Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learning on the fly: More experienced Southern football team is eyeing more success this season

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- The Southern football team was young last season.

At certain points, the Jaguars listed as many as 16 freshmen and sophomores on their two-deep depth chart, 10 of whom played on defense.

For most of the year, it was common to see three or even four underclassmen in the secondary. Not one of the four quarterbacks on the roster was more experienced than a sophomore.

That inexperience led to one of the most frustrating seasons in the Dawson Odums era, with the Jaguars failing to string together consecutive wins until November.

But that was last year.

“Same guys, same team,” Odums said. “The only seniors we lost were a couple offensive linemen. … There’s no replacement for experience.”


Calm before the storm: Southern gearing up with preseason camp less than a week away

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- When Southern football coach Dawson Odums walks through the halls of the Jaguars coaches offices, he makes sure to stop and talk with every one of his assistant coaches.

Like an overanxious parent hovering over his children, Odums speaks with his coaching staff often, even if there isn’t anything in particular he needs to check on. Right now, there isn’t much happening in the fieldhouse, outside of routine paperwork.

But this is just the calm before the storm. On Wednesday, the Jaguars report for camp.

“It’s double-checking, triple-checking, quadruple-checking and making sure we’re all on the same page,” Odums said. “We know what we’re doing, we’ve had the chance to do it, we’re going to continue to do it and we’re going to get better while we do it.”

The start of preseason camp has become one of the most important times of the year for Southern after the Jaguars were unable to hold spring practice for the second straight season because of NCAA sanctions.


SWAC Releases Preseason All-Conference Awards With a Howard University Hat Trick

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The Southwestern Athletic Conference released the 2016 preseason All-SWAC awards Friday with Howard scoring all three individual awards courtesy of Kela Gray (Offensive Player of the Year), Kendall Hamilton (Defensive Player of the Year) and Mackenzie Diotte (Goalkeeper of the Year). 

Preseason awards were voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. 

The two-time, defending champions not only swept specialty awards, the Bison also collected the highest number of members on preseason teams with a total of eight – three first-teamers, five on second. Jackson State found itself in second with five Lady Tigers on preseason teams, followed by Alabama State with four spots and Mississippi Valley State with three on the teams. Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern each claimed one position.

Previously a sophomore, Gray scored 17 goals, finishing second in the SWAC. She also ranked in the Conference’s top five in categories such as shots (76), points (42) and assists (8). Her best match came early in the season against Hampton when she scored four goals with two assists. Gray was named to the 2015 AllSWAC First Team and averaged 1.83 points per game. 

Hamilton made a name for herself last year on the defensive side, helping the squad wrangle a winning 13-8-2 season. As a freshman, she greatly influenced the squad’s competitive average of a 1.53 goals against mark and aided in the Bison’s nine shutouts on the season. Hamilton earned a spot on the 2015 All-SWAC First Team as well as a position on the 2015 All-Tournament Team. 

Also entering her sophomore year is Goalkeeper of the Year, Diotte. The goalie from Oshawa, Ontario recorded an impressive freshman season, starting in all 23 matches played by Howard. She was ranked second in the Conference in goals against with a 1.49 average and made 127 saves – a .804 save percentage. Personally, she registered five shutouts. Diotte’s best appearance came against Longwood when she reached for a career-high 11 saves. She finished the season with All-Tournament Team and All-SWAC Second Team honors. 

During preseason voting, the predicted order of finish was also decided with the Bison clearing first-place with 170 points. Howard finished its 2015 crusade with an overall 13 wins, eight losses and two ties. The Bison managed a 7-3 conference record and finished the year in third-place. 

The Devilettes, who finished the 2015 campaign as regular season champions, collected a second-place rank with 146 points, followed by the Lady Hornets with 145 points. Jackson State managed 126 points for fourthplace with fifth-place going to Prairie View A&M with 112 points. Arkansas-Pine Bluff landed in sixth-place with 102 points, while Texas Southern (101) and Alabama A&M (74) were voted to finish seventh and eighth, respectfully. Southern (58), Grambling State (46) and Alcorn State (42) recorded ninth, tenth and eleventh positions, respectfully. 

The complete list of award winners is listed below as well as the predicted order of finish.

Offensive Player of the YearKela Gray – Howard 
Defensive Player of the YearKendall Hamilton – Howard
Goalkeeper of the Year – Mackenzie Diotte – Howard 
Alicia Cooper
Prairie View A&M
Kela Gray
Aaliyah Lewis
Alabama State
Laadi Issaka
Mississippi Valley State
Ariela Lewis
Alabama State
Jalana Ellis
Jackson State
Sara Vaughn
Kendall Hamilton
Kyleigh Io
Jackson State
Makayla Johnson
Texas Southern
Faith Toennies
Jackson State
 Heather Craddock
Mississippi Valley State
 Whitney White
Emily Fleming
Alabama State
Mariana Balboa
Mississippi Valley State
Kalen Roberts
Jackson State
Anna Mitchell
Sie’Yara Wells
Jackson State
Zakiya Muhammad
Kayla Edwards
Alabama State
Sandra Bond
Mackenzie Diotte
Mississippi Valley State
Alabama State
Jackson State
Prairie View A&M
Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Texas Southern
Alabama A&M
Grambling State
Alcorn State

Howard University Track Program Inks Six Newcomers

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  The Howard University track and field program inked six additions, as announced by head coach Marc Harrison on Friday. Sydney Benson, Jason Butler, Alyssa Rishell, Oluchi Ike, Alexis James and Queen Divine will join the Bison for the 2016-17 season.

"This was a very productive year for us in recruiting," Harrison said. "These new Bison bring a new level of expectations for the program. They will continue to exhibit the rare combination of academic and athletic excellence that exists in my program. We are blessed to have them join the family."

Sydney Benson | Harper Woods, Mich. | Grosse Point North HS
A four-year letterwinner at Grosse Point North as a member of the track and cross country teams…A three-time MVP…She was a four-time All-Mac and All-Region selection…Received All-State honors in the 4x800 and All-America recognition in the 4x400 relay…Graduated with high academic honors…Scholastics honorable mention and MIPA Award recipient.

Jason Butler | Sicklerville, N.J. | Timber Creek HS
Lettered two years and served as team captain at Timber Creek...Earned First Team All-Olympic Conference honors…Helped his 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams to New Jersey Group 3 State Championships…A three-time 4x400 state champion…Also nabbed a state championship as a member of the football team…National Honor Society member.

Alyssa Rishell | Montgomery Village, Md. | Watkins Mill HS
A four-year letterwinner and two-year captain of the outdoor and indoor teams at Watkins Mill, she was the 400m Regional Champion in 2014 and 2015…Helped her 4x400 relay team to a regional championship in 2015…During the indoor season, she was the 500m Regional Champion as a junior and county champion as a senior…Took home the 800m indoor regional title in 2016…Was a member of the three-time 4x400m regional championship team, which also claimed the county crown in 2015…Part of the 4x800 relay team that clinched the 2015 regional championship…Also served as the captain of the women's soccer team during her junior year.

In the classroom, Rishell was an honor roll student and received the Alpha Phi Alpha Youth Achievement Award from 2010-2016…Member of the National Society of High School Scholars and National Science Honor Society…IBCP candidate and Achieving Collegiate Success and Excellence (ACES) member.

Oluchi Ike | Upper Marlboro, Md. | Charles H. Flowers HS
Garnered All-Met Honorable Mention recognition while attending Charles H. Flowers…Was named the MVP of the 2016 indoor season…Claimed the indoor state championship in 800m…Took home the regional championship in the 500m, 800m, 400m and 300m hurdles…Helped her indoor and outdoor squads to the 2016 state, region and county championships…Is the school record holder in the outdoor 800m and indoor 400m and 400m hurdle races…Honor student that graduated in the top five-percent of her class.

Alexis James | Cheverly, Md. | Elizabeth Seton HS
Lettered in all four years as a member of the track and field team at Elizabeth Seton…Received All-Met Honorable Mention recognition…Was named the co-captain of the varsity squad…Holds the school record in the 800m...Tabbed as the valedictorian of her 2016 class…Earned the school's Student-Athlete Award and Math Achievement Award…Member of the National Honors Society.

Queen Divine | Mead, N.J. | Montgomery HS
A three-time MVP of the track and field team at Montgomery…Won the sectional and county championships in the 100m hurdle…Was an All-Area selection in the 100m hurdles.

By Candace Johnson, Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations

Howard Bison Announces 2016-17 Swimming Schedule

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Howard University men's and women's swimming and diving teams released its 2016-17 schedule, as announced by head coach Nicholas Askew on Tuesday.

The season will get started on Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. with the annual Bison Swim-A-Thon held on campus at the Burr Gymnasium Pool.

Howard will remain local for the first half of its schedule, hosting its Alumni Meet on Oct. 21 before visiting American (Oct. 28) and George Washington (Oct. 29).

The program gets into Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) action against UMBC on Jan. 7 in Baltimore, Md. Howard heads to the Garden State to take on league foes Drexel, St. Peter's and NJIT at a quad-meet on Jan. 15.

The Bison will host its final meet of the season when they welcome their neighbor, Catholic University, on Jan. 28, before traveling to Athens, Ga. for the CCSA Championships on Feb. 21-26.
Full schedule listed below:

Bison Swim-A-Thon
Washington, D.C.
1 p.m.
Potomac Relay Invitational
Washington, D.C.
3 p.m.
Alumni Meet
Washington, D.C.
6 p.m.
American University
Washington, D.C.
6 p.m.
George Washington
Washington, D.C.
1 p.m.
Mt. St. Mary's
Emmitsburg, Md.
5 p.m.
Barton College
Washington, D.C.
1 p.m.
Loyola (Md.)
Baltimore, Md.
1 p.m.
Yellow Jacket Invitational
Ashland, Va.
9 a.m.
Baltimore, Md.
3 p.m.
Washington, D.C.
6 p.m.
Drexel, NJIT, St. Peter's*
Newark, N.J.
1 p.m.
Arlington, Va.
6 p.m.
Washington, D.C.
10 a.m.
CCSA Championships
Athens, Ga.
10 a.m.
Home Games in Bold

*Denotes Conference Meets


Ricky Fisk welcomes challenge of trying to become Morgan State's top receiver

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- When Andrew King finished his final year at Morgan State last fall, the wide receiver caught 27.3 percent of the team’s passes, had 25.7 percent of the receiving yards and scored 33.3 percent of the touchdown catches and led the offense in each of those categories.

Replacing that production could be difficult, but Ricky Fisk is up for the challenge.

“I looked up to him when I was a junior and he was a senior,” Fisk recalled Friday from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference football media day in Norfolk, Va. “When we were in practice, he would tell me how to do this and how to do that. He was quiet to everybody else on the team, but he wasn’t quiet to me.

"We would talk about how things were supposed to be done. So I do feel like now that he’s gone, I’m the next one. I was right under him, and he taught me things, and I feel like I can teach the younger guys things. There’s no pressure, but I do feel like I have to step up.”


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Family and Discipline – Former HU's Brandon Jones to represent Belize in Rio

HAMPTON, Virginia -- As the 2016 Summer Olympics are fast approaching in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, so is the preparation deadline for Belizean athlete Brandon Jones. Jones, along with colleague Katy Sealy will be representing the Jewel at the tournament in less than a month, after they were both selected as ‘wildcards’ based on their performance over the years of competition.

28-year-old Jones was born in the state of Virginia in the United States of America (USA). His father, Kent Smith is a Belizean and a resident of Belize City, who met his mother Carmen Jones-Smith while living in the USA. From a very young age, Jones became active in sports, excelling in track and field, long jump and triple jump. He holds the record for indoor triple jump at the Hampton University in Virginia, and surpassed expectations in the 60m indoor dash and 200m outdoor dash at the said institution.

In 2011, he qualified for his first USA indoor championship, and that same year he qualified for his jumps after excelling in the triple jump with 15.62m. Even though his performance at this first championship did not go as expected, Jones did not give up and continued working hard. That paid off as the following year, he was called by the Belize Athletic Association (BAA) to represent Belize in Nicaragua at the Senior Central American Championships.


Minor Sports Getting Squeezed Out at HBCUs

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When Clark Atlanta University announced this summer that it was suspending its men’s track and field program, alarms were sounded in some corners of the historically black colleges and universities landscape — as well in the community at large.

Here is a school in Atlanta, which hosted the Summer Olympics just 20 years ago. Those games featured gold medal-winning sprinter Michael Johnson and long jumper Carl Lewis.

Was there not sufficient momentum built to sustain a viable track and field program for at least a couple of generations?

Isn’t there an almost unlimited number of potential men in the Atlanta area alone who can run and jump?

As it turns out, the truth is much more complicated, according to commissioners and athletic directors responsible for managing the musical chairs known as HBCU athletics.


Kentucky State Hall of Famer William Graham named Director of Athletics

FRANKFORT, Kentucky -- Kentucky State University has announced former men's basketball head coach, KSU Athletic Hall of Famer and current director of the William Exum Center, William Graham, as the new director of athletics.

"This is a program I'm very familiar with, and it's one I'm a product of," said Graham. "I'm looking forward to making a difference in our student-athletes lives', adding to the program, and raising the bar of expectations."

Graham has served three stints at KSU totaling more than 30 years. In 1967, he was a student athlete playing basketball under Lucias Mitchell. During his time as a student-athlete, Graham was a part of two NAIA National Championship teams in 1970 and 1971, serving as captain and the team's "Most Inspirational Player" in 1971. He would later be drafted by both the Denver Rockets of the ABA and the Phoenix Suns of the NBA in 1971, to sign eventually with the Suns.

In 1976, Graham returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach for men's basketball and baseball. Following his two-year coaching stint with the Thorobreds, Graham served as an assistant men's basketball coach at Alabama State until 1989. While at ASU, he assisted James Oliver, helping lead the Hornets to a #1 NAIA National team ranking and runner-up in the NAIA National Championship tournament in 1980.

He returned to KSU in 1989 to serve as the head coach of men's basketball, a position he held until 1996. Following his time at the helm of the Thorobreds, he was named as the assistant director of the William Exum Center. In 2004, Graham was appointed the director of the William Exum Center, a position he held for more than 12 years.

Graham currently serves on numerous boards and committees including the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches, Kentucky State University Alumni Association, Kentucky State University K-Club Vice President, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (Shape America), and National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association.

"I'm a part of the Frankfort community and have been for a long time," said Graham. "I think KSU is a valuable asset to this community. As we move forward, we want our programs to be more involved with the city of Frankfort."

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he is married to Lillian Graham, and they are the parents of daughters Erica and Courtney, and son William III.


HU faces uncertainty at the quarterback position

HU has as many as four candidates for the QB1 job, including senior J.J. Williamson and FBS transfer Malik Wat

NORFOLK, Virginia — Following its best finish since 2011, Hampton University went into the offseason with momentum. But with their opener just five weeks away, the Pirates have uncertainty at the worst possible position.

Asked about the quarterback situation during the MEAC's media day Friday, HU coach Connell Maynor acknowledged there is still no set starter. He also suggested he might need to observe the first two games of the season — Old Dominion and William and Mary, both non-conference — before knowing.

"We have three or four capable guys that can go out and win football games for us," Maynor said. "But we want to narrow it down to one, and we want to have a backup ready to play. We've got two non-conference games against two good opponents, and that'll tell me a lot. They'll be playing against some good competition, and that'll tell me a lot about their maturity, their pocket presence, their leadership, and whether they'll quit when they get behind. … A quarterback is tough to find, and a lot of times you don't know until he gets in a game."


Feggins Earns Preseason Status as VSU Predicted to Finish Fourth

DURHAM, North Carolina – The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and its Football Coaches Association announces the 2016 CIAA Football Predicted Order of Finish and the Preseason All-CIAA Team.

Under the leadership of new head football coach, Reggie Barlow, the Virginia State University (VSU) Trojans are predicted to finish fourth in the conference, third in the Northern Division.

"I am glad to be kicking off the 2016 season with my new Trojan Family and with the CIAA," said Coach Barlow. "Although predicted to finish fourth in the conference and third in the division, we will stay focused on our "One Team, One Dream" motto and not focus on preseason rankings."

Last season, VSU finished the season with a 6-4 overall record, 4-3 in the conference.

Representing the Trojans on the Preseason All-CIAA Team is senior linebacker George "Geo" Feggins. The South Hill, VA native collected 73 total tackles, 55 unassisted, during the 2015 season. In the close 2015 win over the Elizabeth City State Vikings, Feggins earned a season single game high of 14 total tackles.

The CIAA Football Media Day kicked off  on Thursday, July 21, 2016 in Durham, NC with interviews from all twelve CIAA institutions. Catch all the action by following the CIAA on Facebook (The CIAA), Twitter (@CIAAForLife), and Instagram (@CIAASports).

The Trojans will kick off the 2016 season on the road in Hickory, NC to take on Lenior-Rhyne. Game time is set for 2pm.
Looking ahead, the CIAA Football Championship is scheduled for November 12, 2016 in Durham, NC. The nationally televised championship game will be played at Durham County Memorial Stadium and feature the CIAA Northern and Southern Division champions.

For more information on VSU Trojans football, follow Trojans Athletics on Twitter @VSUsports, or call 804-524-5030.

2016 Predicted Order of Finish
Winston-Salem State University
Bowie State University
Virginia Union University
Virginia State University
Fayetteville State University
Chowan University
Livingstone College
Elizabeth City State University
Johnson C. Smith University
Shaw University
Lincoln (Pa.) University
Saint Augustine's University

Predicted Divisional Order of Finish
Northern Division
Bowie State University
Virginia Union University
Virginia State University
Chowan University
Elizabeth City State University
Lincoln (Pa.) University

Southern Division
Winston-Salem State University
Fayetteville State University
Livingstone College
Johnson C. Smith University
Shaw University
Saint Augustine's University

2016 Preseason All-CIAA Football Team
TE #17 Victor Tabbs* ECSU 6-4 230 Sr. Sutland, MD
OL #62 Jac'que Polite* WSSU 6-5 300 Sr. Ridgeland, SC
OL #70 Tim Samuels WSSU 6-3 240 Jr. Charlotte, NC
OL #75 Justin Nester* BSU 6-3 276 Sr. Dayton, MD
OL #78 Abraham Garcia VUU 6-6 340 Sr. Fort Lauderdale, FL
OL #78 Victor Tamba BSU 6-5 335 Jr. District Heights, MD
WR #8 Nyme Manns* BSU 6-4 212 Sr. Baltimore, MD
WR #16 Jordan Garrison BSU 6-2 229 Sr. Baltimore, MD
QB #12 Shawheem Dowdy VUU 6-4 218 Sr. Baltimore, MD
RB #5 Stephen Scott* LUPA 5-8 205 Sr. Baltimore, MD
RB #9 Hakeem Holland* VUU 5-10 180 So. Baltimore, MD
PK #47 William Johnson WSSU 5-11 175 Sr. High Point, NC
KR #9 Hakeem Holland VUU 5-10 180 So. Baltimore, MD

DL #7 Miles Pace VUU 6-2 250 Sr. Miami, FL
DL #46 Armond Cox LC 6-3 240 So. Teaneck, NJ
DL #53 Paulin Miano* VUU 6-6 265 Sr. Washington, DC
DL #99 Sean Copeland BSU 6-0 325 Sr. Baltimore, MD
LB #20 Demetrius Newberry CU 5-11 225 Sr. Brunswick, GA
LB #34 Geo Feggins VSU 6-1 210 Sr. South Hill, VA
LB #44 Kevaugn Townsend* BSU 5-8 203 Sr. Ft. Washington, MD
DB #8 Carlo Thomas* JCSU 6-2 185 Jr. East Orange, NJ
DB #21 Rodeshawn Joseph VUU 6-1 185 Sr. Pompano Beach, FL
DB #26 Travis Scales FSU 6-0 200 Sr. North Carolina
DB #37 Eric Henderson* FSU 5-8 170 Sr. Charlotte, NC
P #57 Christopher Palmer BSU 6-2 274 Sr. St. Mary's, MD
PR #12 Robert Chesson BSU 5-10 179 So. Annapolis, MD *2015 All-CIAA First Team Members


ASU 2016 Football Prospectus Available Online

LORMAN, Mississippi --  The 2016 Alcorn State University football prospectus is available for online viewing.

Click here to be redirected to the prospectus.



Sept. 4 at Bethune-Cookman Daytona Beach, Fla.
Sept. 10 Alabama State* Lorman, Miss.
Sept. 15 Arkansas Pine-Bluff* Lorman, Miss.
Sept. 24 at Grambling State* Grambling, La.
Oct. 1 at Arkansas Little Rock, Ark.
Oct. 8 at Alabama A&M* Huntsville, Ala.
Oct. 15 Texas Southern* (Homecoming) Lorman, Miss.
Oct. 29 Southern* Lorman, Miss.
Nov. 5 at Prairie View A&M* Prairie View, Texas
Nov. 12 at Mississippi Valley State* Itta Bena, Miss.
Nov. 19 Jackson State* Lorman, Miss.
Dec. 3 Toyota SWAC Championship Game Houston, Texas


Alcorn Athletics Director Derek Horne Signs Contract Extension

LORMAN, Mississippi -- Alcorn State University Athletics Director Derek Horne has received a three-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of Alcorn Athletics through 2019. Horne was hired in August 2014.

The Alcorn Braves have won conference championships in football and tennis under Horne's watch. And a Black College National Championship in football and made an appearance in the 2015 inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.

President Alfred Rankins Jr. acknowledged Horne's commitment to Alcorn and its student athletes.
"Derek has brought stable leadership to our athletics program. He has raised expectations for our athletics staff and has our athletics department functioning at a higher level, which has resulted in gains in the overall student athlete experience at Alcorn," Rankins said.

In 2014, the football team successfully won the Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division and their first SWAC Championship in 20 years. Shortly after claiming the SWAC title, the team was named the 2014 Black College Football National Champions. The following year, the Braves would dominate the conference again by repeating as SWAC East Division Champions and reclaiming the SWAC Championship for a consecutive year.

Under Horne's leadership, Alcorn State University National Alumni President and Alcornite of the Year Neddie Winters '72, has witnessed the success of Alcorn Athletics firsthand.

"It's a huge responsibility to lead any athletics program in this 'win now' mentality present in our society," Winters said. "Horne hit the ground running, hiring staff and coordinating the efforts of various sports. His ability to listen calmly and address challenges while focusing on our student athletes' success on and off the field at the highest level is substantial."

The Lady Braves tennis team earned a trip to the 2015 Women's NCAA Tennis Tournament, a monumental feat for the team. The Lady Braves returned to the tournament in 2016 after securing the SWAC Championship in April. Tennis coach Anthony Dodgen was named SWAC Coach of the Year. The basketball and softball programs have also flourished. The Braves men's basketball team finished in second place during the regular season. The softball team also completed their season in second place of the East Division. Softball Coach Josef Rankin was named SWAC Coach of the Year.

Under Horne, 91 student athletes received SWAC honors for making the honor roll in 2014. The accomplishment helped Alcorn athletics win the 2014 Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA) Academic Progress Rate (APR) Award for the SWAC. The next year, the number of scholars increased to 123 students who received SWAC honors for their commitment to their studies.

Alcorn quarterback Lenorris Footman respects the accountability that Alcorn Athletics demands of its students. "I work hard to achieve academic honors. Other than my professors, I know my coaches, academic advisors and even AD Horne will monitor my progress. When AD sees you, he wants to know 'how you are doing in the classroom?' All of the concern and family support, motivates me to do my best work."

Horne credits his team and President Rankins for a successful two years. "I would like to thank Dr. Rankins for the opportunity to continue serving as Alcorn's director of athletics," Horne said. "The past two years have been a rewarding experience. I look forward to working with a dedicated team as we serve our student athletes, staff and alumni.

Horne, a former University of Mississippi student athlete, came to Alcorn after leading the athletics program at Florida A&M and an impressive 15-year tenure at his alma mater in athletics administration.