Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jackson State faces tough obstacle in Las Vegas

JACKSON, Mississippi -- The odds are not in Jackson State’s favor of having fun in Las Vegas.

The Tigers face UNLV at 9 p.m. Thursday in the season opener for both teams.

Jackson State, under first-year coach Tony Hughes, has never beaten an FBS school in its 12 previous tries. The Tigers are also 0-2 against teams in the Mountain West Conference. The Rebels beat Jackson State 39-2 in 1975 in their previous meeting.

“We’ve prepared for this moment,” Hughes said in a SWAC teleconference call. “It’s not like this just snuck up on us and, ‘Oh, wow, we have to fly out to Las Vegas.’ I think our guys will be ready to play.”

Quarterback LaMontiez Ivy leads a high-powered Tigers offense with a deep receiving corps.


After a year away from the SWAC championship game, Southern begins the chase again

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Southern has become accustomed to being a championship program, which is what made the 2015 season so difficult to digest.

A 6-5 record and a third-place finish in the SWAC's Western Division does not cut it, not after the previous two seasons ended in Houston and the SWAC Championship Game.

So, Southern made sweeping changes — many of which were difficult for coach Dawson Odums — in an effort to recapture some championship mojo.

Gone is the entire defensive staff, as well as last season's offensive coordinator, Chad Germany. Odums, who was his own defensive coordinator in his first three full seasons, relinquished that role to his former college teammate, Trei Oliver. Chennis Berry was promoted from within the ranks to take over as offensive coordinator.

"We had been therCe for three years, didn’t like the direction, and I wanted to remove myself from it," Odums said.


Second-year coach Wood looks to bring FAMU ‘back into the competition’

MIAMI, Florida -- Florida A&M was slow out of the gates in 2015 in coach Alex Wood’s first season.

The Rattlers were slow to end the season, as well. A 1-10 season was not what he envisioned, but now Wood has a glimpse of where his team needs to improve.

And with Florida A&M on a streak of four consecutive losing seasons — a combined 11-35 record — Wood is eyeing a quick turnaround in his second season.

“People are anxious,” Wood said. “They’re always asking ‘When are you going to get back?’ because they want us in these games. … That’s our job: To get us back into the competition so it’s exciting football for the MEAC and for FAMU football.”

But after last season, it looks like the Rattlers might still be at least another year away from being in the thick of the competition.


MEAC commissioner challenges alumni to take ownership of their institutions

Dr. Dennis Thomas
NORFOLK, Virginia -- There is no sugarcoating the state of HBCUs: Our institutions are hurting. Nationwide, state funding continues to decline, and our athletic programs are under tremendous financial strain to balance their budgets.

I know most HBCUs have strong alumni support. I see them at games and hear from them throughout the year. They are vocal and full of pride. I applaud this. But our institutions need more than a vocal and proud alumni base to survive, they need consistent financial support. If you venture to an institution’s development office and ask for a list of alumni who have given $1,000 or more, you’d be hard-pressed to find more than 5,000 alumni who have done so. That’s hard to hear, but it’s fact. Despite the lack of donors at that level, our alumni – the same ones who are proud and love their schools – are prone to criticize, even though they have not earned the right to do so. Which is why I have accepted the opportunity by The Undefeated to set the record straight – and to educate.

Let me be clear: We need more alumni to be financially active at their respective institutions. I certainly don’t mean to lump all alumni in the same bucket. I know we have thousands of alumni nationwide who consistently support the affairs of their alma mater. But we have a small number carrying the larger load, and frankly, it’s gotten too heavy for the faithful few to carry.


from THE EDITOR DWIGHT FLOYD: FAMU @ Delaware State Football Game Seven Preseason Pick

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Dover, Delaware is a very friendly place for Delaware State.

Their lone win in 2015 happened at home in a one point win against Howard University. The Hornets will be looking to avenge a FAMU Homecoming loss with a homecoming win of their own. You would think that the teams should be about even because they both had one win seasons last year.

Expect FAMU to run and pass well against these Hornets and unless the Hornets play better defense this will be a another long season for them. This is another game that FAMU should win.


Hampton @ FAMU Football Game Eight Preseason Pick

Hampton trampled a weary FAMU Rattlers near the end of last season in Hampton, Virginia. This time it will be an improving Rattler team at home.

Expect this game to be about defense. The team that is able to make that one key stand will win this game. It may come down to a field goal.

FAMU’s passing game will remains it strength as the running game shows marked improvement over last year. Hampton will rely mostly on running. I’m giving FAMU the homecoming edge.

If the Pirate’s band shows up they’ll have to face the Marching 100 and Joe Bullard. That’s an unbeatable combination.


XULA picked 1st again; Tomasoni is preseason All-GCAC

Juliana Tomasoni
 NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana has been picked to repeat as Gulf Coast Athletic Conference volleyball champion, and the Gold Nuggets' Juliana Tomasoni is on the preseason All-GCAC team.
The conference's seven head coaches made the selections, which the GCAC announced Monday.
XULA, which seeks sixth consecutive GCAC regular-season and tournament championships, received 5-of-7 first-place votes and 47 points in the poll. SUNO is second with 42 points, and Dillard is third with 32. SUNO and Dillard received one first-place vote apiece.
The Gold Nuggets have won 72 of their last 73 matches against GCAC opponents. The lone loss was in five sets last year at SUNO, which earned a shared of the 2015 regular-season title.
Tomasoni, a junior outside hitter/defensive specialist from Nova Trento, Brazil, and a former Northeastern Oklahoma A&M standout, was one of seven named preseason All-GCAC. In her first season at XULA, Tomasoni ranks second in the GCAC with 4.18 digs per set, third with a .237 hitting percentage and fourth with 3.0 kills per set.
After opening the season with out-of-state tournaments each of the past two weekends, XULA (1-7) will play five times this week in its home city. The Gold Nuggets will visit Loyola Tuesday for matches at 5 p.m. against St. Thomas (Texas) and 7 p.m. against Loyola, then play host to the second annual Big Easy Blastoff at the Convocation Center. XULA will play Friday at 11 a.m. against Pikeville and 5 p.m. against William Carey and Saturday against Southwest (N.M.) at 11 a.m.

GCAC Preseason Voting
Kaylin DavisonEdward WatersOH5-9Jr.Columbus, Ohio
Carla NovaesTalladegaOH6-1Sr.Sao Paulo, Brazil
Shelby StewartDillardOH6-0Jr.Houston, Texas
Marija StojijkovicSUNOS5-8So.Belgrade, Serbia
Juliana TomasoniXavierOH/DS5-9Jr.Nova Trento, Brazil
Autumn TrimblePhilander SmithRS6-2Jr.Mobile, Ala.
Cailyn WareDillardOH5-7Sr.Pearland, Texas
Preseason Player of the Year:  Carla Novaes, Talladega

Order of Finish  (first-place votes in parentheses)
1Xavier (5)47
2SUNO (1)42
3Dillard (1)32
4Philander Smith27
6-tieEdward Waters14

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Gold Nuggets win at Loyola to end their losing streak

NEW ORLEANS — Juliana Tomasoni had 15 kills, hit .371 and served three aces Tuesday to help Xavier University of Louisiana rally for a 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 27-25 volleyball victory against Loyola at the Wolf Pack's First NBC Court.
The Gold Nuggets (2-8) snapped a five-match losing streak, their longest in six seasons.
XULA played twice at Loyola. In their first match, the Gold Nuggets lost 25-18, 25-17, 26-24 to St. Thomas (Texas).
Tomasoni also had four assists, five digs and two blocks. She reached double figures in kills for the fifth time this season.
Against Loyola, Hasani Salaam had nine kills, and Monet Fontaine and Terri Drake had eight apiece.Amanda Perry had 16 digs and reached double figures for the ninth consecutive match to tie a XULA record. Taylor Ducros and Kayla Jones had 10 digs apiece. The Gold Nuggets' .248 hitting percentage and nine blocks were season highs.
XULA recorded back-to-back wins against Loyola at the Wolf Pack's home court for the first time. The Gold Nuggets won in five sets last season. Loyola leads the series 12-6, but the Gold Nuggets won six of the last seven meetings.
Against St. Thomas, Salaam had 10 kills and hit a career-high .556 with no errors in 18 attacks. Adili Rikondja had eight kills and hit .438, both career bests, and Perry had 10 digs and two aces.
XULA will play its home opener Friday in its Big Easy Opener at the Convocation Center. The Gold Nuggets will play Pikeville at 11 a.m. and William Carey at 5 p.m. SUNO and Southwest (N.M.) also are in the tournament; they'll meet at 9 a.m. Friday to open the five-team, nine-match, two-day event.


Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jackson State's Tony Hughes ready for big opportunity

JACKSON, Mississippi -- Jackson State's Tony Hughes spent his 31-year coaching career as an assistant waiting for an opportunity to be a head coach, something he’ll achieve Thursday night against UNLV.

Although the enormity of the moment hasn’t hit him yet, he believes his 10 years in the Southeastern Conference will help him through any nerves.

“I’m prepared mentally, physically, spiritually, because I’ve coached in tough environments for the last 10 years,” Hughes said. “Some of those environments, I would go out there on a Saturday and say, ‘What the hell am I doing here? Oh, my God.’”

The challenge for road teams playing in UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium isn’t as much as it is in Alabama’s Bryant Denny Stadium or LSU’s Tiger Stadium, two venues Hughes is familiar with during his time at Ole Miss (three seasons) and Mississippi State (seven seasons).


Alabama State’s Jylan Ware never far away from home

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Alabama State senior offensive lineman Jylan Ware doesn’t have many long road trips left in his Hornet career.

The 6-foot-8, 295-pound redshirt senior is a three-year starter on a line that has produced three consecutive seasons of more than 2,000 rushing yards while twice leading the SWAC in rushing (2013, 2014).

Ware, a native of Valley, Alabama, will once again be an important piece of an experienced line that hopes to once again carve out enough holes for a running game that has become the staple of the Alabama State attack.

“You can’t do anything if you can’t run the ball,” Ware said. “You can’t pass. You can’t set up screens. We’ve made the run a huge part of our offense and we have to be able to do it consistently.”

Valley might be a smaller town compared to Montgomery in terms of population, but Ware says Alabama State football has a very strong presence in the community.


'Canes DE Trent Harris expected to play vs FAMU despite broken hand

MIAMI, Florida -- The Hurricanes defense – already reeling after this weekend’s dismissal of two top players – will have to deal with another challenge now that one of its projected starters is hurt.

Junior Trent Harris, listed as one of the Miami’s starters at defensive end, broke his hand and went to see a doctor for the issue on Tuesday, his mother Betsy Harris told the Orlando Sentinel. She also said the expectation, though, is that Harris will be able to play Saturday when the Hurricanes open their season against FAMU on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.

That would be a positive development for Miami, which will be without defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and linebacker Jermaine Grace for the season after the school determined the pair committed NCAA violations in their dealings with a local luxury car rental agency.

Muhammad was projected to start at defensive end ahead of Harris after leading the Hurricanes with five sacks last year. Grace, meanwhile, was Miami’s leading tackler with 79 stops in 2015.


S.C. State readying for Central Florida, tough early schedule

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina -- South Carolina State head football coach Buddy Pough held his first press conference of the 2016 season on Monday as he begins his 15th season in charge of the Bulldogs program.

He made it clear that the coaches and players are fully focused on what may be the toughest opening four-game road schedule of any S.C. State team in the program’s history. It includes three consecutive Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

The Bulldogs will open the season on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside Bright House Networks Stadium (a 44,000-seat venue also known as The Bouncehouse) in Orlando, Fla., against Central Florida. From there, S.C. State will spend much of September on the road, playing at Louisiana Tech (Sept. 10), Clemson (Sept. 17) and MEAC opponent Florida A&M (Sept. 24).

It looks to be the toughest early schedule in the Pough era, ranking as a bigger challenge than the 2012 season when S.C. State opened with a 33-6 win against Georgia State before losing to Bethune-Cookman (27-14), Arizona (56-0) and Johnny Manziel's Texas A&M team (70-14).


Sneak Preview of What's Ahead This Season in HBCU Football

GREENSBORO, North Carolina -- This should be an exciting year in black college football. It seems like just about every historically black college conference has some great teams and players. All the better to attract a tremendous amount of interest from the fans around the country.

North Carolina A&T State University is the team to beat in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Aggies are ranked No. 1 in the preseason SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll. N.C. A&T is also ranked No. 25 in the STATS FCS Media top 25 Poll and the NCAA FCS Coaches Poll. The Aggies earned a share of the MEAC title last season. They won the Celebration Bowl, defeating Alcorn State University, 41-34. In that game, N.C. A&T running back Tarik Cohen rushed for 295 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Cohen, a 5-foot-7, 179-pound senior, led the conference in rushing with 977 yards. He was the conference leader in rushing yards per game (122.1), all-purpose yards per game (141.1) and nine touchdowns. He is the MEAC preseason offensive player of the year.

Bethune-Cookman University is also expected to ...


Alcorn State ready for Bethune-Cookman in MEAC/SWAC Challenge

LORMAN, Mississippi -- Alcorn State is just 5 days away from playing in the national spotlight. I had a chance to watch the Braves work out this afternoon.

Fred McNair's crew are in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. The matchup with Bethune-Cookman is dubbed the Battle by the Beach. Purple and gold are thrilled to have another chance on the national stage.

QB Lenorris Footman had a big 2015 as Alcorn won their 2nd straight SWAC championship. He said playing on ESPN is "very exciting. Growing up, you always want to see yourself playing on TV, let your family see you playing on TV. It's just a very humbling experience. All the glory goes to God."

Marquis Warford will play all over the field, the versatile RB/WR wants to make a statement. "Too excited that we get to go out there and show what we can do. Last time we wasn't about to show what we could actually show because we started off slow. But this is the year that we're going to be ready."


Morgan State hoping to get pass rush back on track this season

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- The Morgan State football team's defense finished 2015 ranked in the upper half of the 11-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in total yards and first downs allowed per game. But if there was one aspect that rankled defensive coordinator Mike Fanoga, it was the unit's inconsistent ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

"Last season, that was one of our weakest areas, and we've got to get better at it," said Fanoga, who has been working with new defensive line coach Antonio James on improving the pass rush. "We were young last year, and we still have the same group. And now that we've got Coach James, he's doing a tremendous job with the guys on the field working on the pass rush. We're focused on and concentrating more on getting to the quarterback."

The Bears managed just 23 sacks in 10 games last fall, a total that ranked sixth in the MEAC. They still ranked second in the league in pass defense, giving up just 164 yards per contest and 11 touchdowns through the air. But the unit's production in the sacks department was a dramatic drop from the program-record 33 sacks the 2014 squad posted.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Spady pleased with Bulldogs final scrimmage

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- The Bulldogs offense showed off its quick strike potential Saturday in the team's final scrimmage of the fall.

Alabama A&M will now go into "game-prep" mode in its workouts, said Head Coach James Spady.

The coach also had mixed feelings as the offensive coach and as the head coach.

"On offense, I was pleased with our quick strikes," he said."On defense, we have to stop the big plays."

The big plays included a 62-yard catch-and-run pass from De'Angelo Ballard to Tevin McKenzie, a 68-yard run by Jordan Bentley and a 59-yard touchdown run by Rashad Anderson.

"We executed the plays as well as expected," Spady said. "Our top two quarterbacks were able to do well as far as game management."

A couple of big surprises in camp, Spady said,

were a pair of freshmen - Bentley and Quantravis Kelly.

"Now, it's time to go from preseason to game preparation in the practices, he said. Players who had a lot of reps may see their numbers drop as they move to scout team roles.

"We're making the transition to game preparation," he said. "The guys will take different roles ... they're charged with getting us prepared for Middle Tennessee."

Spady said the players are eager to start the game preparation, as well.

"We're going to go into the game with every intention of winning," he said. "They're ready to play somebody different."


Grambling WR Chad Williams suspended for opener

GRAMBLING, Louisiana -- — Grambling will be without its star wide receiver for the first game of the 2016 season.

Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs said Monday that Chad Williams is suspended for one game following his May arrest on weapon and drug charges.

The senior receiver was one of three men arrested for simple possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm in Baton Rouge. At the time, Fobbs made it clear the incident would be handled, but declined to give a public decision due to ongoing court appearances.

HBCU Bands' Performances Exceed Expectation at Queen City Battle of the Bands 2016

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- The eight marching bands featured in this year’s exhibition were from Benedict College, Bethune-Cookman, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central, Talladega College, Tennessee State, Southern University and Winston-Salem State. The performances were superb!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Howard’s hires of Cato June and Brandon Torrey lend NFL cachet to coaching staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Howard football team begins this season with a pair of significant additions on offense, but they aren’t at high-profile positions such as quarterback or wide receiver. The newcomers, both of whom left imprints on the local football scene, don’t even play a position at all, at least not these days.

Cato June is the Bison’s first-year running backs coach and director of football operations, on the heels of serving as head coach at Anacostia, his high school alma mater, and then C.H. Flowers. June played seven years at linebacker in the NFL, winning Super Bowl XLI with the Indianapolis Colts after the 2006 season.

The following year, offensive lineman Brandon Torrey, a former Howard standout, was part of the Super Bowl XLII-winning New York Giants. Torrey officially joins Bison Coach Gary Harrell’s staff as offensive line coach after setting the school record for most consecutive starts.

“It worked out pretty well for me,” said Harrell, who also starred for the Bison as a player, helping Howard win the black national championship in 1993.

Torrey was a volunteer coach last year, initially coming back to campus to fulfill a pledge to his mother to earn his diploma. He left 18 credits short of a degree in sociology in 2006 to pursue his professional football career that included stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals in addition to the Giants. His last NFL team was the Oakland Raiders in 2009.


S.C. State Coach Pough: New staff getting team ready

ORANGEBURG, South Carolina -- S.C. State Coach Buddy Pough kicked off the 15th season of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club Thursday with his coaching staff giving an overview of the team and projections for the season.

“It’s been a long off-season, and we’ve got some big holes to fill,” Pough said of his team. “I think we’ve got a lot of the right ingredients in place to fill those spots that we’ve got available.

“We’ve got four guys (Javon Hargrave-Pittsburgh, Temarrick Hemingway-Los Angeles, Jalen “Scoot” Simmons-Carolina, and Antonio Hamilton-Oakland) who were on this team last year at this time who are now on NFL rosters.”

Pough made it clear he realizes the schedule he helped set up for 2016 is a tough one from the start for the Bulldogs, playing on the road for the first four weekends: at Central Florida on Sept. 3, at Louisiana Tech on Sept. 10, at Clemson on Sept. 17 and at Florida A&M on Sept. 24.


WSSU Rams embrace role as CIAA favorites

WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina -- Coach Kienus Boulware of Winston-Salem State is going into this football season with plenty of reachable goals — winning the CIAA title again and getting back to the Division II playoffs.

For Boulware’s first two seasons as head coach after a long stint as defensive coordinator, the Rams have been decent, bordering on good. Last season, the Rams fell apart early and stumbled to an overall 6-5 record.

But the obvious silver lining was being just good enough to win the CIAA championship game by upsetting Bowie State 17-14 on Will Johnson’s last-second field goal.

Despite going 6-5 and suffering two rare regular-season losses at home to Shaw and Chowan the Rams were picked in the preseason coaches’ poll to win the league again. The Rams have won the CIAA title in three of the last five seasons.


Fayetteville State football coach Richard Hayes getting familiar with new surroundings

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina -- Five months into his tenure as Fayetteville State's football coach, Richard Hayes was finally getting his office the way he wanted it to be. He'd begun to hang stuff on the walls. His desk was feeling familiar.

But a few weeks ago, all of that came to a halt.

School staffers came to paint the locker room, the weight room and the coaches' offices. So Hayes had to pack up his stuff and clear out for a few days.

Now, with a season-opening showdown against Chowan slated for next Saturday, the latest round of upheaval has Hayes settling in for a second time.

"I've got stuff everywhere," said the longtime assistant at Winston-Salem State.

Like his office, Hayes' first Broncos team is still a work in progress.

Of the 26 freshmen Hayes' staff has brought in, he estimates at least 17 will have to see significant action. He's got offensive and defensive lines that will be nearly all new and a quarterback that threw just eight passes last season.


JOHNSON: Southern no stranger to adversity — or how to get past it

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Problem-solving is a fact of life on The Bluff.

I got that impression my first day covering Southern football last month, when I met Lenard Tillery at Southwestern Athletic Conference media day in Birmingham, Alabama.

In response to one of the several questions he was getting about Southern’s lack of spring practice, a result of APR-related NCAA sanctions, Tillery said simply: “We’re uCOsed to handling adversity at Southern University."

It was a bit of a shock to the system. Tillery was being candid rather than doling out a prepackaged response many athletes fall back on. It sounded, at first, like an admission of the affect Murphy’s Law was having on the campus at large.

But here’s the thing: He’s right.


Aerial attack for Morgan State could get big boost from return of receiver Thomas Martin

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- While all players look forward to the regular season, it might be difficult to top how eager Morgan State wide receiver Thomas Martin is to play.

The senior was one of several Bears who were deemed academically ineligible after they were not properly certified by the university. So instead of trying to help last year’s team retain the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship it had captured in 2014, Martin was relegated to onlooker status for the entire campaign.

“It was real tough,” Martin said recently. “I took it kind of hard, but my coaches told me just to build on it because I was coming back next year. So I just went hard in the classroom and worked hard off the field so that I could help the team any way that I could. It paid off because I didn’t drop balls like some guys would have. I just took it as a learning experience.”

So how anxious is he to suit up for his first game since catching four passes in Morgan State's Football Championship Subdivision playoff loss at Richmond in 2014?

“It’s really high because there’s a big sense of urgency,” he said. “Our first few games are really big, and on top of that, it’s my last year. So I really feel like we need everything we can get as soon as possible.”


Unique Opener, Program's Legacy Has Morgan State's Fred Farrier Excited

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- When Fred Farrier was appointed the interim head coach of the Morgan State football program in February 2015, he was already familiar with the Bears' first opponent.

Farrier will make his debut as Morgan State's head coach Sept. 3, when the Bears open the 2016 season at Hughes Stadium against his alma mater, Holy Cross. Farrier, who was promoted when former head coach Lee Hull left Morgan State to become the Indianapolis Colts' wide receivers coach, will be looking across the field at the familiar purple-and-white uniform he used to wear.

"Just getting to the football season in general is a super-exciting time," said Farrier, who graduated from Holy Cross in 1994. "I have an opportunity to be a head coach again. To be in a situation where I get to coach my first game against my alma mater is pretty special. It's not something that I could have drawn up."

Farrier has already heard from several people who were a part of his Holy Cross undergraduate experience.

"Chris Summers was my college roommate," said Farrier, a native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. "His dad, Andre, who followed us to every game when we were at Holy Cross, is a Morgan State graduate, and he's actually going to come back on campus for the game. Chris and his entire family will travel to watch me coach in this game against our alma mater. A couple of my former teammates have called."


FVSU Kevin Porter looking for competitive spirit

FORT VALLEY, Georgia -- After a seven-year stint under Donald Pittman ended in March, the Fort Valley State football program will have a new face on the sidelines this season: former NFL All-Rookie team safety Kevin Porter.

The Wildcats finished 5-4 last season after losing their regular-season finale, a win that would have propelled the team into the SIAC championship game.

But Porter didn’t talk about tangible benchmarks, like reaching a conference championship, for his first year. He said the goal for the Wildcats simply will be to be competitive.

“Everyone wants to get out and be competitive every week, and that’s what we want to do,” he said. “We want to get our program to where we can compete at the highest level in Division II, and it’s going to require a tremendous amount of effort from our staff, our university and our football players. But ultimately, that’s what we’re looking for.”

Reaching that level of competitiveness will be more challenging for Fort Valley State because of the program’s current amount of scholarships. Division II programs can have up to 36 scholarships. Right now, Fort Valley State has around nine.


UAPB Coleman retools staff, eyes turnaround

PINE BLUFF, Arkansas — Monte Coleman rebuilt a large chunk of his coaching staff in 2010 following a sluggish two seasons as Arkansas-Pine Bluff head coach. Three seasons after that makeover, the Golden Lions won their first outright Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.

Coleman is hoping a similar reboot can have similar results.

Coleman begins his ninth season as UAPB’s coach this year trying to snap a skid of three consecutive losing seasons. He’s hoping some fresh faces and new ideas among his coaching staff, particularly on offense, can breathe new life into a program that is 8-25 since winning the SWAC title in2 012.

“There was a sense of need for something different,” he said. “It’s a real tough business. Just wanted to go in a different direction and that’s what we did.”

Coleman’s staff makeover includes the addition of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ted White, wide receivers coach Mark Fredericks, linebackers coach Damion Frenchie and defensive line coach Carrillo Santos. Frenchie is actually the second linebackers coach he’s hired since the end of last season. Stanley Smith resigned about a week before practice started to tend to his pregnant fiance, Coleman said.


New football stadium ushers in next era at Prairie View A&M

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas -- Harold Bonner, who attended Prairie View A&M from 1958-62, couldn't believe his eyes when he glanced up at the Panthers' pristine, $61 million stadium.

"We never thought we'd see a day like today," Bonner said of older PVAMU alumni, many of whom were in the crowd during the stadium's grand opening on Saturday. "It's almost like an impossible dream coming true."

It's true all right, and PVAMU will play host to rival Texas Southern at 5 p.m. on Sept. 4, in a contest televised nationally on ESPNU to usher in a new era. The Panthers have come a long way in a short time, in constructing the state-of-the-art stadium on the same site of the old football home, a bare-bones structure now only a memory.

"Where this university has come from is truly amazing," Panthers coach Willie Simmons said. "We want to thank everyone who has blazed a trail before today – who have made it all possible."

The 15,000-seat stadium holds 10 skyboxes/suites and 500 premium seats, along with a field house featuring a large weight room, a dining area, locker rooms and training rooms, among other amenities. The long-term plan calls for an increase to 30,000 seats on down the line – and partially based on the Panthers' on-field success moving forward.


In year 3, Comegy is ready to win at Mississippi Valley


Rick Comegy (3rd season at MVSU, 159-101 record overall)

What happened last year?

The Delta Devils struggled mightily on their way to a 1-10 record. MVSU started 0-8 before pulling off an overtime road win against Alabama A&M. Eight of the Delta Devils’ 10 losses came by 28 points or more. A lot of freshmen and sophomores gained experience throughout the season, though.

Three questions for coach Rick Comegy

What are you looking forward to this upcoming season with the group of guys you have now?

“I’m looking forward to a group of guys that, themselves, are looking forward to an exciting year. They’re young, but I like that youth we have, that experienced youth. It’s going to pay off for us.”


Gold Nuggets drop pair of matches at STU Invitational

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — Xavier University of Louisiana lost 25-21, 25-18, 25-11 to St. Thomas (Fla.) and 25-18, 26-28, 25-14, 25-23 to Coastal Georgia Friday on the opening day of the STU Invitational volleyball tournament.

The Gold Nuggets (1-5) were outhit .227 to .147 for the day.

Notable XULA individuals:

•  Tiffany Phillips extended her streak of assist/dig doubles to six. She had 22 assists and 10 digs against St. Thomas and 41 assists and 10 digs against Coastal Georgia. It's XULA's longest double-double streak sinceTaylor Reuther's seven consecutive matches (kills and digs) in 2013.

 •  Juliana Tomasoni had 15 kills and 18 digs against Coastal Georgia. It was her third double-double of the season.

 •  Amanda Perry had 12 digs in the first match and 14 in the second to extend her streak of double-figure performances to five matches.

 •  Kayla Jones had 10 digs against Coastal Georgia — her first double-figure performance of the season and the eighth of her career.

•  Monet Fontaine and Hasani Salaam had nine kills apiece against Coastal Georgia.

•  Adili Rikondja had three blocks against St. Thomas to match her career high.

In the lone set the Gold Nuggets won, they rallied from a 23-22 deficit and clinched on their fourth set point.

St. Thomas is 5-0, and Coastal Georgia is 3-3. In the final match Friday, St. Thomas rallied for a 19-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 15-13 victory against NAIA No. 2 Missouri Baptist.

The Gold Nuggets will play Saturday at 10 a.m. EDT against Missouri Baptist and 4 p.m. against Indiana Tech. XULA will play its home opener next Friday.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

from THE EDITOR, DWIGHT FLOYD COMMENTARY: FAMU Board of Trustees Stifles Change

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- In public administration we are taught to implement change in increments of small, non-abrupt changes that will add up over a period of time. To make dramatic changes you need the support of your employer and stakeholders (the people who most associate with the organization, benefit from it, or are somehow impacted by its existence).

So how did the positive changes at FAMU lead to a rejection of Dr. Elmira Mangum’s leadership? Most organizations have associates with privileged access. Sometimes that privilege leads to personal rewards. In other cases, it influences how the organization is run, who gets hired, and how much certain employees are paid. So, imagine what happens when that access is abruptly cut off.

Since Dr. Mangum first arrived she has focused on the mission without regard to politics. She made tremendous change to the organization, and from the very beginning denied access to people used to having the privilege. She was all business and that rubbed some folks the wrong way. Sadly, some of these folks are the reason that dramatic change is needed.


FAMU Rattlers Hold Scrimmage in Preparation For Season

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Coach Alex Wood took the Rattlers through a very controlled scrimmage today in preparation for the Sept. 3 opening game against the Hurricanes of the University of Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. The players did about a 90-minute practice on the bottom field, affectionately known to former football players as “The Pit.”

Today’s practice had a concentration on situation planning. From onside kick, to running out the clock, to field goal block and other things that could occur during a game, the Rattlers covered it. Wood’s goal, to leave no stone unturned about situations that could possibly occur during a football game.

Wide receiver Montavius Williams is just excited to get started on a new season. “Last season is over. It has been on our minds since the last game. There’s only one way to truly erase last season, and that’s to go out an prove that all the work we did was for a purpose. We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders and we just can’t wait for the opportunity to play and prove that we’ve bought in and a re ready to compete,” he said.

One main highlight of the day was the field goal block team. Keenan Anderson, who is about 6’6” and 360 lbs, blocked a kick and scooped up the deflection and ran about 70-yards for the score. The rest of the kick block team escorted him to the end zone. He rolled over in the end zone to the cheers of the entire team. At post-practice Wood addressed the play. “That was a good touchdown Keenan. I started to blow the whistle, but I let you keep going,” Wood jokingly said. Athletic director, Milton Overton, who was watching practice went over to Anderson to congratulate him for “making the big guys look good.”


Gold Nuggets swept; 5 matches next week in NOLA

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida  — Xavier University of Louisiana volleyball lost 25-20, 25-23, 25-20 to NAIA No. 2 Missouri Baptist and 17-25, 25-8, 25-17, 25-19 to Indiana Tech Saturday to finish 0-4 in the STU Invitational.
The Gold Nuggets (1-7) got two-match totals of 16 kills and 36 digs from Juliana Tomasoni, 15 kills fromMonet Fontaine, 13 kills from Terri Drake, 34 digs fromAmanda Perry and 24 digs from Kayla Jones.

After eight consecutive out-of-state matches to open the season, XULA will play five times next week in New Orleans. The Gold Nuggets will play Tuesday at 5 p.m. against St. Thomas (Texas) and 7 p.m. against city rival Loyola at the Wolf Pack's home court. Then XULA will play host to four opponents in theBig Easy Blastoff at the Convocation Center, meeting Pikeville at 11 a.m. and William Carey at 5 p.m. Friday and Southwest (N.M.) at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Mallory Dillon, first-team All-America a year ago, had 19 kills and hit .341, and Natalie Gremaud had 27 digs for Missouri Baptist (6-2). Sarah Pitts-Groce and Drake had seven kills apiece for XULA. The Gold Nuggets' highlight was nine consecutive points during a 14-4 run to open the second set. Drake and Hasani Salaam had two kills apiece during the surge.

Cassie Sarabia had 18 kills, 20 digs and four blocks to lead Indiana Tech (2-2). For XULA, Tomasoni had 12 kills and 24 digs — her fourth double-double of the season — Fontaine had nine kills, Jones had a season-high 17 digs, Kaelan Temple had 10 digs and two aces, and Perry — reaching double figures for the seventh consecutive match — had 21 digs.

Tiffany Phillips, who entered the day with six consecutive assist/dig double-doubles to start her collegiate career, did not extend her streak. The XULA freshman setter had 24 assists and seven digs against Missouri Baptist and 24 assists and five digs against Indiana Tech.

XULA's 84 digs against Indiana Tech were its second-most in a match this season. The Gold Nuggets began the day ranked 24th in the NAIA with 17.59 digs per set.

XULA's 21 points per set against Missouri Baptist matched its most ever against a ranked opponent.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Former N.C. A&T Baseball Players Strive Professionally

GREENSBORO, North Carolina – There is some good news out about two North Carolina A&T baseball alumni. Luke Tendler (N.C. A&T ‘14) is having a great season for the High Desert Mavericks, an Advance Single A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, the team that drafted Tendler in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Another former Aggies slugger, C.J. Beatty, is also doing well in his professional baseball career. Beatty has been hired as a scout and hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals organization, the same organization that drafted Beatty in 2009.

Tendler’s power numbers led the Mavericks to the first-half (of the season) championship in the California League South standings, and they are in competition for the best overall record in the California League with the season coming to an end on Sept. 5. Tendler leads the league in RBI (90), he is tied for third in home runs (22) and he is fourth in the league in doubles (35). Tendler is also second in total bases (245) and only two other players have walked more than Tendler.

High Desert is three games back in the second-half standings. As first-half champions they will play in the best-of-5 divisional finals in the playoffs. Tendler has played in 314 minor league games in his career and is a career .283 hitter with 48 home runs, 220 RBI, 83 doubles and a .492 slugging percentage. He has also played for the Spokane Indians (Short Season-A) and the Hickory Crawdads (Full Season-A).

Before becoming the 876th overall selection in the 29th round of the 2014 MLB amateur draft, Tendler was a superstar power man for the Aggies.

Tendler led the Aggies in batting in three out of the seasons he played (2011-14), while starting 199 out of the 200 games he played at A&T. His career highlights include being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American as a junior and he was named MEAC Preseason Player of the Year in 2013.

He was a career .349 hitter with 24 home runs and 179 RBI. He also finished with 66 doubles, 15 triples and a .561 slugging percentage. As a junior, he was fourth in the nation in doubles per game.

Beatty will be the hitting instructor for the State College Spikes, a Short Season-A team in Pennsylvania. Beatty has had a productive minor league career and has worked as a motivational speaker since leaving N.C. A&T in 2009.

In 2009, he was 789th overall pick in the 26th round by the Cardinals. He played three seasons (2009-11) in their organization before playing four seasons for various independent baseball teams (2011-14). There was also a two-year stint in Australia for the Brisbane Bandits in winter baseball. Beatty spent the final two years of his career in the Chicago White Sox organization (2014-15).

Beatty is one of the highest-ranked recruits to ever sign with N.C. A&T out of high school. Beatty spent three seasons at N.C. A&T where he was a career .339 hitter with 31 home runs, 47 doubles and 135 RBI. He also had a .590 slugging percentage. Tendler and Beatty are two of the 18 Aggies ever selected in the MLB draft.


A team-by-team look at Rutgers' 2016 sked: Howard Bison


When/Where: Sept. 10, noon, High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway

2015 record: 1-10, 1-7

Returning starters: 16

Coach: Gary Harrell

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-3

Series record: Rutgers, 4-0

Last meeting: 2014, Rutgers, 38-25

On the web:

Twitter line: Howard lost by a cumulative score of 125-0 in its two games against FBS teams in 2015, and was picked next-to-last in the MEAC preseason poll.


NCCU Eagles eye third straight MEAC title as 15 starters return

DURHAM, North Carolina -- After closing the 2015 season with seven straight wins to earn a share of the MEAC championship for the second consecutive year, N.C. Central has its eyes on making history in 2016.

The Eagles have never won three straight conference titles — not since their football program began in 1923, and certainly not since moving from Division II to the FCS in 2011. The Eagles have also never beaten an FBS opponent, a streak that they’ll have two opportunities to break this season.

“That ball is very funny, and it bounces a lot of different ways, so as long as we try to continue to improve and control the things we can control ... hopefully it goes in our favor in trying to make history,” said head coach Jerry Mack, who returns 15 starters from last season’s 8-3 squad.

Here are four things to know about N.C. Central this season: