Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What a difference a year makes…

I’m getting ready for another football season at JSU. I’m looking forward to this season because there are a lot of positive changes since last year.

1. In my mind, the biggest improvement is that there is a good chance we could be watching playoff football in Paul Snow Stadium this season. The APR has improved. In fact, JSU had the biggest improvement in the OVC. No more playoff ban. Now let’s win the OVC Championship and get tested in the FCS playoffs.

2. Another improvement is Paul Snow Stadium. The addition of more seats, the Club Level, and the Suites make this a first-class facility. No matter what type of game day experience you are looking for, you can find it this season at the stadium. JSU has a Family Pack ticket package. That package allows a family of four to get season tickets for only $150. There are a number of corporate season and single game tickets packages with tickets prices ranging from $2 to $5 each. This is perfect for a company or church outing.

3. The Club Level is a great addition to the stadium. The Club Level is like a length-of-the-field sports bar. Inside, you can enjoy the climate controlled atmosphere. You can also venture outside to the seating area, and enjoy the wide seating in the elements (hopefully, it will be a little cooler than it is now outside). This is more than just a ticket to watch a football game though. Club level seats include a pregame meal, open approximately 2 hours before each home game. Snacks and soft drinks are also available during the game, and this is included in the ticket price. I think this will be a great place to socialize. A locker is included for those that get 4 tickets in one person’s name. You will be able to stock your locker with whatever you choose on the day before the game.

4. Suites are available at Paul Snow Stadium now. Each 20-seat suite will have catering available. You can enjoy the game in a controlled environment. Tours are planned for those interested, but you must contact the athletic office to reserve a spot. Words and brochures can’t do this facility justice. I’ve had many people tell me just how impressed they were after taking the tour.

5. The game day experience will improve in many areas. There are more student activities being planned. New tailgating areas have been developed, including a place designated for students. The atmosphere should be lively.

6. Everything listed so far only goes so far without a team on the field. The Gamecock football team this year will be very good and exciting to watch. We’ll take a deeper look at the 2010 football team in the coming days and weeks. This team is something to be excited about.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Brewton on Justin Howard

Jacksonville State has two excellent tight ends, Cory Freeman and Justin Howard. Both happen to be from the same hometown. Here is a nice article from the's Adam Robinson on Justin Howard:

By Adam Robinson
Read about Adam Robinson

W.S. Neal alum and former Eagle football player Justin Howard will enter his third season of playing football for Jacksonville State University this season.
Howard, 21, graduated from W.S. Neal in 2007.
The 6-3, 240 pound tight end said he started college shortly after graduating high school and will be a junior this season and major in criminal justice.
“Sports have been going great for me and it has taught me a lot of things I can apply to life,” Howard said. “I came to Jacksonville State because I love the atmosphere and the people. They are very friendly much like in my hometown of Brewton.
“They are very loving and welcoming here.”
After red shirting his freshman season in 2007, Howard made his debut as a Gamecock in 2008 and saw action in 10 games. He finished 2008 with three receptions for 22 yards and finished the season with 16 knockdowns and three pancake blocks.
This past 2009 season, Howard had 15 catches for a total of 148 yards and four touchdowns.
Howard played for former W.S. Neal head coach Blaine Hathcock and was a four-year letterman and helped lead the Eagles to a 10-3 record as a senior.
“My favorite memory was during my senior season at Neal when we defeated T.R. Miller after we had lost to them previously 10 years in a row,” Howard said. “It was amazing how we were down 21-0 at the half and even when our fans started leaving at the half we overcame all of the adversity and defeated Miller 42-35 even against all the odds.”
Howard says college ball differs from high school ball in that it’s ran more like a business.
“Everyone has to be bought in to create a good product,” Howard said. “It is definitely more serious.”
At JSU, Howard joins former Eagle Cory Freeman and for the 2010 football season, recent W.S. Neal graduate Jeremy Nicholson will join the team. He says the advice he would give Nicholson and any high school player wanting to play in college would be to stay on their academics.
“It is going to be a fun experience to play with Jeremy this year and I will enjoy showing him the ropes,” Howard said. “It is also going to be fun playing with a guy from my neighborhood, being that he is my high school quarterback’s brother.
Howard, the son of Shannon Howard and Jeffrey Hall, has two years left to play at JSU and after college he plans to use his degree that earned and become a very successful businessman.

Special to the Standard| The Brewton Standard Former W.S. Neal Eagle football player and current Jacksonville State University Gamecock Justin Howard, middle, pressures an opposing team’s quarterback in a game last season.

Sunday, June 20, 2010 - Rome Braves Happy days for Cunningham

Follow the link to the Rome paper for a nice article on Todd Cunningham who is now playing for the Rome Braves. - Rome Braves Happy days for Cunningham

Thursday, June 17, 2010 on Cory Freeman

Here is a great article from the's Adam Robinson on JSU Tight End Corey Freeman:

Looking for a ring: Freeman enters final year
Posted on Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 at 4:00 am.
By Adam Robinson

After being in college for five years, former W.S. Neal Eagle Cory Freeman is entering his final season of football at Jacksonville State University.
Freeman, 23, graduated from W.S. Neal High School in 2005 and started college in the spring of 2006.
“I’m on a football scholarship and I have been working towards a degree in Physical Education and will graduate in spring 2011,” Freeman said. “I play tight end and many positions on special teams.”
Freeman said last year was his first year as the starting tight end as a redshirt junior. “Leading up until just a month before the season started last year, I was the No. 2 or No. 3 tight end,” Freeman said. “After a few unexpected events I headed into camp as the starter. I had worked very hard and was excited about the chance to prove that I could step up and help my team win.”
Although Freeman’s move to the starting role came just before the start of the season, he led the team in knockdowns and pancakes with a combined 120, and had six catches for 42 yards.
“I earned second team All-OVC (Ohio Valley Conference) honors last year,” Freeman said. “I’ve been contributing on special teams since my freshman year. Our coaches take pride in special teams and see it as a crucial part of the game.”
Freeman said he went to JSU because they offered him a full ride before he injured his wrist his senior year in high school and only played in six games.
“They stayed committed to me through out the situation when other schools lost interest in me,” Freeman said of JSU. “That meant a lot to me knowing that they still wanted me here. I felt like this was where I was suppose to be.”
Freeman said his favorite memory so far while in college was when JSU beat Eastern Kentucky this past season to become the “Real OVC Champs”.
“We were banned from post-season play this past year and our conference decided that we wouldn’t be able to claim its title,” Freeman said. “As a team we decided not to let that bother us and go out and show everybody what we were made of. At the end of the season it was a great feeling to know what we accomplished as we celebrated in our locker room together.”
Following graduation from college in the spring, Freeman said he wants to be a high school football coach.
“I may stay here in Jacksonville and get my masters while being a graduate assistant,” Freeman said. “Eventually I plan on coming back to coach around the Brewton area. That has been what I’ve wanted to do since I started college.”
While Freeman would like to come back and coach high school football, he said there are many differences in the game of football from a college level versus the high school level of play.
“In college, everybody on the field has talent,” he said. “That’s not how you win. You have to outwork your opponent. There is so much more film study and game planning that goes into every week. You have to be mentally prepared for everything the other team is going to throw at you.”
While there are the changes from high school to college, Freeman’s advice to any high school player wanting to play college ball would be to listen to your coaches and your strength coach.
“They are there to help you,” Freeman said. “Work hard in the weight room and try to perfect your technique on the field. Keep your grades up because you can’t play if you aren’t eligible.”
One high school player making the jump this spring is recent W.S. Neal graduate and football player Jeremy Nicholson.
Nicholson signed a scholarship back in the spring to join Freeman at JSU.
“Hopefully Jeremy will be able to come in and contribute on special teams with his speed,” Freeman said. “You never know, he could see time at receiver as a freshman if needed. From what I know about him he’s a great athlete.”
Freeman said with Nicholson joining the team this season, he would actually be the third player on the team from W.S. Neal.
“Justin Howard, a 2007 graduate (of W.S. Neal) is also playing tight end for us. We are pretty much like a 1-2 punch at tight end sharing time. The coaches have given us the nickname ‘Brew Crew.’ He’s my best friend up here and also my roommate. We push each other trying to get better. Its awesome when I see him make a great play or when I make one and he’s there cheering me on. I really enjoy playing with him and I know Jeremy will fit right in.”
With the past season being on probation, Freeman said this year their post-season ban has been lifted and the team plans on making a deep run in the playoffs.
“I’ve played football since I was 9 and I’m still looking for my first championship ring,” Freeman said. “We start the season in Oxford, Miss. playing Ole Miss. I’m really excited about the chance to play an SEC (Southeastern Conference) school.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New 30-Second Ad

Have you seen the ad yet? It's been uploaded to youtube.
Click here for the link.
It features TJ Heath, Jamison Wadley, and Andrew Ridgeway. Watch for it on TV. Just my opinion - this is a great piece. I'm ready for some football!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Upcoming Football Games

The future football schedule is starting to look solid. Here are the FBS opponents that are lined up for the coming years.

2010- Ole Miss
2011- University of Kentucky (replaces Kansas State, who backed out)
2012- University of Florida
2013- Auburn
2014- Michigan State
2015- LSU

All but one being an SEC opponent, who knows, with all the conference changing going on, maybe Michigan State may join the SEC before we play them:) There is a possibility of adding another FBS opponent in both 2013 and 2014.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

JSU stadium expansion nears completion

A recent article from Jimmy Smothers at the Gadsden Times: (NOTE: Stadium tours are done 2 Wednesdays each month. For more information about taking a tour, please contact the Athletic Office at 256-782-5368)

For additional ticket information contact the ticket office at (256) 782-8499 or visit online at

Times Sports Editor Emeritus Jimmy Smothers can be reached at

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cherokee County Herald Article on Blanchard

Here is an article by the Cherokee County Herald on JSU football signee and draft pick of the Orioles, Coty Blanchard:

After being drafted by Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, former Cherokee County shortstop Coty Blanchard said he's contemplating signing a $500,000 contract or remaining a two-sport athlete at Jacksonville State University.
slideshow Coty Blanchard thought it was just another of his dad Fran’s practical jokes.

There he was, sitting in a quarterbacks meeting at Jacksonville State University on Wednesday afternoon when he got a text message on his phone from his mother, Tara. It simply said that Coty was an Oriole.

When Coty left the meeting, he called Fran to ask him if the message was true.

“He said ‘Yeah, man, it’s true,’ and he offered me his congratulations,” Coty said. “I felt like he was playing with me, but I kept talking with him and he said ‘No, I’m serious. It’s the real deal.’ I didn’t know what to think. I was just so excited. That’s just a great feeling.”

A $500,000 feeling, to be exact.

That’s the price of the contract the Blanchards quoted to all Major League Baseball teams interested in the former Cherokee County shortstop’s services in the MLB first-year player draft, held Monday through Wednesday. In addition to the Baltimore Orioles, Fran – Coty’s contract negotiator – said other serious contenders for Coty’s rights included the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs, the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals.

Ultimately, those teams passed on the 6-foot, 180-pound shortstop, but he fell into the Orioles’ lap with the 1,228th pick in the 41st round.

“Words can’t explain how excited I am for him, and how proud I am that he gets this opportunity to go and continue his baseball career at this level, especially as young as he is,” Cherokee County baseball coach Jim Garmany said. “I see great things happening for Coty in the next few years.”

Coty was projected by some scouts as high as a fifth-round selection, but he said it didn’t bother him he slid into the draft’s final few rounds on Wednesday.

“A round was just not that big of a deal,” Coty said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in stuff like that, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you get drafted.

“Dad really thought he overpriced me, and that’s what he wanted to do. We said $500,000 and nothing below that. People were calling and saying ‘We’ll pay you $225,000.’ That was like in the fifth round, but dad was like ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ We just held out, and the Orioles finally come along and offered us. It was pretty sweet.”

Fran said he’d gotten advice on how to handle his son’s contract negotiations from Brian Stovall. Stovall is the father of former Hokes Bluff standout and 2008 Atlanta Braves second-round draft pick Tyler Stovall.

“That guy has been my saving grace. I’ve been on the phone with him so many times,” Fran said. “He said ‘It’s like a Christmas present. You don’t know what’s in it until you get it, but just savor the moment.’ That’s kind of what I done.

“I might have been too stern with these guys, but when you’re dealing for your son, you really want what’s best. Evidently I was realistic with them, because Coty got the money that he deserves in my mind. Everybody reading the paper may think ‘He’s crazy. He’ll never make it,’ but the Orioles think he can. All those other guys who called me thought he could make it too, but I guess the Orioles wanted him the most.”

In addition to selecting Coty, the Orioles also picked up six other shortstops with their selections, including No. 3 overall pick Manny Machado from Brito Miami (Fla.) Private School.

The question of selecting so many shortstops came up in a conversation Fran had with Oriole draft representative David Jennings on Wednesday, before Baltimore picked Coty.

“When he called, I told him ‘I saw where you took a lot of shortstops,’” Fran said. “He (Jennings) said ‘We did, but we took those guys to move them. We have two shortstops in mind that we feel can play for us when it gets to the big time.’ It was the guy they took in the first round (Machado) and Coty. He said Coty will get every opportunity to win the job, and I was like ‘OK. I’m good.’ He was extremely honest with me.”

Fran said Jennings gave him a clue that the Orioles were seriously considering selecting Coty on Sunday.

“When I told him we set up a structure (contract), he said ‘Will you come for this money?’ I said ‘Yes sir, Coty said he would,’ and he said ‘You’ve made me a very happy man.’ I was like wow, this call comes out of the blue and I thought Coty may be an Oriole. This guy really wants him.”

Now that Coty has a baseball contract waiting to be signed, a tough decision has to be made by the 18-year-old. Does he follow his dream of playing in the majors, or does he stay on track at JSU – Fran’s alma mater – and become a two-sport standout?

If Coty decides not to sign the contract – a five-year deal – he would still be eligible as a future draft choice. However, he’s not guaranteed of getting drafted by another club again.

“It’s going to be a tough decision,” Coty said. “It’s like choosing a college all over again, except it’s a lot harder. It’s like it’s multiplied by 1000. This is a job we’re talking about, a career.”

Whatever decision his son makes, Fran said he’ll have his family’s support.

“I said ‘Coty, if you’re going to do this, you’re not doing this to take this money up front. It’s because you are bound and determined you can get to the big leagues. Don’t make this decision if that’s not what you want to be, a professional baseball player,’” Fran said. “It’s so hard to get there, and he’s going to have to work harder than he’s ever worked.”

Coty said he’s going to take the weekend to weigh his options. His contract with Baltimore doesn’t have to be signed until June 15.

“I’m going to write down all the pros and cons with my family, just see what’s best for me, and just figure this out,” he said. “This weekend, I’m sure I’ll know which way I want to go.”

Coty said he’s talked with several of his JSU football coaches, including head coach Jack Crowe. He said he hasn’t had the chance to talk with JSU baseball coach Jim Case yet, but has plans to do so.

Coty said the football coaches told him no matter what his decision is, they’re behind him.

“They’ve been great about it,” Coty said. “They’ve told me no decision is a bad decision, to go with whatever I want to, and they’ll back me up no matter what. I had a meeting with Coach Crowe in his office (Wednesday), and we talked about 10 minutes with dad on the speaker phone. Everything’s been good, and everybody’s real excited for me.”

Anniston Star - JSU hoops playing at full strength in 2010

JSU Hoops moving in the right direction on APR.

Anniston Star - JSU hoops playing at full strength in 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Names in the News

Congrats to Todd Cunningham, Daniel Adamson, Andrew Edge and Alex Jones for being drafted today in the MLB draft. Good luck in the next step on your journey. Todd Cunningham becomes the highest drafted Jacksonville State baseball player since Todd Jones in 1989 by going to the Atlanta Braves. Many thanks to Coach Jim Case for recruiting, coaching, and raising a team that can win the OVC tournament and put 4 players in the MLB draft.

Less than a week until the new TV ad for the upcoming football season. You will see some familiar faces as some current team members will be in the ad. The TV ad will be running in the same markets as the current JSU TV ads.

And here is one more article about conference realignment: Click Here

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Plainsman Parking Lot: 5P Primer: Jacksonville State

Here's an Auburn fan's preview of the Gamecocks.

Plainsman Parking Lot: 5P Primer: Jacksonville State

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oval Jaynes Looking Good On TV

Here is a nice video link about the dorm project that also includes an expansion to our football stadium.

Jacksonville State University, Oval Jaynes |

Anniston Star - JSU ready to cash in with Michigan State

A good article from the Star on upcoming money games.

Also, JSU has a new transfer, Darian Thomas, from Florida Atlantic.

Anniston Star - JSU ready to cash in with Michigan State

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coach Watts Press Conference

Today, Coach Annette Watts was officially introduced as a member of the Gamecock family, in a press conference. I truly believe she is happy to be here. She sees some great potential for the Lady Gamecock basketball program.

After listening to her speak today, I believe we will see a team next year that will play hard, play sound fundamental basketball, make free throws, and play with discipline. Coach Watts brings excitement and credibility with her. Coach Watts comes to JSU after a successful career at Davidson College. She also served as an assistant under the legendary coach, Kay Yow. I'm looking forward to seeing the improvement once our team buys into her system.

Coach Watts talked about the academic programs at JSU, the geographic proximity to GA and TN, and the talent in the state of Alabama, when she discussed recruiting. She spoke of finding players with ability, attitude, and passion for the game.

If it's true that a team can take on the personality of a coach, then I believe we can look forward to good things.

Anniston Star - JSU baseball hoping to benefit from experience against Auburn

Here is a link to a good article in the Anniston Star about JSU baseball travelling to Auburn for the regional.

Anniston Star - JSU baseball hoping to benefit from experience against Auburn