 win over Duquesne on Aug. 25 -Riddle also topped her career-high for points in a match, recording 22 on Aug. 24 against Duquesne followed by a 26-point performance on Aug. 25 against Duquesne -Russell set new career highs for set assists and digs, tallying 26 assists and 12 digs against Duquesne on Aug. 25 -Lexi Ross had a career-high 13 kills in the Lobos' 2-3 loss against Duquesne on Aug. 24 and tied her career high for total blocks in UNM's 3-1 victory over Duquesne on Aug. 25, recording five -Elsa Krieg recorded seven block assists, which translated to seven total blocks and two new personal bests in the Lobos' 2-3 loss to Duquesne on Aug. 25 -Ashley Newman tied her career high for kills with 13 in New Mexico's 3-0 sweep of Southern on Aug. 25 -Junior Miquella Lovato recorded a new career high for digs, tallying 26 in New Mexico's 2-3 loss to Duquesne on Aug. 24 -Lovato also recorded a kill in New Mexico's 3-1 victory over Duquesne on Aug. 25

ProView Networks to Broadcast Lobo Home Matches

-ProView Networks will be streaming Lobo home matches live online and showing matches on tape delay on local channel 27 -Free live streaming can be viewed at -Monday and Tuesday evenings are tentatively reserved on Ch. 27 for tape delay matches


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Xavier runners withdraw from Mississippi College Opener

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — Xavier University of Louisiana's men's and women's cross country teams have withdrawn from Friday's Mississippi College Opener at Clinton, Miss., because Xavier will be closed until Tuesday.

The university has been closed since late Monday afternoon due to Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall on the Louisiana coast early Tuesday evening. XU teams do not compete when the university is closed due to emergencies.

The next meet for the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets will be the Loyola Wolfpack Invitational at Lafreniere Park in Metairie, La. — a New Orleans suburb — on Sept. 8. It will be Xavier's only local meet of the 2012 season.

Visit to view updates on XU closures and reopenings.

By Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

(Ad)Vantage Point: State's Defensive Line vs. JSU's Offensive Line

STARKVILLE, Mississippi - This is a column that I will be doing weekly. I will focus on matchups from an MSU perspective. I will also point out what I believe to be a specific matchup to keep an eye on, in most cases it will be an advantage MSU should be able exploit. Anyways, lets talk some JSU Tigers (not something you hear often).

So, JSU comes to town on the heels of their best finish under coach Rick Comegy. The Tigers finished at 9-2 last season, posting a 7-2 record in the SWAC. However, building on 2011 could be a challenge as they will be replacing record-setting quarterback Casey Therriault.

The Jackson State offense will, however, receive a boost from former Ole Miss quarterback signee, Clayton Moore, and recent Ole Miss transfer, Tobias Singleton. Coupled with preseason All-American Rico Richardson, along with do-it-all back BJ Lee, the Jackson State offense should be able to cause some trouble for SWAC defenses this season. Moving the ball against the Bulldog defense should prove to be a different animal, though. It will be a nice early season test to face an offense like this in the opener for the State.


WSSU's Maynor confident heading into opener against UNC Pembroke

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina - Those wondering if coach Connell Maynor of Winston-Salem State would tone down his act in front of television cameras don't know him very well.

When asked Wednesday at a news conference about the Rams' chances of winning against UNC Pembroke at home on Saturday in their opener, Maynor was frank — maybe too frank.

"I think we'll win by two touchdowns," Maynor said about the ninth-ranked Rams, who are coming off a school-best 13-1 record.

"If you ask me I'm going to tell you. I know we got better and I don't know if (UNC Pembroke) has gotten better, but I think we can win by two touchdowns."

So there you have it, the Rams are not shying away from the high expectations or their goal of winning the Division II national championship.


Bethune, FAMU kick off new season this weekend

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida - The Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats and Florida A&M University Rattlers football teams are gearing up for another run at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship, which both teams shared, along with South Carolina State University in 2010 when all three teams posted 7-1 conference records.

Both teams will travel this season to take on traditional Division I powerhouses, with FAMU traveling to Norman, Okla., on Sept. 8 to face the University of Oklahoma, ranked No. 4 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Top 25 polls, while the Wildcats will travel to Miami to square off on Sept. 15 with the University of Miami Hurricanes.

The teams will play each other on Nov. 17 in the annual Florida Blue Florida Classic at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Tickets will go on sale beginning Saturday.


MEAC-SWAC Challenge Notes

MONTGOMERY, Alabama - There's no downplaying it.

Sunday's eighth annual MEAC-SWAC Challenge in Orlando is a kind of a big deal.

The MEAC has dominated the series in recent years. The conference has won three of the last four series meetings, including Bethune-Cookman's 63-14 shellacking of Prairie View A&M last season. It's a trend Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow is well aware of, heading into Sunday's 11 a.m. kickoff at the Citrus Bowl.

The contest is scheduled to air on ESPN.

"For our guys, our team and our school, we're blessed. We're not just playing for Alabama State." Barlow said in the SWAC coaches weekly teleconference. "That's our approach to this game. This is about Walter Payton (Jackson St.) and Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley St.) and all those wonderful Grambling (St.) players, Doug Williams, and all those guys that represented the SWAC conference."


Savannah State faces uphill climb in clash with No.19 Oklahoma State

STILLWATER, Oklahoma – The Oklahoma State Cowboys enjoyed their best season in school history last year, and with a revamped roster they begin their journey to try and repeat as Big 12 Conference champions when they take on the Savannah State Tigers this Saturday to open the 2012 season.

The 2011 campaign was one of transition for FCS member Savannah State. It was the Tigers' first year as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as well as their first year under the tutelage of head coach Steve Davenport. It was a rough season to say the least, as the Tigers finished just 1-10 and 1-7 in the MEAC, with their lone win coming on Sept. 24 at North Carolina Central, 33-30.

Oklahoma State's season, on the other hand, was nothing short of spectacular, cruising to a 12-1 overall record and an 8-1 mark in the Big 12, with signature wins coming against nationally-ranked foes Texas A&M (30-29), Texas (38-26), Kansas State (52-45) and Oklahoma (44-10). The Cowboys ultimately missed out on the national championship game thanks to ...

In the FCS Huddle: Week 1 Preview

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — It's that time of the year again. Summer has passed quicker than we remember, it's time to start paying more attention to your job and it's time to send the kids back to school. More importantly, the road to Frisco begins this week for FCS teams.

For the fans, some fleeting hours remain to re-live their favorite moments from last season, before the new season officially kicks off. It's an opportunity to remember all the glory, triumph, happiness, and, yes, even the brutal losses, disappointment and failed expectations your team didn't live up to.

Ads by GoogleIt's the last chance to trash-talk with sworn enemies before the teams do the talking for everyone. It's both exciting and nerve-racking to play out dozens of scenarios in the new season.

It's the smell of a cornucopia of meats being grilled in ...


Alabama A&M, Tuskegee try to erase bad memories

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Alabama A&M and Tuskegee will both be looking to take a first step toward erasing some bad memories from the 2011 season when they meet at 7 p.m. Saturday at Legion Field in Birmingham.

Despite going 8-4 last year and making it to the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game, A&M exited 2011 with the disappointment of blowing a 15-point halftime lead to Grambling in the SWAC title game and losing 16-15. It was the Bulldogs' second consecutive loss in the conference championship game.

"Last year was last year. There's nothing we can do about it now," said A&M coach Anthony Jones, who is entering his 11th season leading the Bulldogs. "The only thing our guys will be thinking about (Saturday) is the guy standing across from us trying to pound us."

Meanwhile, Tuskegee is coming off a rare losing season. The Golden Tigers won nine or more games every year from 2004-2010, highlighted by a 12-0 record in 2007. But Tuskegee got off to a 1-4 start in 2011 - including a 21-6 loss to Alabama A&M - on the way to a 4-6 final record.


D.J. Williams leads GSU charge

GRAMBLING, Louisiana — The setting and cast of characters — and Grambling hopes the outcome — will bear many similarities, but the Tigers see a much different D.J. Williams leading the charge.

The quarterback was a freshman question mark, albeit a confident one, in last season's opener against Alcorn State in Shreveport.

But GSU's coaches and players have a better idea what to expect from a more battle-tested sophomore Williams this time around as they meet the Braves again this Saturday.

"My teammates know that I can do it and I have the capabilities to take this team to where we went last year," Williams said. "I see it in everybody's eyes that they're confident in me, and I'm confident in them, and that's a good feelin'."