Saturday, December 31, 2011

Troy falls at North Texas

Well, it was good for a half.

Troy was tied 33-all at North Texas, a team with a few potential stars, but they're mostly freshmen. Well, in the second half, UNT couldn't miss and rolled with an 87-65 win.

Game recap HERE and box score HERE.

Point guard Will Weathers played after injuring his ankle again at Denver and wasn't particularly sharp and probably didn't help the ankle get better, but a few days of rest will help.

Troy hosts Middle Tennessee, in my opinion far and away the best team in the league, on Thursday.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Weathers injures ankle at Denver

Troy head basketball coach Don Maestri wasn't confident in starting point guard Will Weathers playing Saturday at 3 p.m. against North Texas in Denton. Weathers twisted his ankle late in the loss at Denver Thursday, aggravating an injury earlier this season that caused him to miss a game.

Weathers is Troy's leading scorer and leads the Sun Belt in assists.

"I don't know if he'll be able to play," Maestri said. "He rolled it going after a ball. He's a pretty tough kid and he can play with a lot of pain and has a high pain tolerance. We've seen him do this before (injure his ankle) and at times, he's had to sit out for a couple of days."

If Weathers can't go, Emil Jones would handle point guard duties. Backup Nic Combs left the team a week ago.

"Emil is probably our most least-turnover prone ball handler," Maestri said. "He's actually a pretty good ball handler and can run the offense."

If Weathers can go, there will be one change to the starting lineup. R.J. Scott (13 points on 5-of-8 shooting) will start in place of Alan Jones (0-of-8).

If Weathers can't go, the lineup would be Emil Jones-RJ Scott-Alan Jones-Justin Wright-Tim Owens. Alan Jones will get plenty of minutes regardless and have chances to get back in the groove from 3-point land.

North Texas is coming off a home loss to UALR on Thursday. The Mean Green lost most of last year's team and are relying on some talented freshmen. One is point guard Chris Jones, who is scoring around 15 ppg, but has more turnovers than assists. Another is 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward Tony Mitchell, who is a legit NBA Draft prospect and could go pro after just one year.

"I hope he does," Maestri said. "He's a tremendous player. He can play any position on the floor and he's a great shooter."

"It depends on what night you catch North Texas. They've had a few chemistry problems. One night they're really on, and other nights, like when they got upset by Little Rock last night, they're off. Denver's going to be good every night, but North Texas is up and down."

(my guess is that Weathers plays, but we'll see how effective he is.)

***Saturday morning edit:
From the Denton Record-Chronicle, North Texas will be without injured forward Kedrick Hogans, one of the team's veteran leaders. He suffered a knee injury against UALR.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Troy falls at Denver

Trojans went up to Denver and couldn't slow down the hot-shooting Pioneers, falling 79-62.

The loss drops Troy to 5-7, 0-1 in Sun Belt play. It's a brutal first 1/4 of the Sun Belt schedule, with road trips to Denver, North Texas and Western Kentucky and a home game against Middle Tennessee. Of course, I say that and UNT lost at home to Arkansas-Little Rock and WKU had to go to overtime to beat a 1-win ULM team, but going to UNT or WKU isn't something Troy has had much success with.

Recap HERE from and a box score HERE

HERE is a story from the Denver Post.

Notice this part at the end = "The Trojans went the final 2:55 without Weathers as he went down after being fouled going for a loose ball, and Denver hit their free throws down the stretch as they took the 79-62 victory."

Troy is at North Texas on Saturday.

Like Maestri said the other night, if Will Weathers is hurt, it's like losing Peyton Manning.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Troy opens Sun Belt play at Denver

Trojans travel to Denver, an extremely tough place to play, to open conference action tonight at 8 p.m.

You can read my short game preview HERE.

Troy is 5-6. Denver is 10-2. Denver runs a Princeton offense and drains the shot clock, but has gotten more athletic over the past few years. Brian Stafford is a veteran guard who can really score, and Chris Udofia (above, 34, AP photo) is easily one of the top 5 athletes in the Sun Belt.

Troy has played Denver very well over the past three years, winning all three matchups, but all three were in Troy. It's a different atmosphere and different altitude. Denver used to be tough to win at because of the altitude, now it's tough to win at because of the altitude and because Denver is pretty good.

For a link to some game notes, with even more stats and facts about both teams, go HERE.

Desire to be closer to home led to Combs' departure

The day before Troy lost 76-70 to UTSA, sophomore point guard Nic Combs asked to meet with head coach Don Maestri.

He had spent the last three and a half years far away from his home of Edmond, Okla., playing prep school ball in Maine, junior college ball in Mississippi and redshirting a year at Troy after a hand injury and playing as a backup this year to Will Weathers.

He wasn't playing much, just a handful of minutes each game, but wanted to get back home and officially left the team in a meeting with Maestri.

"We talked about a couple of scenarios and asked if he was sure this was what he wanted to do, but he had his mind made up," Maestri said.

"He had been here for a year and a half and his parents never called asking why he wasn’t playing. They let him grow up and become a man. It’s hard to lose him because he’s a fine kid, but if you’re homesick and not happy, I guess you have to move on."

Troy (5-6) opens Sun Belt play Thursday at Denver (10-2). Maestri went out of his way to speak on Combs' character.

"He’s one of the finer kids we’ve had in the 30 years in our program," Maestri said. "He’s one of the nicest and most polite kids. He’s very well-mannered, goes to all his classes, just a fine kid and a fine person."

If Weathers needs a break, Maestri said either Alan Jones or Emil Jones would handle backup duties. Both Jones are currently starters, and Emil Jones has shown the ability to play four positions for the Trojans at just 6-foot-3.

"We’ll move Alan Jones and Emil Jones behind Mo (Weathers)," Maestri said. "Emil, believe it or not, is a very savvy basketball player. We’ll get both of them to step in. Mo’s a guy that unless he gets hurt or is in foul trouble, is going to play 35 minutes a game, so it’s nothing new for him.

"If we lose him, it’s like losing Peyton Manning. We’re in trouble."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Some thoughts on Troy's midyear guys

Troy will add 15 guys who are on scholarship in January. That's a lot, but when you're 3-9, some changes in personnel need to be made or take care of themselves. Troy's coaches should be commended for pulling in what looks to be a good JUCO class on paper and we'll see who stands out this spring. We'll go position by position.

This is a lot, but remember that Troy was 3-9 last year.

***The biggest thing I take is that, with the defensive signees, they're really looking for guys to come in and play big roles right away, regardless of how many returning starters are coming back. I think the offense is pretty set and loaded up with some good-looking high school receivers. Troy certainly needs that and some guys on defense who can make some stops.

QUARTERBACK - Troy signed Deon Anthony from Hinds CC in Mississippi. He had interest from Pitt, but Pitt's coach left. So, Anthony will fight for a spot and if he doesn't win the starting spot, he at least gives much more options for a defense to contend with. If he gets run out there for a wildcat on 1st and 10 or 2nd and 5, defenses have to respect the pass.

RUNNING BACK - No January signees

WIDE RECEIVER - Jamel Johnson is back after a productive year in JUCO. No doubt, Corey Robinson missed him and Chip Reeves, who is also expected to be back in the fall but isn't a signee. If you're talking about guys who can catch the ball and get more yards, or win jump balls, these two are playmakers. For the non-January guys, Cody Core could end up being the top high school recruit and is a big guy that can make plays. Troy is holding off interest from other schools, such as Kentucky.

OFFENSIVE LINE - Chris Hawkins from Hutchinson, CC in Kansas is the lone midyear guy here. He'll have three years left to play two and I think his future spot is at tackle, but coach John Schlarman is good at getting guys to learn how to play different positions effectively. Bart Whigham from Northview was supposed to be a 2011 grayshirt, but didn't qualify.

DEFENSIVE LINE - The big "name" here is Lonnie Gosha, who left Arkansas midway through the year. He's from Lake Butler, Fla., and was a three-star recruit. He'd have to sit out this year unless a hardship is approved, but he's a guy that can be a difference-making defensive tackle down the line. He wanted to get back closer to home. Brandon Timmons is a DE from Northwest Miss., and he'll certainly have a chance to win a starting spot. Troy might have liked to sign another midyear DL, but there is still the spring period to find some players who can come in this summer and look to help out immediately.

LINEBACKERS - Big group here. The headliner may be Mark Wilson, who flunked out after last year at Troy and made his way to Fullerton, Ca. where he blew up and got offers from big schools and at one time was committed to Arkansas. But he wanted to be back at Troy and called coaches every week and after a thorough review, they took him back. Wilson has three years left to play three. Eli Canton from NE Miss CC will be a sophomore with four years left to play three and he's a huge guy, right frame of mind off the field, nasty streak on the field who has pre-med aspirations. His JUCO coach compared him to Brian Urlacher. That's quite a comparison, but he certainly could be a good player. Wayland Coleman-Dancer and Brandon Powe lined up side by side at Mississippi Delta CC. Coleman-Dancer is more of an OLB and Powe is a bigger, MLB type.

DEFENSIVE BACK - Troy has a pair of high school guys coming in with Shaq Beverly (early graduate) and Chris Davis (grayshirt). It sounds like Jeremy Spikner from NE Mississippi CC has a chance to be a real good one, and he'll have a spring to earn a starting spot. Martrez Townes from Itawamba CC is a guy that could be a nickel, so maybe I should have listed him among the linebackers.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Troy signed Will Scott to come in and punt, and Ryan Kay is a grayshirt and he'll be given a crack to win the kicking job.

Troy's updated recruiting list

I'll get into some research later on, but here is Troy's updated commitment list

I will update this list with all updates to Troy's 2012 recruiting class. A link will be posted on the right side of the blog.

**** (Star count is the highest rated I could find the commitment listed on all of the recruiting sites - rivals, scout, ESPN,

***Brandon Silvers (QB, Gulf Shores, Ala.)
**Brandon Burks (RB, Daleville, Ala.)
***Andre Allen (RB, Panama City, Fla.)
**Cody Core (WR, Auburn, Ala.)
***Bobby Walker (WR, Fruit Cove, Fla.)
***Brandon Brooks (WR, Jacksonville, Fla.)
**Michael Lindsey (WR, Elba, Ala.)
Antonio Garcia (OL, Riverdale, Ga.)
***Luke Lawrence (OL, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
**Mitchell Roland (LB, Auburn, Ala.)
***Shaquille Beverly (DB, Jacksonville, Fla.)
JaQuadrian Lewis (DB, Fitzgerald, Ga.)
John Knight (DB, Thomasville, Ala.)
Deon Anthony (QB/ATH, Hinds, Miss. CC)
Jamel Johnson (WR, Holmes, Miss. CC) - was at Troy in 2010
***Chris Hawkins (OL, Hutchinson, Kan. CC)
**Brandon Timmons (DE, Northwest Miss. CC)
Wayland Coleman-Dancer (LB, Miss. Delta CC)
Eli Canton (LB, NE Mississippi CC)
Mark Wilson (LB, Fullerton, Calif. CC) - was at Troy in 2010
Brandon Powe (LB, Miss. Delta CC)
Jeremy Spikner (DB, NE Mississippi CC)
Martrez Townes (DB, Itawamba, Miss. CC)
Will Scott (P, Gulf Coast Miss. CC)

Chris Davis (DB, Thomasville, Ala.)
Ryan Kay (K, Hampton, Ga.)
Lonnie Gosha (DL, Lake Butler, Fla.) - left Arkansas midway through last year

Monday, December 26, 2011

JUCO QB signs with Troy

I told you a while back about Hinds Community College QB Deon Anthony committing to Troy. Well, Pittsburgh showed interest in him, then the Panthers' head coach left.

From Hinds, Anthony has now officially signed with Troy. He'll be on campus in the spring.

Where Anthony is different than starter Corey Robinson and backups Luke Barnes and Dallas Tidwell is that he's a run threat and he's also established with two years of JUCO quarterbacking experience. At the very least, he's a change of pace guy and can run the Wildcat on 1st and 10 (as opposed to a RB or WR) with the defense having to respect the pass.

Dec. 26 reading

If you've got a minute, or several, read today's long feature on Troy basketball coaches Don Maestri and David Felix - how they started together, where they are now, and some stuff that's happened in between.

You can read it HERE.

Headed back home today, but did re-tweet a twitter post confirming defensive end Brandon Timmons of NW Miss. CC's signing. I hope to be able to confirm more of these tomorrow and see if any new signees have emerged, though there's still a couple of weeks left. Looks like, with mid-year signees and grayshirts, Troy will add around 10 new scholarship faces for the spring.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday night update

At least I think it's Thursday, I lose track of my days when Christmastime is here.

I was not at the Troy-UTSA hoops game tonight because I'm visiting family. Dad apparently got a big bonus at work and treated us all to Ruth's Chris, so I'll take that.

But Troy lost to UTSA, dropping to 5-6. Don Maestri said UTSA was very good and it looks like he was right.

Being away, hard to do much original reporting, but not hard to type up a blog. Wes Johnson (not to be confused with the Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard) was at the game and said backup PG Nic Combs was no longer on the team. Not sure why, but the big blow there is that Mo Weathers won't get a break on the court. He was playing 36 mpg anyway and played 40 tonight.

At 5-6, with Troy having a bunch of newcomers, that's not really a terrible start. This is a rebuilding year, but the Trojans are a little further along than I thought. The hope is to finish strong and build momentum for the new arena next year.

***ESPN reports that Northeast Miss. linebacker Eli Canton signed or is signing. Canton, a big linebacker, is a guy I told you about who visited a few weeks back and he'll be a sophomore for the Trojans. I'm not real surprised he signed but will try to get up with him at some point.

So, you've got Canton, fellow linebacker Wayland Coleman-Dancer, defensive end Brandon Timmons, offensive lineman Chris Hawkins supposedly for sure coming from JUCO ranks, and cornerback Shaquille Beverly coming from high school, all for spring practice. The wild card is QB Deon Anthony, who isn't going to Pittsburgh, and a post from his twitter to someone indicated "probably Troy" but he looks to still be deciding.

When I'm able to get a full list of guys, and that could be tomorrow or it may not be until Dec. 28 or so, I'll pass it along, but the guys I mentioned above, and perhaps another JUCO DL or DB to be named later, make up the group.

***Troy signed DT Anthony Payne last year from JUCO, but he didn't qualify and is headed to Murray State. Two 2010 signees, OL Mark Beard and DB Fidel Montgomery, saw their stock rise in JUCO and Beard is going to Georgia and Montgomery to South Florida. They knew Beard wouldn't qualify, but Montgomery not qualifying back then was a surprise. No doubt Troy could sure have used him because he sounds like a good player.

But it's never about who gets away, it's about who you do have and making sure they pan out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Troy hoops back in action

Troy hoops has a tough test at home tonight against Texas-San Antonio. HERE is a preview I wrote for the Thursday paper.

Unfortunately I won't be at the game - already started the trips to visit family & in-laws. So obviously blog posts will be limited if at all for the next few days, but I will certainly see what I can do.

Coleman-Dancer talks Troy

Troy got a midyear signature from Mississippi Delta Community College linebacker/safety Wayland Coleman-Dancer, who is working towards joining the Trojans in January.

Coleman-Dancer played his high school ball in Cleveland, Miss.

"My family and I went to visit and we had a good vibe about it," Coleman-Dancer said. "Everything just clicked. Good atmosphere and great coaches."

Troy coaches, specifically linebackers coach Benjy Parker, started recruiting Coleman-Dancer during the season. Mississippi Delta didn't list statistics, but the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Coleman-Dancer played linebacker in junior college and could project as an outside linebacker or safety for the Trojans.

"Coach Parker's a Delta guy and he knows what it takes to move on to higher places," Coleman-Dancer said. "I just really appreciate the opportunity he gave me and I want to get up there and prove to him that he made the right choice."

Coleman-Dancer spoke on his goals for the upcoming season.

"First off, I want us to win the conference championship, maybe even a national championship," he said. "I want to help my team the best I can and be a good teammate and play team ball, take care of business on and off the field as well as in the classroom and be accepted by the Troy community."

Coleman-Dancer said he plans on majoring in Accounting. He had recruiting interest from Kentucky and Memphis and several offers from lower-level schools.

Punter to sign with Troy

Punter Will Scott from Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College will sign with Troy during the midyear signing period and enroll in January.

Scott, originally from Lucedale, Miss., has impressive credentials. He was a second-team All-American at junior college this year and averaged 43.3 yards per punt. He will challenge for the starting job vacated by graduating senior Will Goggans.

"Troy's a great school," Scott said. "I really liked the coaches and liked the facilities. I was a straight on punter in junior college but did some rugby punting in high school. The (Troy) coaches said we'd do a little bit of both."

Scott will be a bit different from Goggans in that he doesn't expect to grow out a fantastic beard that Goggans sported over his last two years.

"I'm more of a shave every day type guy, but I guess anything could happen," Scott said.

**** (Star count is the highest rated I could find the commitment listed on all of the recruiting sites - rivals, scout, ESPN,

***Brandon Silvers (QB, Gulf Shores, Ala.)
**Brandon Burks (RB, Daleville, Ala.)
***Andre Allen (RB, Panama City, Fla.)
**Cody Core (WR, Auburn, Ala.)
***Bobby Walker (WR, Fruit Cove, Fla.)
***Brandon Brooks (WR, Jacksonville, Fla.)
**Michael Lindsey (WR, Elba, Ala.)
Antonio Garcia (OL, Riverdale, Ga.)
***Luke Lawrence (OL, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
**Mitchell Roland (LB, Auburn, Ala.)
***Shaquille Beverly (DB, Jacksonville, Fla.)
JaQuadrian Lewis (DB, Fitzgerald, Ga.)
John Knight (DB, Thomasville, Ala.)
Deon Anthony (QB/ATH, Hinds, Miss. CC)
***Chris Hawkins (OL, Hutchinson, Kan. CC)
Wayland Coleman-Dancer (LB, Miss. Delta CC)
**Brandon Timmons (DE, Northwest Miss. CC)
Will Scott (P, Gulf Coast Miss. CC)

Troy beats Southern Utah; other stuff

Troy beat Southern Utah 80-72 on Tuesday. Box score HERE.

I covered the game, and game story is HERE

The big news was senior forward Steven Cunningham coming back from a facial injury. He plays with a clear mask, but it's evident he was missed and his return didn't hurt team chemistry one bit. This is a unit where everyone on the team believes in each other and wants to win.

Troy is 5-5, and plays Texas-San Antonio on Thursday at home. Head coach Don Maestri said UTSA was the third-best team in the non-conference schedule behind Mississippi State and Belmont.


Recruiting update: Today (Wednesday) begins the midyear signing period. Troy can add players until the last day to enroll in the spring semester. The list should be a lengthy one.

I believe these guys are set to sign, but will have to double check and see if they actually do:

**LB Wayland Coleman-Dancer from Mississippi Delta Community College committed on Tuesday and said he is signing today.
**DE Brandon Timmons from Northwest Mississippi Community College told me when he committed that he would be a January enrollee.
**DB Shaquille Beverly from First Coast High School in Jacksonville will enroll early. Not sure if that means he signs a LOI during this period or not.
**OL Chris Hawkins from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, I think, is supposed to sign early. I will come back and correct this if I am wrong. He will have three years of eligibility left.
**QB Deon Anthony, from Hinds CC in Mississippi, if he follows through on his original commitment, is supposed to sign early. He got some interest from Pitt, but then Pitt's head coach bailed for Arizona State. I tried to reach Anthony on Tuesday night, to no avail.
(Wed. morning edit) **P Will Scott from Gulf Coast Community College is expected to sign and come in and challenge for the starting punting job.

There may be some more JUCO guys that end up signing, but we will see.

Three players grayshirted from the 2011 signing class and were expected to enroll in January. We'll find out if they actually do, but they are...
***OL Bartavis Whigham (Northview High School in Dothan)
***DB Chris Davis (Thomasville, Ala.)
***K/P Ryan Kay (Hampton, Ga.)

And then you get the two receivers who missed the year because of grades.
***Jamel Johnson - played at Holmes CC as a sophomore, even tweeted that Auburn called him but he was firm to Troy. Will be back for spring and will be a junior in the fall.
***Chip Reeves - Was ineligible this year and will be a fifth-year senior in the fall if he holds up his end of the bargain. Unsure if he'll participate in spring ball but he knows the offense and speed doesn't usually slump if you keep working at it. And he's got speed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick commitment update

Wayland Coleman-Dancer, a linebacker from Miss. Delta Community College, confirmed that he committed to Troy and will sign tomorrow.

I'm at the Troy-Southern Utah basketball game and will try to get up with him tomorrow for a longer story.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tuesday links

Troy basketball is back at home tonight against Southern Utah. It's a rematch of a game that Troy won 80-76 in Utah to start a 3-game win streak. Head coach Don Maestri said he expects the Thunderbirds (4-5), of the Summit League and 0-4 on the road, to give the Trojans some different looks offensively and defensively.

Troy (4-5) is losers of two straight and Southern Utah is losers of three straight.

But I did write a feature on guard/forward Emil Jones, who has impressed since moving into the starting lineup. If Jones had stuck with football, he could be starting at QB for Marshall in tonight's Beef O'Brady's Bowl against FIU.

But he took a chance with basketball, his first love, and it paid off with a scholarship offer from Troy. If Troy hadn't signed him early, he would have made it to a bigger school because he really blew up in his second year of JUCO. Jones starred in football, basketball and baseball throughout high school and was going to go to Southern Miss to play football, but grades sent him to Pearl River CC.

You can read the story HERE.

Also, point guard Will Weathers is on the Cousy Award watch list.

I'll be at the game tonight. Follow me on twitter @dothaneagletroy

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sun Belt: ULL wins New Orleans Bowl

Wild game at the New Orleans Bowl, as UL-Lafayette knocks off San Diego State 32-30 on a last-second field goal from 50 yards out by Brett Baer.

It would have been a 55-yarder, but SDSU was flagged 5 yards for attempting to draw ULL offsides. Sort of like when Troy was playing ULL at home in 2010, and lining up for a field goal on fourth and less than 5, and ULL was called for "disconcerting signals" or simulating the snap count.

Blaine Gautier threw for 474 yards, breaking Corey Robinson's record of 383 yards in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl win over Ohio.

FIU represents the Sun Belt Tuesday night in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl against Marshall.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

First Coast falls/Addison shining with Colts

Not a good day for First Coast High School, losing 40-0 in the Class 7A state finals in Florida to Manatee.

But the two Troy commits had some good numbers.

Wide receiver Brandon Brooks had 3 catches for 123 yards, including a long gain of 79 (when was the last time a Troy receiver had a 79-yard reception? sure wasn't in '11). Brooks' playmaking ability will be a welcome sight for the Trojans.

Cornerback Shaquille Beverly had seven tackles.

Box score HERE.

**On a non-Troy note, it was neat to see Jonas Randolph of Mars Hill College win the Harlon Hill Award for the country's best Division II football player. Randolph, a running back, graduated from nearby Daleville High School and, in 2007, when he was a senior, I wrote a feature on him. Never knew where he ended up, until earlier today. A big assist to Kim Allen at WTVY for alerting me when he called to say Randolph was a finalist and we were wondering what number he wore at Daleville.

***Former Trojan defensive end Mario Addison, who had a phenomenal senior year in 2010 as a starter, made the Bears out of camp as an undrafted free agent, but was cut during the middle of the season and quickly picked up by the Colts. Check THIS STORY out on how well Addison is playing for the Colts.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Two future Trojans going for state title

Two Trojan commits - wide receiver Brandon Brooks and cornerback Shaquille Beverly - are going for a state championship tonight as First Coast plays Manatee in the Class 7A Florida state championship.

The game is at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando at 7 p.m. If you read this blog and live in Florida and have SUN Sports, you should be able to watch the game on that channel.

This game is filled with players who are major college prospects. HERE is a look from the Bradenton Herald, which is where Manatee is. First Coast is near Jacksonville.

HERE is a capsule.

If you want to listen to the game, go HERE. That seems to be from the Manatee side.

The FHSAA web site is HERE and a link to live stats and other radio can be found HERE.

As far as video, HERE is a link, but not sure if that's live or delayed.

Beverly and Brooks were among Troy's first commits, and those two plus Bartram Trail High receiver Bobby Walker were all recruited by Jeff Beckles and are all three-star recruits on

Brooks already has more than 1,000 yards receiving. What's impressive is that he's done that with a freshman quarterback.

Here's the good thing about Shaq Beverly - he is graduating high school early and is slated to enroll at Troy in January. Remember how that helped current freshman Zach Johnson earn a spot in Troy's offensive line rotation and eventually become the starting right guard after Jacob Creech got hurt.

I'd say after 3-9, most, if not all, spots will have wide open competition and since spring practices move at a slower pace and allow for much more learning, then Beverly has a great chance to play as a true freshman.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Troy falls at Belmont

Could only follow this on gametracker from work, but Troy lost big at Belmont after a poor second half.

Game recap HERE.

Box score HERE.

Troy (4-5) hosts Southern Utah next Tuesday and UT-San Antonio on Thursday. I'll be at the first game, but after that, it's off to visit the families.

Trojans at Belmont tonight

Troy is back on the road tonight, at Belmont. You can read my game preview HERE. Above, that's R.J. Scott (AP photo) playing some defense against Mississippi State.

Belmont is a very good team, but the hope for Troy is that the Bruins will be tired after playing a tough rivalry game at Middle Tennessee (a loss) just two nights ago.

But Belmont is very good, having lost at Duke by only one point. Can you imagine any Sun Belt team going to Duke and playing the Blue Devils that close?

Belmont waxed Troy last year, but this is a different Troy team. Coach Don Maestri said most of the Bruins are back from last year. He said he felt like his team was nervous before playing at Mississippi State.

Watching them jack up some very quick shots, I'd believe it. If Troy does that against Belmont, it'll be a long night.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Panama City running back commits to Troy

Andre Allen, a 3-star running back from Arnold High School in Panama City, has committed to Troy, per THIS REPORT out of WJHG in Panama City.

I placed a call to Allen and if I hear back, will update. I had talked to him a few weeks ago, and he said he was probably going to wait till making a visit in January to commit, but it looks like he pulled the trigger earlier. I trust this report.

Allen ran for more than 2,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.

**** (Star count is the highest rated I could find the commitment listed on all of the recruiting sites - rivals, scout, ESPN,

***Brandon Silvers (QB, Gulf Shores, Ala.)
**Brandon Burks (RB, Daleville, Ala.)
***Andre Allen (RB, Panama City, Fla.)
**Cody Core (WR, Auburn, Ala.)
***Bobby Walker (WR, Fruit Cove, Fla.)
***Brandon Brooks (WR, Jacksonville, Fla.)
**Michael Lindsey (WR, Elba, Ala.)
Antonio Garcia (OL, Riverdale, Ga.)
***Luke Lawrence (OL, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
**Mitchell Roland (LB, Auburn, Ala.)
***Shaquille Beverly (DB, Jacksonville, Fla.)
JaQuadrian Lewis (DB, Fitzgerald, Ga.)
John Knight (DB, Thomasville, Ala.)
Deon Anthony (QB/ATH, Hinds, Miss. CC)
***Chris Hawkins (OL, Hutchinson, Kan. CC)
**Brandon Timmons (DE, Northwest Miss. CC)

Honors for Ray, Hannah

Troy's Tyler Ray and Tyler Hannah were named to the NCBWA 2012 Preseason All-American Team.

You can read the release HERE.

Ray, a RHP, and Hannah, who is expected to move from 3B to SS, could both be the Sun Belt Preseason Pitcher and Player of the Year when those lists come out in February.

Quick look: 2012 Special Teams

And now we're on to special teams. Troy has a few question marks here, as far as who is going to kick and snap. Especially as far as who is going to kick.

KICKER: Michael Taylor had some big kicks in his career (vs. UAB this year, vs. Bowling Green in '10, vs. CMU in the bowl), and missed some extra points this year, but for anyone to think he's easily replaced is wrong. Taylor handled kickoffs for all four years and extra points and FGs for 2.5 years. I'd look for three guys to battle it out - this year's backup in Jed Solomon, who took a redshirt, Spencer Martin, who kicked in the WKU game and Ryan Kay, who signed in 2011 but delayed full-time enrollment until next January as a grayshirt. I couldn't tell you who has an edge.

PUNTER: This one is more tricky, as four-year starter Will Goggans must be replaced. When Ryan Kay signed, it was to have a chance to handle kicking, punting and kickoffs. So, he's a guy that could be the punter. Troy, I'm guessing, will also sign a JUCO or high school punter or they have some walk-ons planned to fight for the job in spring practice. I can at least throw some names out there for the kicking spot, but it's harder to find some punters on my end.

HOLDER: Jaquon Robinson, a wide receiver, handled these duties last year and I'd imagine he will do the same as a senior.

LONG SNAPPER: Wes Henry graduated after a solid three-year career. Look for Hunter Graham and Kendall Gibson to battle it out here.

PUNT RETURNER: Justin Albert was pretty solid here and got better as the season went along. He dropped his very first chance at Clemson, but the only other one I remember was at Arkansas State and that one wasn't his fault.

KICK RETURNER: Chandler Worthy ended up doing very well here as the main kick returner. So many other options as the No. 2 KR, guys like Chris Anderson are fast and a new recruit could be put back there to team up with Worthy.

Also, Troy has a new SID

2:30 p.m. WED UPDATE - Official release from Troy.

His name is Adam Prendergast. He accepted the job officially earlier today.

Prendergast, 31, has been at UL-Monroe for the past four years. Prior to that, he was at Campbell in the A-Sun and Spring Hill College. Adam is from Alabama and went to school at Auburn. His wife is from Alabama and the two have an 18-month-old son with a little girl due sometime in January, so it's good for the two of them to get back closer to family.

You can follow Adam on twitter @adprende

Absolutely thrilled to be joining the Family and extremely grateful to for four plus great years!

Adam replaces Ricky Hazel, who served Troy well from 2004-2011 and is now at Stetson.

Arkansas State has its man

And his name is Gus Malzahn.

Malzahn, the former Auburn offensive coordinator, is the new head coach at Arkansas State, replacing Hugh Freeze, who is now at Ole Miss.

A lot of excitement in Jonesboro. Auburn's offense was great with the superhuman Cam Newton last year, but was really, really bad this year. We'll find out if Gus is the real deal or if his head coach was really holding him back during this football season. I think he's pretty legit and he'll have a pretty good cast to work with, including Sun Belt Player of the Year Ryan Aplin at QB and some talented receivers.

But the key part, according to, is the pay scale: $850,000. Freeze was barely making $200,000. How does Arkansas State have that much money to spend?

Based on what I could find HERE - a list of Sun Belt coaching salaries, from lowest to highest. This link also indicates that Hudspeth is supposed to get a raise. Based on how much more Larry Blakeney has accomplished, he doesn't deserve to be at the bottom of this list and it makes you wonder if Troy is taking him for granted. If and when he leaves, does Troy have the big bucks to shell out for a new coach? Remember that no one has been able to secure naming rights for a stadium since Movie Gallery went kaput, and must raise some money ($5 million, I believe) to even put shovel to the ground on a new football building to enclose the north end zone.

UL-Monroe: Todd Berry, $225,000
UL-Lafayette: Mark Hudspeth, $360,000
Troy: Larry Blakeney, $380,000
Florida Atlantic: Carl Pelini $450,000
WKU - Willie Taggart $475,000 (very recent raise)
Florida International: Mario Cristobal, $497,183
North Texas: Dan McCarney, $545,000
Middle Tennessee State: Rick Stockstill, $588,780
Arkansas State: Gus Malzahn $850,000

Troy certainly is spending the money, building the new basketball arena and other dorms, dining hall, fraternity village, etc. You have to wonder how much is there for athletics.

On another note, again a WOW on getting Malzahn for $850K, if that number ends up being true. When I saw ASU go to 8-0 in Sun Belt play with a win over Troy on Dec. 3, there were 14K fans. When I saw Troy improve to 3-7 with a win over a winless FAU, there were 12K at Troy. Not much of a difference given the quality of the two teams this year. Now, it was hunting season when ASU was hosting Troy, but you can't really say that ASU's fanbase is any stronger than Troy's. But maybe they're (fans, boosters) just spending more money.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blakeney "Nobody has been fired"

The rumor mill got fired up when Illinois defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, a former Troy defensive coordinator, made some comments about Troy.

Go to THIS VIDEO and go to the 12-minute mark, and he mentions Troy, but no job is open at Troy. One of the Illinois reporters tweeted out that Koenning mentioned an open job at Troy, but if you listen to the comments, he didn't say that a job was open at Troy.

Koenning was offered to stay on as DC at Illinois and has until Wednesday to make up his mind. He did speak about the coaching brotherhood at Troy and remains in contact with Troy coaches.

"Nobody's been fired," Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. "Vic is a friend and I talk to him as far as consulting goes, but we're just talking as friends."

"We start evaluating from the top and my job is the first to be evaluated provided I'm still in charge, and then everybody else. It's not different then after any season and it certainly isn't different when you go 3-9."

I did ask Blakeney about Neal Brown, his former offensive coordinator who is in the mix for the Arkansas State head coaching job.

"In my opinion, Neal is as ready as any young guy can be to be a head coach," Blakeney said.

But, to sum it up, Troy's assistant coaching staff is still in place.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Some quick Tuesday notes

I do plan on getting up a Quick look: 2012 Special Teams, but may push it back a day.

***Troy hoops returns to the hardwood Thursday night at Belmont. Belmont is very good, probably the second-best team Troy will see this year. Belmont waxed Troy at home last year, but this year's Troy team is better and I expect them to put up a much better fight, even if the game is in Belmont. Belmont and Middle Tennessee, who looks like the Sun Belt's best team, play Tues. night at 7 p.m. at MTSU. Earlier this year, the two teams played to an 87-84 OT win by Belmont.

Belmont's only losses were at Duke (1 pt) and at Memphis (16 pts), two top 10 teams.

***Some recruiting notes - according to Andrew Bone of, wide receiver commit Cody Core was just offered by Kentucky and plans to take a visit there on Jan. 21, though according to the premium article, he may have to make a decision not too long from now. Ironically, Core started following me on twitter tonight. I've seen Core play once, and he's a different-type WR than the other commits, it seems. He's big and physical, and has a chance to be a pretty good player.

***Also on the recruiting note, 3-star WR Bobby Walker's Bartram Trail team fell a game short of the state title game in Florida, losing to nationally-ranked Seffner in the semis last week. Walker didn't play because of an ankle injury. Heading into a quarterfinal game, Walker had 41 catches for 555 yards and 8 TDs, so he probably upped those stats a little bit.

***Arkansas State is looking for a head coach, and reports around there suggest former Troy offensive coordinator Neal Brown is a top candidate, along with some others. Brown has been at Texas Tech for two yeas as the OC, and interviewed at UAB but the Blazers hired Garrick McGee. If Brown is ASU's choice, he and Josh Jarboe would be reunited.

Quick look: 2012 Defense

Made a similar blog post for the offense last week. Now, time to take a quick look at the 2012 defense. Again, I'm not listing everybody on the roster, thus the "quick look" format.

DEFENSIVE END - Jonathan Massaquoi is the team's top 2013 NFL Draft prospect and could possibly even get selected if he wanted to go pro a year early. His numbers as a junior weren't as good as his sophomore year, but his 2010 numbers were almost unreal and hard to top and he still earned all-conference honors. If he gets closer to that level in 2012, he'll have a chance to make more money and Troy will be better. Opposite him, I wonder if it's Tony Davis (pictured, Lamar Higgins photo) shifting from defensive tackle to end, as he started against Arkansas State and did well. That'll probably depend on how other defensive tackles step up. Other options include rising senior Xavian Evans, junior college transfer commit Brandon Timmons and two freshmen that redshirted and have bright futures if they take care of business and get bigger and stronger in Djori Johnson and Deon Lee.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE - Troy should improve here next year as most of the guys who played are back and have at least two years left. Tony Davis was all-conference honorable mention but could move to end. Shermane TeArt and John Clark played the most after Davis and will be redshirt juniors. Former walk-on Kyle Lucas got his first big action this year and he'll be a senior. Aaron Williams played more as the season went along and he'll be a junior. Beyond that, Troy is hunting some depth. Tony Gillespie will be a senior, but he didn't play in the last two games and didn't make as big of an impact transferring from junior college as most thought. Troy is hunting some recruits who can come in and add depth.

LINEBACKER - Troy loses one starter in MLB Xavier Lamb. His top backup was rising sophomore Brach Bessant, so he'll have the first shot there, most likely. Senior Jacoby Thomas has shown flashes and I've wondered why he doesn't play more and has played different linebacker spots. Brannon Bryan started every game at WLB and he'll be back as a senior. He's steady. Kanorris Davis suffered a serious ankle injury against WKU, but he should be ready for the fall. His leadership is crucial for a team that needs it. Beyond those guys, you've got Angelo Hadley, a rising junior who started a few games at nickel, and some redshirt freshmen in Tyler Roberts and Terron Bell.

CORNERBACK - Troy's top two corners this year - Bryan Willis and Jimmie Anderson - each missed multiple games because of injuries. Willis will be back for his senior year. Chris Pickett will be a junior and he's started a lot, but is still looking for his first interception. Ethan Davis and Dimitri Miles played a good amount as freshmen. Miles could end up here, at safety or even linebacker because of his size and I think he'll grow into a good one. Troy could certainly use some more immediate help here going into 2012.

SAFETY - Brynden Trawick led the Sun Belt in tackles, but that means it's because the front 7 didn't do its job. Trawick will be a senior and he's extremely physical but needs to be making some interceptions for the Trojans to be good. Barry Valcin will be a senior and he's made some plays when he's gotten in the game. I've got to think that those two are your projected starters. Cam Hudson will have something to say about that, as he earned a start but then injured his hamstring before the last three games. He'll be a junior. Beyond those three, there are questions. It's possible Pickett could move to safety, and Joe Lofton redshirted last year. Regardless, Troy needs some immediate help at either safety, corner or both and defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell indicated as such when talking to him before the ASU game.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game

Alabama defeated Mississippi 31-12 in the all-star game at Montgomery's Cramton Bowl.

Full stats HERE.

The Troy commitments didn't get a whole lot of action. Cody Core caught 1 pass for 31 yards, which I believe was on a third and long. Core also threw one pass back to quarterback Jameis Winston for a loss of nine yards on a reverse pass.

Brandon Burks of Daleville didn't record any stats. I did see him go back to field a punt, but didn't get any carries or balls thrown his way.

In Florida High School action, two Troy commits are playing for a Class 7A (Fla. goes up to 8A) state title next weekend. Cornerback Shaq Beverly and wide receiver Brandon Brooks of First Coast High School will play Manatee Friday at 7 p.m. EST at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando for the state title.

Brooks has 40 catches for 927 yards (TDs not listed), but MaxPreps might not be fully updated for First Coast. I didn't see any defensive stats on there.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trojans blasted at Mississippi State

It was a mismatch from the start (AP photo), as Mississippi State's size and length overwhelmed Troy, and the Bulldogs drilled every shot from outside to boot.

Recap HERE and box score HERE. Lengthier AP recap HERE

Head coach Don Maestri told me Friday that the Trojans would need to work the ball around well, burn some shot clock and make MSU play defense longer, but that didn't happen. Troy forced a lot of shots early in the shot clock and MSU made them pay.

The good news is that's the best team Troy will face this year. The second-best team is probably Belmont, where Troy goes Thursday.

Bear in mind that Troy hosts MSU to open the 2012-13 season, and that means the Bulldogs will be the opening opponent in Troy's new arena.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What to watch for this weekend

First off, Troy has a basketball game at No. 17 Mississippi State. The game is at 3 p.m., and televised by SportSouth. Troy has gone to MSU twice in the last five years and, quite frankly, choked away double-digit leads. It'll be harder this time, as MSU has all kinds of size. MSU small forward Rodney Hood, at 6-foot-8, would be about the tallest Trojan.

So, Troy's going to have to limit turnovers and hit some threes to have a chance. Game preview on HERE.

(photo - Alan Jones has some hops - AP photo/Troy Messenger/Thomas Graning)

Forward Steven Cunningham is still out for four more weeks with an eye injury.

RECRUITING: Troy is hosting four official visitors this weekend. My guess is that the three junior college visitors would be guys who enrolled in January.

One is Thomasville linebacker/safety John Knight, who recently committed.

Eli Canton is a 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker from Northeast Mississippi Community College. As a freshman this year, he was all-conference and had 50 tackles, 11 TFL.

Will Scott is a punter from Miss. Gulf Coast. He was the No. 3-ranked punter in NJCAA with 43.2 yards per punt. Obviously, Troy has a need for a punter.

Wayland Coleman-Dancer is a linebacker from Mississippi Delta Community College. I couldn't find very much on him, but I hope he commits and becomes a regular player because he'd immediately have the best name of a college football player that I ever covered.

ALL-STAR GAME: The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game is Saturday at 12:30 p.m. If you live in Dothan, it's on WDFX.

The website, with rosters, TV listings, etc. is HERE.

Troy has two commitments in the game, Daleville running back Brandon Burks - who is playing slot receiver in this game - and Auburn High receiver Cody Core.

HERE is a story I wrote previewing the game from a Wiregrass angle.

Trojans selected to All-Freshman team

(Chandler Worthy (89), Terrence Jones (75), Zach Johnson (58) - Lamar Higgins photo)

Since the Sun Belt doesn't have an official freshman team, one beat writer for each team sent some nominations to Adam Sparks of the Daily News in Murfreesboro, and he put this together. I sent him the Troy freshmen that played, and almost all of them made it. If you're a fan of another team and reading this, and your favorite freshman didn't make it, well, blame Adam. Or blame someone who didn't nominate him.

Created by Sun Belt newspaper beat writers, independent of conference office.

QB - Jake Medlock (Florida International)
RB - Frankie Jackson (Arkansas State)
RB - Alonzo Harris (Louisiana-Lafayette)
WR - Chandler Worthy (Troy)
WR - Rico Brown (Western Kentucky)
WR - Reggie Whatley (Middle Tennessee)
WR - Earl Lucas (Arkansas State)
WR - Colby Harper (Louisiana-Monroe)
TE - Mitchell Henry (Western Kentucky)
OL - Cyril Lemon (North Texas)
OL - Antonio Johnson (North Texas)
OL - Mason Y’Barbo (North Texas)
OL - Daniel Quave (Louisiana-Lafayette)
OL - Joseph Treadwell (Louisiana-Monroe)
OL - Zach Johnson (Troy)
OL - Terrence Jones (Troy)

DL - Jiajuan Fennell (Middle Tennessee)
DL - Shubert Bastien (Middle Tennessee)
DL - Leighton Gasque (Middle Tennessee)
LB - Andrae Kirk (Florida Atlantic)
LB - Jacob Molbert (Louisiana-Lafayette)
LB - Mike Stojkovic (North Texas)
DB - Freddie Warner (North Texas)
DB - Richard Leonard (Florida International)
DB - Justin Halley (Florida International)
DB - Sterling Young (Arkansas State)
DB - Dimitri Miles (Troy)

K - Justin Manton (Louisiana-Monroe)
P - Connor Fryoux (Louisiana-Monroe)
AP - Chandler Worthy (Troy)
Ret - Josh Evans (Western Kentucky)


* 30 players (31 spots because one player listed at two positions)
North Texas - 5
Troy - 4 (5 total spots because Worthy twice)
Louisiana-Monroe - 4
Middle Tennessee - 4
Western Kentucky - 3
Arkansas State - 3
Louisiana-Lafayette - 3
Florida International - 3
Florida Atlantic - 1

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quick look: 2012 offense

Because now's as good of a time as any, we'll look at the 2012 units over the next few days. I won't mention everyone that's returning - save that for spring - but will try to tie in some recruits.

So, here's the 2012 offense

QUARTERBACK - Corey Robinson's numbers were down a bit as a sophomore (62.2% completion, 3,411 yards, 21 TD, 15 INT) from his freshman (63.5%, 3,707 yards, 28 TDs, 15 INT), but I don't really buy the sophomore slump mention. As a freshmen, he threw a ton of shovel passes to Jerrel Jernigan and had better receivers and a more veteran offensive line in 2010. He also battled injuries all year, but never came out. He'll probably break all of Troy's career records next year. Behind him, looks like the backup battle will be between a couple of redshirt freshmen in Luke Barnes and Dallas Tidwell. JUCO quarterback Deon Anthony told me last week he was committed, but it seems like Pitt is putting the full-court press on him and if they offer, he may well end up there. So, I'd look for the Troy QB rotation next year to include Robinson, Barnes and Tidwell, and possibly redshirt freshman K.D. Edenfield as a change of pace guy.

RUNNING BACK - All of Troy's running backs are back, and most will be seniors. Shawn Southward (556 yards, 4 TD) and D.J. Taylor (367 yards, 6 TD) emerged as the top two guys. Chris Anderson (217 yards, 1 TD) is in the mix, but didn't get a carry over three of the last four games and played slot WR at WKU. Brian Exley was the fourth back, but didn't play much. T.J. Mitchell will be a senior. Daron White will be a redshirt freshman and he was impressive in fall camp. This wasn't a particularly strong group this year (last in the Sun Belt in rushing offense) and the top guys had some key fumbles.

WIDE RECEIVER - Eric Thomas (67-875 yards-9 TD, pictured above, AP photo) was Troy's best and most consistent offensive skill player this year, and Chandler Worthy (22-392-4 TD) emerged as a real threat down the stretch. Thomas will be a junior next year and Worthy a sophomore. Troy should have Jamel Johnson back from junior college and Chip Reeves back from sitting out the year as both were academically ineligible. I'd expect them to revert back to 2010 form because Johnson played his sophomore year in junior college and in Reeves' case, speed is always there assuming he kept in shape. An early look could have Thomas and Reeves at X, Justin Albert (40-338-1 TD) and Corey Johnson (43-440) at H, Worthy and Jaquon Robinson (18-211-2 TD) at Y and Jamel Johnson and Felton Payton (13-120-2 TD) at Z. B.J. Chitty (16-125-1 TD) is also in the mix. Then you factor in Troy signing several wide receivers, and Jacksonville-area receivers Brandon Brooks and Bobby Walker, as well as Elba's Michael Lindsey, come in with impressive credentials.

TIGHT END - Jim Teknipp and Gavin Ellis return as juniors next year. Neither get many balls thrown their way - 3 receptions each - but both do their assignments right when they're in the game.

OFFENSIVE LINE - This group loses two key seniors in left tackle James Brown and center Zach Swindall, but has a chance to be pretty good in 2012. Zach Johnson at right guard and Terrence Jones at right tackle both started most of the year as freshmen. Kyle Wilborn is one of the best linemen in the Sun Belt, but will have shoulder surgery again in the offseason. He'll probably be back at left guard. Who will the center be? Andrew Phillips was the backup last year, or Johnson/Wilborn could slide there. Jarred Fleming started games at left guard and right tackle and could end up as the left tackle. Redshirt freshman Dalton Bennett could get in the mix. Jimmie Arnold played a decent amount at left guard this year when Wilborn was hurt. Coach John Schlarman mentioned guys like Cody Jenkins and DeMarkus Underwood needing to step up. Chris Hawkins is a junior college recruit with three years left to play three, and he'll challenge for a spot.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

All-Sun Belt team

As released by the Sun Belt - six Trojan players made the list - 2 on first team, 2 on second team, 2 honorable mention

First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Offense
Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State, Jr., QB)
Lance Dunbar (North Texas, Sr., RB)
Bobby Rainey (WKU, Sr., RB)
Dwayne Frampton (Arkansas State, Sr., WR)
T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Sr., WR)
Javone Lawson (Louisiana-Lafayette, WR, Jr.)
Ladarius Green (Louisiana-Lafayette, TE, Sr.)
Tom Castilaw (Arkansas State, Sr., OL)
Colin Boss (Middle Tennessee, r-Sr., OL)
Matt Tomlinson (North Texas, Sr., OL)
Wes Jeffries (WKU, Sr., OL)
James Brown (Troy, Sr., OL)

First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Defense
Brandon Joiner (Arkansas State, Sr., DL)
Bernard Smith (Louisiana-Lafayette, DL, Sr.)
Ken Dorsey (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., DL)
Jonathan Massaquoi (Troy, Jr., DL)
Demario Davis (Arkansas State, Sr., LB)
Lance Kelley (Louisiana-Lafayette, Sr., LB)
Andrew Jackson (WKU, So., LB)
Darryl Feemster (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)
Kelcie McCray (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)
Dwight “Bill” Bentley (Louisiana-Lafayette, DB, Sr.)
Darius Prelow (Louisiana-Monroe, Sr., DB)

First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Special Teams
Jack Griffin (FIU, Jr., PK)
Will Atterberry (North Texas, Jr., P)
T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Sr., Return Specialist)
T.Y. Hilton (FIU, Sr., All Purpose)

Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Offense
Blaine Gautier (Louisiana-Lafayette, QB, Jr.)
Alfred Morris (Florida Atlantic, Sr., RB)
Kedrick Rhodes (FIU, So., RB)
Josh Jarboe (Arkansas State, Jr., WR)
Brent Leonard (Louisiana-Monroe, Jr., WR)
Eric Thomas (Troy, So., WR)
Jack Doyle (WKU, Jr., TE)
Delano Moore (Arkansas State, Sr., OL)
Caylin Hauptmann (FIU, R-Jr., OL)
Leonardo Bates (Louisiana-Lafayette, OL, Jr.)
Brandon McLeroy (Middle Tennessee, Sr., OL)
Adam Smith (WKU, Jr., OL)

Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Defense
Dorvus Woods (Arkansas State, Sr., DL)
Tourek Williams (FIU, Jr., DL)
Brandon Akpunku (North Texas, Sr., DL)
Quanterus Smith (WKU, Jr., DL)
Nathan Herrold (Arkansas State, Jr., LB)
Winston Fraser (FIU, r-Jr., LB)
Zachary Orr (North Texas, So., LB)
Darron Edwards (Arkansas State, Sr., DB)
Jonathan Cyprien (FIU, Jr., DB)
Brynden Trawick (Troy, Jr., DB)
Derrius Brooks (WKU, Sr., DB)

Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference Special Teams
Brett Baer (Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr., PK)
Brett Baer (Louisiana-Lafayette, Jr., P)
Luther Ambrose (ULM, Sr., Return Specialist)
Dwayne Frampton (Arkansas State, Sr., All Purpose)

Player of the Year
Ryan Aplin (Arkansas State, Jr., QB)

Offensive Player of the Year
Bobby Rainey (WKU, Sr., RB)

Defensive Player of the Year
Brandon Joiner (Arkansas State, Sr., DL)

Freshman of the Year
Alonzo Harris (Louisiana-Lafayette, RB, Fr.)

Coach of the Year
Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State

Honorable Mention All-Conference
Taylor Stockemer (Arkansas State, Jr., WR); Neely Sullivent (Arkansas State, Sr., P); Sam McRoy (Florida Atlantic, Sr., OL); Randell Johnson (Florida Atlantic, So., LB); Rupert Bryan (FIU, Jr., OL); James Jones (FIU, Sr., DL); Devon Lewis-Buchanan (Louisiana-Lafayette, LB, Sr.); Melvin White (Louisiana-Lafayette, DB, Sr.); Omar McLendon (Middle Tennessee, Jr., DL); Eric Russell (Middle Tennessee, Sr., DB/RS); Troy Evans (ULM, Sr., DL); Jason Edwards (ULM, Sr., LB); Cyril Lemon (North Texas, Fr., OL); Brelan Chancellor (North Texas, So., AP); Tony Davis (Troy, Jr., DL); Kanorris Davis (Troy, Jr., LB); Jared Clendenin (WKU, Sr., DL); Bo Adebayo (WKU, Sr., DL)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Some Monday night thoughts

***No press conference today for the end of the season. Didn't really check on injured guys after the game, because there are no more games and no one looked to be seriously injured like Kanorris Davis was at WKU. Corey Robinson hurt his shoulder on a sack early in the game and, like the warrior on the field he was all season, he battled through it. I think Robinson played more hurt than most people realize, and with the exception of a couple of games during the middle of the season where the offense as a whole struggled, I thought he had a decent year, and will be better again next year with more playmakers. People say that a coach is as good as his assistants, but a QB is as good as his playmakers. Unless said QB is a playmaker himself like RGIII of Baylor.

***I had a Harris Poll vote. Feel free to rank me as a "bad" voter HERE. It's public, so you have a right to see it and no reason for me to hide from it. In hindsight, are there some rankings I'd like to switch? Sure, but if you're not playing in the BCS title game, it really doesn't matter, and I didn't keep Boise State out of the Sugar Bowl, your kicker did. (5 coaches voted Boise State 11th, including Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Mark Hudspeth and ULM's Todd Berry rated BSU 13th).

***All-conference picks come out either Tuesday or Wednesday. Troy won't be very highly represented like in years past. Eric Thomas, who led the SBC in touchdown catches, should be at least a second-teamer. James Brown should be on there somewhere. I'd like to see Kyle Wilborn - another warrior on the field - get on there, because he didn't allow a sack. Jonathan Massaquoi will probably land on there. His numbers weren't as dominant as last year, but all tallied up, were still pretty good. Troy will also have an honorable mention offense and defense (or special teams) player. Usually, the higher-up teams are more heavily represented and that's how it should be.

***Arkansas State might be the best Sun Belt team I've seen since covering the league beginning in 2005. Troy in 2009 had more talent, but gave up more yards - however, that schedule included QBs such as NFLers Ryan Mallett, Tim Tebow and Dan LeFevour, and teams piled up yards in the second half against Troy's backups as the Trojans got off to big leads in conference play. Troy 2009 vs. ASU 2011 would be one heck of a matchup.

***However, ASU is looking for a new head coach as Hugh Freeze bolted for Ole Miss after one successful season. Well-deserved, and I think he'll do a good job there. Freeze is the first Sun Belt head coach to leave for a better gig.

***Bowl matchups are as follows: UL-Lafayette vs. San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 17, 8 p.m., ESPN); FIU vs. Marshall in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl (Dec. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN) and Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois in the Bowl (Jan. 8, 8 p.m., ESPN). Full bowl schedule HERE.

***I'll post a very early look at the 2012 offense and defense on the blog over the next couple of days. I don't know how different the coaching staff or roster will look. Pretty much every school has turnover on the staff or roster after every season, so who knows what will happen. When I look at Troy's 2012 roster, I see a lot of guys who played a lot of football during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The 2012 team should be one of the more experienced Troy teams, and if the holes can be filled through recruiting and a bunch of guys don't get ineligible or hurt, I look for a better record than 3-9. Really, only one way to go from here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thomasville athlete commits to Troy

Thomasville, Ala., athlete John Knight committed to Troy on Sunday.

Knight said he is an athlete and listed at 6-foot and 190 pounds. Knight played running back, cornerback, linebacker, safety and receiver for Thomasville, one of the top Class 4A programs in Alabama.

"I want to play on the defensive side of the ball," Knight said. "Strong safety, or something like that."

Knight said he picked Troy because, "I liked everything about the program."

Knight's main recruiter was defensive ends coach Randy Butler. He said he had recruiting interest from Kentucky, Southern Miss, South Alabama, Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Memphis and an offer from Jacksonville State.

I will update this list with all updates to Troy's 2012 recruiting class. A link will be posted on the right side of the blog.

**** (Star count is the highest rated I could find the commitment listed on all of the recruiting sites - rivals, scout, ESPN,

***Brandon Silvers (QB, Gulf Shores, Ala.)
**Brandon Burks (RB, Daleville, Ala.)
**Cody Core (WR, Auburn, Ala.)
***Bobby Walker (WR, Fruit Cove, Fla.)
***Brandon Brooks (WR, Jacksonville, Fla.)
**Michael Lindsey (WR, Elba, Ala.)
Antonio Garcia (OL, Riverdale, Ga.)
***Luke Lawrence (OL, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
**Mitchell Roland (LB, Auburn, Ala.)
***Shaquille Beverly (DB, Jacksonville, Fla.)
JaQuadrian Lewis (DB, Fitzgerald, Ga.)
John Knight (DB, Thomasville, Ala.)
Deon Anthony (QB/ATH, Hinds, Miss. CC)
***Chris Hawkins (OL, Hutchinson, Kan. CC)
**Brandon Timmons (DE, Northwest Miss. CC)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Postgame links

Game story - HERE

Notebook - HERE

How bout the basketball team? Third straight win, over Miami of Ohio. Troy beat Miami worse than Cincinnati and Xavier did. Recap HERE

It's been a long day for me, and I'm driving 420 miles home tomorrow, so a long day there as well. Will post some more thoughts later tomorrow night and maybe check twitter at some gas stations.

Quotes after ASU 45, Troy 14

Not much time for analysis, but that may come later on. Need to drive back to Southaven, but here's some quotes.

"You can’t give a good football like that opportunities over and over again. They’re a very polished football team, very seasoned, you can’t do that to a good football team. I wish the best of luck to those guys in their bowl."

(Where do you go from here?) "Up. That’s the only way we can go. I just said something to all the guys in the locker room. I appreciate the seniors and all they’ve done. Five championships isn’t a bad college career. I let all the younger guys that are coming back that we’re about to go to work. It’s about to become a job again for everybody. I don’t want the fans in Troy to lose faith because we’re going to be back next year."

"We’re going to do everything different. Obviously the stuff we did this year didn’t work. We’re going to do everything different and see which way we can go. Everybody’s back and healthy, get some new receivers and O-linemen in and all of that. We’re going to get some new playmakers in and everybody’s going to be ready to go."

(on the TD) "All the credit on that catch goes to Eric Thomas. He made a great catch, nice run after the catch, breaking all sorts of tackles. I saw him tangled up and he had his hands free. I was screaming at him, he tossed me the ball and I went into the end zone."

(Did you have momentum coming out of the half?) "Definitely. We didn’t make the plays we had to to keep the momentum. We were leaving our defense on the field and they were getting tired and we weren’t able to sustain drives."

(Where do you go from here?) "In the offseason, we work hard. We know how to work. We’re trying to get to a bowl game and getting back to being Sun Belt champs. We’re going to do all the necessary things to get there."

(What happened in the game?) "It’s a three-phase game. We let some big plays go on defense, offense with our turnovers and special teams as well. It was a three-phase game. I can’t pinpoint any area where it went wrong, it just went wrong for us a team. We competed for four quarters, we came out in the first half, came with a better second drive, things just didn’t go our way in the end. We’ve just got to be resilient, stay focused and look forward for next year and what can we bring to the table."

(offseason, what it takes to get back) "Definitely, No. 1, guys keeping theirselves healthy, us being able to come out here as a team, believe in ourself, coaches, programs and the scheme and what we can do. We have to learn to be hungry and not allow ourselves to be content in some areas. That’s what hurt us this year.

"As you see tonight, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We have to learn from our mistakes and finish better next year."

(Put this year in the past?) "I’m not going to put this year in the past. That’s not what we want to do. When you win five years in a row and something doesn’t go your way one time, you have to put this on the mantle and remember every day why you didn’t continue to be successful in your road to glory."

Troy Head Coach Larry Blakeney Quotes
“Well we gave up a fumble for a touchdown, a punt block for a touchdown and a missed call-busted coverage for a touchdown. That’s three things you can’t do and win games and we did all three against a very good team. I have said all along these guys are really good, they have 27 seniors, are well coached, they know what they want to do and they have the trigger man that makes it all happen in Aplin who may be the most valuable offensive player in the league. Looked like to me they had a lot of speed across the board not only on defense but on offense. You have to try to find your way and we dug ourselves a little hole, didn’t have a very good year and we have to dig our way out. That comes with work in recruiting and with all the things that we have done before to get to where we were.”

“Their defensive front, I thought they were really good and our guys fought them hard and protected pretty well for the most part against them. Just team speed on defense and the element of speed in places and experienced players making plays in the passing game and the quarterback. I thought the kicking game was a sort of a wash, I don’t know what happened when our guy got run into but it wound up a no call and their ball. You know how that goes sometimes. If we blocked their man into our guy them it was a no call but I couldn’t see that.”

What the returners need to do in the offseason.
“I think we have got to do a better job of making them understand what it takes to win and what it takes in the offseason to win. We are going to go back to some of the things we have done in the past maybe not last year or the year before. Make it understood that when they get to the game field that they know they have paid the price.”

In Jonesboro

Lots more media here than your usual Sun Belt game, either to see ASU try to win its 10th straight or pepper ASU coach Hugh Freeze about if he's going to Ole Miss or not after the game.

Personnel news, Troy is down to its third left guard. Kyle Wilborn will miss his second straight game (shoulder). Jimmie Arnold hurt his foot last week and he's out, so Jarred Fleming, who has been a starting and backup right tackle, is expected to start at left guard.

I'll provide more updates on twitter @dothaneagletroy, we're under an hour from kickoff of Troy's season finale.

Friday, December 2, 2011

GAMEDAY: Troy football, hoops

A disappointing season comes to an end today as the Trojans take on Sun Belt champion Arkansas State at 3:30 in Jonesboro. I'm actually in Southaven, MS (hey, I stayed here when Troy beat ASU 30-27 two years ago - for the optimists).

Game preview in today's paper HERE.

Troy has played its best against the top teams on its schedule, and ASU is a distant third behind Arkansas and Clemson, but teams 4-12 are pretty distant behind ASU. It's a senior-laden bunch that's performing like Troy did in 2009.

The Trojans are really banged up, much more than most of us realize. ASU has lost four straight to the Trojans and this is a bunch that probably won't let up, looking to release years of frustration. Unfortunately for the Trojans, this might be a group just ready to move on from 2011 and get ready for next year, when most of the team returns, key players will get healthy and some talented recruits are in the fold.

Instead of me picking a score, I'll just take Arkansas State -17 if I was a gambling man. ASU has the league's top defense and offense and I never thought I'd see the day where Troy was this much of an underdog to a Sun Belt team.

Follow me on twitter @dothaneagletroy for updates

HOOPS - Troy hosts Miami of Ohio tonight at 7. Great game, wish I could be there to see it, but hopefully a good crowd will be. This is a team that's playing very well together - even if it's not the most talented bunch - but it's a pretty decent group that will only get better.

Head coach Don Maestri said after Tuesday's win over ETSU that the Trojans wouldn't be pressing much any more, except in certain situations. He said he thought he had a group of guys that could do it, but it's just not to their strengths.

RECRUITING - Good news for Troy commit Michael Lindsey, who was the MVP of the 2A state championship game as he scored four touchdowns for Elba in a 33-14 win over Tanner. Game story HERE.

However, JUCO QB commit Deon Anthony (well, he told me he was committed on Monday, but this story doesn't indicate as such) is visiting Pittsburgh this weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Friday link: Jarboe shining for ASU

Everyone remembers Josh Jarboe, the talented receiver who came to Troy with some baggage, but was eventually dismissed.

Well, I talked to him earlier this week, got a big assist from Matt Roberson with some Hugh Freeze quotes, and wrote THIS STORY on Jarboe, now a junior receiver at ASU and the Red Wolves' second-leading receiver.

Would Jarboe have helped Troy this year? Absolutely, if he kept his head straight. He'd be the starter at the Z and Troy's offense would be more productive because he's a talent. But would he have stayed out of trouble? Maybe not. Coaches gave him chance after chance before finally dismissing him before the 2010 season, and Jarboe admitted that he wasn't surprised when Troy cut ties with him.

Jarboe, now 22, has grown up, but he needed that swift kick in the gut to be sent to junior college. It's the same deal with Jamel Johnson, who is at Holmes Community College and set to return to Troy in January. Jarboe was never academically ineligible like Johnson was, and Johnson could have even sat back and redshirted this year, but is realizing how good he had it at Troy while's off in some middle-of-nowhere town in Mississippi. Johnson will be back with two years left to play next fall. His playmaking ability is something Troy sorely lacked, as he and Corey Robinson had developed great chemistry.

***Longest road trip drive-wise is for me this weekend. It's 502 miles to Jonesboro, and I'm staying in Memphis both nights, but that's still a good 420 miles from Dothan. So, I'll be spending most of Friday and Sunday traveling.

From the other side: Arkansas State

The final installment of this year's series brings us the insight of Matt Roberson from the Jonesboro Sun.

1. Looks like ASU has been really good so far in Coach Freeze's first year. Do you think this same success could have happened with another year of Steve Roberts? How has Freeze made things better?

After nine years of Steve Roberts as head coach at Arkansas State without a winning record, I thoroughly believe the school had given Roberts a fair chance to prove his ability and was in favor of his dismissal. Roberts rebuilt the program from ashes, literally, but his conservative nature hampered his team and himself in tough situations. The attitude and morale among the players and within the staff had slowly eroded to an all-time low. While Roberts and his staff clearly could see, evaluate and recruit comparable talent, he simply did not have the ability to put the pieces together to form a winning program. Six wins is the best he ever did and his teams routinely failed in the clutch moments of a game, especially the fourth quarter, as his conservative nature took over and the players simply played scared. I always felt Roberts coached “Not to lose” rather than coaching “to win.” It’s not likely this team would be sitting 9-2 overall, and 7-0 in the Sun Belt Conference were Roberts still here today.
As for Freeze, he has been a breath of fresh air for the players, the staff, the media and the fans, and just the overall program in general. He brings an energetic style, some swagger and some confidence that had been missing for several years. His aggressive nature as a play caller and strategist has been both enjoyable and entertaining to watch. He is unpredictable, takes risks and keeps everyone guessing. The wheels in his brain are always turning. It seems like he has something new each week to give opponents fits.
Aside from all of that, Freeze is a people person. He’s never met someone he couldn’t call his friend. He’s very likable and he’s earned the trust and devotion of his players and staff. It’s also interesting the influence his faith has had throughout this season and on this team.
Arkansas State has been very fortunate to have had Freeze as its head coach. It’s my opinion that he probably has bigger things on the horizon awaiting him if not this year, then next. But there’s no question in my mind that Freeze has made a huge difference both on and off the field, in the number of wins and losses, and in shaping many young men’s lives for tomorrow.

2. How has former Troy player Josh Jarboe fit in with this team?

There was a lot of talk when Josh Jarboe arrived. People wondered if he would fit in, how he would act and would his teammates accept him. While his reputation clearly preceded him, Jarboe has managed to keep a low profile, stay out of trouble, focus on his own long-term personal goals and be a team player at ASU. Sure, there are times that Jarboe carries a little diva-type swagger. I think he knows he’s a stud receiver. Then again, we all do. But he keeps that part of his personality grounded for the most part and that’s been huge in his own success and keeping the team together as a team. Josh has been singled out by opponents with extra coverage, many times receiving double coverage for the majority of a game. When he’s been in single coverage, Arkansas State has taken advantage and he’s had some huge plays and made a significant impact on this team. I know that Josh would probably like to have a greater role than he’s had this season, and I’m pretty sure he will next year, but the impressive thing about Josh is that he’s become quiet and humble. These are attitudes or traits I’m not sure he displayed elsewhere, but it’s pretty clear he’s matured from the problems of his past. As far as fitting in with his team, his teammates have expressed to me they accepted him the moment he stepped on the practice field. I’d say he’s fit in just fine.

3. What makes the ASU defense so good?

What a difference a new defensive coordinator, a new scheme and some confidence has made this season. One of the first things ASU coach Hugh Freeze did was go out and find a new coordinator for the defense that would match his offensive philosophy. He found journeyman Dave Wommack, who had taken a year off after stepping down at Georgia Tech. Wommack put in a system that attacks aggressively rather than sits back, reads and reacts. As Wommack has told me several times: “We want to be the cat, not the mouse. We want to be the aggressor.” They have blitzed from all areas of the field, and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks with a nice pass rush up front.
The Red Wolves have embraced this new scheme since the day it was put in front of them. They feel like they have freedom to make plays they never could make before, and they can even make mistakes without penalty. As the season has gone on, the confidence of the defense has escalated immeasurably. They now believe they can stop anybody, which is something they didn’t believe last year.
As far as individually or by unit, the strength of ASU’s defense starts right up front. They have a veteran defensive line that includes one of the nation’s sack leaders in end Brandon Joiner and they rotate as many as 10 deep to keep people fresh. Only one running back — FAU’s Alfred Morris — has managed to rush for 100 yards on ASU this season. Linebacker has a similar situation with veteran leadership and excellent depth while the secondary is a little thin depth-wise but has improved immensely from a year ago.

4. Best places to eat in Jonesboro?

There are several good places to eat downtown and some nice restaurants that have opened up near the mall in recent years. For some good bar and grill type food, there is Godsey’s, Skinny J’s or The Brickhouse. All three are downtown on Main Street and can be easily located. For casual dining, I’d recommend the Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden off Stadium Blvd.,which is right on the way to the game, or Fat City off Caraway Road which runs parallel to Stadium Blvd. If wings are your thing, you can’t go wrong with Wings To Go on Caraway Rd., and if pizza is your dish, my favorite is Pizza Chef on Matthews Ave., which is a right-hand turn near the end of Caraway Rd. just before the ASU campus.

5. How do you see the game going?

There are a lot of distractions going on with Arkansas State’s football team and the rumors of Coach Freeze being a candidate for several other jobs. It seems his name keeps finding its way on to a new search list every day. Freeze has tip-toed around the subject nicely, complimenting his players for the success they have had to make these rumors possible, but never disposing the possibility that there may be some truth to them. However, knowing the struggles that Troy has had defensively and that there are some injuries the Trojans might be dealing with, I do believe Arkansas State will have a rather easy time this weekend. Also, I know how much the Red Wolves want to win this conference title outright and that Troy, specifically, is a team they’ve been looking forward to playing all season. No current ASU player has ever beaten Troy, and they’ve made it clear that they intend to change that. I believe them. Arkansas State 37, Troy 17.