Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Former FAMU's Printers serves up completions and contradictions

There is a wariness to Casey Printers born out of an unshakable belief that he's been plagued throughout his turbulent football career by the ill-formed perceptions of others. It's why, we suspect, that when approached after a long practice the other day by a reporter with whom he has no prior experience, he does not lay down his helmet and orange jersey-covered shoulder pads. No point it seems in conveying an "I've got time, ask away" message.

So he keeps shifting his equipment from hand to hand as the questions come and his arms tire. And even as he relaxes a bit and begins to let his guard down slightly as he surprisingly allows the minutes to tick on, he never does let the equipment drop. The 29-year-old Texan with the diamond stud earrings and engaging smile is about to embark on the first full season of his second stint with the B.C. Lions. And he remains as complex and contradictory, as puzzling and presumptuous, as ever.

Deciphering Printers is like peeling an onion. One layer gives way to another. The core of who he is remains buried. Few people in life get a second go-round as intriguing as the one Printers has been handed.



Turning the page

Operation Overhaul may require patience

CFL preview: Team-by-team breakdown

Lions' Printers among players to watch this season

Printers among CFL players to watch

Advice and thoughts by Casey Printers from his self-help book, "From High School To The Pros"

Casey Printers attended Texas Christian University (TCU) and Florida A&M University where he excelled as an outstanding college quarterback landing him in the CFL as the highest paid quarterback and later in the NFL with the Kansas City Chief as their back-up quarterback. While not attaining the marquise player for the Chiefs, Casey still took his role seriously as a member of the Chiefs and the Kansas City community as he began to participate as a volunteer in the public schools to inspire and encourage young students. Casey is once again the starting QB for the B.C. Lions and is poised to return to CFL stardom.

One of the more intriguing quarterbacks to play at Florida A&M University in the modern era is Casey J. Printers, a DeSoto, Texas star who transferred to FAMU in 2002 for his senior season. Printers, in his own rights had already achieved much -- leading the TCU Horned Frogs to three straight bowl games (1999-2001) and was on schedule to graduate on time.

But, the Rattlers' high-powered Gulf Coast Offense had been putting up monster numbers and making ordinary quarterbacks Division I-AA All-Americans and household names -- like Tony Ezell, Jose Laureano, Oteman Sampson, Mike Morand, Pat Bonner, Quinn Gray, JaJuan Seider and Ben Dougherty. The receiving corps became widely known as the 'RAC Boys' (Run After Catch), who re-wrote the NCAA record books with names like Jacquay Nunnally, Cainon Lamb, Demetruis Bendross and Tariq Qaiyim.

Nunnally was the best of the RAC Boys, going on to break Jerry Rice NCAA 1-AA record for most receptions in a collegiate career with 362. Nunnally also was a three-time football Division I All-American at Florida A&M, who led the Rattlers to the NCAA Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) playoffs in 1997-2000. He is second all-time in the NCAA Division I FCS football record books in career pass receptions with 317 for 4,239 yards and 38 touchdowns. The four-times All-MEAC first team selectee was inducted in FAMU's Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Belle Glades, Florida (Glades Central H.S.) product JaJuan Seider had passed for a total of 137 yards in three seasons at 1-A West Virginia University where he sat mostly on the pine on game days. Seider jumped ship to the Rattlers in 1999 and passed for 2,512 yards and 27 touchdowns. In Seider's first collegiate start for FAMU, he powered the Rattlers to an embarrassing 76-17 victory over the Bulldogs of South Carolina State University in the Orange Blossom - Palmetto Classic in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Bulldogs were coached by 2010 College Football Hall of Famer, SCSU Head Football Coach Emeritus, Willie Jeffries who won 60 percent (Overall career: 179-132-6) of the college football games he coached. But, not on that day. Seider, who was starting in place of an injured future NFL quarterback -- Quinn Gray (Jacksonville Jaguars), completed 20 of 26 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and the rest was history.

Seider earned All-America honors, won the Doug Williams Award for National Offensive Player of the Year and the Jake Gaither Award (considered the Heisman Trophy of black colleges). He was also named the MEAC offensive Player of the Year and went on to be selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers.

Today, Seider is the Running Backs Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at I-A Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia. More so, Seider has earned a B.S. in physical education in 2000 and a master's degree in athletic coaching in 2010.

After reading about the exploits of Bonner, Gray, Seider, Dougherty and other FAMU All-American quarterbacks and receivers, Printers could not resist. The Rattlers also became more attraction for Printers as future FAMU Hall of Famer and National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Famer, coach William "Billy Joe," was hitting his stride with D-IA transfers. Billy Joe, who had one of the greatest offensive minds in college football during that era, was striking fear in the minds of all opponents. For a time, no one could stop the Rattlers powerful offense but the Rattlers themselves through their own errors.

By no stretch of the imagination, Printers parlayed his injury prone FAMU senior season into a pro career starting with the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and now, the B.C. Lions. The former Rattler rose from third-string quarterback in 2003 to being named the Most Outstanding Player in the league for the 2004 season -- leading the B.C. Lions toward an appearance in the 92nd Grey Cup game.

In his second stint with the B.C. Lions, Printers is once again the starter, with high hopes of another Grey Cup run and a return to super stardom, after sitting out of football most of last season. During that time, Printers was marketing his self-help book, "From High School to the Pros." His off-the-field activities have been outstanding in working with young people.

In this morning "The Province" newspaper are a few excerpts from Printer's book. One of my favorite Printers' quote that did not make the book is -- "Listen, skeptics are going to be skeptics, critics are going to be critics and haters are going to be haters. "

Some of the others are:

- The greatest enemy of progress is your last success. If you marvel at what you have done, it will hinder what you could do.

- If I can't applaud my accomplishments, who can?

- It's not about whether your coach likes you. It's whether he can trust you. ... If you don't get along with your coach, be a businessman or woman and talk. Deflate your chest and become coachable all the time.

- Over the years I have met people who hold onto life's downs. To them, I say "take out the trash." The trash is what's in your head.

- The more humble you are, the more people will want to help you.

- Service to others, there is no higher purpose.

- When I stopped worrying about what has happened and what will happen my life became more meaningful.

- Team, to me, means you submit to the goals of the club, but you need individuals to do more from time to time.

- Wake up, young athletes: Spending thousands in a [night]club to be noticed is not the smartest thing to do. If you feel like giving your money away, go to a shelter or a home for children and bless the lives of someone else ... There is this perception, particularly when it comes to African-American athletes, that you are a sellout if you don't come back to your neighbourhoods. How about you get involved in a business that allows you to employ people? You can then go back with something to give your friends, a job and a future.

Note: Coach William "Billy Joe" is currently the head football coach at Miles College, Fairfield, Alabama.



Casey Printers, Inc.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Alabama State football graduate lands on Broadway

MONTGOMERY, AL - The neon lights are shining bright for Alabama State University alumnus (1997) Jeff Calloway (stage name: J. Bernard Calloway) since he landed a major role in the hit Broadway play "Memphis," which recently won four Tony Awards, including best musical. The play already had won the Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding new Broadway musical.

Calloway's role in "Memphis" marks his Broadway debut. The play is a rhythm ‘n' blues musical set in the ‘50s. Calloway is one of the stars of the show, whose character Delray is a nightclub owner.

Despite his recent successes in entertainment, the Theatre Arts graduate did not come to ASU with plans to become an actor. During most of his college career, Calloway found success making crowd-pleasing plays on the football field as a starting fullback for legendary coach Houston Markham.

Calloway's career was destined for the gridiron until his junior year.

"I came back to campus following surgery – this was 1996 – and they'd changed the offense and tried to get me involved playing tight end," said Calloway. "I didn't like it and I'm sure my coaches were not happy with me."

Calloway said he didn't know that despite the position change, pro scouts were interested in him; so, he made the decision to leave the team his senior year and pursue acting.

He found his first taste of success as an actor when he joined the cast of ASU's performance of "Gospel at Colunus." "I started thinking, ‘Wow, I can do this. I can make a living at this.'"

J. Bernard Calloway (Jeff Calloway) is the first male lead singer on this video.

Calloway credits Dr. Tonea Stewart, now dean of ASU's College of Visual and Performing Arts, with helping him grow into the professional he is today. Discipline, patience, knowledge of the craft - integrity and a strong drive to accept only the best out of myself" are attributes he credits to Dr. Stewart's influence.

In addition to earning his M.F.A. in acting from Brandeis University in 2000, Calloway has appeared in numerous regional theater productions and television shows, including "Law and Order" and the soap opera "All My Children," and has been the voice talent in commercials for Miller Genuine Draft, Tropicana Twister Soda and K-Mart. He also made his movie debut in "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," starring Denzel Washington.

"If someone had told me back then that I had a chance to play pro ball, it might have turned out different," Calloway said. "But I'm right where I'm supposed to be and I am fortunate that things worked out as they did. I can thank my ASU family for that."

Courtesy of Alabama State University

Monday, June 28, 2010

Former Texans (Tuskegee) WR adjusts to life after injury‎

End of playing days is only the beginning for Williams

During the ambulance ride to the hospital, Harry Williams asked someone to phone his dad. He knew his parents back in Birmingham, Ala., had been watching the Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys preseason game that night in the summer of 2008. He knew they'd seen the play, seen him down on the field. He knew they would have noticed his lifeless arms and legs taped into place, seen him carted off the field and loaded into an ambulance.

"My mama is like a lioness when it comes to her kids," Williams said. "No one messes with her kids. For her to see me like that, and for her to be so far away, I knew she was going crazy. "Somebody dialed the phone and held it to my ear. I asked Daddy, 'How is Mama doing?' He said, 'Not too good.' " His dad asked the question he dreaded asking. "I can't feel nothing, Daddy," Williams said. "But, Daddy, don't tell Mama." He'd begun to cry as they loaded him into the ambulance, and almost two years later, some of it is still a blur. Williams is outgoing and talkative, one of those people who likes to laugh. To know him is to like him.

Former NFL Houston Texans wide receiver Harry Williams is at home on the football field as a volunteer assistant for Prairie View A&M University, as he completes his degree. Williams suffered a career ending fracture of the C3 vertebra in a Texans - Cowboys game in August 2008.


Around the Conferences: CIAA, SIAC, MEAC and SWAC

Albany State University Golden Rams: President Everette Freeman announced administrative and organizational changes as a result of former ASU executive Joshua Murfree taking the reins of the Dougherty County School System as its new superintendent. Murfree, who had worked for ASU since 1999, served in four positions at ASU — executive assistant, administrative chief of staff, athletic director and interim vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. Murfree left ASU June 7 and became the 14th superintendent of Dougherty County since 1885 when he started work June 8. Richard Williams, the third-year chair of the department of health, physical education and recreation, was named ASU’s interim athletic director. The Thomasville native will supervise the management of the university’s 11-sport program which includes football, baseball, softball, women’s volleyball and tennis, and men’s and women’s basketball, cross country and track and field.

“The opportunity to serve as the interim athletics director at ASU is a very exciting and rewarding opportunity,” Williams said in a news release. “Having a grandmother and father (who played football, baseball, basketball and ran track) who are both alumnus, I consider this a huge honor to assist in the great Golden Rams legacy here at Albany State University.”

Williams previously served two years as a professor and chair of the health, physical education and recreation department at Langston University in Langston, Okla. He earned a doctorate of education degree in exercise science/muscle physiology in 2002, master’s degree in education in 1997 and bachelor’s degree in education in 1995, all from the University of Georgia.

Morehouse College Maroon Tigers: The college is mourning the loss of a rising sophomore English major who had recently been named the school's freshman of the year. Police said 18-year-old Khalifah Muhammad and his 20-year-old brother, Idris, were in a car that veered off the southbound lane of Layhill Road (Silver Spring, Maryland) and hit a utility pole Wednesday night in Montgomery County. Idris had been driving, and officials said he and his brother were wearing seat belts. Officials said two women in the back seat did not suffer severe injuries. The men are the sons of Ward 8 ANC Commissioner Anthony Muhammad, a D.C. advisory neighborhood commissioner.

Morehouse College released a statement that said, "The Morehouse family is greatly saddened by the news of the sudden and tragic death of Morehouse sophomore Khalifah Muhammad and his brother, Idris. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

Claflin University Panthers: Woodland High School (Dorchester, S.C.) valedictorian Bobbie Blake made her college choice after landing honors scholarships with the Claflin Honors College and a volleyball scholarship. She has about $94,000 in scholarships as she will seek two degrees in biology and accounting. Having all her college expenses paid for "feels awesome," she said. Throughout her process of applying for scholarships, Blake said writing essays was the most difficult part.

"Basically, you have to convince someone to give you their money," said Blake, who received about half of the 20 scholarships she applied for. Blake, 18, said she also was keeping in mind her three younger sisters, who also will need college funds. "I'm really doing my parents a favor," she said. "We won't have to pull out loans." Blake said she and her family finally will get to see all her hard work she's put forth in high school come to fruition. "Everything paid off in the end," she said.

Former FAMU men's Track and Field coach and Olympian sprinter Rey Robinson inducted into Polk County All Sports Hall of Fame.

Florida A&M University Rattlers: Former Sneads High School Pirates (Sneads, FL) running back Mark Lawson, who originally signed with Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., has instead decided to walk on for the Florida A&M Rattlers for the 2010 season. Lawson, who compiled three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Pirates from 2008-10, originally signed a scholarship to play for Benedict College.

But the speedy running back has since changed his mind. Lawson said location had much to do with his change of heart. “I really didn’t want to go that far, all the way to South Carolina,” he said. “I wanted to go to FAMU before I signed. I just wanted to stay close to home.” There isn’t currently a scholarship available for Lawson at FAMU, or even a guaranteed roster spot. However, he said the Rattlers coaches told him that the next spot that became open would be his. Lawson said the decision to stay in state was a family decision he made with his mother and father.

Jacksonville Mandarin 6-0/225 linebacker
Larry Mitchell has signed with Rattlers football program. Mitchell broke former NFL player Sam Cowart's school record for tackles in a season with 104, despite playing in only seven games because of injuries. He also had 3.5 sacks for the 3-7 Mustangs.

Wakulla High School War Eagles (Crawfordville, FL) baseball teammates
Jose Linton and Shay Barwick have signed NLT to play for the Rattlers next season. The pair of left-handed pitchers could help bring stability and wins to Rattlers team next season. Barwick and Linton had a major role in helping the War Eagles reach the elite eight in the state high school playoffs this past season. Barwick also has been accepted to FAMU's school of pharmacy. Both have played continuously together since their T-ball days as tiny tots.

Former FAMU Track and Field coach and the one time "world's fastest man" Reynaud "R
ey" Robinson was inducted into Florida's Polk County All Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday night at the Lakeland Center. Robinson came to FAMU from Lakeland High School and participated in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, but he was disqualified from the 100-meter competition after a schedule mix-up (by his coach) had him late to the qualifying race. Robinson, then a 20-year-old sprinter was considered a co-favorite with U.S. teammate Eddie Hart to win the 100-meter gold medal in 1972. The three qualifying races to the final were considered formalities for the duo, who months earlier had tied the world record by each running the 100 in 9.95 seconds.

North Carolina Central University Eagles: NCCU Marching Sound Machine's 2010 Car Raffle Fundraiser--You can Win a new 2010 Nissan Versa automobile while helping the NCCU Marching Sound Machine to participate in the 2011 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade. For more information, visit The NCCU Sound Machine Booster Club at:

Want to help get the NCCU Marching Sound Machine to Pasadena for the 2011 Tournament of Roses Parade? There are a number of ways to contribute.

- You can send a text message to (NCCU) 50555. Each text will mean an automatic $10 contribution to the parade fundraising campaign, which will be added to your phone bill.

- You can make your contribution online, with a credit card, by going to and then following the prompts.

- You can call (919) 530-7784 and make a contribution by credit card.

- Finally, you can mail a contribution to NCCU Foundation,
P.O. Box 25111, Durham, NC 27702-25111. On the memo line, put TORP (for Tournament of Roses Parade).

Grambling State University Tigers: Athletic director Lin Dawson would prefer to remove baseball head coach James Cooper's interim title immediately, but university policy prevents him from doing so. Cooper was named interim coach in early August 2009 as a replacement for the departed Barret Rey, who accepted the head coaching job at Alcorn State University. But, according to university policy, when an interim coach is in place the position must be advertised to other candidates. Cooper led the Tigers to a SWAC title in the 2010 season and was named SWAC Coach of the Year. The position is his to keep, but Dawson can't make it official until around August 1, when Cooper will have been on the job for a full year.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Time for SCSU to talk, do the right thing

Athletic director Charlene Johnson is now working under a one-year contract and has been totally silent on the ESPN proposed Legacy Bowl with the Bulldogs supporters and fans.

Fans and boosters of South Carolina State athletics spoke loudly with their financial support of the "Lift-A-Bulldog" program. If only the administration and school leaders were not the total opposite in addressing issues with the athletics department. Since School President George Cooper was told in March to make a decision in regards to athletics director Charlene Johnson's future after June 30, both he and the Board of Trustees went silent on the matter. No word publicly was given as to whether Cooper quietly allowed Johnson's contract to roll over for another year, as is his right according to school by-laws, or if he would request a multi-year deal to the board.

On Wednesday, Board chairman Jonathan Pinson indicated the former had apparently taken place with a one-year contract extension for Johnson. According to Pinson, it was handled as an "internal personnel matter" where Cooper did not have to inform the board of his decision. The secretive manner in which this was handled was disappointing to board member Maurice Washington. What had him especially miffed was the news about a second major issue regarding S.C. State athletics.

As reported by College Sporting News, a tentative agreement...


Rattlers' Coach Taylor vying for FAMU to get turf football field

ALACHUA, FL — Joe Taylor would like to have a summertime football camp like most coaches do. He'd also like to be less concerned when an occasional high school football game is played inside Bragg Stadium, or even when the Marching 100 band puts on one of its leg-stomping shows. One roll of artificial turf would fix his worries, Taylor told a captivated crowd during his final summer fundraising stop at the Alachua Women's Club on Friday night. Since early May, Taylor has been touring the country as he makes his pitch to raise money to replace the grass inside Bragg with man-made turf.

An account has been set up specifically for the turf fund and he's expecting FAMU supporters to pledge enough to get the project completed in time for the Rattlers' first home game Oct. 2, he said. The installation will take 35 days. The turf project will cost an estimated $700,000. Taylor said he's appealed to FAMU's 60 alumni chapters to each contribute at least $5,000 annually to fast-track financing the payment for the new top on the field. Taylor said he's taking the same approach that worked successfully when he raised money to upgrade the team's weight room and provide funding for players to attend summer school.


Fort Valley State Lady Wildcats Twin Tracking

Two-times All-American distance runner Raven Wilson, Fort Valley State University Lady Wildcats had a tremendous season competing with her three-times All-American sister, Portia. The freshman twins are from Carrollton High School, Carrollton, GA and are hitting the books hard in summer school.

In the rare instances in which Portia and Raven Wilson are not side by side, people at Fort Valley State University seem confused. Even shocked. The fraternal twins and Carrollton natives recently finished their freshman seasons with the school’s nationally-ranked Division II track and field team, and were almost always together.

“If someone sees one of us and doesn’t see the other, they say, ‘Where’s your sister?’” Portia Wilson said. “Every time people see us, they always see us together,” added Raven Wilson. “We’ve always been real close.” That closeness — the two often even wear the same outfit — helped the former Lady Trojan track standouts settle in quickly with the Wildcats and earn All-American honors in the spring outdoor season.

Portia Wilson swept the 100 and 200-meter dashes individually, while also being a part of the 400-meter relay and 1,600-meter relay events at the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships in April before finishing fourth in the 100-meter final at Nationals in May. She was the lone freshman on the medal stand. Raven Wilson competed with her sister in the relay events, helping Fort Valley State finish fifth in the 1,600-meter relay and sixth in the 400-meter relay at Nationals, breaking school records in the process. “I think we do our best if we are together,” Portia Wilson said.

Tiffany B. Moore, Portia Wilson, Latonya Payne and Raven Wilson: 2010 NCAA Division II Track & Field Championships Women 4x400 Relay Final

Tiffany B. Moore , Portia Wilson , Tasha Burke , Raven Wilson: 2010 NCAA Division II Track & Field Championships W4x100 Relay Final.


Kearsley bowler Danielle Hale commits to Morgan State

Danielle Hale selected the Lady Bears over Jackson State and Delaware State University.

Flint, Michigan -- One of the fastest-growing sports on both the high school and college level is bowling and one of the finest bowlers in the area will be taking her game to the next level when the college bowling season begins later this year.

Kearsley High School (Flint, Michigan) senior Danielle Hale signed a college scholarship June 8 to continue her career at Morgan State University in Baltimore. "This is a great thing for Danielle and for all girls bowling in the area," said Kearsley coach Rob Ploof. "Morgan State is getting a very good bowler from Kearsley and she will instantly make that team much better. I am extremely proud of Danielle for everything she has accomplished in bowling at Kearsley."

Hale helped Kearsley to one of its finest seasons ever this past winter. She averaged 186 for the Hornets this season and had a 78 percent spare percentage. "I am really, really excited about bowling in college," Hale said. "I'm ecstatic about the opportunity. I was thinking that I would not get the opportunity to bowl in college and I was so happy when I had the chance." She received an assist in her college recruitment from Flint Northern coach Mike Balentine, who was attending an NCAA bowling tournament in Tennessee when he talked to college coaches and let them know about Hale.


Lane College Announces 2010 Football Schedule

Lane College announced its 2010 football schedule Tuesday, and it will play five of its 10 games at Rothrock Stadium. The Dragons start their season in front of their home crowd Aug. 28 against Clark Atlanta in what will be coach Derrick Burroughs first game. Burroughs takes over for former coach Trent Boykin, who now coaches the West Tennessee War Eagles, a semipro football team in Jackson. Nine games are within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with its lone non-conference game at Ohio Valley Conference member Tennessee Tech. The Dragons haven't won since late 2008 after going 0-10 in 2009.

The Dragons won't have defensive back Isaiah Scott when the season starts after Scott transferred to NCAA Division III Mount Union, a 10-time national champion. The 5-foot-9 defensive back was second on the team with 45 tackles as a freshman this past season. Scott had three interceptions, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.

Lane College Dragons Marching Band.

Date Opponent Location Time
28 Clark Atlanta* Jackson, TN 6:00pm
4 Kentucky State Univ.*(Thoroughbred Classic) Louisville,KY 3:00pm
11 Morehouse College* Atlanta,GA 7:00pm
16 Tennessee Tech Cookeville,TN 7:00pm
2 Albany State Univ.* Albany,GA 7:00pm
9 Benedict College* Jackson,TN 2:00pm
16 Miles College (Homecoming) Jackson,TN 2:00pm
23 Stillman College* Jackson,TN 2:00pm
30 FortValley State University* Jackson,TN 2:00pm
6 Tuskegee University Tuskegee,AL 1:00pm

*Indicates Conference Game Home Games in BOLD
Derrick Burroughs-Head Coach/Athletic Director
Dr.Wesley Cornelious McClure, President
Roger Ogden-Sports Information Director

Frank Walker Annual Tuskegee Football Camp June 29-30

The Annual Frank B. Walker Football Camp will be held on Tuesday, June 29, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Wednesday, June 30 from 8 a.m.-noon. The camp will be at the Tuskegee University football field, Abbott Memorial Stadium. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. The camp and lunch is free to all participants. Sponsored by Love Life Foundation.

Walker, a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee (Alabama) and Tuskegee University, plays corner back for the Baltimore Ravens of the National  Football League. Walker previously played for the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. The 5-11/200 athlete was originally drafted by the New York Giants in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He signed with the Ravens on March 13, 2008, and will be playing his 9th season in the NFL in 2010/11.

Walker plays in the third corner spot behind Pro Bowl starters Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle.

Smaller schools face economic challenges

TUSCALOOSA, AL -- While the University of Alabama’s athletic program is able to fund itself at a multi-million dollar level, that’s not the case with most schools. And Division II schools and junior colleges with athletic departments at the lower end of the economic spectrum face their own challenges. Stillman College, a private school just down the road from the University of Alabama, moved up to NCAA Division II in 2005 after playing at the non-scholarship Division III level for a few years after reviving its football program in 1999 after a 49-year hiatus.

Stillman College 2007, 2008, 2009 SIAC CHAMPIONS.

The school doesn’t fund the maximum scholarships allowed for every sport, but stacks up well among its peers in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “We’re not at that level yet,” said Athletics Director Curtis Campbell. “We make increases each year. Somewhere down the road, we’ll be close (to 100 percent scholarship-funded). “If you look at the conference we compete in, we’re at about the middle of the conference or a little bit above in terms of what we give in athletic aid as opposed to what others give. We’ve got 13 schools in the conference and we’re probably fifth or sixth. Of course we’d love to be No. 1.”

Campbell is confident that Stillman sports programs have the facilities and support needed to be successful. “Each of our programs have everything that they need, the resources to get done what they need to get done,” he said. “Coaches always want more. They have wants, but their needs are met.”


Ashton Johnson signs with Stillman College

FAIRHOPE, AL – Fairhope High School Pirates right-hander Ashton Johnson signed with Stillman College Monday in the Fairhope library. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound pitcher, who also swings the bat well, helped the Pirates reach the semi-finals in the 6A division this past spring. Now he's looking forward to the college experience with the Stillman Tigers in Tuscaloosa.

"I am just really excited to go play," Johnson said. "My family needs this and it is going to help out a lot. I am just really excited to know where I am going and I am glad that it is a nice school like Stillman. They are a very strong team and I think I will be a good fit for the program. It is a very good academic school and it will fit me perfectly. That is why I like Stillman." Johnson plans to major in psychology.

As a All-County senior right-hander, he went 5-2 with 62 strikeouts in 49-2/3 innings for the No. 2-ranked Pirates. "He was one of our most affable kids in the program in the last four years," said Fairhope head coach Stu Fuller. "He got along with everybody and just pulled for his teammates so hard. If you ask me what I am going to remember about Ashton, it is going to be that." Combined, Johnson finished his 2009 and 2010 seasons on the mound with a 9-5 record, 131 strikeouts, 79 walks and an earned run average of 4.51. The Pirates finished 35-9 overall.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Howard Bison signs Talented Twin Towers--Leary and Boyomo

Howard University signee Alphonso Leary, Maury H.S. (#13) dunks over Kecoughtan's Buster Tucker (32) and Dimitri Batten (4) in the fourth quarter, Feb. 27, 2010, during an Eastern Region semifinal at The Scope in Norfolk. Maury won 66-62.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It did not take Coach Kevin Nickelberry long to show that he is on a mission to take the Howard University men’s basketball program to the next level. Nickelberry, who has been on the job less that than two months, addressed one of the team’s biggest needs by announcing the signing of Alphonso Leary to a national letter of intent and Theodore Boyomo to a written offer of financial aid.

Leary is a 6-10, 200-pound center from Maury High School in Norfolk, VA who will help fill the void left by three Bison frontcourt players who graduated this past May. Leary averaged 11.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while leading his team to a 22-8 record and the Eastern District Tournament championship. He recorded a career-high 24 points against Lake Taylor and was an All-Eastern District first team selection.

“I have been recruiting Alphonso for the past three years and he has grown and gotten better each time I have seen him,” said Nickelberry. “We are excited about his potential and what he brings to the program.”

A native of Yaounde, Cameroon, "Theo" Boyomo (#13) arrived at Kent in the fall of 2007 as a 16-year-old sophomore and quickly made his mark as not just an outstanding athlete but a superb citizen and student as well. With a 7’2” wingspan and tremendous athleticism, he has been widely recognized as the top defensive player in the region and was heavily recruited by high-profile Division I basketball programs, but also by Ivy League schools as well.

Boyomo is a 6-9, 225-pound senior from the Kent School in Kent, Ct. He was heavily recruited but Nickelberry was able to win out over such competitors as Canisius, Siena, Rutgers, Texas A&M, Colorado and Washington. Boyomo established himself as one of the premier defensive big men in the New England region and helped the Kent School to new heights, culminating with a Western New England championship this past March.

Boyomo was named to the New England All Defensive 1st Team as a center/forward. The big man is as college ready of a defensive anchor as there is in New England. He does it all on this end of the floor with the size and strength to guard opposing low post scorers without help on the block, the mobility and timing to erase teammate’s mistakes with his help-side shot blocking, and nose for the ball to finish plays by cleaning up the glass. On offense, he consistently makes the elbow jumper and has a reliable jump hook and up-and-under counter move in his arsenal with his back to the basket. Theo has a great NBA type frame, which should blow up with a serious weight lifting program at Howard. He led Kent to a 20-5 record his senior season and the Western New England championship.

An outstanding student, Boyomo finished as an honor roll student for six straight academic terms, despite having to learn English upon his arrival at the Kent School, Connecticut.


Education and ministry focus of leadership for Rattlers' Blue

Former FAMU Rattlers defensive back Dr. Tyrone A. Blue is currently the principal of Grand Park Education Center in Jacksonville, FL and senior pastor at First Missionary Baptist Church of Gainesville, Florida. The West Nassau High School alumnus earned all-county honors as a Warrior student-athlete and was the first player in Nassau County to play in the North/South All-Star Game, competing in 1984.

As a former Warrior standout, Tyrone A. Blue took opposing teams to school. Now that he's an educator, he helps lead students and athletes down the path for success. Blue has served for four years as the principal of Grand Park Education Center in Jacksonville, which houses a wide gamut of students who have been forced out of the mainstream education system.

"This in itself is a ministry," he said. "Part of my ministry every day is to give them hope that they can be successful, but it's dependant on them to make good choices."

Education wasn't exactly the ideal career path for Blue, who had high ambition for the NFL as a defensive back for Florida A&M University. Two days prior to an NFL camp in the summer of his junior year, Blue suffered a broken neck from a car accident that permanently sidelined his career on the field. Being forced to rethink his path, Blue soon found the answer that would change his life.

"Through the experience, God spoke intimately," he said. "He told me, 'You saw yourself in the NFL, but I see you doing other work: my work.' That wasn't easy for me to take."

Before his career in education, Blue was a superior student athlete for West Nassau and FAMU. In 1984, he was the first player in Nassau County history to play in the North/South All-Star game in Winter Park. Despite losing a close game to the South team, Blue was blown away at the opportunity to be selected.

Winston-Salem State Rams to bring back baseball‎

Winston-Salem State University is bringing back baseball, a sport it last offered in the early 1970s. The team will start play in the spring of 2011, a condition of the school's readmission to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

Leon Kerry, the CIAA commissioner, said: "We have a rule that was voted in by the CIAA Board of Directors that any school that comes into the conference had to have a baseball program. This was part of the deal with Winston coming back." Chancellor Donald Reaves of WSSU confirmed yesterday that plans to add baseball are in the works but said all details have yet to be worked out. Kerry said that WSSU is on the CIAA schedule for next season.

"I'm really excited about baseball coming to Winston-Salem State," Reaves said. "I think this will help raise the profile of athletics, and it's also great for the profile of the university.


Friday, June 25, 2010

New Citrus Bowl field could end up in legal fight

Delay those purchase orders for new turf shoes -- MEAC/SWAC Challenge teams Delaware State University and Southern University. Same for you also, Florida Classic rivals Bethune-Cookman University and Florida A&M University. You are not out of the mud yet, with the Citrus Bowl. Read on....

You thought the mud debacle at the Citrus Bowl was bad?

Just wait. The long-anticipated installation of artificial turf could be caught up in a legal tangle, potentially damaging the hopes of putting in the new turf in time for the 2010 season. FieldTurf has questioned the way the city awarded AstroTurf the contract to put in the new grass, and is now threatening legal action. Darren Gill, vice president of marketing for FieldTurf, said in a phone interview, “This is not a case of sour grapes, but when the bidding laws aren’t abided by it should be a concern of the citizens of Orlando.”

Gill said the company has requested various documents from the City of Orlando through the Freedom of Information Act and is in the process of determining whether it should take legal action. Rather than go through a public bidding process for the artificial turf, the City of Orlando chose to go through national purchasing co-ops. Both companies already have established contracts through their respective co-ops. The city is a member of both co-ops, so they were allowed to utilize their services. The city then took a look at both contracts and went with AstroTurf “because of the quality, installation, history and pricing,” according to City of Orlando spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser.


A judge refused FieldTurf’s request for an injunction to block the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission

Future Stars: Kailo Moore

Kailo Moore is fast. How Fast? He runs the 200 meters in a time of 21.14. Usain Bolt owns the world record with a time of 19.19. Michael Johnson previously owned the record with a time of 19.32. Michael Johnson previously owned the record with a time of 19.32. Bolt is 23 and Johnson was 28 when he set the mark in the 1996 Summer Olympics from Atlanta.

Moore is just 16.

Moore drives two hours to Vicksburg to train with the Mississippi Heat Track Team. The Heat are coached by Clarence Maxey a former All-SWAC sprinter at Alcorn State University.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NCCU Band Receives Walmart Gift

When members of North Carolina Central University’s Marching Sound Machine arrive in Pasadena, California, to take part in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, they will not have to worry about lost luggage at the airport, thanks to a major in-kind gift from Walmart. The transportation services division of the discount giant will transport the band’s instruments, equipment, luggage and uniforms. This gift, valued at close to $100,000, is the largest donation received in support of the (Marching Sound Machine's) Tournament of Roses $1 million dollars campaign.

On Christmas morning, two 18-wheelers will roll into Durham, load up and head west, crossing eight states and arriving in California by Dec. 28. Walmart will also transport the equipment back to Durham on Jan. 5. “This gift is saving the university thousands in transportation costs,” said LaTanya Afolayan, vice chancellor of Institutional Advancement.

NCCU is anticipating a total cost of $500,000, or $2,000 per student, for the band to take part in the prestigious parade. They still have a ways to go, but Afolayan, whose office is leading the fundraising effort, is confident that NCCU will reach its goal. “This gift sets precedence for other major supporters,” she said. “In these economic times to have Walmart step up at this level, it really means a lot. It signifies Walmart’s commitment to higher education, and we hope it will inspire others to join us in this endeavor.”

NCCU alumnus James Dockery, a member of the board of the NCCU Foundation, was instrumental in securing the donation, Afolayan said. Dockery is a former Walmart employee.

Through their dedication to musicianship, electrifying performances and the artistic expression of band director Jorim Reid, the Marching Sound Machine has gained the attention of several sponsors, including Michael Jordan Nissan, which has donated a 2010 Nissan Versa, valued at $18,000, to be raffled during the NCCU homecoming game on Oct. 30.

The Marching Sound Machine was selected as one of 16 bands to perform at the 2011 Rose Parade. Band members will assist with float preparation and perform in the annual Bandfest event before taking center stage as the first HBCU from North Carolina invited to the Tournament of Roses.

To join the parade and help the Marching Sound Machine get to Pasadena, visit

The NCCU Marching Sound Machine Band is under the leadership of Mr. Jorim Edgar Reid. Mr. Reid is a former band member of Miami Norland High School, Miami, Florida, and a drum major of the incomparable "Marching 100" at Florida A&M University. Reid earned his undergraduate degree at Florida A&M University, his masters from Florida State University and is currently pursuing a doctorate at Boston University. He has been NCCU Director of Bands for the past seven years, retooling the marching band, which then featured only 32 members to over 200 musicians.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ukpai, FAMU receivers stress timing during workouts

There was no question who was in-charge during a lively 1-on-1 session involving Florida A&M receivers and defensive backs. Quarterback Martin Ukpai ran the show from start to finish Tuesday afternoon. His mission during the unsupervised workouts the team will be going through the next few weeks is to establish timing between himself and the receiving corps. "When timing connects, it's almost impossible to defend," Ukpai said. "I'm making sure they catch the ball every time and that we can move the chains."

There was a lot of conversation going on between both units. The upper classmen made time to illustrate execution of routes, on both defense and offense. "This is the line of scrimmage," receiver Brian Tyms told one of the newcomers. "You go 5, 10 (yards), then come back down to make the catch." Ukpai spent the first 20 minutes or so working strictly with his receivers before the defensive players took the field. At that point, he seemed to have more authority with his throws and as the workout progressed the cohesion seemed to intensify.


SWAC Basketball Tournaments moving to Dallas Area

Birmingham, AL - The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted Tuesday to approve the bid submitted to the league office by The Special Events Center in Garland, Texas to host the SWAC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament Championships in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The 2011 SWAC Basketball Tournament will be played March 9-12 at the 7,500-seat Special Events Center. The conference office requested bids from as many as 15 cities within the league's five-state footprint.

"We look forward to working with the Special Events Center in Garland over the next three years to develop the SWAC Basketball Tournament into more than just a basketball tournament, but a total entertainment and destination event," SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp said. "The league is thankful to the cities that submitted bids and optimistic about the growing relationship between the league office and the Special Events Center, the Garland Independent School District, the city of Garland, and surrounding cities."

The Dallas metropolitan area is second only to Atlanta in the number of living SWAC alumni, and it is the fifth-largest media market in the United States. Bids from 15 cities from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas were requested by the SWAC. The tournament is moving from Bossier City, Louisiana, who also submitted a bid, but did not offer the SWAC a free venue or a reduced-cost venue and hotel rooms that the conference was seeking.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

MEAC/SWAC Challenge getting new AstroTurf at Citrus Bowl

The Florida Citrus Bowl is getting a quick makeover--grass is out and new AstroTurf is going in with completion due by September 1, 2010 -- just in time for the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. This year's event features Southern University Jaguars vs. Delaware State University Hornets on Sept 5. However, it took the embarrassment of last year Capital One and the Champs Sports Bowls, respectively, for the City Fathers to make a $1.5 million investment to improve the aging venue.

Apparently, after the 30th Florida Classic between Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats vs. Florida A&M University Rattlers, the City decided to replace the turf with fresh sod. But after heavy rains hit the Orlando area, the Miami (FL) Hurricanes and the Wisconsin Badgers did more slipping and sliding on the loose sod in the Champs Bowl (Dec. 29) than either team wants to remember. Penn State and LSU didn't fare any better in their January 1, 2010 showdown in the Capital One Bowl.

Since the Big Ten, ACC and SEC want no parts of the Mud Bowl when Florida gets a deluge of heavy rains, City Officials had no choice but to upgrade.

Bethune-Cookman University and Delaware State University will have the upper hand on Florida A&M University and Southern University with the new AstroTurf surface. B-CU is receiving new Field Turf on its home field at Daytona Beach Memorial Stadium with installation to be completed by Sept 1.

DSU has TenCate Thiolon Field Turf at its 7,193 seat Alumni Stadium. FAMU and Southern home stadiums, Bragg Memorial and A.W. Mumford Stadiums, currently have natural grass surfaces that can become a dust or mud bowl in late October based on the erratic Louisiana and North Florida weather patterns.

The Jaguars new coach Stump Mitchell is attempting to raise the necessary funds to replace the surface at Mumford Stadium with new Field Turf.

The 31st Florida Classic rivalry between Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M is scheduled for November 20, 2010. This year's event is expected to be a sellout with the Wildcats sporting a new head coach in former Rutgers position coach, Brian Jenkins. The Rattlers are coached by Joe Taylor who is in his third season at FAMU.

UFL adding team in Norfolk, with former Redskins great Doug Williams as GM

Grambling State University and Washington Redskins legend Doug Williams has been named General Manager of the new Norfolk UFL franchise.

The United Football League board has agreed a conditional approval for Norfolk, Virginia, to host the league’s sixth team that will commence play in 2011.

Meeting at the Cornell Club in New York, the board agreed that Virginia businessman Jim Speros will become the provisional Tidewater region team’s owner. Speros was a founding owner of the Baltimore Stallions, the only American-based team to win a Canadian Football League Grey Cup in 1995.

From 1993 to 1997 he was the President and owner of the Stallions and the Montreal Alouettes and was the vice chairman of the CFL and chairman of its US expansion committee. Speros played college football at Clemson University and was the youngest full time assistant coach in the NFL under Joe Gibbs at the Washington Redskins before moving into team ownership.

Washington Redskins and Grambling State University legend Doug Williams, the MVP of Super Bowl XXII and the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, will take on the role of General Manager of the Norfolk team.

“I am very fortunate to be able to bring a pro football team to the state of Virginia and especially to the Tidewater region,” said Speros. “There is already a lot of football history in this area and I believe Norfolk will become the shining star of the United Football League.

“Virginia is a great state, but it does not have a professional sports team. It has the legendary 757 area code that has produced the likes of Bruce Smith and Michael Vick and is truly a hotbed for football. The fans are knowledgeable, there is a military presence here and I am sure they will all enjoy the opportunity to watch quality football.”

Williams, reached Monday night, said he has fond members of the Norfolk area, having played Norfolk State in football when he was quarterback at Grambling under the legendary Eddie Robinson. "It was like a rivalry when Dick Price was the coach there," William said of the former Spartans coach whose name now graces the NSU football stadium. Williams said that NSU also played Grambling in Louisiana as well in New York in the Urban League's Whitney M. Young Classic. "I also used to come to the Norfolk Scope for the CIAA all the time," Williams said, referring to the popular basketball tournament put on by the Hampton-based Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue added: “We are delighted to welcome Norfolk, Virginia, and the Tidewater region as our sixth city and are excited to have a successful team owner in Jim Speros and a proven winner in Doug Williams on board to lead the team.

“Like Omaha, which came on board as an expansion team in April and has already generated considerable excitement, Norfolk fits the ideal UFL model of having a passionate fan base that we believe deserves a professional football team.”

The Norfolk team will face the Florida Tuskers, Hartford Colonials, Las Vegas Locos, Omaha Nighthawks, Sacramento Mountain Lions and additional potential expansion teams when the third United Football League season kicks off in 2011. Football fans eager to learn more about the UFL and buy tickets for the 2010 season can visit the website.