Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Troy signing day primer

National Signing Day is tomorrow (Wed). These guys have all said they committed, and are expected to sign. Nothing is final until ink hits paper and paper gets faxed to school. So maybe they don't sign, but we will see.

Below this list, I'll list some guys that are potential signees for Troy.

Brandon Silvers (QB, Gulf Shores, Ala.)
Brandon Burks (RB, Daleville, Ala.)
Andre Allen (RB, Panama City, Fla.)\
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.)
Tyler Lassiter (OL, Hazel Green, Ala.)
Garrett Peek (DE, Millbrook, Ala.)
Jamal Stadom (DE, Melbourne, Fla.)
James Mathis (DL, Valdosta, Ga.)
Terris Lewis (LB, Linden, Ala.)
Mitchell Roland (LB, Auburn, Ala.)
JaQuadrian Lewis (DB, Fitzgerald, Ga.)
John Knight (DB, Thomasville, Ala.)
Rishad Goode (DB, Madison, Ala.)
Montres Kitchens (DB/ATH, Burke County, Ga.)
Braylon Williams (DE, Kilgore, Texas CC)
Derrek Upshaw (DL, Jones County, Miss. JC)
Xavier Melton (DT, Butler County, Kan. CC)
Zach Miller (DB, Butler County, Kan. CC)


***Wide receiver Cody Core (Auburn High) has been committed for a long time. He visited Ole Miss last weekend and two Ole Miss recruiting sites list him as a commitment. Core's high school coach told the Opelika-Auburn News that he committed. However, Core hasn't been quoted at all. You'd think that if a guy was gung-ho about committing to an SEC school, it would be all over the place. So, I'm starting to wonder if he did actually commit there. We will find out tomorrow where he signs.

***Defensive back Chris Humes (Spain Park High School) was listed in the Birmingham News as an Arkansas commit, but visited Troy right after that. None of the recruiting sites that cover Arkansas list Humes as a commitment, and you figure they'd have their pulse to that situation. How committable of an offer does/did Humes have to Arkansas? Is Troy a possibility? Don't forget about this kid tomorrow.

***Jones County (Miss.) defensive end Anthony Wilson recently visited Troy. He hasn't posted on his twitter account yet where he's going for sure, although the three-star recruit signed with Southern Miss out of high school and is listed as a USM commit. However, USM changed coaching staffs in this offseason and Troy had an in with Wilson.

***Burke County (Ga.) defensive tackle Davante Lambert hasn't committed anywhere from where I've seen. He visited Troy two weeks ago and he had a pretty good high school career, but scout.com says he's likely headed to junior college after he recently visited Georgia. Not sure if he'll sign and place with Georgia, or if he'll do that with Troy, or if he could academically get into Troy.

***There may be a signee or two that I haven't written about. There is usually a surprise or two down the line, and sometimes a guy falls into Troy's lap. Remember how excited you were when four-star defensive end Antonio Harper signed with Troy in 2009? Sure, he ended up being a huge bust, but it's always good for fans when a high-star recruit surprisingly signs. Just keep that in mind, though I don't have any names.

***Rivals.com slapped a commitment label on cornerback Juan Neloms of Tallahassee, Fla., a 3-star. (Well, I didn't think he was signing with Troy, but he did)

I won't be at Troy until the 2:30 Signing Day press conference. The Dothan Eagle has a luncheon, where I'll try to get some quick interviews with Burks and Lindsey.

The @TroyAthletics feed will be releasing all of the signees first on its twitter feed, according to a release from the school. I won't retweet each one unless it's a new signee or a new name, but will update on the twitter and update on the blog as much as I can before heading off to the luncheon and then driving to Troy.

Also, it's almost 4 p.m., and stuff could still happen tonight that causes this post to be updated. Stay tuned.

Zach Miller to sign with Troy

When talking to defensive tackle commit Xavier Melton, he mentioned that his teammate, cornerback Zach Miller, is also committed to Troy. Miller is 5-foot-11, 178 pounds.

Miller later confirmed that for me.

He played at Butler County (Kan.) CC after signing from Byrnes, S.C., a perennial nationally-ranked team. Miller said he was going to sign with North Carolina out of high school, but his ACT score was too low. He should be in Troy this summer.

"The coaching staff's all really good people and the coaches up here were telling me that they were good coaches," Miller said. "I loved the tradition that they have and it's close to home. They're looking forward to me being on the field and told me to take care of the responsibilities that I can take care of."

Miller was named a first team All-American (and all-conference) after he intercepted a team-high eight passes and broke up eight passes. He had 52 tackles (44 solo), one sack, six tackles for loss, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. The Grizzlies finished No. 2 in the NJCAA Rankings with an 11-1 record.

"I really liked the guys at Troy," Miller said. "They're a good group of guys and we bonded like a family. I'm looking forward to being there."

Melton talks about Troy commitment

Troy picked up a potentially big performer for its 2012 defensive line when Butler County (Kan.) defensive tackle Xavier Melton committed and will sign on Wednesday.

Melton, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, has a chance to play right away.

"I knew I could come in and play right away, but I had no idea how close the coaching staff was with each other and how the players were," Melton said. "I hung out with Chris (Pickett), the defensive back, and he's a real cool guy. The food's great, and I'm from (Lakeland) Florida, so the southern food was great. Just the atmosphere, and the fact a lot of guys have come out from there and gone on to the NFL, like DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora, Troy has a great tradition for that."

Melton started his career at Purdue, going there for two years. After Purdue moved him to the offensive line, he transferred to Butler County because he wanted to stay on defense. He was a second-team all-conference selection.

"Troy wants me to come in, push the pocket, be a disruptive force in the backfield and wreak havoc," Melton said.

Melton was recruited to Troy by defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell.

"Coach Rowell, he's a real cool guy," Melton said. "He reminds me a lot of Coach Williams, who is now at Texas Tech but was the defensive line coach when I was at Purdue. He's a laid back guy, and a funny dude, but he knows when to be serious."

JUCO defensive tackle Melton commits to Troy

Butler County (Kan.) Community College defensive tackle Xavier Melton will sign with Troy on Wednesday, according to an e-mail from his father, Nathaniel St. Clair.

You can go HERE to check out highlights of Melton.

Melton is 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds and will compete for a spot in the middle of the line. According to St. Clair, an assistant coach at Winter Park (Fla.) High School, Melton runs a 4.8 40-yard dash, bench presses 450 pounds, squats 600 and power cleans 315.

Melton was a three-star prospect in high school and started his career at Purdue. Melton is from Lakeland, Fla.

I'll try to get up with Melton on Tuesday to get some thoughts from him on signing with Troy.

HERE is what scout.com said about Melton: "DT Xavier Melton - The Purdue bounceback came to Butler because the Boilermaker coaches wanted him to switch to offensive tackle and he felt he was a defensive line prospect. This season Melton earned Second Team All-KJCCC honors and has several FBS and FCS programs looking his way.

2011 Stats: 13 tackles

Monday, January 30, 2012

VIDEO: Tyler Ray

Troy pitcher Tyler Ray spoke with me in THIS STORY, which ran last Friday.

I shot the video last Wednesday, and now getting around to editing it.

VIDEO: Tyler Hannah

Troy shortstop Tyler Hannah spoke with me in THIS STORY you may have read last Friday.

This video was shot last Wednesday but I'm just now getting around to getting it edited and posted.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Late Sunday updates

Back home and still doing some work. Looks like Jamal Stadom of Melbourne, Fla., has committed to Troy. I haven't been able to get in touch with him, but if I see a recruit post on social media where he's going, it's good enough confirmation with me. Stadom confirmed it on his facebook wall, which is open.

I also feel good enough to add Derrek Upshaw to the commitment list. Upshaw is a defensive lineman from Jones County (Miss.) Junior College. Upshaw also confirmed it on his open facebook wall.

Hopefully I can get up with these two to write more on them, but if not, well there's always 2 years of college in Upshaw's case and 4 or 5 in Stadom's case.

Possible bad news for Troy, as Ole Miss's 247sports.com and Ole Miss's scout.com site are reporting that Cody Core has switched his commitment from Troy to Ole Miss after taking an official visit to Ole Miss this weekend. Core, a wide receiver from Auburn High, had been committed to Troy since last fall.

But they don't have any quotes from Core that I can find. Good thing we don't have to wait much longer for all of this madness as National Signing Day is in a couple of days.

9:20 update - Our man Jason Galloway of the Opelika-Auburn News, a sister paper of the Dothan Eagle, did confirm Core's commitment to Ole Miss through Core's head coach.

Troy falls at South Alabama

Tough break for Trojans, which got down by 20 at South Alabama, came back and took a lead, but lost on a last-second shot by South Alabama's Augustine Rubit. The final was 68-66.

You can read a recap HERE.

Troy is now 2-7 in conference play, a half-game in last place in the East. Fouls were a key early, as Troy, at one point, was down 25-1 in free throw attempts and had three players with four fouls early in the second half, and key player Justin Wright fouled out with 5 minutes to go.

Makes you wonder, though, this could be a back-breaking loss and you wonder how Troy regroups and responds in home games this week Thursday (UL-Lafayette) and Saturday (FIU). ULL is tough and FIU, you never know what Golden Panther team you're going to get, but those teams have had Troy's number over the past couple of years.

Sunday updates

Stuck in the BWI airport for a couple more hours before a flight to PC and drive home. Turns out, even being away, I can still update. So, through some searching, here's what I've been able to find.

Signing Day is 3 days from now.

***If there's a commitment, looks like it may be from Jones County (Miss.) defensive tackle Derrek Upshaw. He tweeted "Troy University!!!" Also, Upshaw started his career and played two years at Middle Tennessee.

But I hope to get Upshaw to tell me in some form or fashion that he committed before I add him to the list. (if only he had put the words 'committed to' in his twitter post!)

***Rivals.com said Yulee athlete Zach Camp didn't have a decision yet after his visit.

***Jones County defensive end Anthony Wilson said on his twitter he didn't have a decision yet.

***Melbourne, Fla., defensive end Jamal Stadom appeared to have a good visit based on his facebook posts, but I don't yet see confirmation of a commitment. Looks like his brother is Marty Stadom, who signed with Troy last year from JUCO, but didn't qualify to enroll last fall.

I didn't know what ever happened to Marty, but perhaps he finished his schoolwork in JUCO and is now at Troy. He wasn't listed on the midyear signees, though. Just check out this tweet. That makes it seem like both brothers will be at Troy playing in the fall, but we might just not find out until Wednesday.

Marty is also a defensive end. He could be at Troy finishing up academic work before he's eligible to practice or play, but it sure looks like he's at Troy. Maybe he didn't have to sign again after signing last year.

***It's now 1 p.m. CST. If I'm able to, I will update this post later.

***2:15 p.m thought - Marty Stadom may be in the same boat as WR Chip Reeves, who is back in school but likely not going through spring to get his academics in gear for the fall.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekend visit list

Back to the hotel in time to do a little research. If you ever go to Philadelphia, go to Penn's campus and check out Franklin Field and the Palestra. Neat, historical places. This is Troy's unofficial list of official visitors.

**Zach Camp, an ATH from Yulee, Fla. Rivals.com profile HERE.

**Percy Griffin IV, an OL from Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla., listed as a verbal to Savannah State, rivals.com profile HERE.

**Anthony Wilson, a DE/OLB from Jones County JC in Mississippi, scout.com profile HERE.

**Derrek Upshaw, a DL from Jones County JC. Scout.com profile HERE.

**Jamal Stadom, a DE from Melbourne (Fla.) High School. Rivals.com profile HERE.

**Xavier Melton, a big DT from Butler County (Kan.) CC. Scout.com profile HERE.

Friday links

Troy lost at MTSU, 71-58, on Thursday night. No shame in that, as MTSU has the best team in the league in a long time. However, I am sure they would love to have most of those 17 turnovers back and maybe it would have been a different game. Box score HERE. Troy is at South Alabama on Sunday night. I have no idea why that game is on Sunday night.

Troy had its draft for the 2012 Trojan Challenge, the offseason program the team always goes through where it divides up into about 10 or 12 teams. Not sure who the captains were - maybe it was the first round picks - but it's pretty telling that those first guys picked are among the guys who do things the right way in every facet, and a telling quote from Jeff Beckles about guys who get drafted in the later rounds. Obviously, the round-by-round list wasn't posted.

Baseball-wise, Troy opens spring practice today and starts the season in three weeks. I wrote THIS STORY on returning All-Americans Tyler Ray and Tyler Hannah.

I thought both would get drafted last year - maybe not early enough to bypass their senior years - but both should have gotten picked. However, from talking to both, it's pretty clear that Troy is where they wanted to be this year. Both guys used the word "blessing in disguise" in response to not getting picked, and both are excited and focused on the season ahead.

Scroll one post below for a short preview on the biggest need for the three weeks of spring practice.

***I will be out of pocket this weekend. Birthday is coming up, so it's a weekend to get away and see some basketball games far, far away. Can't guarantee that I'll be able to post a visit list, but there should be some visitors. However, Troy's about full, so I doubt there will be many new commitment names between now and Signing Day. I'll get back on the recruiting grind and check on that either Sunday night or Monday morning.

Troy looking for more starting pitchers as practice begins

Troy's baseball team begins practice today. The biggest thing, head coach Bobby Pierce said, was finding a solid Sunday and Tuesday starting pitcher.

"We feel great about Friday with Tyler Ray and Saturday with Jimmy Hodgskin," Pierce said. "If we can fill that third and fourth starting spot with quality people, we should have another very good ball club."

Ray, a RHP went 12-0 last year. He'll give Troy 7-8-9 innings each Friday night. Hodgskin, a LHP, is a supreme talent who showed flashes last year but is ready to take the next step and give Troy at least 6-7 innings each outing as opposed to 4-5 last year.

Beyond that, it's an open competition and Pierce needs someone to step up.

"We feel great about Friday with Tyler Ray and Saturday with Jimmy Hodgskin," Pierce said. "If we can fill that third and fourth starting spot with quality people, we should have another very good ball club."

There are some candidates. The top guy who keeps getting mentioned is junior RHP Chris Fisher, who pitched sparingly last year after rebounding from Tommy John surgery. RHP William Teal, another junior, pitched sparingly last year after coming back from the same surgery. Junior RHP Thomas Austin has a chance, but coaches like his versatility in the bullpen. Junior college transfers Adam Purdy and Ryan Brady, both RHPs, are in the mix.

"There’s several people that are perfectly capable," Pierce said. "We need for a couple of those to step forward and say, Hey, I’m your guy."

The bullpen should be very good, with senior RHP Tyson Workman and junior LHP Nate Hill returning from all-conference seasons to be the team's closers. When Troy has been good, the Trojans have had two guys at the end to finish games. You can add several names to that as guys who can bridge the gap in middle relief - Austin, senior LHPs Garrett McHenry and A.J. Howard and junior college transfer RHP Joe Hernandez.

I'm sure I left some guys off, but that's what the next 3 weeks of practice is for - guys to step up and win positions.

Pierce said everyone was healthy except for pitchers Ryan Sorce and Shane McCain, who had offseason surgery and will miss this season.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday links

I had a couple of stories for today's paper.

First off, a story on former Troy kicker Lawrence Tynes, who kicked the Giants to the Super Bowl. You can read it HERE.

Also, Troy has a big basketball game tonight at Middle Tennessee, easily the best team in the league. No doubt MTSU is looking ahead to a game against Vanderbilt on Saturday, right? Well, regardless, HERE is a story on how Troy plays well when point guard Will Weathers is on his game.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tyler Lassiter commits to Troy

Troy picked up a big offensive line commitment when Hazel Green lineman Tyler Lassiter pledged to sign with the Trojans next week.

In fact, Lassiter had a well-kept secret about his recruitment for a day before making his commitment to Troy.

"It was a roller coaster ride," Lassiter said. "But I committed to Troy today. I had committed to UAB yesterday, but I decommitted. My heart was telling me Troy."

Lassiter had Troy in his final three of UAB and Marshall. Western Kentucky also offered.

"I loved everything about Troy," Lassiter said. "They were my first offer and they offered me when I was a junior and stuck with me through everything, even when I had been committed to Middle Tennessee but they called at the end of the season and said they couldn't accept my commitment because they were signing three JUCOs to fill the spots.

"I really like Coach (John) Schlarman, Coach (Larry) Blakeney and all the coaches and players. Terrence (Jones) was my host and I like him a lot. He's a cool guy."

Lassiter said he's 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds and will play tackle for Troy. He played left tackle for Hazel Green, a Class 6A school in North Alabama.

"I finish," Lassiter said of his play. "I play aggressive and physical and I finish my blocks. Look at the highlights and you can tell."

Here is Lassiter's senior highlight tape.

Wednesday link

You saw the Jerrel Jernigan blog post the other day.

Well, HERE is the complete story that ran in the Wednesday paper.

Now, some words on James Brown at the Senior Bowl

HogHaven: "And finally, Troy offensive lineman James Brown had a solid day, taking reps at right tackle. Brown measured in at 6'3" and a half, 307 pounds, and held his own against a very strong group of defensive lineman."

NFLSoup.com: OT James Brown of Troy is one to watch out for. Can bend at the knees and move the defender off of the ball.

NFL.com Blog: "I also liked offensive lineman James Brown from Troy. He, too, did well in the 1-on-1 drills."

NEPatriotsDraft.com: "-Some of the offensive linemen down here have had rough patches. Troy OL James Brown and Alabama C William Vlachos have been getting smoked at times."

***This just goes to show you how different sets of eyes see different things, and how all these fan blogs have been viewing practices.

***NOON update - Should have posted this last night, but JUCO DT Chaq Reed, who visited Troy last week, has committed to Kansas, according to his twitter and the Kansas rivals page.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Catching up with Lawrence Tynes

Just like yesterday when I put a post up about Jerrel Jernigan, here's one with Lawrence Tynes, the former Trojan (AP photo) who kicked the game-winning field goal to send the Giants to the Super Bowl.
The Jernigan story runs in the Wednesday Dothan Eagle. Still haven't set a date for Tynes, but it may be Thursday. Meanwhile, here is some of what he had to say.

The kick against the 49ers was from 31 yards out, straight on. The one against the Packers in a similar situation four years ago was from 47 yards out, following a miss in regulation.

Which kick had more pressure? "They’re both the same. I don’t know if there was more this time, I think they’re both equal. They’re both kicks to go to the Super Bowl and they have their own circumstance, but pressure-wise, they’re both the same."

But this one was shorter, right? "It was, but the weather was terrible. I saw the TV copy and it didn’t really do it justice. The rain was three different ways, the wind was howling, especially in overtime when the wind really picked up and was howling.

"I was probably a lot more relaxed this time just because obviously I’ve done it before and it was a little bit shorter kick. I think having done it before really helped calm me down a little bit."

Get recognized more since the last big kick? "Yeah, for sure. I don’t have a problem going out anywhere. People mention that kick and I’m sure they’ll mention this one too. It’s such a big city and I’m just like a regular guy, so I can just fit in most places and not be noticed. People do bring it up a lot. It’s cool to play in this market. It’s really good when it’s going good and when it’s not going good, it’s not the greatest place to be. Fortunately, we’ve had a nice career here and won a lot of games, so it’s been good."

4-year-old twin sons Caleb and Jaden. Do they comprehend what you do for a living? "They go to a little private school here in town. All the kids and teachers know what I do. They’re at an age now where they know Daddy plays football. Jaden actually told me that he told people to stop talking about his daddy today because everyone was talking about me. It was pretty funny.

"They know I kick. Before a game, they say Daddy, kick it high and far. It’ll be pretty cool to have them at the game."

The kids will be at the Super Bowl, but didn't go to San Francisco for the NFC Championship Game: "They go to most of the home games, the 1 o’clock games. They’ll stick around for a half. The Giants have a really nice childcare facility and they’d almost rather go down there and be with their buddies that they’ve grown up with."

At age 33, Tynes is the oldest Giant, and he has no plans of slowing down: "This is my 11th year in pro ball – 8 in the league, 2 in Canada, 1 in NFL Europe. I’m actually the oldest guy on the team. I’ve had a goal to play to 40. I feel as healthy as I’ve ever been and strong as I’ve ever been at this stage, so I don’t see why not. Plus, they moved the kickoffs up five yards, so that’s been a big help."

Tuesday notes

Not a whole lot today. Talked to Jerrel Jernigan and Lawrence Tynes yesterday for stories to run at a later date between now and Super Bowl Sunday, but haven't transcribed the Tynes tape and probably will tomorrow afternoon. Hope to talk to Osi Umenyiora, but that may be easier said than done.

Not only has Tynes made two of the biggest kicks in NFL history, he made one in below zero temperature and made another in rain and 25 mph wind. Tynes is also very confident that Jerrel Jernigan will turn into a very good NFL player.

***Senior Bowl practice started today. James Brown measured in at 6-foot-3 and a half, 307 pounds. HERE is the weigh-in from DraftCountdown, and the report on Brown is "A little soft but plenty of room to bulk up further." - Trust me, there is much, much worse on some players' description. Brown has good arm length and was reported to be working some at right guard.

***Recruiting notes. Defensive end Dieugot Joseph posted on his twitter that he was firm to FIU. He was a long shot but he had visited Troy. Offensive lineman Tyler Lassiter from Hazel Green will make his decision any day now, between Troy, WKU and UAB.

Troy will have a few guys in this weekend, but not sure of the exact number. Some guys will cancel a visit and Troy may have to cancel some guys' visits for the sheer fact that it's number-crunching time and while it seems like Troy signs a million guys, they really don't and they just have a few spots left to take guys for the 2012 class.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Catching up with Jerrel Jernigan

I was able to talk to former Trojan Jerrel Jernigan this morning. I've got a story planned, but it may be several days before I can get it in the paper.

Here's just a few questions from the chat.

On playing in the Super Bowl as a rookie: "It's finally sinking in that I'm a rookie going to the Super Bowl. Not many people can say they even played in one Super Bowl, but for me to do it in my first year, that's crazy."

On the transition to the pros, where he hasn't had as many opportunities to shine just yet: "It's been a long year for me. It didn't start off like I wanted to. I'm used to getting the ball in my hands almost every play like at Troy. This year it's been kickoffs and some spot duty. It's been a long year, but it's all worth it."

Jernigan's son, Jabari Marquis Jernigan, was born Sept. 10 of last fall: "I got down there for his birth and I went down there on our bye week. Those are the only two times I've been able to see him. I see him on the computer. It's exciting, but at the same time I'd like to be there to see him grow up and so he can hear my voice."

Jernigan's first big purchase was a house for his mom, a 4 BR, 3 1/2 bath after the family had lived in an apartment: "It was very exciting for me, because my mom, dad and my family have always been there for me and now that I've grown up, it's a great way for me to repay them."

On following Troy this year: "I watched the Arkansas game and I read your twitter. I caught a couple of other games as well. I think they just had a down year. They lost some key players like myself, TeBiarus Gill and Jason Bruce, and then Jamel Johnson and Chip Reeves were ineligible. I think they'll bounce back next year. Coach Blakeney, Coach Edenfield and Coach Wasden will help them get it together and they're bringing in some good recruits, and getting Jamel and Chip back. They just need some seniors to step up and lead, and they'll be back.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Trojans headed to Super Bowl

Pretty much all Trojan fans with a pulse know this by now, but the New York Giants are heading to the Super Bowl to face the New England Patriots in Indianapolis on Feb. 5.

Three Trojans will be playing in the game: defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora, kicker Lawrence Tynes and rookie wide receiver/kick returner Jerrel Jernigan.

Tynes' kick in overtime gave the Giants the win. Four years ago, Tynes also hit the game-winning kick in overtime of the NFC title game at Green Bay.

Jerrel Jernigan's last six years in sports: class 5A state title runner-up, four straight outright or shared Sun Belt titles with three bowl games, and now a trip to the Super Bowl.

Braylon Williams commits to Troy

Braylon Williams, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound defensive end from Kilgore (Texas) Junior College, committed to Troy this weekend after his official visit.

Williams confirmed it through a text ("I did" is what he said). Once I can get him on the phone and update with quotes, I'll add them, but easier said than done at the moment.

Williams had 45 tackles, 8 for loss, four sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Williams is originally from Tyler, Texas. He was recruited to Troy by defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell and should be in Troy this summer.

This is a big get for Troy, which doesn't have much proven depth at defensive end coming back.

HERE is Williams' rivals.com profile out of high school. If he's a 2009 graduate, that means he has two years left to play two at Troy.

Sunday recruiting update

Been a slow day trying to get some recruiting information. Troy hosted several prospects this weekend. If I get a recruit to tell me he's committed, I'll write on it, OR if I see on a prospect's social media that he's committed to Troy, then I'll mention it, with the hope of getting more from the prospect later.

So, with that being said, Montres Kitchens committed to Troy and confirmed it on a facebook post on teammate Davante Lambert (who also visited Troy)'s wall.

Kitchens is a running back/safety from Burke County, Ga., and I believe he'll play in the secondary at Troy. You can go HERE to see some highlights.

I'll update the blog later in the day if I learn of more commitments. I can't imagine Troy has that many spots left, but I'm sure a few more will commit to sign on Feb. 1.

3:45 p.m. update - Looks like Marquez Pride, the defensive end from Madison, is going to WKU after a weekend visit. Will take him off the commitment list.

10:08 p.m. update - Confirmation from the Huntsville Times on Pride's commitment to WKU.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Troy hits the record books

Well, almost. Troy tied an NCAA record with 11 consecutive 3-pointers made in a 91-63 win over UL-Monroe. You can read my game story HERE. That's Justin Wright above firing one up in that Thomas Graning/Troy Messenger/Associated Press photo.

ULM is bad, and they've waved the white flag on the season, but a shooting display like that against any team is impressive. Emil Jones continues to get better and shoot well, and Mo Weathers snapped out of a funk with 12 points and 12 assists.

When Weathers is playing well, Troy plays at a high level.

Troy is at Middle Tennessee, the Sun Belt's lone remaining unbeaten, next Thursday.

Saturday links/notes

Troy's final game of a three-game home stretch is tonight against UL-Monroe.

You can read my game preview HERE.

ULM is bad. 2-18 is awful, no matter how you slice it. But, ULM beat FIU, who beat South Alabama, who beat Troy. (All of those listed wins were by the road team). ULM has a good scoring guard in Fred Brown and a good-sized big man in Steven McClellan at 6-7, 250, who could give Troy's frontcourt some problems if they're not careful.

Bottom line, unless Troy's shooting from the outside at a high rate, the Trojans are still going to have to defend a little and find a way to get some easier shots closer to the goal, which hasn't been happening of late, if they want to beat anybody.

***Some updated photos inside the new Trojan Arena can be found HERE.

***Congratulations to softball coach Melanie Davis, who is being inducted into the Alabama ASA Softball Hall of Fame today. We ran part of this feature in our paper today. I got to write THIS STORY on Davis last summer when she got inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame, and didn't quite know how I could write the feature from a different angle, but there's more of her back story. Troy softball has been pretty solid since jumping to the Sun Belt and almost made a regional a couple of years back, but UL-Lafayette really has that sport dominated in this league.

***Trying to google around on recruiting. Troy has a few guys in on official visits this weekend. One potential visitor, cornerback Chris Humes from Spain Park, told Birmingham newspapers that he was committed to Arkansas. But none of the Arkansas recruiting sites list him as a commitment. Now, if it were a Sun Belt school's site that wasn't updated, I wouldn't blink an eye, but if the SEC sites aren't updated, it makes you wonder. Regardless, Humes seems like a heck of a talent and if Troy can get him to sign, it's an immediate upgrade to the secondary.

***Troy got commitments last weekend from Madison-Bob Jones duo of Rishad Goode (DB) and Marquez Pride (DE). Goode had said he was going to visit MTSU but was solid to Troy. Not sure if he made the visit or not. Pride, who I'd consider a soft commitment at this point, is on a visit to to somewhere in Kentucky (my guess is WKU) according to his twitter.

I was never able to get a hold of Pride but he had posted on his twitter that he committed. I don't want to write about a guy committing unless he tells me personally or posts it on a social media outlet, so his situation will probably be resolved this week.

***Hazel Green OL Tyler Lassiter visited Troy last week and, from his twitter, looks to be at UAB, and had a nice cookie cake waiting for him upon arrival. Not gonna lie, I'm jealous. Orlando DE Dieugot Joseph visited last week but seems like he's firm to FIU.

***I long for another day where a kid tells me "I'm a soft commit." Troy signed a cornerback who said that a couple of years ago. His name was Charles Hayes from somewhere in Georgia, but he never qualified and I don't know what became of him. I still thought that was pretty funny. You see recruiting sites list guys, like Cody Core (who is supposed to be at Kentucky this weekend), as a soft commit, but you never actually hear a guy say those words.

***A Trojan professional football update to pass along: former linebacker Boris Lee and wide receiver TeBiarus Gill have made their way to Washington to play Arena Football for the Tri-Cities Fever.

Lee was in and out of a few NFL teams' camps and I think was on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster for part of the 2010 season. Gill was a productive receiver at Troy, one of those guys that had good in-game deceptive speed but wasn't going to time well in the 40-yard dash. I hope both of them do well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Troy falls to FAU

As well as it started for Troy, the last 32 minutes were a disaster. Game story in Troy's 21-point loss HERE.

Troy is a jump-shooting team. When a team has to rely on the 3-point shot, it's going to have plenty of struggles, and that's where Troy is this year. Where Troy seems to have problems is setting itself up for a good 2-point shot. There is no dominant big man down low - Tim Owens has been consistent as a defender and Ray Chambers has a nice 15-foot jumper, but the guy that seems to be the best at throwing down a dunk in traffic is 6-foot-3 Steven Cunningham.

Have to say, Emil Jones played a great game. He scored 19 with 11 rebounds and a nucleus of him, Justin Wright and a healthy Will Weathers can do some great things next year if Troy can find a serviceable big man 6-8 or bigger (heck, maybe it's somebody redshirting) and a 2-guard who can score consistently from the outside and by driving in (maybe it's also somebody on the roster). But Jones has really playing well and is scoring and rebounding like he did during his sophomore year at junior college.

I've long said that the best thing for this year's team is to finish with some momentum heading into next year, the first year in the new arena. There's certainly a possibility for that, and still a long way to go, but the overall play at this point has been less than inspiring.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pro Day set

Spoke again with Troy strength and conditioning coach Richard Shaughnessy. He said that Jonathan Massaquoi, who has been training in Arizona, has filed his paperwork for the NFL Draft and he's not sure what the deal was.

Also, Troy's Pro Day, where all the outgoing players with professional aspirations, and some from nearby small colleges or even guys who played in years past, will be on March 9 at 1 p.m. That's a Friday.

Offensive lineman James Brown was working out with Cornelius Griffin today at Troy, as Griffin, a former NFL Defensive Tackle, was showing him some moves. Brown, who apparently officially accepted the Sr. Bowl invite today (I thought he did that months ago), reports to Mobile early next week.

Another recruiting weekend for the Trojans

Troy is hosting another weekend of official visitors. Most are not committed to Troy.

This is an unofficial list gathered and could change at any time.

**Brandon Burks, RB, Daleville - committed to Troy

**Damion Love, OL, Millbrook, Ala. - Stanhope Elmore

**Chris Humes, DB, Hoover (Spain Park HS) - listed as an Arkansas commitment, a 3-star recruit.

**Montres Kitchens, RB/DB, Burke County, Ga. Rivals profile HERE.

**Davonte Lambert, DT, Burke Co., GA - ESPN profile HERE

**Braylon Williams, DE, Kilgore (TX) JC - 6-foot-6 defensive end, player profile HERE.

**Zach Miller, DB, Butler (Kan.) CC - Scout.com profile HERE.

**Chaquil Reed, DT, Butler (Kan.) CC - Listed at 6-3, 290, scout.com profile HERE.

Looks like Troy's stacking up on some D-Linemen in this recruiting group. If they can land some more big tackles, they could stay in the 4-3. I'd be a little surprised if Humes makes the trip since he just committed to Arkansas, but we'll see.

NFL early entry list is out

The NFL had 65 underclassmen, a record, declare early for its draft. The list is HERE.

The weird thing is, Jonathan Massaquoi isn't on it. He announced he was turning pro last week and discussed it here.

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney was on the road recruiting and had two coaches with him. He said as far as he knew, Massaquoi was still turning pro and he was going to help him in any way he could. He wasn't aware of the list.

Strength and conditioning coach Richard Shaughnessy also said he's still in the Draft.

Not sure if the NFL will send out an updated list or not. Perhaps they will. If I hear more, I'll update this blog post. Obviously, Massaquoi has said he's entering the NFL and even had an agent lined up (not sure if he had signed with that agent or not), but his name isn't on that list.

(if anyone sees an updated list, please let me know)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thursday links/Troy hosts FAU

Troy hosts FAU tonight in basketball. I wrote THIS STORY on forward Justin Wright (Troy University photo), Troy's second-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game.

He'd be doing a little bit better, I think, if he hadn't hurt his back in September, and that's the focus of the story. However, most people thought he wouldn't even be able to play this year, but a doctor told him that if he could handle the pain, he could play. Wright missed the entire fall conditioning session, so isn't really in as good of shape as he could be in, and doesn't have the spring to his step that he had before the injury.

But he's playing well enough, and somebody's got to step up and be a go-to scorer along with Will Weathers, who has struggled as of late. I actually get the feeling Weathers will come out and have a big game against FAU, but Troy's going to have to guard FAU's shooters. The Owls have struggled this year, but still have some talent on the perimeter, and will get open shots against Troy's 2-3 zone.

A key player for FAU will be Kore White, a talented forward who was called out by his coach after a terrible performance against MTSU last week.

***Around Pike County, Pike Liberal Arts standout Nick McLaughlin was named AISA Lineman of the Year. David Mundee's story indicates that McLaughlin is looking to play baseball at the next level, and Troy has offered. However, he could get drafted and go pro. As you saw earlier, Troy commitment Terris Lewis was named 1A Lineman of the Year, and also Elba standout Michael Lindsey, a Troy commitment, was a finalist for 2A Back of the Year, but didn't win it. Daphne running back T.J. Yeldon, who signed with Alabama, was named Mr. Football.

Troy commit named 1A Lineman of the Year

Troy commitment Terris Lewis of Linden was awarded the Class 1A's Lineman of the Year on Wednesday.

Lewis did just about everything for Linden, the Class 1A state runner-ups. He's slated to be a linebacker for Troy. He committed to Troy while on his official visit.

According to scout.com, Lewis recorded 142 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six interceptions during the 2011 season. He also had 26 catches for 544 yards and nine touchdowns as a tight end.

***Troy commitment Cody Core from Auburn is being pursued by bigger schools. He is visiting Kentucky officially this weekend, and has other schools vying for an official visit on the last weekend.

National Signing Day is Feb. 1, two weeks from today.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday links

We had a pretty action-packed Dothan Eagle for Wednesday.

I wrote about Troy making changes to its starting lineup in hoops (blogged about it Monday, but have to keep telling myself that many print and even internet readers don't read or don't know about the blog).

Some notes from Pike and Barbour counties because I know plenty of readers live there:
**Raymond White, longtime very successful coach at Barbour County for basketball, won his 700th game as a head coach.
**Pike County promoted Fred Holland to head football coach and athletics director, from Ken Rogers.
**Also, another good read from Ken Rogers on Charles Henderson head coach Hugh Fountain retiring from the school where he's expected to make the move to Escambia Academy. CHHS went through a lot of off-the-field tragedies this season.

Around the Sun Belt, North Texas lost two of its key freshmen, including point guard Chris Jones, to academics. So, forget about UNT challenging for a Sun Belt title. You can read it from Brett Vito HERE.

Troy would have had a good chance to win at UNT without Jones, who nearly triple-doubled vs. the Trojans. Bad luck in the timing of the ineligibility and you wonder why it took all the way to Jan. 17 to find out. That was a game where Troy and UNT were tied, but the Mean Green shot something like 70 percent in the second half and Troy, like it has in most league games, fell apart.

Tuesday links

In today's paper
**A recruiting roundup, basically a recap of what all I told you on the blog on Sunday.
**A story on Troy offensive lineman James Brown getting invited to the NFL Combine, with quotes from James.

**Not a link, but a note. Was reading twitter and @FAUOwlAccess posted that all-conference guard Raymond Taylor would be ready to play for FAU against Troy on Thursday. He missed the last two games with a concussion. FAU is deep in the backcourt, but has been mediocre in the frontcourt and has struggled to a 6-12 record.

Troy hosts FAU on Thursday and UL-Monroe on Saturday.

**From ESPN New York, HERE is a good story on former Troy kicker Lawrence Tynes and his toughness. It was written before the Giants hammered Green Bay over the weekend. Four years ago, he hit the game-winning kick in overtime to send the Giants to the Super Bowl, a few minutes after missing a potential game-winning kick in regulation.

I got to write about Tynes before the Super Bowl that year, and wrote about former Trojan Steve McLendon of the Pittsburgh Steelers before last year's Super Bowl. The Giants have three former Trojans - Tynes, Osi Umenyiora and Jerrel Jernigan - and play at San Francisco on Sunday night for a chance to go back to the Super Bowl.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Massaquoi ready for professional challenge

Former Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (above in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl, AP photo) declared for the NFL Draft as a junior last week. He returned my call late Monday night and I'll share some of his thoughts. He wanted to wait a few days before talking to media about his decision or sharing his public thoughts. Due to paper space and other planned stuff for the Wednesday paper, it may be a day or 2 before I can get it into newspaper form, but you guys who read this blog will get the gist of what he has to say.

On declaring: "I just had a good feeling. Before I even went to junior college, this was a vision of mine, to play in the NFL, and once it became attainable, I had to go with it."

"This was something I had set from myself from when I first got to Troy. It was something I had told coach (Richard) Shaughnessy and close friends of mine around here that I wanted to play two years at Troy, get my degree and go to the NFL."

Massaquoi got to Troy in 2009, but redshirted that year as four upperclassmen in front of him were playing that year. He graduated in December of 2011 and turns 24 in May. He hired Pat Dye, Jr., as his agent.

"I did some personal research and had conversations with him," Massaquoi said. "He knows what he's doing. I'll need some guidance along the way as I reach my future endeavors, and I feel like he's the best guy for me."

Massaquoi has been listed as an outside linebacker on some NFL Draft preview sites, and at 6-foot-3 and currently 260 pounds, he could play there or remain at defensive end.

"I'm willing to play either," Massaquoi said. "Sticking my hand in the dirt (at defensive end) is what I'm known for. We'd have to be in a 4-3 to do that, or in a 3-4 as a linebacker, I could still put my hand on the dirt. I love a hostile environment and I love playing in the trenches. I'm open to anything."

Massaquoi was aware that the NFL Draft advisory returned a grade of fourth round to free agent, and is ready for that challenge.

"I don't feel like I'm taking a chance," he said. "I feel like it's my vision and I feel comfortable with what I've attained to this point, even with getting my degree. I've exceeded all the things that they asked of me as a student-athlete and I feel like it's time to make this move in my life, not just for me but for the ones around me."

"I spent a lot of prayer and meditation time over the holiday break thinking about this decision. I'm a hard-nosed guy. I know it's not your first contract that makes you, it's your second. If you're a true baller, you keep a briefcase in your closet."

"I'm willing to grind it out and willing to transform my body any way that an organization wants me to do. Whoever decides to pursue me, as you've seen, my performance has been top-notch and my track record shows that. I had 20 and a half sacks my year in junior college, 13 and a half last year and this year, battling a lot of minor bumps and bruises, six and a half sacks."

"If I'm put into the right organization with other players who have the same mindset as me, I'm capable of being a playmaker. It was a flip of a coin, roll of the dice, but this is the path I've chosen to take."

Massaquoi expressed gratitude to Troy University and coaches for giving him his opportunity to develop and get his degree. He said he wasn't quite sure yet of his training regimen for the months leading to the NFL Draft in late April, and hopes to get invited to the NFL Combine, like teammate James Brown did. Juniors haven't been selected yet for the combine.

"As you know me, my goals are set very high," he said. "I'm not an average player, as you've seen from my work and my enthusiasm on every play. The film speaks for itself and I know what I can bring to an organization. I have high hopes, and I'm willing to obtain them by any means."

James Brown headed to NFL combine

Troy offensive lineman James Brown is going to the NFL combine, to be held Feb. 22-28 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Brown is already slated to play in the Jan. 28 Senior Bowl in Mobile.

"He is easily worthy and has worked himself to be a very good candidate for the combine," Troy strength and conditioning coach Richard Shaughnessy said. "He can only help himself by going there and playing in the Senior Bowl."

The 6-foot-4, 312-pound Brown was a three-year starter at left tackle for Troy, though he could project as a guard at the next level.

"He's working hard to improve and I hope it will help him get selected higher (in the NFL Draft). He'll represent Troy in a good way," Shaughnessy said.

HERE is a list of other offensive linemen invited.

Juniors have not been selected yet for the combine. Shaughnessy said Jonathan Massaquoi had hired Pat Dye, Jr., as his agent and they'll push for him to be selected as well. Brown is being represented by Bus Cook (same agent for Brett Favre).

The NFL added eight regional combines for the first time this year. The closest one to Troy is March 10-11 at the Atlanta Falcons training facility.

Another lineup change forthcoming for Troy hoops

Troy had a nice go of it during the pre-conference part of the schedule, but the Trojans have lost four of five Sun Belt games.

Hoping to reverse that trend, and the one of three straight home losses, head coach Don Maestri said he'd make a change to the starting lineup again this week.

Point guard Will Weathers and center Tim Owens will be joined by Steven Cunningham and Justin Wright at forward and Emil Jones, a normal starter, sliding to the off-guard position.

"We just need a change and see if we can get off this dog gone home record we have," Maestri said. "I don't remember in the last 30 years where we've lost three home games in a row. It's not that they haven't played well, but they haven't shot well."

"I want to put the two seniors (Cunningham and Owens) out there again. We've struggled here in terms of winning. Attitude, we still feel like we can be successful, but I think you need a change sometime. Change sometimes ignites things, so we're going to try it."

This lineup would bring the spot up shooters - R.J. Scott, Alan Jones and Daronte Clark - off the bench, with the hope that at least one of them would catch fire there.

"It probably is not what you'd consider your best outside shooting team, but in terms of the guys who have been playing the most consistent, these guys have been the most consistent," Maestri said.

Weathers will be plagued by an ankle injury for the rest of the season, most likely. He's been held to single-digit scoring over the past three games.

"I think it'll bother him this year because Mo plays so hard," Maestri said. "He hasn't played as well of late. His stats, shooting-wise, have been really poor. He's going to have to really be more conservative when it comes to his shot. He's got to really take only good shots because that ankle is going to aggravate him the rest of the season, and I think that has a lot to do with how he's been shooting."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rishad Goode commits to Troy

Madison-Bob Jones defensive back Rishad Goode had a pretty good feeling that he'd commit to Troy over the weekend, and he did just that.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Goode played cornerback at Bob Jones, one of the biggest schools in the state, and said he could play any position in the secondary for Troy - corner, safety, nickel or dime.

"I just had a really good time up there and my mentor (host), Tony Davis, was a really cool guy and we had a good time," Goode said. "I like the backdrop with all the championships. I just want to be a champion."

"Troy is somewhere where I want to make home."

Goode said he had four interceptions and 20 tackles this year, scoring two touchdowns - one on an interception and one on a kick return.

Goode listed several schools that are recruiting him besides Troy: Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Central Arkansas, Murray State, Southern Illinois, Tennessee Tech, UT-Martin and Jacksonville State.

"I've got to take a visit to Middle Tennessee next weekend, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to stay at home with Troy," Goode said.

Goode also had good things to say about Troy offensive line coach John Schlarman, who was Goode's primary recruiter.

"I love him," Goode said. "He's a pretty cool guy."

Here are some video highlights.

Terris Lewis commits to Troy

Yes, it was a good recruiting weekend for the Trojans.

Terris Lewis, an all-state player from Linden, committed on his visit.

"I like the school and I like the coaches," Lewis said. "I think that in four years, I can come in and get a good education and hopefully have a chance at the NFL."

Lewis, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, did just about everything for Linden, playing outside linebacker, tight end, wide receiver and H-back for Linden, the Class 1A runner-up. He also played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game.

Lewis was recruited also by UAB, Jacksonville State, Memphis and South Alabama. He projects as an outside linebacker for Troy.

He was hosted on his visit by defensive lineman Aaron Williams, and recruited by defensive ends coach Randy Butler.

"I like how the players came and made me feel welcome," Lewis said. "They didn't force anything on me. They just let me know about the school and the football program."

According to scout.com, Lewis recorded 142 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six interceptions during the 2011 season. He also had 26 catches for 544 yards and nine touchdowns as a tight end.

James Mathis commits to Troy

Valdosta-Lowndes defensive lineman James Mathis also committed to Troy on his official visit.

Mathis, 6-foot-1 and 260 pounds, was hosted by wide receiver Khary Franklin, a former high school teammate of his.

"I felt pretty comfortable there," Mathis said. "I like the school, I like the lifestyle and I like how the coaching staff approaches things."

Mathis said he mostly defensive tackle in high school, and wasn't sure if he'll play end or tackle when he gets to Troy.

According to his MaxPreps.com page, Mathis had 60 tackles and three sacks. He was recruited to Troy by linebackers coach Benjy Parker.

A rivals.com report says "Aggressive, physical player who helped shut down opposing offense. Quick first step. Relentless pursuit of ballcarrier."

Garrett Peek commits to Troy

Millbrook-Stanhope Elmore defensive end Garrett Peek wanted to be a Troy Trojan for a while. His official visit confirmed it, though as he recently committed to Troy.

"It's been the No. 1 place I wanted to go since school started," Peek said. "This weekend sealed the deal for me. It's a great school with some really good coaches and people and I'm looking forward to being a Trojan. All the people sealed the deal for me."

Peek said he's 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, and said coaches want to beef him up and get him in a position to play. He had high regards for Shayne Wasden, his main recruiter, and head coach Larry Blakeney.

Peek estimated that he had 70 total tackles last year, four tackles for loss, three sacks, 15 quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery for Class 6A Stanhope Elmore.

"They're looking forward to seeing how I improve as a player and I think my work ethic sealed the deal for them," Peek said. "I'm aggressive and I try to do my best on every play. I go out every day with the mindset that I've got to get better because there's always room for improvement."

Peek said he was hosted by rising senior defensive tackle Kyle Lucas.

Video highlights found on the internet
and a recruiting profile.

Another brief recruiting update

Madison defensive end Marquez Pride, like teammate Rishad Goode, also posted on his twitter that he committed to Troy.

Pride, 6-3, 255, was the Huntsville Times Defensive Player of the Year.

So, looking for defensive ends who might play? Maybe here's one of your guys. I'll try to track him down on Sunday to get comments.

Troy falls to South Alabama

Troy lost 75-60 to South Alabama. You can read my game story HERE. From the Mobile Press-Register, story HERE.

Troy head coach Don Maestri was nowhere to be found after the game. He got out of there pretty quickly, forgetting that the assembled media was in the media area instead of at press row, like we were after a couple of the December games. No big deal, though, but that had never happened before. But I think he was pretty mad with the team's performance.

Troy looked pretty bad tonight against a team it had a chance to beat. Just one of those nights where shots didn't get in and they couldn't find the shooter and even missed a few easy shots. Teams are keeping Will Weathers at bay (and so is his ankle), and no one else is stepping up and hitting shots on a consistent basis to draw more attention from defenses.

Freddie Goldstein (pictured above, Thomas Graning photo from AP) of South hit 9 3-pointers. Boy, he had a sweet stroke, especially in the second half. He was left open for a few, but when he was contested, he was in such a zone that it didn't matter.

Troy hosts FAU on Thursday. FAU is talented, but has struggled this year for some reason.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Quick recruiting update

Did a twitter search and saw that Bob Jones defensive back Rishad Goode posted that he had committed to Troy. He's one of seven uncommitted prospects this weekend.

Media can't interview prospects while they are on their official visits, so hopefully I can track him down tomorrow, as well as other prospects who may have committed.

Headed to Troy for hoops. Men's game at 8 p.m. on CSS.

Saturday notes

Talking some hoops and football

***Troy hosts South Alabama tonight at 8 p.m. in basketball. It's that late for CSS TV. All of the official visitors will be there and I expect a pretty full and rowdy crowd. Troy plays well in home games like this. Troy's guards are on par with South Alabama, if not better, but South Alabama has an advantage in the frontcourt. However, Tim Owens and Ray Chambers haven't backed down from anything this year despite limitations (Chambers isn't real tall and Owens isn't real thick) and I think they'll give a solid effort. So, the key will be which team shoots the ball better. HERE is a short preview in today's paper.

South Alabama's Augustine Rubit is among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding. He was the league's Preseason Player of the Year.


At the beginning of the season, I'd have thought Jonathan Massaquoi would stay for his senior season, but I'm not surprised that he's forgoing his senior year and I don't really blame him since he's got his degree and he's almost 24 years old. Jonathan's a smart guy and I'm sure he thought all of this through.

I tried to reach Massaquoi tonight, but could not. Maybe another time, but he'll be training in Troy this semester and I'm sure I will run into him. Most people have told him that he'd have been better off staying another year and he knows he's aware of the challenge. I was told that the NFL Draft Advisory report back said he'd be anywhere from a 4th rounder to an undrafted free agent. So, that's quite a gamble. But he's about 6-3, about 270 pounds, sure his stats dropped from 2010 but the talent across the line (or on the other side of the line) wasn't what it was in 2010. I can't guarantee he'll get drafted, and I hope he does, but I'd like to think he'll make a roster.

Massaquoi, assuming he hasn't signed with an agent already, can actually withdraw by Jan. 18 if he wanted to, from what I was told.

Looking at Troy's recruit list and visitors for this weekend, it's pointing more and more like Troy will go to a 3-man front next year. Either a 3-4 or 3-3-5 but I think mostly a 3-4. Troy ran some odd fronts over the past two years and I thought they had some degrees of success, especially in the 2010 Middle Tennessee game. One of Troy's signees, Brandon Powe, is listed on the release as a "bandit," which is another one of those hybrid positions like a nickel.

Also makes me think that Troy's next assistant to replace Mo Crain will help coach linebackers or help coach in the secondary and that Randy Butler can coach the entire defensive line. Just speculation, but it makes sense.

One former Troy media relations guru who follows along says that a dominant nose guard is needed to run the 3-man front. I do agree and I think that'll eventually be Lonnie Gosha, but unless they can apply and get a hardship waiver, he'll have to sit out this year. Even so, he'd just be a redshirt freshman. Meanwhile, Troy will have a pair of guys like Shermane TeArt and John Clark who may well be bulked up enough to handle the job after several years in Troy's weight program. I had mentioned D.J. Johnson, a redshirt freshman, who came as a defensive end, but when I saw a picture of him, he weighed 270, but carried it like he was 240. I don't know what he's been up to in the months he's spent as a redshirt, but he's a guy that I'm interested in seeing how he's developed and wonder if he might can grow his way into a defensive tackle like Clark did. I think it's a given that Tony Davis is a defensive end, and think he'll rack up enough stats for more all-conference consideration.

I did speak a little with Richard Shaughnessy about Massaquoi and he didn't say much other than what Larry Blakeney had told me earlier, about how he was given a lower draft grade but still thought it was best for him to move on. But Shaughnessy is in charge of these guys in the offseason, and I could tell he's fired up about doing his part to get Troy players in a position to succeed with a strong strength and conditioning program.

He'll carry these guys into spring practice, which should begin around late March, and as I mentioned earlier, will have a scrimmage at Phenix City at some point.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Troy's Jonathan Massaquoi turning pro

Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi is forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.

"He had been working on it for a few weeks and Richard (Shaughnessy) helped him with his resources," Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. "The fact that he had already graduated and didn't find a graduate program that appealed to him, he's 24 years old and the clock's ticking... I promised I'd do everything I could to help him. He was rated in the bottom half of the NFL Draft by scouts but chose to go anyway. I hope he has great luck and gets his shot."

Blakeney said he wasn't really surprised that Massaquoi had chosen to enter the NFL Draft. The loss leaves Troy hunting for defensive ends. All four of the top ends on last year's roster have moved on - Massaquoi to the NFL, Brandon Boudreaux and John Robles to graduation and Xavian Evans to academic ineligibility.

***Mentioned 3 guys Wednesday who were ineligible or transferred out (Xavian Evans, DJ Jones, Gavin Ellis). Add one name - defensive tackle Tony Gillespie won't be back next year. Blakeney said he had bolted out before school got out.

*** Will try to locate Massaquoi to get his thoughts

***Who are the defensive ends next year? I'd guess this all but certain pushes Tony Davis to an end. Brandon Timmons was signed to play right away and he's here this spring. Deon Lee and D.J. Johnson redshirted as freshmen last year. If Troy switches to more of a 3-4 look, which is a real possibility, you could see another defensive tackle get a look.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Recruiting update for weekend

***Of note, if you read the blog, you know about all the new midyear guys, but Troy officially announced its new group today.

Troy has a big recruiting weekend this weekend, from searching the interwebs. Lots of current commitments and a few non-commits. This is not an official list and it's certainly possible that some guys could cancel their trips or some guys could get added late.

Current commits
Andre Allen, RB, Mosley, Fla.
Brandon Burks, RB, Daleville, Fla.
Brandon Silvers, QB, Gulf Shores, Ala.
Luke Lawrence, OL, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Jaquadrian Lewis, DB, Fitzgerald, Ga.
Brandon Brooks, WR, Jacksonville, Fla.
Antonio Garcia, OL, Riverdale, Ga.
Mitchell Roland, LB, Auburn, Ala.
Cody Core, WR, Auburn, Ala.
Bobby Walker, WR, Bartram Trail, Fla.
Michael Lindsey, ATH, Elba, Ala.

*Garrett Peek, DE/LB, Stanhope Elmore (Millbrook, Ala.)
*Terris Lewis, LB, Linden, Ala. 247sports.com profile.
*Marquez Pride, DE, Madison-Bob Jones Huntsville Times Defensive Player of the Year
*Rishad Goode (DB/ATH), Madison-Bob Jones (Seems like a guy who made some big plays for a big 6A school from looking up information)
*Tyler Lassiter, OL, Hazel Green, Ala., big offensive tackle who was once committed to MTSU. scout.com profile
*James Mathis, DE, Lowndes, Ga. rivals.com profile.
*Dieugot Joseph, DE, Orlando, Fla., posted on his twitter he was visiting, soft FIU commitment, 6-foot-6, 230 pounds.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A couple of personnel notes

Briefly spoke with Larry Blakeney today, as it's the first day of classes. He was knee deep in stuff that head coaches are usually at this time of the year, but a couple of tidbits.

**A couple of guys are out due to grades: defensive end Xavian Evans, who played a little bit last year as a JUCO signee, and cornerback D.J. Jones, who had transferred in from junior college but then found out he was a class short and couldn't play last year.

**Tight end Gavin Ellis is transferring to Jacksonville State to play his final two years. Good kid from a good family and he'll have a chance to get on the field more as an actual tight end since JSU uses the tight end more. I got the feeling he was torn about leaving Troy but wanted to get a shot to play more.

**Blakeney said a couple more guys may be leaving, but he didn't have names or know anything more, but I don't believe it to be any returning starters or guys that played a lot last year. They have their back to school team meeting tomorrow.

**No timetable on hiring Mo Crain's replacement, also no decision yet from defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi on if he'll go pro or not. Has till Jan. 15 to decide.

Wednesday thoughts

Sorry for the lack of updates. Been a bit under the weather, but nothing serious. I don't ever go to the doctor because I've been fortunate enough the last few years to not be sick enough to have to, but went today. Congestion was down in my chest and had a hard time sleeping last night.

Nurse says something about it being upper respiratory related, but said "I call it Dothan-itis. The only way you get rid of it is by moving or dying." Doctor had some jokes too. I guess you've got to be pretty funny or sarcastic when you're dealing with people who aren't feeling well, but the people at FirstMed were great and the shot to the hip + antibiotics really helped me make it through tonight at work feeling good.

***I don't regret at all putting Alabama at No. 2 in the Harris Poll when I had a vote. I think Oklahoma State had a great offense and would have scored 2, maybe even 3 touchdowns against LSU or Alabama. But, they'd have given up much more. I could see, if OSU had gone, LSU would have played much better and probably won 38-17. The best two teams in college football played, and sure it was boring if you don't like just a few touchdowns (I like hard-hitting defense so I wasn't bored even if I'd rather see a 28-24 game).

However, I hope that powers can be can adopt at the very least a Plus-One, though I'm quite confident the same matchup would have happened this year. I'd like to see an 8-team playoff. I know there's a cry that all conferences should be represented, but don't compare this to the NCAA Basketball tournament. It's two completely different sports. The Sun Belt's best - and one of the best Sun Belt teams ever - got hammered by the MAC champion. Create an 8-team playoff, eliminate about 8-10 bowls but still have some setup where 8-win Sun Belt/MAC/similar teams aren't left out of bowls, and play them in a shorter time window. Reward the non-AQ champs and the 8-10 win teams from the bigger conferences with bowl games.

Because, if it stays the same, I guarantee you'll see another SEC rematch in a title game sooner than later. And I absolutely believe that the SEC is far and away the best conference. I also believe Alabama was the best team in the country this year. But I can't wait for some type of playoff and where we're in a world when 6-6 teams aren't filling up bowl spots.

***So you know by now Michael Dyer is transferring to Arkansas State. The guy is a supreme talent, but apparently a troublemaker as evidenced by his bowl game suspension. He'll run wild on Sun Belt defenses if he's still around in 2013. You hear stuff about applying for a hardship to play immediately, but I can't see that happening. NCAA isn't always logical, though.

***Wednesday is the first day of class for Troy students this semester. There are 3 recruiting weekends, and this coming one will be the biggest. I don't have names yet, but should crack double digits, and they'll all be at the 8 p.m. Saturday night basketball game against South Alabama (8 p.m. start for TV on CSS). I think around half of the group will be committed players, and there are some real talented offensive players Troy has committed who are getting looks from bigger schools. Troy has 13 high school commitments, though one is an early enrollee in Shaq Beverly. I think John Knight of Thomasville has already visited, so I'd expect around 8-10 current commits to be on the visitor list this weekend.

Then you'll probably see the list drop off over the next week with high school guys who waited until after the season to take their official visits. The last weekend will have a few, though it seems like the last weekend is geared toward guys who may grayshirt or who are on the border academically.

**There are almost as many preseason college baseball All-America teams, but that doesn't change the fact that Tyler Ray and Tyler Hannah are outstanding baseball players (and people) and were named to one this week.

**Troy hoops isn't in action again until Saturday against South Alabama. Jags are winless and probably lose at ULL on Thursday, but have size that Troy will struggle with. Troy will need Tim Owens and Ray Chambers to be productive again just like they were at Western Kentucky.

Sun Belt standings

Sun Belt Conf All
Middle Tenn. St. 4-0 15-2
Florida Atlantic 2-2 6-11
Florida Intl. 1-2 4-11
Troy 1-3 6-9
West. Kentucky 1-3 5-12
South Alabama 0-3 8-6
AR Little Rock 3-0 6-11
Denver 3-1 13-3
LA Lafayette 2-1 8-9
North Texas 2-2 9-8
Arkansas St. 2-2 8-10
LA Monroe 1-3 2-15

Sunday, January 8, 2012

JUCO teammates Spikner, Canton ready to contribute

Troy was looking for a boost on its defense, and found two teammates they'll be counting on from Northeast Mississippi Community College.

Cornerback Jeremy Spikner and linebacker Eli Canton signed with Troy in December and will begin their careers at Troy this spring. Spikner will be a junior and Canton a sophomore.

Spikner, from Southaven, Miss., was just 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds as a senior in high school. Now, he's 6-foot-1 and 190.

"I like their football program," Spikner said. "They put out some NFL caliber players and send them to the league. I like the coaches and got to meet all of them on my official visit. I really liked my recruiting visit. They put us up in a nice hotel and fed us well."

A high ankle sprain hampered Spikner during his sophomore season, but he did have two interceptions while playing in about half of the team's games. As a freshman, he had four interceptions, seven pass breakups and 27 tackles.

With Troy losing one corner to graduation, a starting spot is up for grabs.

"I want to come in and play hard and make a name for myself," Spikner said. "I want to prove to the coaches why they recruited me and earn that starting spot."

Canton isn't the only former teammate of Spikner's that he will be reuniting with at Troy. Safety/linebacker Martrez Reaves was a high school teammate of Spikner.

"He’s athletic," Spikner said. "He can play anywhere you tell him to play. He’s strong, he’s good in the weight room, he’s good in class and he’s good out of class."

For Canton, it's all about proving the doubters wrong. The 6-foot-2 and a half, 250-pound middle linebacker had a good high school career at a big high school in Hernando, Miss., but the best Division I offers he got were as an invited walk-on.

Wanting more than that, he went to Northeast Mississippi and had a big season, getting 95 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks and an interception.

"It definitely fueled the fire, no doubt," Canton said. "Anytime somebody’s telling you they don’t think you’re good enough, it’s always motivation."

Canton had some interest pick up in junior college as he heard from Minnesota, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. It's possible he could have gotten more offers had he returned for his sophomore season, but he found what he wanted in Troy.

"I really liked the coaching staff and felt like they were telling me the truth. The prestige of their defense and what they’re known for speaks volumes," Canton said. "I’ve never won a state championship, but winning the Sun Belt and having a chance to go to a bowl game excites me. I feel like Troy is one of the best schools I could have gone to.

"They want me to play inside. I know they signed a bunch of linebackers, so when we get to spring, it’ll be open competition to see who plays."

Canton was recruited by linebackers coach Benjy Parker, and senior offensive lineman Cody Woodiel was a former high school teammate.

"Coach Parker and I had a real good connection," Canton said. "I got to know Coach (Jeremy) Rowell more as he came to my school. I took a liking to him and Coach Parker immediately when I met them."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Troy beats WKU

For the first time ever, Troy wins at Bowling Green, Ky., 67-65.

Trojans snapped a four-game losing streak and are 6-9, 1-3 in Sun Belt play, hosting South Alabama next Saturday at 8 p.m.

Emil Jones dished down to Tim Owens for the game-winning shot in the final seconds. That's the game winning shot, courtesy James Robinson of WKU via @TroyAthletics.

Recap HERE.

Box score HERE.

Game story from the Bowling Green Daily News HERE.

Troy at WKU today

Troy has a road basketball game today. It's at Western Kentucky. You can read my story HERE.

WKU had quite a whirlwind 12 hours. First, the loss to ULL with ULL having 6 on the court going unnoticed for the final play and Friday morning, coach Ken McDonald was fired, and Ray Harper will fill the void as the interim.

The once-proud WKU got off to a 5-11 start. You've got to wonder if WKU players will be re-energized and start off hot and shoot lights out against the Trojans. Troy is 0-6 in Bowling Green and most of those losses have been blowouts, especially lately.

WKU has a few talented freshmen, but this is a game Troy has a chance to win. WKU isn't near as good as the last three opponents Troy has played, but they're no slouch.

The game is at 4 p.m.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Troy making change at DT coach

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney made a staff change, relieving Maurea "Mo" Crain of his duties defensive tackles coach this week, Blakeney said.

"It was nothing to do with anything as far as integrity, honesty or being a good person, because Mo is all of those," Blakeney said. "I felt like I had to make a change for the betterment of the staff."

Crain had been Troy's defensive tackles coach since prior to the 2006 New Orleans Bowl. He had several players earn all-Sun Belt honors, including current Trojan Tony Davis, Chris Bradwell, Dion Gales, current Pittsburgh Steeler Steve McLendon and Kevin Dixon.

"I've got nobody in mind and don't know exactly what I'm going to do, but I made a change. We'll sort through it."

Troy falls to MTSU

Troy played well enough defensively, but wasn't big enough and couldn't get many good shots off against Middle Tennessee, and couldn't hit most of the ones they did.

In turn, that's a 63-53 loss, and 0-3 in Sun Belt play in a tough 3-game start. Troy is back on the road at Western Kentucky on Saturday.

You can read my game story HERE.

In case you missed the blog entry on the signees the other day, HERE is what ran in today's paper about Troy football.

Troy's Saturday opponent, Western Kentucky, had a tough loss, as UL-Lafayette beat the Hilltoppers in overtime.

ULL HAD SIX MEN on the court for the game-winning shot, for 20 seconds, and not one referee saw it.

That link has the video, so go to it.

After that, check out this follow-up from ESPN.com on the issue.