Monday, August 31, 2009

Lets Hope This Is the Start of JSU's Dominance Over the ACC

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Jacksonville State volleyball team capped a perfect opening weekend on Saturday, when the Gamecocks downed host Wake Forest and then Charlotte to go 3-0 and claim the Deacon Invitational title.

After a convincing 3-1 win over Furman on Friday, the Gamecocks (3-0) opened Saturday’s action with a 3-1 victory over the host Deacons. They then edged Charlotte, 3-2, in their final match of the weekend and improved to 3-0 for just the fourth time in school history.

“I was really happy with the whole weekend,” JSU head coach Rick Nold said. “We saw the team in a lot of tough situations and they did a great job of fighting to win every match. It’s a great start, and hopefully we’ll continue to improve every week as we get ready for conference.”

Defense was a key for the Gamecocks in a weekend that saw them hold their opponents to just a .157 attack percentage and less that 10 kills per game. Sophomore Lauren Harkins led their defensive effort with 71 digs, an average of 5.46 per game, and was named Tournament MVP for her efforts. The Louisville, Ky., native picked up 18 in the win over Wake Forest and added 24 in the nightcap with Charlotte. She led all players with 29 in Friday’s win.

“I thought our defense and serve receiving was the key to the weekend and Lauren is the leader of our back row,” Nold added. “She was a leader for us all weekend and is very deserving of the MVP award.”

Also garnering All-Tournament honors was junior Caitlin Vorbeck, whose 45 kills tied for the team lead in the tourney, but her .315 attack percentage was 50 points better than any other hitter on the JSU roster. The Raytown, Mo., native also recorded a team-high eight blocks in the tournament. Senior Brittney Whitten also picked up 45 kills, while also notching 36 digs. Junior Brooke Schumacher dished 129 of the team’s 161 assists, and freshman Alyx Schulte averaged 3.0 digs per game in her first weekend of collegiate volleyball.

In the first match of the day, the Gamecocks got 10 or more kills from four players and double-digit digs from five to earn the 3-1 (25-18, 25-19, 24-26, 25-16) win over the Deacons (0-3).

Whitten, Schulte and Schumacher each recorded double-doubles in the win, while Vorbeck led the Gamecocks with 16 kills on a .290 attack percentage. Whitten, a native of Boonville, Ind., had 11 kills and 10 digs, while Schumacher, of Lake In The Hills, Ill., had 16 digs to go along with her 53 assists. Schulte, a product of Cold Spring, Ky., recorded her first career double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs.

Junior Kara Slater added 14 kills, while senior Paige Beasley and Harkins pitched in 11 and 18 digs, respectively.

Wake Forest hit .133 as a team and was led by Andrea Beck’s eight kills and Abby Miller’s 14 digs.

In JSU’s last match of the weekend, Whitten knocked down 21 kills and picked up 14 kills for her third double-double of the weekend, while Schulte recorded 11 kills on a .320 attack percentage and 11 digs for her second double-double in as many matches. The Gamecocks overcame a 2-1 deficit to pull out the 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9) win over the 49ers (1-2).

Harkins’ 24 digs led a group of four Gamecocks in double figures, with Beasley pitching in 10. Vorbeck added 12 kills to the JSU offensive attack, one that was set up by Schumacher’s 40 assists.

The Gamecocks blocked 12 Charlotte attacks leaving the 49ers with a .165 attack percentage and just Jennifer Webb in double figures with 10 kills in the five-game match.

JSU will return to action on Tuesday, when the Gamecocks travel to Birmingham to take on UAB at 7 p.m.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Football Depth Chart for 1st game

2009Jax State Football •
Jacksonville State vs Georgia Tech
Depth Chart • (August 28, 2009)

Jacksonville State Offense
SE 5 James Wilkerson 5-10 190 SR
21 La’Ray Williams 5-11 190 JR
LT 77 Curt Porter 6-7 290 JR
74 Justin Kay 6-6 290 JR
LG 65 Matt Jones 6-3 305 SO
75 Tyler Ogletree 6-1 295 SO
C 64 Reggie Wade 6-1 185 SR
50 Josh Carroll 6-2 290 SR
RG 72 Tylor Chambers 6-3 290 SO
75 Tyler Ogletree 6-1 295 SO
RT 69 Tori Mobley 6-3 280 FR
74 Justin Kay 6-3 290 JR
TE 44 Cory Freeman 6-3 245 JR
81 Justin Howard 6-3 235 SO
FL 1 Greg Smith 6-1 190 SR
7 John Houston Whiddon 6-0 185 SR
TB 22 Brandon George 5-11 195 SO
8 Jamal Young 5-7 175 JR
QB 11 Marques Ivory 6-1 235 SO
14 Brooks Robinson 6-1 176 FR
FB 46 Alphonso Freeney 6-1 220 JR
3 Calvin Middleton 5-11 220 SO

Jacksonville State Defense
LE 31 Santez Mays 6-1 255 SR
90 Monte’ Lewis 6-3 251 SO
NS 92 Brandt Thomas 6-3 290 SR
91 Michael Ellis 6-2 285 SO
DT 93 Jamison Wadley 6-3 260 SO
99 Torrey Davis 6-3 290 JR
OLB 34 Andrew Ridgeway 6-2 230 JR
9 Jason Horton 6-0 190 FR
WLB 45 Alexander Henderson 6-1 212 SR
35 Eric Russell 6-2 202 SO
SLB 43 Morrell Jones 6-0 235 JR
54 Antonio Bonner 6-2 245 JR
ROV 49 Rodney Garrott 6-1 255 SO
23 Kevin Dix 6-2 260 JR
CB 20 A.J. Davis 6-0 183 SO
38 Francis Duncan 5-9 170 FR
FS 26 Carnell Clark 6-2 183 SR
28 Keginald Harris 6-3 195 FR
SS 13 Josh Cain 5-10 190 SR
30 Michael Owens 6-1 195 SR
CB 15 T.J. Heath 6-1 170 JR
2 Jawaan Booker 5-11 180 SO

Jacksonville State Special Teams
KO 27 Patrick Tatum 6-2 200 SO
PK 27 Patrick Tatum 6-2 200 SO
P 27 Patrick Tatum 6-2 200 SO
SNP 50 Josh Carroll 6-2 290 SR
HLD 14 Brooks Robinson 6-1 176 FR
KOR 5 James Wilkerson 5-10 190 SR
4 James Shaw 6-0 190 SO
PR 4 James Shaw 6-0 190 SO

A few comments and observations about the posted depth chart:
1- There was rumor that Ricky Clemons would battle for the right tackle spot, but it appears that JSU is going with T. Mobley and Justin Kay;
2- La Ray Williamson, to our knowledge, makes his first appearance on the two-deep;
3- Middleton is listed as a fullback, although we believe he will get quite a bit of carries at the half back slot;
4- Torrey Evans, the Florida transfer is listed as a #2 on the DL behind Jamison Wadley;
5- James Shaw appears to be a playmaker as he is listed as a punt returner and kick returner;
6- True freshman Francis Duncan, possibly a walk-on, is listed as second team corner.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Week's Links

Here is an OVC preview with several comments about Jacksonville State.

The FCS Championship Game is moving from Chattanooga. Missoula, Montana is really pushing to get it there. I'd rather see a warm weather site in contention.

A little info on our first opponent...Ga Tech. First - they are working now on not fumbling.

Here is an update on Tech's running backs and cornerbacks.

Last bit for today is not a link, but an observation. How long does it take to get a team prepared for a football game from week to week. Florida State opens up with Miami on Monday, Sept. 7th (Labor Day). They have to play JSU that Saturday, Sept. 12th with only 4 days to prepare.

Combined OVC Results Since 2003

Going into the 2009 season, we thought it would be interesting to take a cumulative look at OVC results since JSU joined the league in 2003.

Jacksonville State 2
All others tied at 0

EKU 81%/38-9
Jacksonville State 75%/36-12
EIU 66%/32-16
Tn. St. 50%/22-22
UTM 46%/22-25
Peay 43%/7-9
Tn. Tech 29%/14-33
SEMO 31%/15-32
Murray 29%/14-33

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top Newcomers

Its been interesting to listen to Coach Crowe's comments following practice each day. Nothing scientific, but here is a list of guys (other than the established stars) that have been consistently mentioned by Crowe or other players. These guys are not necessarily new players, just guys who will likely have much bigger roles for JSU than in previous years:

WR- Greg Smith- a great kid, great student and great player. He will do his best to ease the loss of Maurice Dupree.

WR- James Wilkerson- seems to be the likely #2 receiver to compliment Smith. It is interesting, way back in the Spring, TJ Heath was talking about how much Wilkerson had improved his game.

WR - Allen Bonner- Bonner seemed destined to go to a bigger program, but fortunately found his way to JSU Crowe has mentioned his play several times. A redshirt seems unlikely.

RB- Calvin Middleton- another highly recruited player that is making noise. He is a big bruising back.

RB- Drec Lindley- another guy that gets mentioned after almost every practice. With Middleton, Lindley and George, JSU will attack Tech with three Georgia natives.

QB- Brooks Robinson- although Ivory is the starter, Robinson has received a ton of playing time. His stats cannot be disregarded. Crowe said: "Brooks Robinson has made more improvement than any player on this team from the last time I saw him."

TE- Justin Howard- Crowe says that Howard "is making a real move to be a playmaker. He stretches the field better than anybody we've ever had, almost like a running back."

TE- Sherwin Winbush, Jr. Winbush was a late signee, but seems to have immediately caught the coaches eye. He is from an athletic family- his Dad was a player and his brother signed w/ Texas Tech. With the departure of Johns, I would be shocked if Winbush redshirted.

P, K- Patrick Tatum- it looks like he will be Mr. Everything this Fall. Thank goodness we have him.

Let us know who we've missed. Go Cocks!

Greg Smith

Last week, I had the pleasure of talking with Greg Smith’s dad, Mr. Greg Smith. Mr. Smith told me about Greg, the process of choosing Jacksonville State, and of Greg’s younger brother, Garrison Smith.

Greg earned his undergraduate degree already at Georgia Tech. As talented as he is on the football field, you must take note of his achievements in the classroom. This has given Greg an advantage in diving into the playbook for JSU. Greg is in Graduate School at JSU now, pursuing an advanced degree.

After looking at Jacksonville State and Portland State, Greg chose to transfer to Jacksonville State. In his sophomore year, Greg led Georgia Tech in receptions and yards for Coach Chan Gailey. The next season, with Coach Paul Johnson coming in and changing the offense, Greg was moved to running back.

Greg has the talent and the ability to move on to the next level. He wanted to transfer to a program he could play without sitting out a year. The choice narrowed down to Portland State and Jacksonville State. The Portland State trip was nice. They met with Head Coach Jerry Glanville. He is quite a character. He used to be the head coach for the Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons. They throw the ball over 90% of the time because they use the “Run & Shoot” Offense. Portland State is a 4-hour plane ride though. Then another 4 hours back home. Also, Offensive Coordinator Mouse Davis retired June 1st of this year, so they will have a new coach calling the offense.

Jacksonville State offered another choice closer to home. It’s a talented team this year. It’s just a short drive. It allows the Smith’s to see Greg play several times this year and see his younger brother play his senior year of high school, too. After visiting the campus and talking with the coaches, JSU became the obvious choice.

I also had the opportunity to meet Greg’s younger brother, Garrison (pictured here with Mr. Smith). Garrison is entering his senior year at Douglass High in Atlanta. Heavily recruited, Garrison is the #2 rated defensive tackle in the nation. Garrison was in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week as they did a special section on the top 11 prep football players in Georgia. After getting many offers, including offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, LSU, and USC; Garrison recently verbally committed to UGA. Congratulations to Garrison and the Smith Family.

We are extremely glad to have Greg Smith here at JSU. We’ve seen over the past two Saturday scrimmages a 54-yard and a 60-yard touchdown reception. Greg brings speed, work ethic, leadership, ability and attitude to JSU. He will be a great asset to the team. We wish him the best for this season, and at the next level.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interview with Brandt Thomas


Coach Crowe concluded Tuesday's scrimmage by stating: "You can always talk about Brandt Thomas. He is a special, special player for us." Thomas, a Senior defensive lineman from Wellborn High School has indeed been a standout for the Gamecocks. He has played in 33 consecutive games for JSU and is a pre-season all OVC selection. Brandt is a rare player that combines maximum effort with great talent and carries himself with class on and off the field. Thomas recently spoke to about his career at JSU, the new defensive line coach, his teammates and the prospects for the upcoming season.

Q: How did you wind up at JSU?

A: Well, first of all, my Dad and Brother both played for Jax State. My Dad in the late 70s' and my brother just before I got there. So its always been real big in my family. Throughout my recruiting process, I was contacted by a lot of different schools. For a while, it looked like I was headed to Vanderbilt but . . . Jax State was always high on my list. I knew the kind of tradition they had and the kind of team they had. . . . So I just felt like this would be the best fit for me. It was close to home and my family [and friends] would be able to come watch me play. I saw where this program was headed and I really liked it. I signed on and committed about two or three months before signing day and it’s a decision I have never looked back on and never regretted.

Q: What other schools recruited you?

Auburn recruited me pretty heavily, Alabama [and] of course Vanderbilt. Citadel offered me a scholarship. Furman and Georgia Southern as well.

Q: Coach Augustine left to take another job and you have a new DL Coach, Davern Williams. How has that impacted you?

A: Me and Coach Augustine were very close. I miss him a great deal. We still stay in contact, but I have enjoyed the transition with Coach Williams. Their styles of coaching are completely opposite, but very effective. With the experience we have on the defensive line, I don't think it really matters who was brought in- we would accept anybody at any time. We have a lot of talent. Coach Williams has done a great job of gelling everybody together. Its been a very smooth transition. The future of Jacksonville State's defensive line is in good hands- I promise you that.

Q: You mentioned a difference in style, tell us about that?

A: Coach Williams style is more of read and react type defense - play what you see and then react to it; as opposed to Coach Augustine was more of an attack defense. Both of them have their positives. Our defensive line is suited to play either one very well. Coach Williams has done a great job on bringing us up to speed in just a short amount of time on what we need to do to be successful in that.

Q: Coach Williams played for several years in the NFL. Does that mean anything to you guys?

A: It means a great deal. Coach Williams has played the position and knows where we are coming from a lot of times. He relates to us very well. He speaks in our language and our terms. Everyone is always asking him different questions about the NFL and college. He is very open with us and very responsive. He lets us know the truth whether it is good or bad. He is just an overall good guy and a good person to talk to.

Q: Speaking of the NFL, will you try to make it at the next level?

A: If I'm blessed with the opportunity to do that I would like to. I am just going to see how this season goes . . . talk it over with my family, see what else is out there in life and then I will make that decision at the end of the season, but right now I would say it’s a good possibility.

Q: If that doesn’t pan out, what else is in your plans?

A: I would love to work in sports talk radio or continue to do something [related to] football.

Q: Brandt, what have been some highlights and lowlights of career?

A: My favorite highlight . . . was during my first play of college football against Furman my freshman year. I [came in] on a 4th and goal inside the one yard line and we made the stop. That just showed me what Gamecock Football was all about and reaffirmed that I made the right decision. [Other highlights have been] some of the great guys that I have been able to be around and form friendships with.
Lowlights- obviously the APR would jump out at you. But, I can't sit here and say there has been a lot of lowlights in my career. I have been blessed to be put in some great situations with some great people- great coaches and great teammates. When I leave here, I will leave with a positive outlook on it. I will be happy with what I have accomplished. Even more, I will leave here with a lot of good friends. That is what I will remember the most.

Q: What are the team's goals this year?

A: Our first goal is to go undefeated in the conference. If we can do that, then whoever finishes second will know that they were not the best team, they were not the true OVC champion. That will be satisfaction enough for us. The seniors and upperclassmen have to lead this team in the right direction. If we go out there and play down because we are not going to be able to go to the playoffs, then we can leave this program a year behind. We don't want to do that. We want to leave this program in a great state. We have done a great job of that so far. It is our job as seniors to put the right mindset into the younger guys that even though bad things do happen, you have to keep pressing on and persevering. There has to be something good to happen to us, whether it be going down and beating Tech and Florida State or something [else] you just have to know that out of these bad things something good is going to come out of it.

Q: You were preseason OVC- what did that mean to you and what are your personal goals for the season?

A: Well it did mean a great deal for me, but I have always been taught that team comes first. I just think that I'm the player that I am today because of the people that I have surrounded myself with- whether it be my family, coaches, friends and my teammates. The position I play, noseguard, you have to have so many other people doing their job to make me [succeed]. I thank them for that.
But it is nice to have personal recognition because it makes you feel like all of your hard work and dedication paid off in a way. It meant a lot to be recognized as one of the four top linemen in the OVC.

As for as personal goals [for this year], I don't really have any. I just want to live in the moment and cherish everything that comes to me. . . It would be nice to be an All American and win some other awards, but I can't let that . . . overtake going undefeated in the Conference or doing what we have to do as a team in order to be successful on the field.

Q: What are your strengths as a player?
A: My quickness and my eyes. A lot of times I can call the play for the offense before the snap due to different keys I get from watching film or studying a certain player.

Q: Tell us about some of your teammates.

Jamison Wadley:
A: Jamison Wadley brings us a hard-nose tenacious style of play. He is one of my good friends. He never lets anything bring him down. Jamison is one reason that we are going be the best defensive line, in my mind, in the country this year.

Santez Mays
Santez is a great player and a great athlete, but at the same time he knows how to have fun. Santez brings a lot to our defensive line and he keeps us laughing all of the time.

Michael Ellis
We call Michael Ellis "Spanky." He came in as an offensive lineman and they moved him to defense. He has a chance to be a really good player. Spanky is a very technical player. He plays a good technique. He is a true noseman. He knows how to play his position very well and he will do anything it takes to stand in there at the nose of the 3-4 which is very hard to do.

Demitrio Tyson
We call Trio the luckiest player on the team because sometimes it looks like he doesn't get blocked at all. People just forget he's out there and he makes plays. Trio has a high motor. He is always around the ball. He is a great addition to our defensive line because one of our big things is hustle. You won't find a player that hustles more than Demitrio.

Torrey Davis

He can be as good as he wants to be. He is a great player. He plays well with his hands. He will play in the NFL someday. I can guarantee you that.

Kevin Dix
Kevin Dix has been a great addition to our defense so far. He actually returned punts at his junior college weighing about 240-250. He is really fast and a very good athlete coming off the edge. He is really going to help our team, especially in pass rush situations.

Texas Garrott
Texas is pretty much the same way. Texas is a lot like Trio he is slippery. You can guarantee he is going to be around the ball when the play is over.

Q: Anyone else might be a major contributor?

A: Absolutely. This guy doesn't get talked about a lot because he is quiet, but you will hear his name a lot, Monte Lewis. When it is all said and done and he graduates, he might be the best defensive lineman to ever come through Jacksonville State. He is strong, fast, big and physical. He is everything he needs to be and he is just going to be a redshirt sophomore this year. In my mind, and I've seen a lot of great players, I honestly think he will be the best to ever put on a Jacksonville State defensive lineman uniform.

Q: Who is the hardest hitter on defense?

A: I would say it’s a tie between Alexander Henderson and Carnell Clark because both of them can absolutely ruin someone's day very fast.

Q: Do either of them have a chance to play at the next level?

A: Both of them do. Carnell is a prototypical safety. He is tall, he can run, he's lengthy. He will hit anybody as hard as they have ever been hit. He plays with a reckless abandon. I have seen it first hand- NFL scouts are salivating over him right now.

Q: Lets talk some about the offense. Who are some of the toughest JSU offensive lineman to go up against?

A: It all starts with Reggie Wade, another all conference guy. Reggie is smart, he is quick and he plays well with his hands. In my mind, there is no doubt he is the best Center in our league. It helps us to go up against each other every day.

Besides Reggie, I would also mention Curt Porter. Curt with his size not only intimidates people, but he can also move very well with that big frame that he has. He is another guy to keep an eye on to play at the next level some day because he is very talented.

Q: Who do you think will get that running back job?

A: Brandon George is probably the front runner, but don't be surprised if Andrecus Lindley or Jamal [Young] get in there and play a lot as well.

Q: What about Richard Freelon is he headed for a redshirt?

A: If I had to guess I would say so. He is not getting the same amount of reps as everyone else. He is obviously talented and they want to keep him around as long as possible. He reminds me a lot of Clay Green. He runs hard and also runs fast.

Q: What about the offense in general?

A: I have a lot of faith in Coach Letson. Of course, with Greg [Smith] and Ryan over there I like our chances to put up a lot of points against some people this year. [Also], James Wilkerson has looked really good. He is a physical receiver, but he also has great hands and great speed as well. He will compliment Greg very well.


Q: Tell me your thoughts on the upcoming game against Georgia Tech?

A: The good thing about going into Tech is that we will have some film on them this year. The thing about Tech's offense is that they lull you to sleep. They run the same plays over and over again and you might stop them for a while, but one person misses an assignment and they go for a touchdown. . . . I think you will see a higher intensity out of this year [against Tech] because we really don't have anything to lose, but at the same time we have to play sound fundamental football and play our assignments.

Last year we got in a bind field position wise. There average starting position was on about our 40 yard line. This year if we can limit the big play and make them drive the field, I think you will see a different outcome, I really do.

Q: After the Tech game you head right to FSU, what are your thoughts about that?

A: I'm personally excited about playing that game. They have a young but experienced offensive line. They are all freshmen and sophomores last year so they are all coming back. They have two guys up front, Ryan McMahon and Rodney Hudson that are All-ACC. That will be a good measuring stick for our defensive line for the rest of the year. Everybody is very excited about it. I hope people don't think we are going to be intimidated and scared to go down there and play because that is not going to be it at all. Guys are foaming at the mouth to get to that game.

Q: What OVC games do you have circled?

A: Definitely UT Martin. We play them first. Personally for me that is a big one because we lost to them last year and they are ranked pretty high up in the conference. We are all looking forward to that.

Q: You carried the ball in the spring game, will that happen any during the season?

A: I wouldn't mind if they let it happen. It will be a wait and see kind of thing!

Please, Please Don't Go

The Roster has been updated and there is one significant missing player- tight end Eric Johns. Johns, one of the leading returning players from last year, has apparently decided to give up football. This is a tough blow for the Gamecocks. Johns was one of RP's favorite targets as evidenced by his 5 TDs in 2008 and he was poised for a great season this year after battling injuries last year. We hope Eric reconsiders- by all accounts he is a great young man. Who knows- he might have scored the winning touchdown against Tech or FSU. How many times in your life do you get the chance to make SportsCenter? If Johns does not return, his efforts for the Gamecocks in previous years have been much appreciated and he has helped to build a foundation for future success. Good luck Eric.

The attrition at tight end in the last severaly months has been amazing. Deonte Carter apparently decided to give up football. Eric Russell, who was listed as a tight end at one point, has moved to linebacker. Fortunately, the Gamecocks have some strong players at tight end including veteran Cory Freeman, athletic sophomore Justin Howard and late signee Winbush, Jr. Freeman had an outstanding scrimmage recently; but Johns experience and talent will be missed.

The latest roster did reveal one bright spot. The addition of Torrey Davis on the Defensive line. It will be exciting to see how he performs this season.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Random notes and comments on the scrimmage Saturday

De-fense! De-fense!

The defense played very tough. After allowing an opening drive touchdown and a field goal on the second drive, the defense stiffened and didn’t allow much of anything until very late in the practice. The defense as a whole looked really good. On the line and at linebacker, we are deep. Newcomers Rodney Garrott, Kevin Dix, and Torrey Davis all contributed a great deal and will be heard from this season. Brandt Thomas continues his hard work and great results on the D-line.


Greg Smith will really help open up the offense. Greg has great speed and can stretch the field. We will really miss Eric Johns at Tight End. I believe he was poised to have a great season. James Wilkerson continues with a solid performance at WR.

At RB, Drec Lindley and Calvin Middleton had the most success. Jamal Young could be a good change of pace at the running back position. Will Freelon and Jahron Brown be redshirted? It looks like we have some depth, but the battle for playing time at this position is not over.

The coaching staff may have to find a way to get Brooks Robinson the ball. He’s fast, and seems to rise to the occasion often in scrimmages.

Special Teams

No kickoffs during the scrimmage, but the kicking game will have to continue to improve. A blocked punt and a couple of missed field goals show the progress that still needs to be made.

All-in-all, I am very encouraged by the scrimmage. Looking forward to September 5th!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Picture Slideshow from Scrimmage 8/15/09

Here are a few pictures from the scrimmage. I may have a few more later this week. Some players weren't wearing their actual roster number, so there could be some mistaken identities. Please let me know if corrections should be made.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: JSU Scrimmage Pics 1
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fan Day and Scrimmage

I hope everyone had a great time today at Fan Day and watching the scrimmage. I really enjoyed talking with many of the parents, coaches and players. It was an honor getting to speak with several of the parents today...thank you for the job you have done with your sons. This team has some great senior leaders, and talent all around.

For those that didn't get to see the scrimmage - I'll have some pictures posted very soon. Check back, and you'll get to see some of the action. I'll also post some notes from the day, summarizing the scrimmage as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This Week's Links

Here are some video clips of Torrey Davis from high school. Dominant!

Going to the GT-JSU game? I don't think the game will sell out, but Tech is reporting that ticket sales are up this year for that game. Our advice is to get there early, and expect traffic before and after the game. Other events in town that same day/evening include a Nascar race, the Braves game, and Virginia Tech and Alabama play in the dome. The Department of Transportation will probably pick this weekend to do some road construction downtown as well.

An update from Tennessee State, who doesn't have any receivers on their roster that caught a pass last year.

Coach's comments from the OVC teleconference last week.

This 2007 intro video played before the games was one of the best.

Comments from Coach Crowe at practice on 8/10

Comments from Coach Crowe at practice on 8/11/09 – 1st day in pads

Torrey, Torrey, Torrey

The Anniston Star is reporting that Defensive Tackle, Torrey Davis, a Florida transfer is practicing with the Gamecocks. A few facts about Davis:
* played in 19 games for the Gators;
*5 Star recruit by Rivals and Scout;
*#2 rated Defensive Tackle in the Nation by Rivals;
*9th highest overall prospect.

Apparently, he is still working to fulfill conditions set by Coach Crowe, but he is practicing. It says a lot about our program and where we are going when players of this caliber choose to transfer to JSU.

Barring injury, this has the makings of a dominant defense. Coaches like to be strong up the middle. JSU will be anchored by Davis and All OVC lineman, Brandt Thomas. Interior linebackers will be Alex Henderson, all OVC, and certified bone crusher, Morrell Jones. Behind them will be pre-season All American Carnell Clark and Josh Cain.

It will also be exciting to see what kind of pass rush players like Jamison Wadley (Gadsden Player of the Year), Kevin Dix (Ga. track record holder) and Rodney "Big Texas" Garrott can bring from the edge.

Coach Stewart is known to exhort his troops to "Get off the Field!" With this crew, 3 and outs seem more and more likely.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Earlier this year, previewed the running backs, offensive line and defensive line. It's time to preview JSU's secondary for 2009. Defensive backs coach Toby Norwood was kind enough to talk with us about the safetys and corners earlier this week.

JSU is truly blessed to have Coach Norwood on the Staff. Norwood, a Columbus native, played football for the Stanford Cardinal and was a track All-American in the hammer throw. In his freshman year, the Cardinal knocked off a #1 ranked Notre Dame team. In his Junior year, Stanford defeated Notre Dame again and were Co-Pac Team Champions. Evidencing his leadership abilities, Norwood was team captain of the 1993 Stanford team.

After working in business for ten years, Norwood got the itch to get into coaching. He spent two years at Auburn and then came to JSU.

Norwood has high expectations for JSU this year believing JSU can be competitive in every game they play (including FSU and Georgia Tech) and that the Cocks could be dominant at times. Echoing the sentiment of all of the staff, Norwood says the APR penalties will not be an excuse for JSU this year- the players are in good shape and are anxious to play.

After talking to Coach Norwood, it is clear that JSU's secondary should be fine this year. Here is a breakdown of the personnel at each position.


Safety is a strength for the Gamecocks. Norwood confirmed that the starters at safety are seniors Carnell Clark, pre-season All American selection and Josh Cain. There is a ton of experience here. Clark has started 21 games. Cain has played in 32 games. Cain is an all around athlete- in high school he had 1405 yards rushing the ball and 148 tackles on defense and set AISA weightlifting records in his class.

Norwood on Clark: "He is a senior from Birmingham that played at Parker High School. He is an exceptional player, he plays physical. Some of the biggest hits we had last year were tackles that Carnell made. He started out as a corner and played there for a couple of years. Last year we moved him to safety. He plays extremely hard . . . and is a monster on special teams too. He is one of our best players on kick off team. I expect Carnell to have an outstanding senior season."

Norwood on Cain: "Josh Cain is a former walk on. He is a guy you can't keep off of the field. He is a computer science major with a 3.9 GPA that has already graduated. He is an effort kid with a high motor and great leadership abilities. He played well for us last year at safety . He was one of our most productive players in terms of the number of plays that he made. It always seems like he is around the ball. Josh has sneaky speed."

One of the top backups is Keginald Harris. The Hazelwood high school product drew strong interest from Ole Miss out of high school.

Norwood on Harris: "He has worked really hard this summer. He is probably in the best shape of his life. He has a really good attitude. We are looking at him backing up Carnell. He needs to get better every day that he goes out there. He has a lot of ability. He is a tall rangy player that can cover a lot of ground, especially when he is playing the middle of the field.. He seems to have good ball skills. Its just a little bit of maturation process for Keggie. All of the reps he will get in 2 a days will help him. He should be poised for a breakout year."

Michael Owens a Senior from Douglasville, Georgia will also provide depth at safety.

Norwood on Owens: "Mike is another former walk-on. He is a decisive player with exceptional straight line speed. He has provided valuable depth at safety. I anticipate that he will continue in that role and contribute as an extra defensive back in passing situations. Mike relishes his play on special teams, especially kick-off coverage.

Coach Norwood also intimated that there are some talented walk-ons in the mix as well


The Gamecocks are talented, but thin at corner. There is not a senior in the lot, but A.J. Davis, T.J. Heath and Jawaan Booker have all played a lot of downs. It’s a tossup to see who will start between them, but regardless all will play.

Norwood on T.J. Heath: "T.J. has played corner here a couple of years. He is tall . . . he runs as well as anybody in the conference. He can play like an all conference player, he just has to put it together every single week. The challenge for T.J. [this year] is to be consistently good. He must bring his A game every day to practice and that will transfer over to the game."

Norwood on A.J. Davis: "Davis is another player from Birmingham. He played at Clay-Chalkville. Last year was his freshman year. He played over 400 snaps at corner. He did well for a freshman, he got beat on some deep balls, but he learned from that as the year progressed. He has a lot of ability. He is probably 6-1 and is probably one of the fastest players on the team."

Norwood on Booker: "Book came in as a true freshman last year and ended up playing a good bit. Basically, we rotated the three of those guys . . . they all ended up getting about 420 something snaps. Booker ended up starting at the end of the season. He worked hard in the summer. He struggled in the spring, but you could tell in the summer watching the little bit of drills that we could he's coming back to the old Book. Physically, he doesn't look very intimidating, but Book has a physical style of play with good eyes. He's a play-maker."

An injury to any of these three would be devastating. However, the Gamecocks will look to true freshman Robert Gray from Collinsville and Lincoln's Tiger Williams to possibly provide depth at corner. Obviously, in a jam Clark could move back to corner, but the Gamecocks would hate to move him from safety. Another safety valve would be James Shaw who has moved to wide receiver.

In sum, there is talent at every spot in the secondary, but perhaps not the depth JSU would like at every position. If JSU can generate a pass rush, they have the personnel in the secondary to generate some big plays. September 5th can't get here soon enough!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The new phonebooks are here!"

A classic line from "The Jerk" a great movie starring Steve Martin. Actually, the big news is JSU's 09 Media Guide is out and its available online, free of charge at As usual, the SID staff has done a terrific job. Its filled with everything you want to know about our current team, schedule, opponents, Gamecock records, etc.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hi-lights from Coach Crowe's Comments At OVC Press Conference

General Thoughts About the Upcoming Season

We've got enough returning players offensively and defensively to have optimism. We have some statistical leading players that are returning on defense. Offensively, other than quarterback, we lost our leading rusher our leading receiver and both of them were all conference players. I'm not sure about our play making offensively because of the loss to graduation of those two players, but we feel like we have recruited well enough. . . . We should be ok offensively if we can continue to develop the running back spot.


On Greg Smith
We have a transfer wide receiver that will take Maurice Dupree's slot. He wasn't here in the Spring, but he's a quality talent, person and player. His name is Greg Smith. This is probably a first- he started against us last year at Georgia Tech and this year he will be lined up against Georgia Tech starting on the other side of the ball. . . . He graduated [from Tech] in 3 and 1/2 years. Ultimately, we are going to try and make a coach out of him.

Ryan is certainly a marquis name in talent we feel like he is positioned to be better this year than he was last year. He certainly showed signs last year of being able to make plays and illustrate his talent but he did not have the consistency that we looked for and hoped for at that position. He is on track to graduate and we look for him to add more this year. We also would like to take every advantage to play Marquez Ivory, the backup. He was very recognized high school quarterback out of Northside-Warner Robbins. . . . He is a guy that when his opportunity comes we would like to start developing him.

Running Back
We don’t feel like we have arrived there yet. That will be something that will have to develop. . . Brandon George is . . . the top of the pecking order.
One new name that has a chance to show up statistically is a running back/kick returner named Jamal Young. Jamal is going to be a junior that came to us from Gulf Coast Junior College. He was not really recruited because of his size. . . . He reminds you a lot of Lionel James "Little Train" that I coached at Auburn. He is a very unique player is the reason that I made the comparison because he is small and will do anything and appears a lot of times to be capable enough to be a difference maker. He will be with Brandon at tailback and may be a name that as people start following us may draw attention.

Offensive Line
We have a fine center, Reggie Wade and we have enough people that have played that we feel like we have a start there.

Tight End
Eric Johns . . . I think he has a chance to be a real difference maker, almost a wide receiver type player that weighs 245 pounds and is a very good blocker. . . .


All Conference Players
I'll second the vote of the people that voted for Brandt Thomas at nose, Alexander Henderson at linebacker and Carnell Clark at safety. I think that gives us a chance to have at all three levels of defense a core of confidence for the people to build around.
We've got returning players at all three levels [line, linebackers and secondary] but we are breaking in somebody new at each one of the three levels of defense.

Probably the biggest go forward for us is that we lost a senior kicker and a punter. Gavin Hallford was a record setter and [punter] Zack Walden. We are going to start spring training with Patrick Tatum with the ablility to do all of it, but we are trying to keep that from happening. We are looking to a couple of walk-ons but there is no need to give any names. That is a very important aspect that we are very aware of but we have to decide who are return guy is after having Dupree in there for so many years.

We can't be #1 in the country when the year is over with, but we can make a mark.. .. To the players credit, I [have not seen] a whole lot of whining. . . It appears they are committed to being the best football team they can be under whatever circumstances that have been presented. . . This is a historic penalty. It is not these guys that represent what the penalty is about. But, we are not going to make any excuses about that. We had a chance to plead our case and did not get much support. We are not criers and moaners here. We are going to be big boys.
Our APR has shown improvement. It had a downward spike. The question the NCAA had was which one was an anomaly the previous improvement or the downward spike. I think history will show that the anomaly was a downward spike that we tried to justify. I’m not going to respond in what ways. We thought we had justification but it was not recognized. . . .
I'll tell you what I'm going to do, I'm going to put up the GPA of every starting player . . . so everybody that thinks these guys are not college students-- because they are and they are good ones. It’s the ones that are not here that caused the downward spike.

There's only one thing I ask from the people I work for. I'd like to know that they have the same knot in their stomach that I have in my stomach about ten minutes before kickoff. That's all I need to know about Oval. I think his knot's bigger than mine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This Week's Links

A short list for today:

Yet another preseason poll.

Over at Mississippi State, a former JSU player is doing good.

College recruiting is a huge story every year. There's the last minute decisions, the broken verbal commitments, the offers from some colleges that are withdrawn, and the schools that sign too many and have to invite some players to transfer elsewhere. Here's an idea that would be intriguing.

Don't let this intimidate you...let's show up and make some noise at The Flats on Septeber 5th.

Have you signed up for the JSU Athletics Newsletter?

Monday, August 3, 2009

OVC Media Guide Depth Chart

The OVC Media Guide has been published. It contains a depth chart for each team. There were numerous interesting tidbits of information:

*Georgia Tech Transfer Greg Smith is already listed as a starting wide receiver.
*Tyler Ogletree is listed as the #2 Right Tackle. Didn't he play guard last year?
*Marques Ivory is still listed at #2 quarterback, but there is a heated battle between the talented Ivory and Brooks Robinson.
*Deonte Carter is listed as the starting tight end, but the Anniston Star reports that he may not play this fall as he is just three hours short of graduation.

*12 Starters are actually listed. While this would give JSU a huge advantage if the refs allowed it, it probably depends on formation.
*Morrell Jones is listed ahead of frequent starter Antonio Bonner at one spot.
*Eric Russell is listed as the #2 WLB despite just moving from tight end.
*Jawaan Booker is the only backup cornerback listed.
*Kevin Dix and Rodney "Big Texas" Garrott are listed as 1 and 2 respectively in a hybrid position for the Gamecocks, interesting in that neither has played a down yet for JSU.

*Andrew Oliva, a freshman from Florida, is listed as the starting kicker. Oliva has a powerful leg and was actively recruited by Arkansas.