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.
When Winston-Salem State opened up the 2009 season, no one knew quite what to expect. They started the season with a new coach, Connell Maynor, for the first time since the 1993. They were also coming off a failed attempt to move up to Division I and returning to the CIAA.
Three years later, expectations couldn’t be any higher. That’s what tends to happen when you go 13-1 season make it to the National Semifinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs, and are ranked in the top ten of several preseason Top 25 lists. Rams will try to live up to that billing as they open up their season at home against UNC Pembroke today at 6:00 PM.
And apparently, Maynor wouldn’t have it any other way. While many coaches would prefer to keep things low profile, he might have given Pembroke bulletin board materials earlier this week. He told reporters not only did he expect his team to win, he expected them to win by at least two touchdowns.
“We are going to have to play for 60 minutes, and we did that a lot last season, and I’m expecting the same this season.”
The Rams return 16 of 22 starters from last year’s team, including senior quarterback Kameron Smith. Smith was named a preseason All-American by several publications after a season where he passed for 2,706 yards and 20 touchdowns en route to being named All-CIAA. He will be relied heavily on as the team attempts to fill the whole vacated by Nic Cooper, who was recently released by the Green Bay Packers.
It also appears that Maynor’s confidence has spread to his players. Despite the loss of All-CIAA defender Akeem Ward, WSSU defensive lineman Barry Trip doesn’t see the team’s defensive performance dropping off this season.
“I think we have the best defensive line in the country,” he said.
If Kam Smith can continue his dominance and the running game can produce 80 percent of what it did last year, there’s no reason the Rams shouldn’t be able win the CIAA once again.
Our prediction: WSSU goes 8-2 in regular season, wins the CIAA over Elizabeth City State and falls in the second round of the D2 Playoffs.
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.
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.
Summer time is usually a quiet affair in Black College Football circles. Even the Division I HBCU teams that populate the MEAC and SWAC Conferences receive minimal coverage until the weeks preceding the first game of the season. So when news like last week’s APR Sanctions on Hampton, North Carolina A&T and Texas Southern comes around, it’s understandable that the reporters covering these schools milk them for all their worth.
Triangle Tribune Sports Editor Bonitta Best’s column “Anybody but Carolina, er, Hampton” has definitely got the internet buzzing. Her column centered around the reaction of some in the HBCU community regarding Hampton University’s sanctions.
“The response mostly went along these lines: “Serves them right!” “That’s what you get when you look down your nose at everybody else.”
Best attempted the rest of the conference’s attitude towards the university with the anti-North Carolina attitude that exists in many, if not all other schools in the ACC. Best credits a few well-worn Hampton stereotypes as well as envy over their smooth transition from the CIAA to the MEAC as reasons for this attitude.
While I see where she was going with this, I’d say the comparison is quite a stretch. For one, Hampton hasn’t even been in the MEAC for twenty years yet. During that time they’ve won five MEAC titles, two of which they shared. They’ve also only won two basketball titles. Impressive, but Carolina-like? I’m not buying it. Then there is the little matter of NCAA Tourney wins. North Carolina leads that category 108 to 1. Respectfully, about the only thing the two schools have in common is their recent trouble with the NCAA.
During my time covering the MEAC (2006-2009) as a student reporter for the college newspaper, Hampton, along with South Carolina State were definitely the teams to beat in the conference football-wise. Beating them in 2007 was one of the more memorable games I watched at WSSU, but that was largely because they were the defending champs and we were the upstarts. The crowd stormed on the field and Bowman-Gray was really rocking. But there were definitely seats available for that game.
In my opinion, if you really want to compare Hampton to an ACC team, I think it would have to be Duke. They are both private schools in conferences made up of predominantly public schools. Generally speaking, the students of both schools tend to be more well off than their competition. And they both wear basically the same shade of blue.
The real reason why no MEAC team will reach hate levels reserved for Carolina and Duke is the lack of TV exposure. Much of the hate for those programs is built on the fact that they are always on TV. The only time most MEAC schools are seen on TV in football or hoops, they’re getting beaten by top-notch teams in money games. Of course there’s the occasional Thursday night Football game in the fall, but those are few and far between for most teams.
Think about it, the MEAC stretches from Delaware to Florida. It works for the ACC because they’ve got a huge TV contract. But the rivalries in the MEAC are based largely on location. Bethune Cookman and FAMU in Florida, North Carolina A&T and NCCU in North Carolina, Morgan and Coppin in Baltimore. Hampton has a natural rival in Norfolk State and a peer institution in fellow private school Howard a few hours up the road in D.C.
Until the conference as a whole can up its’ profile, the chances of developing a powerhouse program that inspires an ungodly level of envy and hate are best left on paper. Norfolk State’s victory over Missouri this spring was a nice start, but it has to become a trend and not a once-a-decade flicker.
It’s safe to say that players like Carmelo Anthony, John Wall and DeWayne Wade never seriously considered playing college ball at an HBCU. Those blue chip recruits had the opportunity to play at majority institutions, thanks in large part to players like Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and coaches like Clarence “Big House” Gaines.
It was a fitting, if unintentional, tribute that Monroe got to witness star-studded showcase in the gym named after his now deceased college coach. Students and alumni of Winston-Salem State were treated to a thrilling, NBA All-Star style contest Saturday night, courtesy of the Chris Paul and friends.
The Winston-Salem native brought along NBA the aformentioned superstars as well as Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and many other notable NBA players.
The C.E. Gaines Center was filled to the brim and, by all accounts, the fans received their money’s worth. At least the ones who got in the game. There has been some controversy about the CP3 association of overselling tickets. The Gaines Center has a seating capacity of about 3,200 spectators. The official word is the problem was caused by counterfeiting.
The game was chock full of eye-opening dunks and alley-oops as the final score totaled 175-146 as Paul’s team emerged with a victory. The night’s real winners were the CP3 Foundation and WSSU Athletics, who Paul awarded with a $25,000 check at halftime.
Checkout these sintillating youtube clips.
A month ago a Pro-Am game in Baltimore on the campus of Morgan State, made big waves on ESPN since it featured NBA pros like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant. Taking advantage of the NBA Lockout, Winston-Salem State University has scheduled a benefit game, featuring NBA stars, to raise money for scholarships.
Players scheduled to compete in the October 1st game, which coincides’ with the university’s annual homecoming festivities, include James, Anthony and Durant as well as North Carolina Natives Chris Paul and John Wall. You may remember that Paul played his college ball at Wake Forest-but his parents both graduated from WSSU.
Tickets start at $40 and courtside seats at the C.E. Gaines Center will go for $1,000 with discount prices for students.