What has been a good year for Winston-Salem State coach Bobby Collins just got better. After leading his team to its first CIAA Tournament title in over a dozen years and its second consecutive D2 NCAA appearance, Collins was given a three year extension according to the Winston-Salem Journal’s John Dell.
“We want to continue to play for championships and win championships,” said Collins. ”This will really help us in recruiting because kids are always wondering how long you might be at one school and this shows me a lot.”
The former Hampton coach was hired by former WSSU Athletic Director Chico Caldwell prior to the 2006-2007 season. I was at his initial press conference where he talked about building a winning Division I program. Obviously, Collins had no way of knowing the changes that would soon come his team’s way. Caldwell resigned his post during Collin’s third season, and the Rams headed back to Division 2 and the CIAA the following season. Since the move back to D2, Collins has recorded a stellar 40-15 record and has become one of only two coaches (joining NC A&T’s Cal Irvin) to win both MEAC and CIAA Tournament Championships.
According to reports, Collins will make approximately $110,000 per year for the next three seasons, which will keep him under contract until 2015-2016.
The Rams look to have a good shot at repeating last season’s success, as they will return all five starters from last season’s 21-9 team.
Having been around Collins in his first years at WSSU, I can say with confidence he’s as much of a teacher as he is a coach. He really cares about his players and builds them up. My gut tells me he really wants to be a Division I coach. He had some success on that level, leading Hampton to an MEAC title and that’s why he came to Winston. If he can keep the Rams winning championships, he may very well get his shot at a DI job again. For now, he’ll look to keep the Rams atop the CIAA.
“The challenge for me is keep our guys hungry,” Collins said. “Now I can’t wait to get the season started.”
Three games into the 2012 season, Jordan Reid is back where he anticipated being this season–starting at quarterback for North Carolina Central. The redshirt junior from High Point impressed NCCU head coach Henry Frazier with his performance in Saturday’s 54-17 loss to Duke.
“Man, if I don’t put Jordan out there, they’re going to run me out of town,” Frazier said. “I was born at night, not last night. We’ll throw Jordan out there, we’ll hand the ball to him and give him a week of running with the starters and let him have his opportunity.”
Reid threw for 218 yards after replacing Matt Goggans in the first quarter against Duke. He completed 17 of his 26 passes and also rushed for a score.
“That was the best I’ve seen him look,” Frazier said. “He came in, he was composed; he ran the ball a little bit, he threw some strikes. I was happy for him. You could see the confidence.”
“My confidence is always high,” Reid said. “You have to have that at the quarterback position, because it’s contagious throughout the team.”
The High Point native is in his third year at NCCU. He arrived in Durham in 2009 after redshirting his freshman year at Winston-Salem State. Saturday will be his second collegiate start, both of them coming at Savannah State.
CIAA FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Monday, September 3, 2012
Name: Nick Watts Position: OL School: Chowan
Height: 6’3 Weight: – Class: SR Hometown: Church Road, VA
Comments: Watts logged 650 total yards of offense in the win; including 365 yards rushing and 285 yards passing.
RECEIVER (Wideouts/Tight Ends)
Name: Robert Holland Position: WR School: Chowan
Height: 6’2 Weight: 185 Class: SR Hometown: Newport News, VA
Comments: Holland scored three touchdowns in the win, and collected 213 receiving yards in the victory. After scoring 49 points in the first half, Chowan set the new school record for first half points, and set a new school record for points in a game with 70.
Name: Cameron Stover Position: QB School: Chowan
Height: 6’3 Weight: 180 Class: JR Hometown: Flint, MI
Comments: Cameron Stover led the Hawks to a 70-35 win over the Livingstone College Blue Bears. Stover completed 23-30 passes for an average of 281 throwing yards in the game, ran for a touchdown, and tallied 106 rushing yards. Stover alone tallied 387 total yards of offense, and led the Hawks to 650 total yards of offense in the win. After scoring 49 points in the first half, Chowan set the new school record for first half points, and set a new school record for points in a game with 70.
OFFENSIVE BACK (Running back/Halfback/Fullback/Tailback)
Name: Maurice Lewis Position: RB School: Winston-Salem State
Height: 5’11 Weight: 190 Class: SO Hometown: Lumberton, NC
Comments: Led the Rams rushing attack with 134 yards and two TD’s versus UNC Pembroke.
Name: Rasheen Person Position: DL School: Virginia Union
Height: 6’4 Weight: 241 Class: JR Hometown: Newport News, VA
Comments: Person led Virginia Union with ten tackles (5 solo) and two sacks for a loss of seven yards as VUU downed Benedict College 28-7 in Historic Hovey Field. Person also had four tackles for a loss of 20 yards.
Name: Chaz Robinson Position: LB School: Saint Augustine’s
Height: 5’11 Weight: 220 Class: JR Hometown: Hampton, VA
Comments: The preseason All-CIAA pick led a stingy defense with fourteen (14) total tackles in a satisfying 28-10 victory over Wingate.
Name: Andre Kates Position: DB School: Virginia Union
Height: 5’11 Weight: 200 Class: SR Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Comments: Kates had a career day in VUU’s 28-7 win over Benedict College in Richmond, Va. The senior defensive back had four pass breakups, five tackles, two fumble recoveries, returned an interception 23 yards and also recorded a safety. Kates also recorded a sack for a loss of eight yards and forced another fumble.
Name: Drew Powell Position: QB School: Livingstone
Height: 6’3 Weight: 235 Class: FR Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
Comments: Threw for a total of 343 yards with four touchdowns (most Livingstone had in single game since 2009.).
Name: Mario Diaz-Aviles Position: PK School: Bowie State
Height: 5’9 Weight: 240 Class: SO Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Comments: Diaz-Aviles drilled a key 37 yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in the contest to give Bowie State its first lead of the game against Assumption and was a perfect 3-of-3 on PAT’s.
Name: Michael Costa School: Saint Augustine’s
Comments: Coach Costa directed St. Aug to victory in its first game as a university, defeating Wingate 28-10 in the highly regarded South Atlantic Conference. Wingate is predicted to finish third in its conference. The Falcons are the first CIAA team to defeat Wingate. The victory was a good way to start off a challenging schedule for the Falcons, who showed early signs that they are a serious CIAA contender.
1. Norfolk State, South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman are the teams to beat in the MEAC. The three teams were predicted to finish in the in the top three, and in Week One, they all looked the part. Norfolk State dominated former CIAA rival Virginia State in all phases of the game, rushing for 223 yards and the defense forced five turnovers in the route.
South Carolina State dominated FCS-opponent Georgia State, picking up a convincing 33-3 win in the Georgia Dome Thursday night. If that game was any indication, MEAC defensive backs will be in for a rough year as redshirt junior quarterback Richard Cue threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns as SC State overwhelmed Ga. State.
Sunday afternoon in MEAC/SWAC Challenge, Bethune-Cookman sent a message to a national audience on ESPN that they are in the race as well. After trailing by as many as three touchdowns, BCU rallied to win the game, scoring an incredible 38 unanswered points, defeating Alabama State 38-28 in Orlando, FL. The comeback was keyed by backup quarterback Broderick Rogers who threw for 123 yards on six completions, including two touchdowns, and ran for 100 more.
2. Winston-Salem State will get everyone’s best shot this year. Last season the Rams recorded unprecedented success in the Division II level, becoming the first HBCU to win 13 games as they finished just one game away from the championship game. Despite the loss of the team’s best offensive and defensive players, WSSU was still ranked in the top 10 of several Division II polls. Needless to say the team will have opponents seeing “red” all season as all of its’ opponents, in and out of conference will give them their best shot. Saturday’s 28-23 squeaker over UNC Pembroke was evidence of that. The next two weeks against Concord College and Morehouse will definitely be solid challenges for the Rams before they start CIAA play.
3. Morehouse is a serious contender to win the SIAC. Morehouse went up to RFK Field in Washington, DC and gave Howard all it could handle. The Maroon Tigers led late in the fourth quarter before falling victim to the comeback heroics of Howard’s third string quarterback Jamie Cunningham in Saturday’s 30-29 thriller. Morehouse will have to contend with Albany State, who represented the SIAC in last year’s playoffs in the conference’s East Division. but with eight All-SIAC preseason picks, including reigning conference offensive player of the year David Carter, the look to be well equipped for the challenge.
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.
News links from around HBCU land.
Tuskegee scores significant RB transfer
One of the big reason’s for Winston-Salem State’s resurgence since returning to the CIAA has been Athletic Director Bill Hayes’ talent of finding great, young coaches. Hayes and WSSU hope they have found their next up-and-coming coach in A.G. Hall. The Winston-Salem Journal’s John Dell reports WSSU will hire the former NC Central basketball player to take over the women’s basketball program.
The 37 year-old will take over for the recently departed Stephen Joyner, Jr., who left earlier this summer to take over for rival Johnson C. Smith. The Rams finished 37-21 during his time in Winston-Salem.
Hall has spent the last two years as an assistant coach at Bethune-Cookman.
“Steve took the program in the right direction and did some good things especially from where they came from,” Hall told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I know that at Winston-Salem State, it’s about winning championships, so we have to get in line and keep pace. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Heading into the 2012 college football season, two sets of Rams appear to be the teams to beat in Division II HBCU football. Both Winston-Salem State and Albany (GA) State were listed among the preseason Top 25 of Division II football by the American Football Coaches Association on Tuesday. WSSU is ranked ninth overall, while ASU comes in at no. 22.
Just three years after returning to Division II, Winston-Salem State (13-1 in 2011) is one of the premiere football programs in the division. The program had its best season ever, winning the CIAA title, going undefeated in the regular season and reaching the D2 semifinals, something no HBCU had ever done before. Coach Connell Maynor and his squad look to build on that performance with a tough non-conference schedule prior to starting CIAA play. The Rams finished last season ranked third in the final AFCA Poll.
Albany State finished 8-4 before bowing out of the playoffs in a 63-14 loss to North Greenville, who are ranked below ASU at no. 23. The two teams will open up against each other on Sept. 1 in Albany, GA.
Last year’s champion, Pittsburg St. (Kan) stands at the top of the poll. Other HBCUs receiving votes include Elizabeth City State, Morehouse from the CIAA and SIAC, respectively.
|1.||Pittsburg St. (Kan.) (21)||13-1||720||1||Aug. 30 at Northeastern St. (Okla.)||Tim Beck|
|2.||Minnesota-Duluth (5)||11-3||661||6||Aug. 30 at Southwest Minnesota St.||Bob Nielson|
|3.||Northwest Missouri St. (1)||11-3||613||5||Aug. 30 vs. East Central (Okla.)||Adam Dorrel|
|4.||Midwestern St. (Texas) (1)||10-1||582||7||Sept. 8 at Tarleton St. (Texas)||Bill Maskill|
|5.||Wayne St. (Mich.) (1)||12-4||502||2||Sept. 8 at Ashland (Ohio)||Paul Winters|
|6.||Colorado St.-Pueblo||11-1||481||9||Aug. 30 vs. No. 24 West Texas A&M||John Wristen|
|7.||Grand Valley St. (Mich.)||8-3||473||NR||Sept. 1 at Western Oregon||Matt Mitchell|
|8.||Valdosta St. (Ga.)||6-4||415||NR||Sept. 1 at Saginaw Valley St. (Mich.)||David Dean|
|9.||Winston-Salem St. (N.C.) (1)||13-1||386||3||Sept. 1 vs. North Carolina-Pembroke||Connell Maynor|
|10.||Abilene Christian (Texas)||8-3||367||16||Sept. 1 vs. McMurry (Texas)||Ken Collums|
|11.||California (Pa.)||10-3||347||15||Aug. 30 vs. No. 17 Hillsdale (Mich.)||Mike Kellar|
|12.||Kutztown (Pa.)||11-2||329||13||Aug. 30 vs. St. Anselm (N.H.)||Raymond Monica|
|13.||New Haven (Conn.)||11-2||322||8||Sept. 1 vs. Merrimack (Mass.)||Peter Rossomando|
|14.||Delta St. (Miss.)||11-3||290||4||Sept. 1 vs. Fort Valley St. (Ga.)||Jamey Chadwell|
|15.||West Alabama||8-4||274||23||Sept. 1 at Clark Atlanta (Ga.)||Will Hall|
|16.||St. Cloud State (Minn.)||9-3||266||17||Aug. 30 vs. Sioux Falls (S.D.)||Scott Underwood|
|17.||Hillsdale (Mich.)||8-3||228||NR||Aug. 30 at No. 11 California (Pa.)||Keith Otterbein|
|18.||Missouri Western St.||9-3||218||18||Aug. 30 vs. Central Missouri||Jerry Partridge|
|19.||Shepherd (W.Va.)||9-2||199||22||Sept. 1 at Shippensburg (Pa.)||Monte Cater|
|20.||Washburn (Kan.)||10-3||187||11||Aug. 30 vs. Nebraska-Kearney||Craig Schurig|
|21.||Humboldt St. (Calif.)||9-1||183||20||Aug. 30 vs. Colorado Mesa||Rob Smith|
|22.||Albany St. (Ga.)||8-4||149||NR||Sept. 1 vs. No. 23 North Greenville (S.C.)||Mike White|
|23.||North Greenville (S.C.)||11-3||139||12||Sept. 1 at No. 22 Albany St. (Ga.)||Carroll McCray|
|24.||West Texas A&M||8-3||132||25||Aug. 30 at No. 6 Colorado St.-Pueblo||Don Carthel|
|25.||Bloomsburg (Pa.)||9-2||129||21||Aug. 31 at Stonehill (Mass.)||Danny Hale|
*– Ranking in final AFCA Division II Poll of 2011
The CIAA released its preseason projections for 2012 during the conference’s annual media day on Thursday in Petersburg, VA. Winston-Salem State, last season’s champion and NCAA Division II Semifinalist, was chosen as the favorite to wear the league crown in 2012. Four of the top five schools hail from the conference’s Southern Division, with last-season’s runner up Elizabeth City State the Northern Division’s lone top-five projection.
Below is the complete list.
2012 CIAA Predicted Order of Finish
1. Winston-Salem State
2. Elizabeth City State
3. Saint Augustine’s
4. Fayetteville State
6. Bowie State
7. Virginia State
8. Johnson C. Smith
9. Virginia Union
11. Lincoln (Pa.)
We’ll have more news and notes from today’s media day coming shortly.
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.