Thursday, December 31, 2009

Perrilloux, Heath and Chambers Garner All American Honors


Jacksonville State’s Ryan Perrilloux and T.J. Heath have been named to the Fabulous Fifty Football Championship Subdivision All-American Team, while Tylor Chambers was an honorable mention selection by the College Sporting News.

Perrilloux, the 2009 OVC Offensive Player of the Year, ranked first nationally in passing efficiency (172.58) and fourth nationally in points responsible for (18.6 points/game). The senior quarterback also set several other single-season school records, including touchdowns responsible for (31), total offense per game (279.3) and total offense per play (8.36). He finished his two-year career as Jax State's career leader in passing yards per game (222.3) and total offense per game (260.9) and had a career passing efficiency of 154.9.

The Laplace, La., native finished the season with 2,350 passing yards, which was the third best in school history, and his 42 career passing touchdowns is third, while his 61.0 completion percentage is also third in school history. He was a second-team All-OVC honoree in 2008. Perrilloux was also a Sports Network All-American.

Heath, also an All-American selection by the Associated Press and Sports Network this season, led the Ohio Valley Conference in passes defended and led the Gamecocks with six interceptions, including returning two for touchdowns against UT Martin earlier this season. The junior also led the team with 10 pass break-ups and also forced a fumble and blocked a kick. He recorded 34 total tackles on the season, including 20 solo stops.

Chambers, from Hixson, Tenn., graded better than 88 percent for the season at his offensive guard position. The sophomore finished with 103 knockdowns, 42 pancake blocks and more than 210 bonus points for the Gamecocks after playing 586 snaps this season. He helped the Gamecocks lead the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing offense (188.82), total offense (431.09), passing efficiency (161.19) and scoring offense (35.0) and was an All-OVC selection.

Unlike other All-American teams, the CSN honor's squad is designed to be like a real team, capable of taking the field and competing in a game. It includes everything from quarterbacks who can run or pass, often overlooked fullbacks, to a long snapper and other special teams performers. Including the honorable mention selections, 138 student-athletes from 71 schools are represented.

Gamecock Trio Earn All-American Recognition
12/31/2009 11:40:39 AM | Football
Jacksonville State’s Ryan Perrilloux and T.J. Heath have been named to the Fabulous Fifty Football Championship Subdivision All-American Team, while Tylor Chambers was an honorable mention selection by the College Sporting News.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gamecocks vs. Ole Miss Part One

JSU travels to Oxford tonight to take on the Rebs in mens basketball. In September, JSU football opens there season at Ole Miss. The Sporting News has the following preview of tonight's basketball game.

Jacksonville St.-Mississippi Preview
STATS Writer
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While Mississippi struggled for a second time against an elite team its last time out, it will have two games against less-than-imposing opponents to regain some confidence before beginning SEC play.

The 15th-ranked Rebels look to bounce back from their worst offensive performance of the season when they return home to take on Jacksonville State on Tuesday night.

Mississippi (10-2) has been one of the top scoring teams in the nation, but came out stagnant in a 76-66 loss at No. 6 West Virginia on Wednesday. The Rebels, who were averaging 85.4 points, shot 67.7 percent in their previous game - a 108-64 rout of Centenary on Dec. 19 - but followed with a season-low 36.4 percent against the Mountaineers and were 5 of 24 from 3-point range.

The win snapped Mississippi's six-game winning streak and was the third time in five games the team has had to try and come back from a first-half deficit.

"I don't think that we came out terribly focused," coach Andy Kennedy said. "They hit us in the mouth and we didn't respond. As a result, we're going home a loser."

Both of Mississippi's losses have come against top-tier teams. Its other defeat came Nov. 22 against then-No. 5 Villanova as the Rebels shot 38.1 percent and committed 21 turnovers in the 79-67 setback.

Although beating ranked opponents on the road has been difficult for Mississippi, winning at home against unranked ones has not. The Rebels are 6-0 there this season, outscoring opponents by an average of 23.7 points. They have won 36 of their last 37 games in Oxford against non-conference foes and will play their next three contests there.

Mississippi doesn't have much time to work out any remaining struggles. Tuesday is one of two remaining tune-ups before beginning the conference slate. After Jacksonville State, they Rebels will host Central Florida before facing SEC-opponent Mississippi State on Jan. 9.

It will be critical for Chris Warren, Mississippi's leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, to bounce back. After pouring in a season-high 32 in a win over UTEP on Dec. 16, the junior guard totaled 19 on 7 of 18 shooting against Centenary and West Virginia.

He'll be looking to put up big numbers against Jacksonville State (5-5) which is playing its first ranked opponent since losing to Mississippi State in 2004.

The Gamecocks are coming off a 60-55 loss to Nicholls State on Dec. 21, when they shot 38.3 percent and trailed the entire way. Trenton Marshall scored 18 while Jeremy Bynum added 15 as the duo shot a combined 9 of 30.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak. Only three of the team's wins are against Division I opponents.

The Gamecocks are 1-33 against the SEC, with their lone victory coming against Alabama during the 1952-53 season. Mississippi is 3-0 all-time in the series, including 64-56 in 2003.

Already a tough venue for opponents to play in, Tad Smith Coliseum could become even more hostile as school officials have offered free admission. Fewer than 6,000 people were on hand to see the team beat Centenary in an arena that seats more than 9,000.

Monday, December 28, 2009

JSU to the Sun Belt?

Tobi Writes from has this article on possible changes to the Sun Belt Conference in the next couple of years:

The Sun Belt Conference has 13 members currently, but is riding a bullet train to 11 members. Could that be the best thing that ever happened to the conference?

The Sun Belt Conference adopted rules in 2007 that seem likely to force Denver and New Orleans out by the 2012-2013 school year.

Denver, which already has the largest athletic budget in the conference and the highest academic standards would have to add five sports to stay in beyond 2013. It seems abundantly clear they have no intention of adding sports to remain an outlier in a weak conference.

Denver hopes to be offered an invitation to the WCC. The WAC, MWC, and Big Sky Conference are other conferences that Denver hopes to join and may have some hope of joining due to their strong academics. The Summitt is another conference which may have an interest in the Pioneers.

New Orleans has been absolutely devastated by the Katrina and the current recession. It appears that they no longer have the finances to compete at the DI level, let alone add sports to hit the new Sun Belt minimum of 15 sports.

That leaves the Sun Belt with a very awkward 10 all sports members and one non-football member in UALR.

UALR may be forced out (perhaps to join the Summit or MVC?) or retained. Ultimately, it doesn't change the equation much.

The number of teams in football is the real issue.

Ten football playing members is a scheduling nightmare. Nine is usually ideal, but for a conference that has trouble generating revenue and has large travel expenses like the Sun Belt, getting to 12 all sports members could make a world of sense.

It seems likely the Sun Belt may be waiting to see what happens between 2010 and 2012.

The NCAA has a moratorium on athletic program classification upgrades while they revise their rules. For a conference like the Sun Belt that would need to reload with programs upgrading from the FCS, they really have to wait at least until next season to find out the new upgrade rules.

And then there is the question of conference movement.

The Big Ten has made noise about expansion. That could cause all kinds of ripples in conferences at lower levels.

The Big Ten has been myopic in considering only Notre Dame as an expansion candidate. The rumors seem to be implying that courtship may be coming to an end. Notre Dame may need to join or see the Big Ten (a big player in the BCS) not only take another school—removing a slot for Notre Dame—but also make the BCS loopholes for Notre Dame much much tougher.

Missouri would take an offer from the Big Ten in a heartbeat.

Rutgers would as well, and they offer the Big Ten media relevance in the NYC media market, the nation's largest. That alone would probably push the Big Ten TV money to most in the nation, past the SEC's TV revenue.

Regardless of what path the Big Ten takes, ripples will be felt.

The Pac 10 has long said they would likely move to 12 members after the Big 10 does.

If they raid the MWC and/or the Big 12 (say Utah and BYU or Colorado), there will be ripples that affect the Sun Belt.

Ideally, the sunbelt may hope to only lose one or two schools. Perhaps Troy and/or UNT to the CUSA. The Sun Belt may hope to add a single school in the center of their footprint—perhaps Jacksonville State?—and end up with nine for football and 10 for basketball—ideal for scheduling.

Even if a third team is raided—say FIU or FAU—the Sun Belt may hope to add Jacksonville State and Georgia Southern and still be at that 9/10 scheduling sweet spot.

But is that really a good place to be?

That is still a very large footprint to play every member of the conference.

The conference would still have to deal with the spectre of being a conference that expanded with FCS schools because they had to, not because they chose to.

Additionally there are some scenarios that could kill the Sun Belt. If realignment hits trickle down to the WAC and CUSA splits, the Sun Belt could have heavy defections. The WAC might need to look at a 12 member conference to keep travel costs under control and not lose a school like La Tech.

WAC Raid

UNT turned down the WAC before, but those were different times. If the WAC, minus Boise, came calling again and offered UNT a reasonable escape clause to escape to CUSA if an offer is forthcoming, they might be able to land UNT.

Finances and hope for a CUSA offer played a big role in UNT turning down the WAC last time. UNT only had about a $14-15 million athletic budget with no source of additional funding to offset the increased travel costs.

Playing in the WAC on a tight budget as a distant outlier seemed like a sure way to bleed the competitiveness out of the program. Look at what happened to Marshall after joining CUSA.

The new stadium vote will have UNT's athletic budget growing quickly. By 2025, UNT may have a $30 million athletic budget. A large travel bill is no longer as daunting as it once was.

Additionally, UNT only lost out to UTEP in being TCU's replacement in CUSA over the condition of Fouts Field and their facilities. The New Mean Green Stadium is due to be completed in time for the 2011 season and all of UNT's other facilities have been replaced.

UNT believes they will be invited into CUSA if the conference develops an opening after 2011.

That said, if the WAC makes an offer to UNT that makes better financial sense in the meantime UNT might join the WAC.

If the WAC loses Boise, they lose a lot of prestige. Will La Tech want to stay in that eight team WAC? What happens if they threaten to leave? Who could the WAC land as a replacement? The WAC would have to look at an FCS upgrade, which they don't want to do as it is a major esteem hit.

LA Tech might have the leverage to force the WAC to create a western six team Division. UNT, Arky State, ULL, and maybe Larry Coker's (pictured above) UTSA team could join NMSU and La Tech to cut travel.

For the Mean Green that would be an esteem bump moving into a conference that might legitimately generate a BCS bid. Attendance would be much higher with closer opponents and travel budget would be cut dramatically. In addition, ULL, UNT, and Arky State have history.

UNT very well might bite on that as an interim solution until their perceived date with CUSA west.

Raids from CUSA

CUSA is currently squeezing outliers Marshall and ECU. If no relief comes in the form of a Big East raid, there is the possibility of a CUSA split.

There is some resentment against the Western CUSA schools. A peaceful divorce could be negotiated if ECU and Marshall tire of the status quo. I would think Tulane would want to stay with the western schools and that if no Big east offer was forthcoming, Memphis and S. Miss might favor staying with Tulane and CUSA west for recruiting and TV purposes.

That potentially would have the Western CUSA schools taking the CUSA autobid and leving the eastern CUSA schools no way to rebuild their conference. I don't think if it reached a schism point that the CUSA west schools would want to hurt the western schools that way.

The Western CUSA schools could offer Tulane and S. Miss non-basketball memberships as part of the split as the western eight became a new SWC. (Eventually they would be full members.)

That would allow CUSA East to still have six members for basketball, enough to pull an autobid to the NCAA basketball tourney. From there the Eastern CUSA schools could take say, Temple, and three schools from the Sun Belt to get back up to eight full members.

Those scenarios in conjunction don't leave much left.

That would probably be it for the Sun Belt, especially if the NCAA institutes harsh new upgrade rules.

Pre-emptive Expansion

The Sun Belt could just go for it, now. It could be their best option.

They could offer membership to FCS schools in the region who are seeking an FBS home now.

Also, they could put pressure on the NCAA to come up with upgrade rules that are not overly oppressive by having pending membership offers on the books prior to the release of the rule revisions.

Adding two all sports schools would give the Sun Belt enough schools to have a revenue generating conference championship game. Offering memberships to Texas State and UTSA would give the Sun Belt more relevance in big markets (San Antonio and Austin).

That would likely please UNT's fans if not their administration by giving the Mean Green some FBS schools from Texas to play. It could also reduce the threat of the creation of an eastern WAC division by cutting travel costs for the western Sun Belt schools and giving them all greater exposure in Texas, one of the richer talent bases in the nation.

Starting the process now could really protect Sun Belt schools from the coming reshuffling of the FBS.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The 2009 Top Ten Notable Happenings in JSU Sports

Here's our unofficial list of the top ten happenings in JSU sports this year. It's been a very good year, and I believe next year can be even better.

1- Softball team gets an At-Large bid and sweeps Tennessee and plays Alabama in the Super Regionals. I didn't get to go to Knoxville, but it was great seeing the team on ESPN.

2- Volleyball team goes to NCAA tournament after going 17-1 in the OVC regular season and winning the OVC tournament. They go on to win their first match against Florida A&M. Went to the OVC tournament and the atmosphere in the Pete was electric. This was a very exciting team.

3- JSU Football Wins The OVC TItle "On the Field."

4- Men’s tennis team captures the OVC title and goes on to play FSU in the Nationals.

5 JSU Rifle wins 5th straight OVC championship and won their 2nd small bore title in the past 3 years.

6- Jim Skidmore inducted into the Alabama Athletic Trainer’s Association Hall of Fame.

7- Josh Cain (academic) and TJ Heath earn All-American honors. Both well-deserved and a great representation of JSU's student-athletes.

8- NCAA lifts playoff ban after marked improvement in the APR.

9(tie)- Baseball team beats #1 ranked UGA -- twice

9(tie)- JSU football plays Florida State, and gets national coverage as we come within one minute of winning the game.

10- Launch of - this one's a stretch as far as notability, but we have had fun doing it.

Aggies coordinator has been around, including stop at UGA ||

Here is a nice article about Jacksonville State Graduate, Joe Kines.

Aggies coordinator has been around, including stop at UGA ||

Friday, December 18, 2009

Al Muskewitz Team of the Decade

A great blog posting by the Anniston Star's Al Muskewitz on JSU's Team of the Decade. Go to to check it out.

I have to go back and look at the stats, but I hate to see Chapman,Reggie Wade and James Wilkerson not make the All-Decade Team.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Knew TJ Before He Blew Up

In honor of TJ Heath making All-American, we thought it might be neat to run an interview we did with TJ this past Spring. Here it is:

After the J-Day game, had the opportunity to spend some time with cornerback T.J. Heath, an Alexandria product who earned first team All-State honors in 2005. Coach Crowe described Heath as “a premier athlete” when he signed and he has not disappointed. Heath burst onto the scene with the Gamecocks in 2007 with an interception for a touchdown in his first series in a college game. He followed that up last year with 42 tackles and an interception returned for 41 yards. TJ concluded an excellent spring with several big plays in the J Day game including an interception for a touchdown.

Heath is clearly a big time player, but more importantly he is the type of player that will make the Gamecock Nation proud both on and off the field. He is a very good student and a respectful young man that gives a great interview. One of the things that impressed me most about TJ was when I asked him about his most exciting moment as a Gamecock, it was a team accomplishment- the defensive stand against Tennessee State that ended the 2008 season. T.J was also quick to give praise to his teammates and recognizes that he can always improve his game-- two characteristics of the type of player that will win championships for JSU.

Here is a summary (some of T.J’s comments have been edited for space) of what TJ had to say about a variety of topics as we approach the 2009 season.

Heath On Playing for JSU:

Q: Why did you choose JSU?

A: A lot of it had to do with Coach Crowe’s style of coaching. It’s very intense. I came from Coach Larry Ginn. It was much the same type of coaching style so I thought it was a good place for me to be.

Q: Tell us about Coach Stewart?

A: Ever since I [arrived at JSU] he’s been a motivator for the defense as a whole. He works us hard every day. He doesn’t ever allow us to slack up and that’s one thing I love about him, he always keeps us intense and ready to play. He’s a great coach. I wouldn’t play for [anyone] else.

Q: What are your strengths on the field?

A: My main strength is probably coverage and I’m getting back to the more physical part {of the game after recovering from shoulder surgery]

Q: Is there any NFL player you try to emulate?

A. I like to look at Champ Bailey a lot. He is very aggressive the way he plays. .

Q: Who are you battling with for playing time?

A: Juwaan Booker and A.J. Davis.

Heath on the Opposition:

Q: How do you feel about opening with Tech again?

A: I’m very excited about the Tech game. [We had some early success against them last year]. This year with some things we have changed up it might be a pretty good game.

Q: What about FSU?

A: I’m definitely excited about that game. [I told Coach Crowe I am looking forward to the challenge of matching up with their great receivers]. I like challenges. The Florida State game will be a great challenge for us . . . I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Who would you consider your biggest rival in the OVC?

A: UT Martin is one of our biggest rivals. It’s always a great game.

Q: How was the matchup against UT Martin wide reciever, Micheal Hicks (an Ole Miss transfer)?

A: He had a pretty good game. I give him his props, but I’m looking forward to having him back here [in Paul Snow next year]. I know its going to be a different game.

Heath on his teammates:

Q: Who are some newcomers Gamecock fans should be on the lookout for ?

A: One is Juwaan Booker. He’s a red shirt freshman. I think he’s going to have a breakout year this year and people will start to know him a lot better . Another is A.J. Davis. A.J. is a tremendous player. He’s going to have a big year for us. Another player is Rodney “Texas” Garrott. He can play some ball. I was amazed [when I was him in practice]. He is an up and coming player. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action when we get face to face with Georgia Tech.

Q: Who is the fastest player on the team?

A: The fastest player on the team I have to say is Carnell Clark, #26. He’s a hard hitter who has no problem being physical and he plays smart. He has a great chance to play in the NFL.

Q: Tell us about Alexander Henderson?

A: He is an unbelievable talent. He had five consecutive tackles in a recent scrimmage. [The coaches] took him out and said ‘that’s enough, you’re done.’ He’s a great player for us and a big help on stopping the running game. I’m looking forward to seeing him out on the field.

Q: Who are the big hitters?

A: Number one is Carnell Clark; he is a big hitter. Every time he gets a chance he’s trying to hit somebody. Another is Morrell [Jones] he plays linebacker. He is a big hitter as well. Those two are probably the biggest hitters on the team. I’m coming along! Every time I talk to Carnell, he makes fun of me and tells me I’m a little soft, but I tell him all that’s about to change. I’m getting there.

Q: Who are some tough matchups among the Gamecock receivers?

A: Jeff Cameron. He’s really improved getting off the line. James Wilkerson is running some very good routes as well. .

Q: What about Tech transfer Greg Smith?

A: I had a chance to talk to him. I’m looking forward to seeing him make some plays out here with us.

Heath Off The Field:

Q: What do you like to do off the field?

A: Write music, play video games and just relax. I like to write some R&B music and a lot of gospel music as well. My favorite musician is Curt Franklin.

Q: What is your major?

A: Exercise science with a minor in business.

Q: How are you doing academically?

A: I’m doing great. I’m looking forward to graduating on time. That’s a big goal.

Q: What do you want to do after graduation?

A: I want to do something with my degree. I recently hurt my back and have been going to the chiropractor [it is really interesting to me]. If I don’t get to the next level, I’m probably going to go to chiropractic school.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

FCS Championship Game

An interesting take on the game this weekend from the Chattanooga Times Free Press regarding the economic impact the Montana win/App. St. loss will have on the championship game.

Forecast is low
Montana's win could cost city $1 million

By: David Paschall

Montana's 24-17 win Saturday over visiting Appalachian State in a second-half snowstorm provided a riveting finish, but it cost the city of Chattanooga more than $1 million.

The Football Championship Subdivision finalists are set for Friday night with Montana and Villanova, a combination that will travel the fewest fans since the title game came to Finley Stadium in 1997. The two participants will bring an estimated 3,500 fans according to Greater Chattanooga Sports & Events Committee president Scott Smith, which is significantly less than the 5,242 who traveled to the Delaware-Colgate finale in 2003.

Had App State and William & Mary won this weekend's semifinal matchups, at least 11,000 visitors would be expected.

"We've said for years that we can never control the teams," Smith said Saturday night, "which is why we need to get to a certain level locally."

Smith expects this year's FCS championship to have an economic impact from $650,000 to $1 million, with the high end occurring if Montana fans stay three nights instead of two. The previous low according to Smith was $1.148 million in '03.

An App State victory would have guaranteed a minimum of 7,500 Mountaineers fans and an economic impact of at least $2 million. When the Mountaineers defeated Delaware for the '07 title, it occurred in front of a Finley-record 23,010 fans and resulted in a record $2.65 million.

Roughly 10,700 tickets overall have been sold for Friday's game. The record low of 12,360 was set in '02 when Western Kentucky defeated McNeese State.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jamie Strange Doing Great Things At JSU

There are many great things occurring right now that are related to the Jacksonville State Football Program. We finished the season with a Top 15 program, a Payton Award top 6 finalist, dominated the OVC awards and have a new stadium that will compare favorably to any FCS team in the Country. However, one of the best stories related to JSU football is one that has nothing to do with new buildings, talented players or wins and losses. Instead, JSU is leading the nation with a new "Habitudes" player development program that helps our players learn the skills to be successful off the field, long after their playing careers are over.

The man behind this program is JSU's Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative and Director of Player Development, Jamie Strange. Strange came to Northeast Alabama in 2005 from Raleigh, North Carolina and was primarily working with high schools in the area. Over the years, Jamie and Coach Crowe developed a friendship and Coach Crowe opened the doors for Strange to expand JSU's FCA program.

In 2006, Coach Crowe came to the realization that he wanted more. He wanted to take a formalized approach to helping to instill values in players that would give them the skills to succeed in life, separate and apart from the football field. Thus, Coach Crowe approached Jamie and asked him to help implement a player development program separate and apart from his FCA work. The Habitudes program was written by Dr. Tim Elmore of the Growing Leaders organization.

The idea was easy. However, implementing the program was another matter. First, they would have to find funding. Second,, applying the program to a football team was a novel concept. The only other school in the country that had implemented the Habitudes program was the University of Texas.

The Gamecock Nation, as it always does, responded to the financial challenge. John Thomas, a prolific offensive lineman during the late 80s’, who is now a successful health care executive donated $50,000 to fund the program. This solved the financial hurdle.

The second challenge -- implementing the program was met by every single member of the Gamecock coaching staff. Along with Strange, the coaches actually lead the program. Thus, in addition to spending 70-80 hours each week recruiting, leading practice and breaking down film, the coaches have to learn the program and lead the breakout sessions that occur each week. Strange says "every coach is committed to this. . . and every coach has to be actively involved in preparing for the lesson and getting feedback from the players."

The Habitudes program involves a mandatory weekly character/leadership class for all of the players. The players meet every week both in season and out of season. Habitudes is a four year curriculum. According to Strange, the first year was about "developing the leader within yourself" and was focused on personal leadership and character development. The second year (which is where JSU is now) is about connecting with others - in other words as Strange describes it helping those around you develop and succeed." Strange says "our focus this year is developing one another and building that team aspect of things and looking at other people and make them more valuable." Implementation of these concepts will surely help JSU as a team, but will also help the players in their personal relationships, family and careers.

Another part of the program is service to the community. Strange says that serving others is rewarding in its own right and gives the players perspective on the blessings that they have. As a result, JSU players have taken an active role in several community projects such as Habitat for Humanity, a Fishing Rodeo and working with special needs kids. Strange says that community service will always be part of the program as the years go forward.

Strange would not give any names but believes that Habitudes has had a positive impact on many players, many of whom have reported that they have never had anyone work with them on these types of issues. The great news is its not too late to develop the "habitudes" for success. Strange has a core belief that every player, though , regardless of their background has the ability to succeed and be a high character leader wherever life leads them.

Strange believes there is a high degree of "buy in" among the players and that the philosophy is that this area is just as important as offensive and defensive meetings. He emphasizes to the players that character is analagous to the image of an iceberg and that "the ten percent above the surface is your talent and skill - what people see, but the 90% below the surface is your character." Strange notes that NFL Players and other that have run into problems have often focused on the 10% above the surface to the detriment of the 90% below. The emphasis to the players is that talent will take you places but it won't keep you there.

It is too early to tell how successful the program is going to ultimately be at JSU, but the fact cannot be ignored that the football team's ARP is at an all time high and off the field incidents seem to be at an all time low. As one player parent said: "the character building is most definitely working and the results are tangible."

Separate and apart from the Habitudes initiative is Strange's leadership of JSU's FCA program. FCA activities include spiritual direction, guidance and game day chapel services. It is common for up to 80% of the players to attend game day chapel services. Strange says the game day chapel services are a time where the players pray together as a team and have a focus on honoring God with their talents on the field. Strange also leads the post-game prayers for the teams in games played at JSU.

The FCA also has weekly meetings that are open to everyone on campus which are led by the students.. Strange says it is common for 30-50 people that attend the weekly meetings. The FCA also coordinates speaking engagements for JSU athletes. There are several JSU players , including Brandon George, Reggie Wade, Josh Cain and Brandt Thomas, that have gone out in the community and spoken to local high schools about FCA. At one event, where Josh Cain represented JSU, 4,000 people attended and approximately 700 responded to the invitation. Strange noted that Cain was a spiritual leader of the team.

The FCA program is, of course, funded by private donations and unlike the Habitudes program is entirely voluntary for the players. One of the big sources of funding is a golf tournament hosted annually by Coach Crowe and the J-Club.

In closing, a message to our readers. The great thing about this story is that we can all be a part of it. Jamie’s FCA work is entirely donor funded . Jamie needs our support to continue, expand and grow the FCA program at JSU. Please take the time to support this worthy cause. You can send a donation made payable to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes addressed as follows:

P.O. Box 8215
Anniston, AL 36202

Keep up the good work Jamie!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Chase Williams Commits to JSU


Williams chooses Jax State

By Shannon J. Allen
The Reporter

Published December 10, 2009

Boaz senior Chase Williams received scholarship offers from SMU, Tennessee-Martin and Chattanooga.

UAB recruited Williams heavily and several other schools were interested in the star linebacker, but when the time arrived for him to make a decision about his future, he followed his heart and committed to Jacksonville State.

“I talked to Coach (Greg) Stewart, he’s their defensive coordinator, and then (head) Coach (Jack) Crowe came down here and talked to me and Drew (Phillips) personally one day, and that’s when he offered me,” Williams said.

“The week before I was at the Tennessee-Martin game at JSU and he (Crowe) pulled me onto the field when they were warming up and offered me, but then he came down here and offered me again to make sure everything was clear.

“There were a lot of other schools looking at me, but JSU is a lot closer, and that was a big thing. When JSU offered, my parents (Tim and Amy Williams) were like, ‘You need to go ahead and just sign with JSU.’”

Williams can’t sign his scholarship until national signing day in February.

The seeds of Williams’ commitment to Jacksonville were planted during a visit to Paul Snow Stadium a few seasons ago.

“Randy Jones is a big thing down there with JSU’s football team,” Williams recalled.

“And we went up there and I was sitting in the president’s box. I was young, it was probably ninth grade, and I was looking at the field and I was like, ‘Man, I wish I could do this when I get older.’

“I was just dreaming then I wish I could play on the college level, and it’s just kind of like a dream come true that I’ll be playing at JSU.”

Jones is a local Nationwide insurance executive. Amy Williams works for Jones’ agency in Albertville.

Williams said he will fit into the Gamecocks’ defensive scheme “really easy,” because they play a “30” scheme similar to Boaz.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Williams was recruited as an outside linebacker, but he might get a look at strong safety.

“They want me to be at 205 or 210 when I get to Jacksonville. Once I get to JSU, I’ll get on their program, and there’s no telling how big I’ll get then,” he said.

Williams is thankful he didn’t follow through with his decision to give up football before his sophomore season.

“I was going to quit my sophomore year,” he said. “I wasn’t going to play. I had already handed in my stuff, but I hadn’t told Coach (Drew) Noles because I was scared to. I did not want to tell him.

“My mom told me, ‘No, you’re going to tell Coach Noles,’ because she knew I was scared to tell him.

“We sat down for two hours and my mom and Coach Noles talked me into playing my sophomore year, and I got a bunch of playing time and ended up like fourth in tackles. So that got me enough experience to where when I came back my junior year, I was able to start.”

Williams overcame a knee injury during his junior season to win the first of his two defensive most valuable player awards on the All-Marshall County team. He was also honorable mention all-state in 2008.

“Chase is a great player on the field and really is probably a better person and leader in our school,” Noles said.

“We’ll miss him. You can’t replace a guy like him on the field. Pretty much if an offensive guy didn’t get out of bounds, Chase was going to make the tackle.

“He had a tremendous knack for finding the football, he read his keys so quickly and he was so easy to coach.

“A lot of times when you get a great player they’re not real interested in getting better, and he was always improving his game.

“We’ve had some really good linebackers here, but as far as making tackles and making plays, he’s probably the best one we’ve had.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jerry Cole Dies at Age 74

The Anniston Star reports that long time JSU Athletics Director Jerry Cole passed away at age 74. Mr. Cole is rightfully referred to as a legend at JSU. As the Star reported, he presided over a golden era of JSU athletics where facilities were built, championships were won and lifetime memories were made.

Mr. Cole personified the qualities about JSU that made me realize attending JSU was one of the best decisions of my life and why I love the school 25 years later. He was part of the "friendly" of the friendliest campus in the South. He treated everyone like they were important. It did not matter if you were a big money donor or just a fan that cared about JSU, a star quarterback or a freshman on the tennis team. If you had an idea, his office was open and he was happy to share a Coke with you and talk about it.

The Anniston Star noted that success followed Jerry Cole, the Birmingham News referred to him as a true "gentleman." I'll add Great Gamecock to the list. He will be missed.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Volleyball team wins in NCAA Tournament

Awesome. The volleyball team gets the school's first ever NCAA tournament win with an exciting 5 game set against Florida A&M. A great job by Coach Nold and the players. If you didn't get to see them play this year, you really missed out. Here is the article from

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Faced with a 2-1 deficit, the Jacksonville State volleyball team rallied to win the final two sets and claim the Gamecocks’ first-ever NCAA Tournament win in the form of a 3-2 defeat of Florida A&M in Saturday’s first round.

The Gamecocks (27-7) won their 12th-straight fifth-set match but had to rally to force the deciding game. After claiming a 25-22 win in the opening set, the Lady Rattlers (17-10) rolled to wins in the second and third sets and put JSU’s backs against the wall. A late fourth-set rally forced the match into the deciding one, a place the Gamecocks are a perfect 10-0 in 2009.

Senior Brittney Whitten, the only player on the Gamecocks’ roster that played in their last NCAA appearance in 2006, put her team on her shoulders. The Boonville, Ind., native recorded her 26th career double-double with 19 kills and 14 digs. Her match-high kills total came on a .283 attack percentage that saw just six errors in 46 attacks.

Juniors Kara Slater and Caitlin Vorbeck provided the Gamecocks’ production up front. Slater, a Colorado Springs, Colo., native, knocked down nine kills on a .389 attack percentage, while blocking four shots at the net. Vorbeck, a Raytown, Mo., native, assisted on six of the Gamecocks’ 11.5 team blocks while pitching in with 12 kills on offense.

Sophomore Lauren Harkins, the school’s single-season record holder for digs, added a team-best 15 to her total on Saturday. The native of Louisville, Ky., now has 648 on the year, 122 more than the previous record set by Kisha West in 2005. Senior Paige Beasley did what she could on the back row to continue her career, picking up 10 digs to round out a trio of JSU players in double figures.

Junior Brooke Schumacher dished 43 assists and grabbed nine digs in the win. She now has 1242 on the season, the seventh-highest total in school history. The native of Lake in the Hills, Ill., also assisted on four blocks. The Gamecocks’ two freshmen, Jen Meyer and Alyx Schulte, each added eight kills in the match.

The Lady Rattlers were led by Maria Gomez’s double-double of 19 kills and 11 digs. Gomez hit .375 in the win, while Jovana Blazeski added 16 kills on 58 swings and 14 digs on the back row.

In the opening set, neither team led by more than three points until a late 9-1 JSU run turned an 18-15 deficit into a 24-19 Gamecock lead. The Rattlers rattled off the next three points before a Whitten kill gave Jax State a 25-22 win. The victory was the Gamecocks’ first ever set win in their NCAA Tournament history.

FAMU stormed out of the gates in the second set to build an early 11-5 lead. JSU never pulled any closer than three points before the Rattlers tied the match with a 25-18 win. JSU hit for a slightly better percentage in the second set than the first but saw the Rattlers commit just two errors and hit .429 en route to tying the match.

In the third set, the Gamecocks built an early 8-5 lead, but FAMU put together a 9-1 run that put the Rattlers in control of the set with a 14-9 lead. JSU slowly cut into the lead before pulling to within one at 16-15 and tying it at 17-17. The two exchanged points twice before a FAMU error gave JSU a 20-19 lead. With the Gamecocks trailing 23-22, an Alyx Schulte attack was ruled in by the line judge but overturned by the lead official setting up a 25-23 FAMU win that put the Gamecocks’ backs against the wall.

The fourth set started off with 13 lead changes before a small run by the Gamecocks gave them an 18-15 lead. The three-point advantage was the largest by either team to that point in the set. JSU never looked back, rolling to a 25-20 win that sent the match into the deciding fifth set.

A 5-3 JSU run to start the fifth set was answered by a 4-0 FAMU run that put the Rattlers in front. The two exchanged blows until a Jen Meyer kill gave the Gamecocks a 13-12 lead. They never looked back, sealing the match on a Blazeski attack that missed wide and gave the Gamecocks a 15-13 win.

JSU will advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, a place only the Gamecocks’ softball team has seen before. Jax State will take on the No. 3 National Seed and host Florida State at 2 p.m. CT.

A Look At the OVC - Mens Basketball

While some teams have already started conference play, here is a summary of how things stack up after the non-conference slate has been essentially completed:


Perennial power, Murray State, appears to be at it again. They are 6-1, with the lone loss coming to Cal. Murray has quality non-conference wins over James Madison, FIU and won its first conference game over EKU.

They can play more than football in Richmond. They lost very close games to Pitt and Murray and have wins over Farleigh Dickinson, UT- San Antonio and FIU.

The Panthers have a win over Toledo, but were drilled by Belmont.


JACKSONVILLE STATE- (2-4)Not a bad start for the Gamecocks. Good wins over West Alabama and Georgia Southern. A near upset on the road against Georgia as well as competitive games with UAB and UTC. Notably, the Gamecocks have battled injuries all pre-season.


Peay was drilled by Tennessee and NC State, but had a good win against Akron.

Wins over Lipscomb and Central Arkansas, but were soundly defeated by Minnesota, Memphis and Kansas. Give them credit for playing that schedule!

They have not played many games yet, one of their two wins is against Brecia. I thought Brecia was a Caribbean Island or something you put on a cracker.


SEMO (2-6)
SEMO's only wins are against Norfolk State and Northern Illinois.

The post-Lester Hudson era is off to a rough start. Their only wins are against Rhodes and Harris-Stowe. Word is that Coach Simpson is desperately seeking to get Harris-Stowe on the Pacers football schedule.


Their best player from last season transferred to Georgia. It was a rough early season for the Tigers, but they did take EIU to 3 overtimes.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Haley Arrington is Miss Birmingham

We don't normally cover beauty pageants, but it is a competition and having wonderful women like this at JSU can only help recruiting. Article is from the JSU PR Department

JSU's Haley Arrington is New Miss Birmingham
Congratulations to Haley Arrington, a senior music education/voice major at Jacksonville State University, who was crowned Miss Birmingham on November 8. The title is Ms. Arrington's fifth Miss Alabama/Miss America open preliminary title, which seals her qualification to compete for the state crown next summer.

Ms. Arrington has competed in the Miss Alabama pageant four times and is eligible for one more shot at the title. Last year, she came very close to winning, clinching fourth runner up and the overall talent competition. Other Miss Alabama preliminary titles Miss Arrington has held include Miss Marshall County, Miss West Central Alabama, Miss East Central Alabama and Miss Point Mallard. She also competed in the Miss JSU pageant, where she won the talent competition.

Haley Arrington (official Miss Alabama pageant photo)

A Glencoe resident, Ms. Arrington is completing her student internship in choral conducting at Emma Sansom Middle School and Gadsden City High School. She will receive her bachelor's degree from JSU on Dec. 18 and plans to pursue her master's degree.

When she isn't competing, Ms. Arrington is performing. She has has been a regular with the Jacksonville Opera Theatre since 2007, and was recently cast in the JSU Drama Department's Spring 2010 production of Beauty and the Beast. She also performs regularly with Opera Birmingham and sings with a USO Group a few times a year.

Teresa Stricklin, a former Miss America first runner-up and JSU alumna who is now on the vocal faculty, has coached Ms. Arrington for several years. She states emphatically that Ms. Arrington is not your typical beauty queen.

"Haley is flesh and blood, a real person, who sings like a diva. She would make a fabulous Miss Alabama."

According to Ms. Arrington, competing in pageants has been about much more than the title. She says she is "very grateful" that scholarship money she has received along with her crowns has funded her entire college education. She also appreciates the fact that each pageant has brought more opportunities to focus on her volunteer work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She has worked with the agency over several counties and continues to raise awareness for the need for new mentors through her participation in pageants. She is also involved with the Children's Miracle Network, the official philanthropy of the Miss America pageant.

The Miss Alabama scholarship pageant will take place during the second week in June, 2010.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crestview Bulletin Write-Up on James Wilkerson

A nice writeup on Senior Wide Receiver, James Wilkerson, from his hometown paper the Crestview Bulletin. Wilkerson had a phenomenan season catching passes and returning kicks in addition to being an outstanding downfield blocker.

Wilkerson made the most of his opportunity at JSU
December 01, 2009 4:30 PM
Randy Dickson |
Former Crestview wide receiver James Wilkerson finished up his college football career Nov. 21 as Jacksonville State beat Eastern Kentucky.

Along the way the former Bulldog etched his name along with the best pass catchers in Gamecock history.

Wilkerson finished his career with 100 receptions, and is the sixth player to do that at JSU. His 1,780 yards that go with those 100 catches ranks third all time for the Gamecocks.

The icing on the cake for Wilkerson was being named All Ohio Valley Conference.

There can be no denying that Wilkerson made the most of his opportunity for the Football Championship Subdivision (the old Division I-AA) school.

Wilkerson wasn’t one of the most sought after players in the country when he came out of high school, but when given the opportunity to play for the Gamecocks, as the numbers indicate, Wilkerson played well.

Every high school player dreams of playing at a Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee or Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Most kids know all about the big time programs that travel by plane and play in front of 80,000 plus fans.

And there’s nothing wrong about dreaming of playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12 or the Southeastern Conference. But there are countless players that have accepted their fate and moved forward and enjoyed great success away from the network TV cameras and cult-like following that is major college football.

I know that many, if not most, college players at every level, dream of playing professional football one day. And while it’s easier to get recognized playing at a Florida or Florida State, the kid at Jacksonville State, if he’s good enough, will get a shot at the pros.

Most of the local football players that I’ve tracked each week this fall are playing for the love of the game.

Wilkerson might get a shot at the NFL. Time will tell if former Bulldog offensive lineman Matt Sanders, who is a redshirt freshman at Clemson, will have an opportunity to play on Sunday.

David Langston, Joe Thigpen and Cameron Domangue are doing well at Birmingham-Southern. And Tyler Reeves continues to plug along at Huntingdon College.

Players in Division III play strictly for the love of the game. Most of these kids performed in front of larger crowds in high school than they do at the small college level. But they prepare just as hard each week as their peers at the larger schools.

And on Saturday the bus that takes them from the motel to the stadium for an away game is probably the same bus that will carry them back to their home campus.

Yes, kids dream about their favorite school, but in the end, they just want to continue playing ball at a college level.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a kid tell me that unless he can play for a certain school or at a certain level they won’t play college ball. All the players I’ve known have said they don’t care where they play as long as they can keep playing.

James Wilkerson was one of those kids who was happy with the chance to play college football.

Congratulations to him for having a good run.