Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last game time change

The game time for Jacksonville State's final regular season game at Tennessee Tech on Nov. 20 has been changed.

The game, which could lock up the OVC title and complete an undefeated regular season for the Gamecocks, will kick at 4 p.m. It originally was a 6 p.m. kick.

The change was done at the request by the Division I Football Championship Selection Committee, which asked for a game to be considered in any playoff discussion start no later than 4:00 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET).

It was done so the bracket can be completed and announced in a 30-minute special on ESPNU at 9 a.m. CT Nov. 21 (an earlier announcement than in previous years).

The latest Sports Network projection has JSU as the No. 5 seed, drawing a first-round bye and playing Bethune-Cookman at home in the second round Dec. 4. It also projects a first-round game for Southeast Missouri at Northern Arizona.

Bethune-Cookman currently leads the nation in total offense, scoring and turnover margin, and is second in scoring defense. It is ranked in the top 30 in all 10 NCAA offensive and defensive statistical categories.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Power rankings

The Gamecocks are third in both major national polls, but after their win at UT Martin they slipped nearly out of the top 40 when comparing their offensive and defensive statistical standings with the other teams in the FCS. With a little more time, we'll tweak the numbers to include even more stats.

Here's the top 40 (x-indicates teams ranked in either the Sports Network or Coaches Top 25)

x-B-Cookmn 93
x-W Illinois 207
x-Montana 219
x-Delaware 223
x-SC State 259
x-Villanova 265
x-Liberty 272
Harvard 296
Chattnooga 306
x-N Hampshire 322
x-Wofford 330
x-App State 340
x-Umass 344
x-Wm&Mary 344
x-Montana St 348
x-Penn 348
x-James Madison 362
Jacksonville 364
x-Ga Southern 369
Yale 375
Jackson St 386
Dayton 387
x-SEMO 390
x-SF Austin 398
Furman 399
N Arizona 406
Robt Morris 411
Tennessee St 425
Cent Arkansas 430
Grambling 432
Cent. Conn. 440
Indiana St 446
x-S Illinois 448
Brown 464
Hampton 466
x-UNI 506
x-ND State 519
38. x-Jax State 530
Youngstown St 549
Old Dominion 554

Ex-JSU DL Scott signs with AFL

Former JSU defensive lineman John Scott signed with the New Orleans VooDoo of the new Arena Football League earlier this week. The reborn indoor league starts in March.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fun with football numbers

It’s a good thing the two major FCS polls are based on winning and losing or Jacksonville State might not enjoy as lofty a position as they do right now.

The Gamecocks are 5-0 and ranked No. 3 in both major polls this week – their highest ranking in the school’s Division I history – but if you compared where they stand statistically on offense and defense, they’d barely be in the top 40.

Applying point values to a team’s position in the 10 major offensive and defensive categories in the weekly NCAA FCS statistics, the Gamecocks would come in 35th with 485 points. They wouldn’t even be the best in the Ohio Valley Conference, trailing Tennessee State (16th, 348 points) and Southeast Missouri (26th, 404).

But statistics can only tell you so much.

Consensus No. 1 Appalachian State is fifth in the Musky Power Rankings (249) and consensus No. 1 Delaware is third (240).

Bethune-Cookman (4-0), ranked in the top 10 in eight of the 10 categories, tops the list this week. The MEAC school leads the nation in total and scoring offense, and is second in rushing, pass efficiency and pass efficiency defense.

For what it’s worth, here’s this week’s the top 40. We’ll try to keep up with it each week now that the season has hit the mid-point.

Bethune-Cookman 88
W Illinois 202
Delaware 240
SC State 242
App St 249
Montana 258
Villanova 274
Liberty 282
Ga. Southern 294
Wofford 300
N Arizona 309
Montana St. 311
New Hamp 323
James Madison 335
UMass 342
Tenn. St 348
Harvard 353
Dayton 356
J'ville 380
Wm & Mary 380
Cent Arkansas 381
Chattanooga 391.5
Brown 393
Jackson St. 401
Robt Morris 401
SE Missouri 404
N. Iowa 420
Stephen F Austin 423
Penn 429
Old Dominion 433
Cent. Conn 437
S. Illinois 469
Furman 474
Hampton 481
Youngstown St 529
Missouri St 530
ND State 533
Maine 534
Alabama St 540

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hoops info out without fanfare

The JSU basketball schedule and roster mysteriously has shown up on the athletic department website -- with no formal announcement of the games from the school.

The Star reported most of the non-conference games several months ago, but there is an interesting addition - at Oregon Dec. 13.

The roster was just posted despite school being in session for nearly a month and after repeated requests by The Star for the information.

The Gamecocks will have a different look this year. They will return three of their top four scorers and seven players from last season, but conspicuously absent from the 16-man roster is Trenton Marshall. The 2010 OVC scoring champion was suspended for the final four games of last season and didn't return this year, multiple sources said, after a second failed drug test would have required him to serve a suspension for the first 10 games this season.

JSU officials cited a violation of the team's medical policy for the initial suspension. A message left for Marshall on his facebook account seeking comment has not been returned.

The roster also does not include April signee Leke Lewu or early signees Derick Denny and Abner Kamps.

Here's the schedule

Nov. 13 West Alabama, 7:45 p.m.
Nov. 16 at Norfolk State, 6 p.m.
Nov. 18 at VMI, 6 p.m.
Nov. 22 SE Louisiana, 7 p.m.

Global Sports Roundball Classic
at Normal, Ill.
Nov. 26 UL-Monroe, 8 p.m.
Nov. 27 South Dakota, 8 p.m.
Nov. 28 Illinois State, 3 p.m.

Dec. 1 at UAB
Dec. 4 Tennessee Tech, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 13 at Oregon
Dec. 15 at Presbyterian
Dec. 19 SE Missouri, 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 E. Illinois, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 29 at South Carolina

Jan. 6 at Eastern Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 8 at Morehead State
Jan. 13 Murray State, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 15 UT Martin, 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 at Tennessee State, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Austin Peay, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27 at SE Missouri
Jan. 29 at E. Illinois, 6 p.m.

Feb. 3 Morehead State, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 5 E. Kentucky, 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 Tennessee State, 7 p.m.
Feb. 10 at UT Martin, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Murray St., 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 Austin Peay, 7 p.m.
Feb. 19 Bracket Busters at JSU
Feb. 26 at Tennessee Tech

Here's the roster
F DeAndre Bynum, Jr. (SW Tennessee CC)
G B.J. Miller, Jr
F Stephen Hall, Jr.
G Dominique Shellman, Jr.
G/F Brice Jenkins, Fr. Palm Beach, Fla.
G Jonathan Merit, So.
G Nick Murphy, Sr.
G Jeremy Bynum, Sr.
G/F Frankie Bougher, Fr., Memphis, Tenn.
G Brian Williams, Fr., Lawrenceville, Ga.
F LeVentrice Gray, Jr. (Gadsden State)
F Latiq Agard, Jr. (Seward Co. (Kan.) CC)
F/C Garrett Frick, Fr. Santa Monica, Cal.
C Jordan Cornelius, Fr., Jackson, Miss.
F Sean Thurston, Sr.
F Nick Cook, Fr., Hattiesburg, Miss.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Slim pickin's on hoops news

There is a presumption that Jacksonville State will play basketball this season.

You wouldn't know it by the lack of information coming out of the program.

School has been in session a couple weeks now, drop/add has long passed, and there is still no word on a roster, schedule or official hiring of assistant coach Tom Schuberth despite an August report from his old school that he left there “after accepting a position as an assistant coach at Jacksonville State University.”

The OVC office still doesn't have any information on the Gamecocks. But, then, as one school publicist said, "It's football season."

Like it's the only one that matters at a school that has 16 sports.

We do know 2009-10 OVC scoring champion Trenton Marshall and guard John Barnes are gone. I do know they have players and coaches, because I saw Jeremy Bynum and Nick Murphy in the dining hall two weeks ago and I saw coaches James Green, Mike Smith and Scotty Fletcher celebrating on the field at Ole Miss.

Bracket talk

Think the polls don't matter? They certainly play a role when it comes to playoff consideration.

Each week, The Sports Network puts together its projection of the 2010 playoff bracket on its website. This week, it has the fourth-ranked Gamecocks as the No. 4 seed, drawing a first-round bye and a second-round home game against the New Hampshire-Central Connecticut winner. It’s the only projected bid for the OVC.

Last week, it had them with a first-round bye and second-round home game against Eastern Washington. It also had Eastern Illinois in the field.

The Gamecocks are ranked fourth in both major FCS polls this week. The players, at least in front of the media, are unfazed by it.

“We could be No. 1 this week and out of the Top 25 the next week,” fullback Alphonso Freeney said. “Our point is we know at the end of the season if we win all our games we’re going to be No. 1 and can’t anybody take that from us.”

JSU coach Jack Crowe realizes there is some merit to poll position.

“We had a playoff team they didn’t let in one time because we weren’t rated high enough, so we felt the other side of it – and we were good enough to be in the top 16 teams in the country,” he said, referring to 2008 when the Gamecocks were snubbed for the final spot in the then-16-team field. “So, there’s some personal satisfaction to me we get some credit, but finality is what we’re looking for.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

JSU cracks the top 10

JSU cracked the top 10 in both FCS polls today.
After stunning Ole Miss in double overtime Saturday, the Gamecocks jumped to No. 5 in the Sports Network media poll and No. 6 in the FCS Coaches Poll. They were 17th in both preseason polls.
The rankings are the Gamecocks' highest in their Division I history. The No. 5 ranking in the TSN poll is the highest by an OVC team since Western Kentucky was ranked fifth in 2000.
The Gamecocks received nine first-place votes in the media poll and two in the coaches poll.

Here's the Sports Network Poll Top 10
(Of course, first-place votes are in parenthesis in both polls)
Team Record Pts Pvs
1. Montana (57) 1-0 3,052 2
2. Villanova (46) 0-1 2,886 1
3. Appalachian State (8) 1-0 2,774 3
4. Southern Illinois (3) 1-0 2,716 5
5. Jacksonville State (9) 1-0 2,337 17
6. New Hampshire (2) 1-0 2,202 10
7. Richmond 0-1 2,093 6
8. Elon 0-1 2,080 7
9. South Dakota State 0-0 1,926 9
10. Stephen F. Austin 0-1 1,729 8

The Coaches top 10
Team Record Points
1. Montana (16) 1-0 662
2. Southern Illinois 1-0 598
3. Appalachian State (1) 1-0 585
4. Villanova (8) 0-1 579
5. New Hampshire 1-0 518
6. Jacksonville State (2) 1-0 516
7. Richmond 0-1 478
8. Elon 0-1 443
9. South Dakota State 0-0 426
10. McNeese State 1-0 378

Eastern Illinois is ranked 22nd in the coaches poll.

Check the Tuesday edition of The Star for a more comprehensive story and team reaction

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

JSU close on assistant coach?

Interesting piece of news from the Paris (Texas) Junior College website.
When the school announced the hiring of its new basketball coach, Chuck Taylor, on Wednesday it said Taylor is replacing Tom Schuberth, who resigned Monday “after accepting a position as an assistant coach at Jacksonville State University.”
JSU officials said no official hiring has been made. Head coach James Green has been seeking to fill a vacancy created when Kyle Roane left earlier this summer to become head coach at Forrest County Agricultural High School in Mississippi.
Schuberth was head coach at Texas-Pan American from 2006-2009, where he was named Division I Independent Coach of the Year in 2007-08. It has been his only Division I head coaching job.
He also has been an assistant at Central Florida, UAB, Southeast Missouri, Memphis and UL-Monroe.
As a player, Schuberth toured with the Harlem Globetrotters as a player on the opposition, the California Chiefs. He played collegiately at Mississippi State and UNLV.

McGee waiver granted

JSU officials confirmed Wednesday the NCAA has granted a waiver of eligibility for former Memphis defensive lineman Tim McGee, who transferred to JSU after graduating from his former school.

He will be able to play with the Gamecocks Saturday when they open their season at Ole Miss.

The ruling comes one day after the NCAA denied a waiver for former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to play at Ole Miss after he transferred under a similar rule.

See Thursday's editions of the The Star for more on this story.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No more Marshall

The first conference scoring champion in Jacksonville State’s basketball history will not be returning to the program.
Sources have confirmed Trenton Marshall is not back with the Gamecocks after leading the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring last season with a 17.7-point average. He would have been a senior this season.
It was not immediately known the reason for his separation. He was suspended by coach James Green for what became the final four games of the season last year for violating team rules related to medical policy.
Reports on several basketball websites have linked Marshall to shopping his talents in Greece and, recently, landing a tryout for a team in Poland.
Attempts to reach JSU coach James Green for comment were unsuccessful.
The Gamecocks have been trying to finalize their roster for weeks. They have regained the full NCAA complement of 13 scholarships after facing academic progress sanction, and reportedly had until Monday to do so.
They eased some of the scholarship tension by not renewing aid to guard John Barnes, who has since landed at West Georgia.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hoops get another New Yorker

The New York Post reported today that one of its locals, Long Island City's Latiq Agard, committed to the JSU basketball program Thursday and plans to sign over the weekend.

It's uncertain if he's signing for this year or next year. If it's for this year, the Gamecocks are already over the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships -- based on returning players and those they signed early -- and even though school already has started they say they can go up to last day of drop-add (Aug. 30) before settling on and annoucing their 2010-11 roster.

They eased the roster pressure by one spot earlier this summer by not renewing John Barnes' scholarship. He recently signed with West Georgia and will face the Gamecocks this year in an exhibition game.

Agard, 21, comes to the Gamecocks from Seward County (Kan.) CC by way of Christ the King High School, The Patterson (N.C.) School and some place called New Creation in Indiana -- where he played with fellow JSU newcomer Leke Lewu. He averaged 16 points and five rebounds last year at Seward County.

“The whole time, they were up front: ‘if you come here, you’re that scorer we need,’” Agard was quoted as saying in the Post.

That could make for a strong combination with Trenton Marshall, the reigning OVC scoring champion and the first conference scoring champion in Gamecocks' history -- if he's still on the roster.

As for the New York reference, Agard will join Nick Murphy as Gamecocks from the Big Apple.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's new

If you check the updated football roster on the Gamecocks’ website, you’ll notice a new name. Former Memphis defensive lineman Tim McGee, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound senior is listed as No. 99 -- the same number sported by former Florida defensive tackle Torrie Davis last season. Davis didn’t return after his only season with the Gamecocks.
There's been no formal announcement of his arrival.
McGee, a Columbia, S.C., native, recently received his degree from Memphis. He originally signed with Minnesota out of junior college in 2008, but was granted a release to join the Tigers, then underwent shoulder surgery and missed the season. He had 13 tackles and a sack in his first year back last season.
The Gamecocks continue to do their due diligence on former Ole Miss running back Darius “Tig” Barksdale, the cousin of former JSU running back and current graduate assistant coach Kory Chapman. Barksdale may be headed to JSU, but he’s not yet listed on the roster.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Perrilloux signs

Overnight media reports indicated undrafted former Jacksonville State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux signed a free agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Defensive tackle Torrie Davis is said to have signed a free-agent deal with the Tampa Bay Bucs, staying close to home.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Time heals all wounds

Former JSU pitcher and big-league All-Star Todd Jones will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before tonight's game with Troy.

Nine years ago, when the Gamecocks were looking for a successor for legendary coach Rudy Abbott, Jones pitched hard for longtime JSU assistant coach Skipper Jones to get the job -- to the degree of threatening to rescind his JSU Hall of Fame enshrinement if it didn't happen.

The Gamecocks went in another direction, hiring Jim Case as their new baseball coach and Case has been in place ever since, directing the club to several conference titles and NCAA Regional appearances. Jones remains in the JSU Hall of Fame.

And now he's throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for a game against one of the Gamecocks' biggest former (and perhaps future?) rivals. Apparently, time does heal all wounds.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Baseball vs. Troy, ppd.

Jacksonville State officials on Monday postponed Tuesday's scheduled baseball game with Troy in anticipation of inclement weather.

The teams still will play a home-and-home series this season.

With the change, the March 23 game originally scheduled for Troy will now be played at Rudy Abbott Field, while the return game will be played at Troy May 5.

The Gamecocks are 2-6 after dropping two of three games in a wildly scoring series with Southern Illinois. The Trojans are 3-4 after being swept by No. 17 Arkansas over the weekend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Update: JSU women stuck in D.C.

The JSU women's basketball trip to Georgetown has been a travel nightmare.

The initial game was postponed due to the first wave of snowstorms to the D.C. area. Now, the Gamecocks are stuck in the district becuase another storm cancelled their flight out of town.

That's one distraction the Gamecocks don't need, having to play Tennessee Tech Saturday in their most important game of the year. A win gets them in the OVC Tournament while a loss ends their season.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, officials from the two schools and the conference office were still talking trying to determine a course of action. JSU coach Becky Geyer said from the airport she hoped the game could be played Sunday, but she was prepared to accept whatever was decided.

An OVC official said later in the day the league would wait until Saturday morning, to see how the Gamecocks fare getting out of the city, to make a decision.

As it is, the team will rise early Saturday morning, catch an early flight to Nashville, then bus to Cookeville for the 5:15 p.m. game.

Check the morning Star for a complete story.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Both JSU teams could be No. 6 seeds

If my math is right, both of JSU's basketball teams have a chance to claim the No. 6 seeds in their respective brackets of the OVC Tournament.

JSU's game at Tennessee Tech Saturday is a battle for the No. 6 seed. If the Gamecocks lose it and tie with Tennessee State -- TSU must win twice -- they will get the seventh seed if Eastern Illinois finishes higher than Austin Peay, eighth if Peay finishes higher.

Peay would finish higher with one win this weekend, especially if it's over EIU. Even if Eastern Kentucky, Peay and EIU finished tied at 11-7 (with EIU beating Peay), it goes 3 AP, 4. EIU, 5. EKU because ...

(a) all 3 teams are 2-2 among each other; (b) EKU drops out of the mix (not beating Morehead); and (c) Peay gets 3 by virtue of its sweep of JSU.

The women's side is more complicated for the Gamecocks.

There's a possibility the women's race could end up in a five-way tie for the final four slots in their tournament. JSU, Tech, TSU, UT Martin and Murray State could all finish 7-9 in OVC play.
First and foremost for JSU, the Gamecocks must beat Tech Saturday. Then, TSU has to split its final two games with the loss coming to Eastern Illinois, which has clinched a share of the women's regular season title. Also, Murray and Martin both have be swept by Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State (and they lost to both in the first run through the schedule).

How JSU gets sixth, then, is the Gamecocks and Murray would both be 5-3 among the five-way tie. Murray would get the fifth seed, however, by virtue of its season sweep of the Gamecocks.

In that scenario, Tech (at 4-4 within the tie) would be 7 and Martin would edge out TSU by virtue of its win over Eastern Illinois.

Of course, all that's if my math is right. And if it's not, rest assured someone will correct me. Fast.

It'll be a lot clearer -- and easier to figure -- after Thursday's games.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

OVC busted in Bracket Buster

The Ohio Valley Conference had another weak showing in ESPN's Bracket Buster series.

This year, OVC teams went 3-8 with regular-season champion Murray State, Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois picking up the wins -- all at home. Jacksonville State lost at home to a team that came in with a 4-23 record.

This was the fifth year in a row every team in the league participated in the series. The league is now 19-37 all-time in the Bracket Busters, 18-35 in the five years everybody played.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WBB faces crunch time

Crunch time is here for the JSU women’s basketball team.

The Gamecocks go into their final three conference games — all on the road — with their postseason fate in their hands.

They are currently in ninth place, but only a half-game out of the eighth and final spot for the OVC Tournament and one game out of seventh. In fact, only two games separate fourth place from ninth.

The Gamecocks wrap up their OVC play at Austin Peay, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech. (Thrown in between is a non-conference return game with Georgetown, the make-up for a game that was snowed out in December.)

They already hold the tiebreaker on current No. 8 UT Martin and can complete the season sweep on current No. 7 Tennessee State with a win there Saturday.

“I really think anything’s possible in this league,” JSU coach Becky Geyer said Tuesday. “We have three games left, some people have four, but with us it’s which team shows up and if our great team shows up we can compete with anybody in the league, so we’re going to do everything we can to make it into this tournament. For us, our goal right now is just getting in

“It’s a different situation than some of the people fighting for that fourth spot. Our goal is to get in. You’ve got to win games. We’re gonna have to go take a couple that we’re not expected to take.”

The Gamecocks have shown they're capable, beating Morehead State earlier this season. They also have won at all three OVC venues they’re going to in down the stretch in the past.

“The majority of our wins and losses, it's (been) about us, not necessarily about the other team,” Geyer said. “How does (JSU) beat Morehead? Most people said that’s not very possible, but it is. It is because we played one of our best games that night.

“That’s what we have to do with these last three games. We have to bring our very, very best. If we do that, we have as good an opportunity to get a win as anybody in the league. That’s what we’re shooting for, to end on a positive note and play some great games in these last three conference games.”

Do you think they can get in?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekly award winners

The Gamecocks picked up several OVC Player of the Week honors Monday.

The basketball team clinched its first berth in the OVC Tournament since 2006 over the weekend and a big part of it was due to the play of Nick Murphy and Trenton Marshall.

Murphy was Player of the Week after averaging 21.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in two games. It was his third PoW award this season. Marshall was named Newcomer of the Week for a conference record seventh time this season after averaging 18.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals.

The Gamecocks had only had multiple players win OVC weekly honors twice in the same week during its six-year run in the league, but has already accomplished that feat with Murphy and Marshall three times this season.

The softball team won two games in the snow-shortened K-Club Classic at Kennesaw State, and out of it senior outfielder Chrissy O’Neal and freshman pitcher collected OVC honors.

O’Neal shared OVC Player of the Week honors with Southeast Missouri shortstop Renee Kertz after enjoying a pair of two-hit games. She homered, doubled and drove in three runs in a win over Indiana and had two singles and an RBI in a win over Wright State.

Phillips, who we’ve been calling the “Ider Intimidator,” shared Pitcher of the Week honors with SEMO’s Whitney Dupuis after pitching a complete-game in her collegiate debut against Wright State. She got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to preserve the one-run win.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

JSU is in OVC field

The Jacksonville State men's basketball team did qualify for the OVC Tournament for the first time since 2006 Saturday.

When Tennessee State beat Austin Peay Saturday night, it was thought the Gamecocks would have to wait another day to lock up their spot. Instead, when Southeast Missouri lost to Morehead State Saturday night, it was the Redhawks who became the second team that mathematically can not catch JSU in the standings.

The Gamecocks are 7-8 in the OVC with three games to play, starting with Monday's game at Austin Peay. SEMO fell to 3-12 with Saturday's loss and now cannot finish with any more than six league wins. UT Martin had been eliminated from catching the Gamecocks long ago.

TSU's upset left it 3-11 in the league and with four OVC games to play, it can finish with as many as seven league wins.

Eight of the league's 10 eligible teams make the conference tournament, so JSU fans can start making their tournament reservations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Both JSU women's seniors out

It was 18 minutes before tip of Thursday night's game with UT-Martin and the JSU women's basketball team was on the floor warming up.

But the Gamecocks were without their two most veteran players, and likely will be for the rest of the year.

Senior Jolie Efezokhae watched the warmups from the bench in street clothes, a set of crutches nearby to help her get along with the ankle injury she suffered on last weekend's trip to eastern Kentucky. Team officials said she's done for the year.

The Gamecocks were already without senior guard Kelsey Johnikin, who hasn't played since Jan. 23 after falling out of a truck helping a friend move.

What that means is the team will hold its Senior Day ceremonies Saturday without either of its seniors available to play.

If Efezokhae is done, she will finish as the fifth leading scorer in JSU women's basketball history (1,194). Her time has been limited since the middle of December anyway. She's played 15 minutes or more only once since Dec. 18 and hasn't scored more than nine points in any game since Dec. 5.

The Gamecocks have six regular-season games remaining, counting Thursday. They entered the game tied for ninth place in the OVC standings, but were only a half-game out of the eighth and final OVC Tournament spot and one game out of seventh.

UT-Martin also is limited tonight. LaBrica Ward, the reigning OVC Player and Freshman of the Week, has been suspended for the game for disciplinary reasons. Skyhawks starters Cali Cupples and Alecia Weatherly are both playing sick.

Softball's new look

When the JSU softball team opens the season Saturday in Kennesaw State's K-Club Classic, the Gamecocks will have their eye on a bigger prize and they'll have a new look.

After the Gamecocks made the progression from regional participant to regional champion the last two years, the next logical step is super-regional winner and participant in the Women's College World Series.

"We definitely have the heart for it this year," first baseman Nikki Prier said.

They'll also have some new uniforms. It's basically the same color scheme, but there's a big gamecock stitched onto the back above the numbers.

"That's what they're proud of," JSU coach Jana McGinnis said. "That's what they want. A lot of teams go with their mascot now below their neck."

The new unis make their home debut Feb. 18 against SIU-Edwardsville. It's the Gamecocks' only home game until March 20.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

JSU picked second, Cunningham denied

Jacksonville State's baseball team was picked a close second in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason coaches poll and placed three players on the preseason All-OVC team.

The upset, however, may have been the Gamecocks' most decorated player since last season -- outfielder Todd Cunningham of Jacksonville -- was nowhere on the list. Cunningham won the batting title in the prestigeous Cape Cod Summer League, flirting with .400, was named the league's best pro prospect and is a multiple preseason All-America, including a first-teamer by Baseball America, but was not on either the preseason All-OVC team or the major preseason awards.

Cunningham said he wasn't bothered by the apparent snub, saying there are a number of good players in the league deserving of such recognition.

Besides, he's not the kind of player who focuses on the awards. His focus remains on playing and the business of winning.

"It's hard to not notice all the stuff going on around you," Cunningham said. "I don’t want to play the oblivious card or anything like that. It's hard to not notice, but as far as adding any kind of pressure to the season, it's still just going out to play.

"First and foremost, before all that stuff comes along it's about winning. There's no real focus on the pressure adding up to me personally. I'm definitely team oriented."

Morehead State senior shortstop Drew Lee (.417, 17 HRs, 67 RBIs) and Eastern Kentucky junior third baseman Jayson Langfels (.441, 12 HRs, 72 RBIs) were named OVC Preseason Co-Players of the Year while Murray State senior Chris Craycraft (10-3, 4.05) and Eastern Illinois junior Josh Mueller (8-1, 4.85 ERA) were tabbed OVC Preseason Co-Pitchers of the Year.

The Gamecocks' three preseason All-OVC picks are second baseman Bert Smith, the school's all-time stolen base leader who missed most of last season after shoulder surgery, outfielder Daniel Adamson and relief pitcher Bill Henke.

In the team poll, the Gamecocks picked up the most first place votes (four), but finished with 56 points -- three behind preseason favorite Eastern Illinois, the 2009 regular season champions. Tennessee Tech, the 2009 OVC Tournament champs, was third (51), followed by Murray State (43), Morehead State (33), Eastern Kentucky (26), Southeast Missouri (25), Austin Peay (22) and UT Martin (9).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Insight on the newcomers

Here are some snippets of what a few of JSU’s football signees told their local media about their decision to sign with the Gamecocks:

Navarre defensive lineman ARMANI WILLIAMS had planned to sign with Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but he told the Crestview (Fla.) News Bulletin he was happy when the Gamecocks called him back.

“I had hoped they would (offer) but they waited,” Williams said. “I had told myself I was going to Pine Bluff and I was okay with that … but the big difference is my whole dream was to play top-notch, championship football and when I got to Jacksonville State, it was a no-brainer at the end of the day.”

Williams had 55 tackles last season with four forced fumbles, one recovery and four sacks. What you don’t know about him is he’s a multi-talented kid. The timing of his recruiting visit was impacted by a commitment to compete in a state choral competition.

The spot for Williams opened when one of the Gamecocks' OL prospects signed with Baylor at the last minute. That was one of three they lost to the Big 12, Conference USA or the MAC in the closing days of the process.

Hartselle lineman CHAD HAMPTON is following a family legacy to JSU. His father, Mack, played for the Gamecocks in 1979-83. Though an offensive lineman in high school, he’s projected as a defensive lineman in college and told the Decatur Daily, “I like playing offensive line, but I like to just go out there and hit somebody instead of doing the same thing over and over.”

PIERRE WARREN played several positions at Marbury, but is projected as a receiver at JSU. He only played four games before suffering a season-ending injury, but told the Montgomery Advertiser, "I thought I could play, and I'm glad I've got somewhere to keep playing.”

Hillcrest center MAX HOLCOMBE told the Tuscaloosa News, “They have the potential to be a great football team. It’s going to be real fun, the next chapter in my life. I’m ready to get to it. The coaches, the facilities, their weight room, everything was real nice.”

The paper reported the JSU coaches told Holcombe they’d like him to report at 275. He’s currently 262.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

All prospects signed in

By 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Jacksonville State had letters of intent from all the prospects it expected to get on National Signing Day.

For as strong as the class will be -- with an Alabama Mr. Football, an SEC-caliber offensive linemen and three JUCOs to fill voids on the defensive line -- the key to making the class so strong might just be a kicker.

The Gamecocks signed two kickers in the class, but the biggest pick-up could be Florida State transfer James Esco.

The kicker signees help fill the void created by the departure of Patrick Tatum, the Auburn transfer who handled all the kicking duties last season but left the program after the season for personal reasons.

Esco kicked off for the Seminoles in 2008, averaging 59.5 yards for his 48 kickoffs in eight games. He also was credited with three tackles. He's expected to be the kickoff guy when JSU opens the season at Ole Miss next season.

As for the class as a whole, JSU coach Jack Crowe said "the (quality at the) top is higher than it's ever been and the bottom is higher than it's ever been." Translation: The Gamecocks have raised the bar in their recruiting class.

Complete details can be found in Thursday's edition of the Star.

Here's the list:

Coty Blanchard (6-0, 180, QB, Leesburg, Ala./Cherokee County HS)
Brannon Byrd (6-2, 243, LB, Lucedale, Miss./Gulf Coast CC)
Gabriel Chambers (5-10, 157, WR, Centre, Ala./Cherokee County HS)
Steven Coates (6-2, 190, QB, Decatur, Ga./Southwest Dekalb HS)
James Esco (PK, 6-3, 207, Leesburg, Ga./Florida State)
Marquis George (6-4, 242, DE, Elsner, Del./Dodge City CC)
Chad Hampton (6-5, 252, OL, Hartselle, Ala./Hartselle HS)
Tristan Hardin (6-6, 291, OL, Birmingham, Ala./Erwin HS)
Preston Hatcher (6-3, 285, OL, Dothan, Ala./Northview HS)
Max Holcombe (6-3, 271, C, Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest HS)
Michael Lewis (6-4, 237, DL, Ocoee, Fla./Ocoee HS)
Tarik Milner (6-3, 240, OL, Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern HS)
Aaron Nelson (6-1, 285, NG, Ocian Springs, Miss./Gulf Coast CC)
Jeremy Nicholson (5-10, 172, WR, Brewton, Ala./WS Neal HS)
Joel Smith (5-11, 179, PK, Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton HS)
Clay Squires (6-2, 280, C, Satsuma, Ala./Satsuma HS)
Johnny Ubi, Jr. (6-6, 302, OL, Meridianville, Ala./Hazel Green HS)
Pierre Warren (6-1, 178, WR, Prattville, Ala./Marbury HS)
Armani Williams (6-2, 277, NG, Navarre, Fla./Navarre HS)
Chase Williams (6-0, 212, LB, Boaz, Ala./Boaz HS)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

JSU game at Tennessee State ppd.

JSU's basketball game with Tennessee State Tuesday night was postponed because of a problem with the Gentry Center roof, a casualty of the winter storm that ravaged Nashville and environs over the weekend.

The game will be rescheduled for Feb. 17, between the Gamecocks' game at Austin Peay and their Bracket Buster home date with Presbyterian.

The schools tried to find an alternate venue -- Belmont, Lipscomb, Vanderbilt -- but the timing made it difficult to pull it off.

The team will continue on their weeklong road trip today, heading off to Morehead State.

Read more in Wednesday morning's Star.

No Combine for Perrilloux

As much as JSU administrators and coaches have said quarterback Ryan Perrilloux is going to the NFL Combine, the list of official invitees is out and Perrilloux is not on it.

It's shocking to some experts, including this poster on the internet:

"What a difference half a decade makes, 5 years ago Ryan Perrilloux out-dueled Mark Sanchez to secure his place as the #1 QB prospect entering college and by most major services the #1 prospect overall. After a red-shirt year and a spate of incidents ranging from the silly to the serious interrupted only by a few moments of brilliant play, Ryan Perrilloux in the Spring of 2008 left the orbit near the center of the football universe for a more remote and spartan outpost at Jacksonville State.

"Coach Jack Crowe is in many senses a 'central casting' football coach, a powerful presence with a Southern drawl and a (zero) tolerance for nonsense. I have had multiple conversations with Coach Jack Crowe and one brief one recently with Ryan Perrilloux as he prepared for Texas Versus the Nation. What is clear is that his talent is still there, his passion and commitment for football have greatly increased and he is now a much, much more mature young man, very different from the spoiled kid who did so many things wrong before.

"In a year where there are so few "plus arms" with Clausen, Pike, Jarrett Brown and Fordham's John Skelton being among the few who can drive the ball with authority on deeper routes the fact the perhaps the best arm in the NCAA will not be in Indianapolis is an absence that may prove conspicuous like an elephant in the room, who can throw a ball 70+ yards. "

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Staying put ... for now

It's a little after 6 p.m. Sunday and Austin Peay just beat Morehead State 56-55. Eastern Kentucky, meanwhile, is leading Tennessee State at halftime.

What does that mean? If the results of the EKU game hold, JSU and Tennessee Tech will remain tied for fifth in the OVC standings. If TSU comes back and wins, JSU, Tech and EKU will all be tied for fourth -- and the Gamecocks would have the early tiebreaker having beaten both teams earlier this year.

On the women's side, sophomore post Brittany Wiley suffered a sprained ligaments in her right knee when she fell in the SEMO game and is expected to be out one to two weeks. The JSU women are currently 10th in the OVC standings, one game out of the final OVC Tournament spot.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

JSU's Farrar goes into JC Hall

JSU associate athletic director for external affairs David Farrar will join an elite group of luminaries, including former Purdue basketball coach Gene Keady, Saturday when he gets inducted into the Hutchinson Community College Quarterback Club's Hall of Fame.

Farrar, who coached HCC to its first national basketball championship in 1988, will become the 10th member of the elite Hall. The 1988 title was the first of two national titles for the program.

Farrar coached five seasons at Hutchinson from 1986 to 1991 and ranks fourth in career victories, going 137-33. He led it to three Jayhawk West championships and a pair of Region VI crowns, but the 1987-88 season was Farrar’s crowning achievement there.

HCC set a school-record in victories going 37-2, winning the Jayhawk West outright. The team beat Chipola (70-64), Shelby State (97-90) and Mattatuck (86-63) to earn a berth in the national title game, then defeated Kankakee 76-74 in the championship game.

He was named the 1988 NJCAA Coach of the Tournament as well as the 1988 Kodak Junior College Coach of the Year. After Hutchinson, Farrar was head coach at Middle Tennessee State and the University of Idaho.

"David has a background as an outstanding basketball coach," said JSU athletics director Oval Jaynes. "He's an outstanding person and we're blessed to have him here. He's been a great addition to our staff."

Jaynes said his first meeting with Farrar came when Farrar was an assistant coach at Mississippi State.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Prier on SB Watch List

The JSU softball team, already picked as the favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference title, continues to get recognized on a national level.

The Gamecocks were just nosed out of making the top 25 in both major polls -- they were 27th in both -- and on Wednesday, first baseman Nikki Prier, the reigning OVC Player of the Year, was named among the 50 players on the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list.

Prier is one of 27 seniors on the preliminary list for the ninth annual award. The list will be cut to 25 on April 7, and pared twice more before a winner will be announced prior to the start of the 2010 Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Prier led the OVC in hitting (.379), doubles (20), RBIs (50) and total bases (125). She ranks second on JSU's career doubles list (51), fourth in RBIs (122) and sixth in homers (30).

JSU officials confirmed earlier in the week they were working on multi-year contracts for softball coach Jana McGinnis and volleyball coach Rick Nold.

Both coaches guided their teams to NCAA regional tournament success in their most recent seasons, McGinnis taking the softball team to the Super Regionals and Nold taking the volleyball team to its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.

When the contracts are signed, they will give the Gamecocks seven head coaches with multi-year deals -- Jack Crowe (football), James Green (basketball), Becky Geyer (women's basketball), Jim Case (baseball) and Julie Davis Carlson (soccer).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fun for everyone

All the fun Jacksonville State had Thursday night in beating Tennessee State on ESPNU extended all through the roster.

All three of the Gamecocks' walkons -- Samir Rolley, Roderick McReynolds and Jonathan Merit -- got to play, and all were on the floor for the final 48.4 seconds. All three put up a shot, with McReynolds firing up a 3, while Rolley had a rebound and Merit got a steal.

"I was happy for them and I was pleased with their effort out there, their excitement," JSU coach James Green said. "The fact it was a short period of time, it did not matter.

"I was probably as excited about those guys getting an opportunity to go in and be on national television -- hopefully their families were watching and fans were watching -- as I was for our whole team to be on."

Here's a note we'll explore later this week ---

Guard Dominique Shellman had a career-high 10 assists in the game against the Tigers and scored seven points. He now has 78 assists and 71 points this season (36 and 34 in conference games).

He went into the game one of seven players -- with a minimum of four assists per game -- to average more assists than points.

The others were James Hett, Monmouth (3.9 ppg, 5.2 apg); Julian Olubuyl, Northern Arizona (2.7, 4.0); London Warren, Dayton (3.8, 4.2); Mike Douglas, W. Michigan (3.4, 4.3); Brian Morris, Towson (2.6, 4.2); Shellman (3.8, 4.0) and Danny Smith, Morgan State (3.8, 4.0).

Discussing the future

The athletics committee of the JSU board of trustees and other administrators held a big meeting in the JSU athletic department building Thursday prior to the ESPNU-televised basketball game with Tennessee State.

The group heard a presentation from Johnny Williams, the former Troy athletic director now a private consultant, who is advising the Gamecocks in their exploration of moving to Division IA in football.

There weren't any decisions made in the meeting -- a precursor to Monday’s board of trustees meeting -- and the information according those on the scene was more of what the board has been hearing since the process began. The message coming out was just continue to lay the groundwork in the event the school wants to make the move.

Of course, the Gamecocks would absolutely need a conference to go to if such a move were to happen and the Sun Belt, now minus one team with New Orleans getting approval to pull out this summer to move to Division III, continues to be the most discussed target.

Also, the club level seats in Paul Snow Stadium went on sale to the public at tipoff of the basketball game. David Farrar, JSU’s associate AD for external affairs, said he expects all 1,026 of the club level seats will be sold before the start of next football season and projected they would sell "a couple hundred in the next 24 hours." The seats go for $500 apiece.

It's not like they were flying off the shelves at the initial offering. Through halftime of the basketball game, there were zero sold -- a lot of inquiries, but no sales.

JSU softball picked to win

JSU softball is picked to win the OVC again.

No surprise there. The Gamecocks have six returning All-OVC players, including the reigning Player of the Year and, of course, Coach of the Year.

The aim this year is to go farther, which would mean a trip to the Women's College World Series.

The Gamecocks won the OVC regular season last year, fell flat in the OVC Tournament, but won the Knoxville Regional and made it to the Super Regionals, where Alabama swept them with two no-hitters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The 'U' will be there, will you?

The JSU basketball team puts its game under the glare of national television lights Thursday night when it plays Tennessee State in Pete Mathews Coliseum.

The game will be carried on ESPNU, starting at 6 p.m.

Gamecocks junior swingman Trenton Marshall, the OVC’s leading scorer, nodded his head in approval when asked if he was looking forward to it.

It will be the second time JSU and TSU will have played on the “U.” The Gamecocks won the last meeting 72-64 in Pete Mathews Coliseum on Jan. 30, 2007.

It was the first nationally televised game in the building’s then-32-year history. It drew an announced crowd of 4,762.

“It’s always good if you have an opportunity to play on television,” JSU coach James Green said. “Players choose places to play for a lot of reasons — facilities, the chance to play on television, winning, being a part of something that’s been special — and, obviously, any time we have a chance to do any of those, it helps us.

“Right now, with where we are in this program, we’re about trying to recruit and upgrade in every aspect that we can.”

The game marks the second straight appearance for Tennessee State on ESPNU. The Tigers lost to Austin Peay 79-77 on the network Saturday.

Georgetown game reset

JSU's women's basketball game with Georgetown, snowed out by the Blizzard of 2009, has a reschedule date. The teams will play in Washington Feb. 25 -- the Thursday before the Gamecocks' final regular season game at Tennessee Tech.

Georgetown wanted to play it in early February, but that would have kept the Gamecocks on the road virtualy a whole week. It would have come on the back end of their trip to Morehead and Eastern Kentucky.

"I basically just told them that was impossible," JSU coach Becky Geyer said. "I'm glad we made it work for this year. We do need to return that trip and I think the weather will be a lot more enjoyable, too."

The game will give the Hoyas three games that week, sandwiched between road games with Villanova and UConn.

The Hoyas are currently 16-2 and have won 15 in a row. They are 19th in this week's AP Women's Top 25 and 18th in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

JSU all over the map

Can’t anybody get the name of this school right?

At least two internet sites misidentified Jacksonville State in stories that appeared on the Web Monday/Tuesday.

The Bleacher Report was talking about the Minnesota Twins’ top prospects for the 2010 season and talked about former JSU pitcher Ben Tootle of Oxford. It said, “In his three years at Jacksonville State University (the college in Ohio not Florida), Tootle appeared in 44 games posting a 19-8 record and 4.82 ERA.”

Wrong. Is there even a Jacksonville State University in Ohio?

And then there was this offering from the Storming the Floor website talking about some of the top statistical performances of the night. It listed the five-steal effort by Whitworth “Junior” Treasure of Texas Southern @ Jacksonville State.

Wrong again. Undoubtedly, it meant Jackson State.

Sounds like the JSU marketing people have some work to do if they want to get their name used properly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Closing in on hoops history

JSU junior swingman Trenton Marshall continues to lead the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring. While he said winning the scoring title would be a nice accomplishment, he won't play outside the boundaries of the Gamecocks' big picture to get it.

Marshall is averaging 18.5 points a game going into the Gamecocks' ESPNU game with Tennessee State Thursday. He's averaging 18.7 in conference-only games. Morehead State's Kenneth Faried, the preseason OVC Player of the Year, is second in the league in scoring at 16.1.

The Gamecocks have never had conference scoring champion since moving to Division I.
They have had several champions in other statistical categories, however:

In the OVC, they had four straight assist champions (Walker Russell 2004-06 and DeAndre Bray 2007). Russell also led the league in free throw shooting in 2006.

In the Atlantic Sun/TransAmerica, Mike McDaniel (2000) and Rusty Brand (1997) led the league in shooting percentage, while Brant Harriman led the league in rebounding (2000),

The Gulf South Conference media guide doesn’t list year-by-year statistical leaders, but no JSU player is listed among the top 10 single-season scoring averages in league history.

Interestingly, since 2000, only one OVC scoring champion has not make the All-OVC first team (Ray Booker, SEMO, 2006 second-team).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

UPDATE: Another QB on the way

The depth chart at quarterback for Jacksonville State all of a sudden looks crowded.

According to news out of South Dakota earlier in the week, the Gamecocks have another quarterback on the way.

According to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, two South Dakota State quarterbacks have left the Jackrabbits when it appeared they weren't in the running for the starting job there, with one, Mike Whittier, bound for JSU.

The paper reported SDSU coach John Stiegelmeier saying the two QBs left because they believed the top job belongs to Thomas O'Brien, who started six games as a redshirt freshman and led the team to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

JSU coach Jack Crowe confirmed Monday the Gamecocks received a release for Whittier, but noted his program didn't recruit him or encourage him.

"We didn't resist him coming," Crowe said. "We let anybody come who wants to come ... He knows what our situation is.

"We did not have the door open for a transfer quarterback. He called us. He didn’t have to be told anything other than he's welcome. All he has is a welcome."

Whittier's arrival would give the Gamecocks five quarterbacks now, counting the arrival of Alabama transfer Thomas Darrah and the verbal commitment of Cherokee County quarterback Coty Blanchard. Marques Ivory and Brooks Robinson already are in house, although Robinson likely will be moving to safety.

And there may be more quarterbacks on the way. (Read more about that in Tuesday's Star).

A top-100 quarterback coming out of high school in the St. Louis area, Whittier came to SDSU after signing with the Air Force Academy and spending one season as its prep school, the newspaper said. He redshirted this fall.

Whittier, 6-2 and 210, went through spring drills with the Jackrabbits. He threw for 2,299 yards and 19 touchdowns (with three picks) as a senior in 2007. He passed for 6,151 yards and 57 touchdowns and ran for 20 more scores in his career.

"He's a credible person, a credible student, and he's an athlete," Crowe said. "He just wants a chance to play quarterback and it looks like he's going to get a chance this spring and then we're going to let it (the evolution of the position) happen."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help on the way

The Gamecocks' basketball roster has been depleted by injuries, defections and scholarship limitations, but they will be getting more bodies for their weekend trip to Murray State and UT Martin.

According to the team's game notes, two walk-ons who have been working with the team all season will make their debut in uniform -- guards Roderick McReynolds (Douglasville, Ga.)
and Jonathan Merit (Decatur, Ga.).

Their availability gives the Gamecocks 10 players to face a team they have never beaten (Murray State) and one that has beaten them six games in a row (UT Martin).

On a related note, former Gamecocks guard Jay-R Strowbridge may be looking for another place to play after leaving the team last week, but he's still attending classes at JSU.

"I decided to come back and finish school here at JSU and see what happens," he wrote in an e-mail.

Did you see this?

Caught this story on the AP wire the other day:

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando police officer wanted a unique punishment for the 24-year-old Alabama woman who pushed her palm to his face.

Something to bring awareness to the problem. And what better way than advertising?

Alexandra Espinosa-Amaya wore a sign reading "I battered a police officer. I was wrong. I apologize." for four hours Tuesday outside the police station.

It was part of a plea agreement on simple battery and resisting an officer without violence charges. The judge also ordered an apology letter, anger management counseling, 50 hours of community service and two years' probation.

"It's humiliating, and it doesn't teach me anything," Espinosa-Amaya told the Orlando Sentinel outside the courtroom and before she headed to the police station. "But if (the officer) is happy and feels a little better, I'll do it."

Espinosa-Amaya, from Bogota, Colombia, played on the JSU women's golf team and has since graduated. She was arrested after clashing with bouncers when she got thrown out of an Orlando bar in 2008, the fall of her senior year. JSU golf coach James Hobbs suspended her from the team after the incident.

She was later reinstated and finished 30th in her final collegiate event -- the 2009 OVC Women's Championship -- with rounds of 85, 81 and 87.

You can read a longer version of the story on the Orlando Sentinel's website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More on Torrey

The Star reported in its Tuesday edition that JSU junior defensive lineman Torrey Davis is filing paperwork to enter the NFL Draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility.

"A lot of stuff" when into the decision, he said, among them the desire to provide for his family. The deadline for entering the draft is Friday.

"I have a son (Torrey Jr.) who is going to be 2 in June and I just want to be able to provide for him without having to come to other people," he said. "It’s hard where I’m at right now. There’s a recession going on and I’m feeling the effect of it really strong. I don’t see why I should stay in Jacksonville or somewhere when I don’t really have to. When I got the chance to leave I was going to do that. That was pretty much it."

The NFL draft advisory board — which advises underclassmen of their draft potential — told Davis that going in the fifth round or later was "possible." Many think the 6-3, 290-pound Florida transfer will have to go the free agent route — or to the CFL or Arena League to fulfill his pro dream.

Davis is famously known for making back-to-back stops on a goal-line stand in the first half of Florida’s 2008 BCS National Championship game victory against Oklahoma, then transferred to JSU in May with the potential to be the best the Gamecocks ever had at his position. He was credited with 16 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery, and made the Ohio Valley Conference’s All-Newcomer Team.

"I’m not saying I'm good enough to go first round ... but if somebody will give me a chance, playing football is something I can do," he said. "Give me a chance to put on some cleats, shoulder pads and helmet and I’ll show you. Maybe film won’t be that strong, but I feel like I can come on a team and compete. I can bring my talent to the table. Hard work, that’s all I did while I was at Jacksonville State."

Given all the circumstances of Davis' life, Jeff Parker, a JSU business professor and former CEO who independently counseled several of the Gamecocks’ higher profile transfers, advised the player to come out. Parker stepped back after Davis signed with an agent, Bus Cook.

"He’s very confident he’s going to the League, but I’m not, based on my contacts," Parker said. "Regardless, if he makes $60,000-$150,000 next year, I don’t see how anybody can fault him because he’s sitting in a place he doesn’t want to be in, in an academic setting he doesn’t want to be in.

"I think the young man made the right decision regardless what anybody is going to think. It was in his best personal interest."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Darrah arrives at JSU

Thomas Darrah was settling into his apartment Sunday, watching a little basketball – not uncommon for a guy pushing 6-foot-7 -- and getting ready to start the next chapter of his college football career that begins this week.

The former Alabama quarterback, on the sidelines Thursday night for the Tide’s national championship victory over Texas, is fully entrenched at Jacksonville State. He starts classes and workouts Monday and is looking forward to spring practice, which coach Jack Crowe plans to open the first week of March.

“I can’t wait, I’m really excited about it,” Darrah said. “I’ve got a lot of bags and stuff hanging around. I’ve got to unpack some stuff, but most of it’s here. Now it’s a matter of straightening it all out.”

He has ambitious plans for the two years of eligibility he has remaining. He’d like to put an FCS national championship ring alongside the BCS championship ring he won Thursday night in Pasadena, and he’d like to graduate from JSU with a double major – general health studies that he began at Alabama and criminal justice. He's taking 15 hours this semester and is about 12 hours shy of completing his first major.

Interestingly, the Newnan, Ga., product is the third player in as many years to join the Gamecocks after playing for the previous season's national champions, joining Ryan Perrilloux (LSU) and Torrey Davis (Florida).

“I think it’s pretty special that all of them decided to come here,” Darrah said. “That speaks a lot about the whole university here and Coach Crowe. That’s pretty neat, and hopefully, once they get all these guys transferring in, people will start turning their heads and (saying) maybe we should start checking this out.”

Darrah will be one of three quarterbacks that Gamecocks will have in camp this spring, joining Marquez Ivory and Brooks Robinson. The Gamecocks also received a verbal commitment from Cherokee County senior Coty Blanchard on Friday and he’s expected to join the team in the fall.

Crowe made it clear Ivory enters camp as the starter; he has spent the last two years as Perrilloux’s understudy. Robinson, meanwhile, could find himself at another position as he’s proven to be helpful enough to be an every-down player. Blanchard, when he arrives, could be redshirted.

“Marquez has played in a lot of games and has given no indication he has a problem handling the job,” Crowe said. “I think it’ll be a competitive situation … but there is definitely a depth chart.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Strowbridge leaves Gamecocks

Jacksonville State's already limited basketball roster took a hit Wednesday when junior guard Jay-R Strowbridge left the team for what Gamecocks coach James Green called "personal reasons."

Second semester classes at JSU began Wednesday.

The Gamecocks' numbers already were limited by APR scholarship sanctions, and walkon guard Samir Rolley is out with a knee injury.

Green declined to elaborate on the nature of the decision or the impact it would have on a club.

"What's always been my philosophy is we play with who we have on any given night, in any given year." he said.

When asked who gets more playing time following Strowbridge's departure, Green said "everybody." The Gamecocks now have eight available players on their roster.

Strowbridge, a Huntsville product, regained his eligibility this season after transferring from Nebraska. He played his first college game in 20 months in the Gamecocks' exhibition with West Georgia.

He was the Gamecocks' third-leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points in 12 games.

Tide's Darrah coming to JSU

If Alabama wins Thursday night's showdown with Texas, Jacksonville State will have a member of the previous year's national championship team on its roster for the third year in a row next season.

Alabama backup quarterback Thomas Darrah confirmed in Los Angeles that he committed to JSU last week and will be enrolling in school next week -- after the Tide returns from the West Coast.

“I committed to Jacksonville State last week,” Darrah told the Tuscaloosa News. “After this game I am going to head up to Jacksonville Saturday and we'll move in my stuff and I start school on Monday. I wanted to go ahead and finish out here because I've put a lot of time and effort in, and worked hard here. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here.”

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound sophomore from Newnan, Ga., will have two years of eligibility with the Gamecocks.

The Star reported Darrah's interest in JSU last month, after his father told the newspaper Gamecocks coach Jack Crowe wanted his son to come there, but the player was reluctant to talk about his status while the Tide was involved in its postseason preparations.

"Talked to my PR guy and he told me to wait 'til after the SEC championship," the quarterback said in a text message at the time.

Over the last two seasons, the Gamecocks landed quarterback Ryan Perrilloux off 2008 national champion LSU and defensive lineman Torrey Davis off 2009 national champion Florida.

Perrilloux went on to have a two-year record-setting career for the Gamecocks. Davis played this past season and is considering entering the NFL draft.