Category Archives: News
Changes are afoot at Elizabeth City State. The Elizabeth City Daily Advance reported Wednesday night that Thurlis Little had been relieved of his duties as athletic director. Shortly before nightfall ECSU released a statement announcing Dr. Angelina Nelson as interim athletic director. While the press release made no mention of Little, he told the Daily Advance that he did not leave on his own accord.
“It was an ‘at-will’ position. That means that you serve at the will of someone else. So that was what was done at this particular time,” he said. ““Quite naturally, it was not my decision.”
Little has been a part of ECSU culture for nearly 40 years as an athlete, administrator and coach before taking the reigns of the athletic department in 2007. The article reports that he will remain on the university’s staff as a teacher.
“I’ve enjoyed my time with the university, not only as an undergrad student-athlete, but coming back in later years to teach and coach,” he told the Daily Advance. “I’ve had a terrific time. All I have to say through all of this is that I have nothing but good things to say about the university.”
Dr. Nelson earned her B.S. degree in Health and Physical Education from ECSU. She went on to obtain her Masters of Education in Sports Management from Florida A&M University and earned a Ph.D. from Florida State University in Sports Administration. She was also head basketball coach and administrator at Tuskegee University.
North Carolina Central’s 54-31 win over Fayetteville State wasn’t as clean as he would have liked, but NCCU coach Henry Frazier was pleased with the final result.
“D1/D2, teams switch divisions all the time, but it doesn’t matter,” said Frazier of NCCU’s former CIAA rival. “I’m just glad to get the win.”
Early on, both teams struggled to find their rhythm on offense and special teams. In fact, each team scored its initial touchdowns off of their opponents special teams miscues. FSU struck first when Chris Person recovered a block punt and stumbled into the end zone with just under 9 minutes in the first quarter. Frazier said he wasn’t surprised at the block kick.
“It happened twice in practice this week,” he said. “I keep telling the guys, what happens in practice also happens in a real game.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, the Broncos repaid them by touching a live ball after a punt, which found it’s way into Geovonie Irvin’s hands and into the endzone, tying the game with just over five minutes remaining. The Broncos would take a 10-7 lead on a Antonio Mayo field goal early in the second quarter, however, that would be their last lead of the game.
NCCU’s offense settled down in the second quarter, outscoring FSU 14-7 to take a 20-17 lead at half. It was all NCCU from their as the passing game came alive thanks to several hookups from quarterback Matt Goggans to Irvine. Irvine caught 6 passes for 79 yards, including a 20 yard touchdown strike from the back of the endzone.
FSU continued to fight in the fourth quarter, but the size and depth of NCCU proved to be too much for them overcome. FSU coach Kenny Phillips pointed out that the team also shot its chances of winning the game by turning the ball over three times.
“Bottom line, Phillips said, “we turned the ball over too many times against a team that is better than it was last year.”
One of those turnovers was a quarter interception that was returned 69 yards by NCCU’s Allonte Tuppins, which gave FSU a ten point lead which it never relinquished. Despite the final score, Phillips said he was pleased with his team’s effort as a whole.
“We fought for four quarters,” he said. “We got winded on defense, but that was due to not being able to move the ball on offense.”
NCCU controlled the line of scrimmage, holding FSU to just 60 yards on 34 attempts while rushing for 197 yards on their own 34 attempts. Arthur Goforth led NCCU with 85 yards rushing, adding one touchdown. Andre Clark scored on two of his eight rushing attempts, finishing with 47 yards.
In his first start since transferring to NCCU in the spring, Goggans completed 15 of 26 passes for 233 yards and one touchdowns. His numbers would have been even better if not for several drops by his receivers. After the game, Goggans admitted to having pre-game jitters early on.
“There were some nerves, but we started to get a good rhythm,” he said. “It started slowing down and it felt like football.”
Frazier had nothing but praise for his new starting quarterback.
“Matt made a lot of good plays. He recognized what the defense was doing and was making some audibles at the line,” he said. “He has what the players call “swag.”
NCCU will face Elon on the road next week.
Former Winston-Salem State running back Nic Cooper was released by the Green Bay Packers on Friday, according to the team’s website. Cooper, who led WSSU to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs was one of the final players cut by the Packers. The undrafted free-agent was switched to fullback for the first time in his career upon coming to the Packers after rushing for 3,040 yards in his collegiate career.
“I feel like I’ve gotten to where I’m kind of getting comfortable in that role,” Cooper told the Green Bay Gazzette of the move. “I feel confident. I’m here for a reason. Obviously, they liked me enough to at least bring me here. The hardest part is missing all these guys with even (James) Starks now, but I’m ready. I’m ready for whatever.”
He finished the four game preseason with 6 rushes for 9 yards, six of them coming on one play. Several publications have listed Cooper as a possible addition to the team’s practice squad, should he clear waivers.
Hampton has been in a transitional phase the last couple of years as Donavan Rose has retooled the team in his image. His team went 7-4 in his third season (5-3 in the MEAC) and it is expected to be in the upper echelon of the conference once again.
Thursday’s game against Tennessee Tech should be a good gauge into how far the team has come, as it the host team won a share of the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference championship. Last year Tech set school records for points scored and yards per game while making the FCS Playoffs for the first time in school history. The team added ex-Tennessee Vol Da’Rick Rodgers earlier this week. The All-SEC receiver caught 67 passes for 1,040 yards last season and is being reunited with his high school quarterback, Tre Lamb.
The Pirates will have to rely on ball control and defense if they plan on slowing The Golden Eagles offensive attack. Those areas appear to be their strength heading into the season as they will rely heavily on running back Antwon Chisholm and a defense that held teams to under 22 points per game last season and had a plus-13 turnover margin. Chisholm led Hampton with just under 800 yards and 8 touchdowns last season, one year removed from being named the MEAC’s Rookie of The Year. The defense will be anchored by linebacker Lyndell Gibson, a Virginia Tech-transfer who led the MEAC with 14 tackles for loss last season.
Although Hampton may be ineligible for the playoffs this season due to APR issues, a win against Tennessee Tech would definitely be a positive start and put the conference on notice that the team is on its way back to the head of the MEAC pack. If Chisholm and the offense can move the ball and the defense can keep Rodgers and Lamb from recreating their high school magic, the Pirates may be able to come up with a nice road win in Cookeville.
News links from around HBCU land.
Tuskegee scores significant RB transfer
Playing in the NFL is the goal of every kid that straps on a helmet, from Pop Warner to college football. The reality is, only a small number of men ever attain that goal. Even the majority of the thousands of young men who receive scholarships to play the sport in college never sniff the professional ranks.
It’s the same story for athletes competing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities these days. In the days before mass integration, HBCUs were gold mines for overlooked professional talent. Even after major colleges began to recruit black players heavily, these schools still managed to find diamonds in the rough like Mississippi Valley State’s Jerry Rice and Alcorn State’s Steve McNair in the 80s and 90s. But in today’s technologically advanced world where major colleges begin scouting players before their first high school games, such finds are fewer and further between.
As the NFL teams begin training camp, there are currently 70 former HBCU players listed on team rosters. Hampton leads all HBCUs with a total of eight alumni competing for roster spots, including former Pirate defensive linemen and current New York Jets Kendrick Ellis and Marcus Dixon. Tennesse State is next up, with seven former players on NFL rosters. MEAC rival South Carolina State and Tennessee State follow with five players each. Bethune-Cookman, Jackson State and Southern came in third with four players each. Alabama State, Alcorn State, FAMU, Grambling State, Howard and Morgan State all had three players in training camps.
Overall 27 of these players came from the MEAC and 17 from the SWAC, respectively.
The Jacksonville Jaguars currently have a league-high five players from HBCUs on their roster. The Indianapolis Colts feature four HBCU products, including veteran Alabama A&M product Robert Mathis.
How does your HBCU fit in? See check out the chart below.
* Denotes rookie players
|Robert Mathis||Colts||DL||Alabama A&M|
|Frank Kearse||Panthers||DL||Alabama A&M|
|Michael Coe||Giants||DB||Alabama State|
|Tavaris Jackson||Seahawks||QB||Alabama State|
|*Nigel Carr||Ravens||LB||Alabama State|
|Nate Hughes||Lions||WR||Alcorn State|
|Donald Driver||Packers||WR||Alcorn State|
|Emanuel Arceneaux||Vikings||WR||Alcorn State|
|*Delano Johnson||Texans||LB||Bowie State|
|Issac Redmond||Steelers||RB||Bowie State|
|Dominique Curry||Lions||WR||Cheyney University|
|Curtis Holcomb||49ers||DB||Florida A&M|
|Bryan Tyms||49ers||WR||Florida A&M|
|*Kevin Elliot||Jaguars||WR||Florida A&M|
|Dionte Dinkins||Rams||DB||Fort Valley State|
|Ricardo Lockette||Seahawks||WR||Fort Valley State|
|Marquette King||Seahawks||P||Fort Valley State|
|Jason Hatcher||Cowboys||DL||Grambling State|
|Larry Donnell||Giants||TE||Grambling State|
|*Mario Louis||Texans||WR||Grambling State|
|Marcus Benard||Browns||DL||Jackson State|
|D.J. Johnson||Colts||DB||Jackson State|
|Donavan Robinson||Saints||LB||Jackson State|
|Jaymar Johnson||Cardinals||WR||Jackson State|
|Jacoby Jones||Ravens||WR||Lane College|
|Visanthe Shiancoe||Patriots||TE||Morgan State|
|*Jourdan Brooks||Bengals||RB||Morgan State|
|Lamont Bryant||Panthers||WR||Morgan State|
|Don Carey||Lions||DB||Norfolk State|
|Quinton Spears||Browns||LB||Prarie View|
|Adrian Hamilton||Cowboys||LB||Prarie View|
|Greg Toler||Cardinals||DB||St. Pauls|
|Raphael Bush||Broncos||DB||South Carolina State|
|Christian Thompson||Ravens||DB||South Carolina State|
|Donovan Richard||Jaguars||LB||South Carolina State|
|Dominique Ellis||Chiefs||DB||South Carolina State|
|James Lee||Redskins||OL||South Carolina State|
|*Javarris Williams||Cowboys||RB||Tennessee State|
|Anthony Levine||Packers||DB||Tennessee State|
|Cecil Newton, Jr.||Ravens||C||Tennessee State|
|*Donte’e Nicholls||Buccaneers||LB||Tennessee State|
|*Rico Council||Falcons||LB||Tennessee State|
|Dominique Rogers-Cromartie||Cardinals||DB||Tennessee State|
|Lamar Divens||Titans||DL||Tennessee State|
|David Mims||Chiefs||OL||Virginia Union|
|William Hayes||Rams||DL||Winston-Salem State|
|*Nick Cooper||Packers||RB||Winston-Salem State|
The 2012 version of Jackson State’s football squad will be playing for more than just another SWAC title. They’ll be playing in the memory of a fallen comrade as teammate Vincent Jones died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“Vincent was a wonderful young man,” said JSU head coach Rick Comegy. “He was well liked by everyone in the football program and he will truly be missed.”
The 6’3, 320 pound offensive lineman from Jackson, MS joined the Tigers prior to the 2011 season.
It goes without saying that this is a huge loss for the young man’s family, but also for Jackson State. Football players usually room together, take the same classes and of course, practice together during the season. Jones will surely be on his teammate’s minds as they take the field in Starkville, MS to face Mississippi State and throughout the 2012 season.
The team is expected to compete for the SWAC Championship after being ranked second in the Eastern Division during the conference’s annual media day.
The start of NFL training camps in late July are the light at the end of the tunnel for the NFL fan. For grizzled veterans, it is a necessary evil on the way to the start of the regular season. For young players it is a time to move up the depth chart. And for undrafted rookies, it is the chance of a lifetime. Every snap of every practice is an audition for a role millions dream of but few ever achieve. The competition is fierce and there’s little margin for error. The stakes are high, to say the least.
This is the situation that Nic Cooper finds himself in at this moment. The former Winston-Salem State running back was not picked in last April’s NFL Draft, but was signed by the Green Bay Packers shortly thereafter. He’s made it past the rookie mini-camps and OTAs and is a week away from his first NFL training camp.
It’s been quite an odyssey for the Clinton, NC native. After a standout high school career, Cooper redshirted his first year and also became a father. He led the Rams in rushing his first season, despite not starting a game and being yanked out by then-WSSU coach Kermit Blount for fumbling issues. Even as a redshirt freshman, it was clear the kid had talent. I remember him running all over Savannah State that season and thinking WSSU might have something special on their hands.
Cooper experienced a temporary set back the next year, sitting out the ’09 season to focus on academics. Cooper fought his way back onto the field the next year and was engine that nearly drove the 13-1 Rams to the Division II Championships, rushing for over 1,800 and 22 touchdowns.
Cooper is currently one of three fullbacks on the Packers roster, along with Jon Hoese and veteran John Kuhn. In today’s pass happy NFL, the role of the fullback has become increasingly diminished. Most teams only keep two on the roster at most, so needless to say that Cooper will need to be on point if he hopes to stick with the 2010 Superbowl Champs or make another NFL Roster. Still, given his track record of overcoming adversity, I wouldn’t call it a long shot.
With the blistering heatwave that has impacted most of the country, many people may be surprised to look at their calendars and see that August is just a few weeks away. In the college football calendar, this is Conference Media Day season. For the uninitiated, conference media days are when on-field rival players and coaches put down the gloves and meet up in air-conditioned hotel conference rooms to discuss the upcoming season with the media.
The four HBCU conferences are all holding their media days this week. The SWAC held theirs July 17 in Birmingham as did the SIAC in Tucker, GA. The CIAA Media Day will be July 19 in Petersburg, VA and the MEAC’s Luncheon will take place in Norfolk, VA on Friday, July 20.
Having been to a couple of these ventures, it’s definitely an experience. Players are either over-excited to be there or arrive damn-near comatose. There’s usually not much middle ground. That’s because Sports Information Directors (SIDs) and coaches usually get to together and decide who should represent the program, and the guys really don’t have the choice to decline. So as a reporter you either get the guy that gives you dread “yes” or “no” answers and middle-of-the-road, straight-from-the-coach’s-playbook quotes “It is what it is,” or “We’re just gonna practice and play hard.” Boring.
Then there’s the kid who gives gives candid answers that the reporters love and the coaches loath. He’s usually a good kid, just cocky with an over-inflated sense of ego (usually a defensive back or receiver). He’s the guy who coaches give dirty looks as he says, “I definitely think I’m worthy of preseason first-team. In fact, I should’ve made it last year too.” Most SIDs and coaches have a pretty good handle on who these kids are and wisely leave them on campus.
Then there is the rare occasion where they select a talented, cerebral and articulate young man who provides you with insightful answers. This is an athletic department’s dream. Especially at an HBCU. He won’t say anything to embarrass the program, but he doesn’t come off like a robot to the media. This matters. Trust me.
Anyway, in addition to interviewing players and coaches about the upcoming season, media day also provides the usually conservative, but sometimes controversial preseason predictions. Coaches and media weigh in on where they think teams will rank when the dust settles and what players will shine. It’s all a crap shoot, but with the season well over a month away, it gives folks something to talk about. So far, the SIAC predicts Miles will repeat as champs, while the SWAC dubbed Grambling State (Western) and Alabama State (Eastern) Division Winners. Also Grambling running back Dawarence Roberts and Jackson State lineman Joseph LeBeau were named the conferences preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectfully.
What can we expect from the CIAA Media Day today? The Winston-Salem Journal’s John Dell gives us a preview on his Winston-Salem State sports blog, Ram Ramblings. You won’t find a more well-respected reporter in North Carolina, and certainly not the CIAA than Dell. Anyway, he believes the Rams will win the Southern Division despite having a huge target on their back one season after going 13-1 and just missing the Division II championship game. One thing is for sure, the Rams won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season.
View the CIAA Football Media Conference live.
The start of football season is a little over two months away, but three HBCU teams already know they won’t be participating in the 2012 postseason. Hampton, North Carolina A&T and Texas Southern have all been declared ineligible for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs as a result of poor marks on the Academic Progress Rate requirements.
Hampton was levied with a Level One penalty, which will result in the loss of four hours of practice time per week. By contrast, A&T was hit with Level Three penalties which could involve restrictions on financial aid and recruiting as well as a multi-year post season ban, in addition to the aforementioned practice sanctions.
The APR is calculated yearly based off of eligibility and retention of student athletes over a four-year period.
This is a blow for both programs who are looking to climb their way back to the top of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Hampton finished fifth in the conference last year (7-4 overall, 5-3 MEAC) and was hoping to make a run at the post season for the first time since winning the MEAC in 2006. A&T finished eighth in the eleven team conference (5-6, 4-4) and has not captured the conference crown since 2003. For the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Texas Southern, the penalty comes as a side-effect of the team’s first-ever SWAC Title in 2012.
Obviously, all athletic departments are promising improvements. Hampton President William Harvey, who coincidentally is on the NCAA’s Board of Directors, expressed confidence in his school’s ability to rise to the challenge.
“We need to make sure that Hampton’s football program will meet the NCAA academic standards in a very short period of time, just as all of our other men’s and women’s athletic programs already do.
“We’re not satisfied with where we are,” said A&T Athletic Director Earl Hilton. “The lost hours will be used to make sure we’re progressing academically. Our goal is to play postseason football routinely, and to see the members of those championship teams receive undergraduate and graduate degrees.”