Sports Network MEAC Spring Football Preview

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SONY DSCPhiladelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Everybody is thinking offense in Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference football this year because there wasn’t enough of it last season.

MEAC teams averaged 21.3 points per game, which was over 2.7 points fewer than teams from the second-lowest-ranked FCS conference. In addition, the MEAC was last nationally in offensive yards with its teams averaging less than 313.3 per game.

It doesn’t help matters that quarterback is a fairly inexperienced position across the 11-team MEAC this year. Bethune-Cookman, which returns its starter, and South Carolina State, which doesn’t, remain the teams to beat after they shared last year’s conference title.

A look across the conference with spring practices getting underway around the nation:

STORY LINES

Hampton (Connell Maynor), Morgan State (Lee Hull) and North Carolina Central (Jerry Mack) are all getting settled with new head coaches.

As other MEAC teams develop their quarterbacks, Howard returns perhaps the best one at the position, senior left-hander Greg McGhee.

Bethune-Cookman has won three MEAC titles in coach Brian Jenkins’ first four seasons. But his squad is vulnerable after losing key seniors as well as safety Nick Addison to an early entry into the NFL Draft.

North Carolina A&T, coming off a 7-4 season, may have a Caucasian starting quarterback, Frank Foster, for the first time in school history. The transfer accounted for 28 touchdowns (18 passing, 10 rushing) at Southwestern College last year.

MEAC power South Carolina State will have a sophomore or freshman as the starting quarterback. Coach Buddy Pough hasn’t had enough consistency at the position since Malcolm Long directed three straight MEAC championship squads from 2008-10.

Florida A&M’s proud program, coming off a 3-9 season, will try to get back on track behind second-year coach Earl Holmes. The Rattlers’ mantra for 2014: Set the Record Straight.

THEY’RE BACK

North Carolina Central’s Adrian Wilkins might be the best returner in the FCS. He had a national-high five special teams return touchdowns, three on kickoffs and two on punts, and all went for at least 73 yards.

Howard is thrilled to have another season from safety Julien David, who missed last season after tearing his right pectoral muscle. He is an All-MEAC first- teamer.

Savannah State wants to see less of linebackers Marquis Smith and Justin Dixon than more after they were on the field enough to collect 124 and 122 tackles, respectively, last season. The Tigers were outscored, 517-174.

South Carolina State returns its entire starting defensive line, led by All- MEAC first-team selections Andrew Carter and Alex Glover, from a defense that ranked No. 1 in the FCS in total defense.

Last season, Hampton unleashed a terrific pass rusher in defensive end Miles Grooms. He had 18.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks as a sophomore.

Florida A&M quarterback Damien Fleming was the MEAC’s 2013 preseason co- offensive player of the year, but slumped through a difficult season. He expects to rebound as a senior.

Morgan State’s Lamont Brown III was impressive as a redshirt freshman, rushing for 705 yards and five touchdowns.

Read On: http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=cfoot2/writers/infcshuddle/index.htm

Rare disease helps Beverlin teach Wildcats value of never taking any opportunities for granted

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Shannon Owens of the Orlando Sentinel ran a great piece this morning about the life-threatening illness Bethune-Cookman Baseball Skipper Jason Beverlin battled in 2013.  His case is amazing, especially considering that he has no residual effects from the illness and is now back on the field for another season to lead the Wildcats.  I hope that you enjoy this piece.

Story by Shannon J. Owens
DAYTONA BEACH — He was fed up.

Bethune-Cookman baseball coach Jason Beverlin stopped practice when he saw the lackadaisical effort from his players a few weeks ago. He called them to attention and left them with a message.

“If today was your last day playing baseball, how would you want to remember it?”

Players knew just how personal that question was for Beverlin. Last spring, the 40-year-old coach was fighting for his life 100 miles away from Daytona at the burn unit of UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville. A severe allergic reaction to a prescription medicine caused his body to burn from the inside out.

There are moments when players forget about their coach’s harrowing experience, but there are moments that remind them they can’t take any opportunities for granted.

“You have no excuse to say anything now,” said Josh Johnson, a senior outfielder for B-CU.

Beverlin’s nightmare started with either a cut or a bug bite. He’s not sure what caused the initial wound or when it happened. All he remembers is that his right arm almost swelled to the size of his calf by the time the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament rolled around last May in Virginia. A team athletic trainer taped it so he couldn’t touch what appeared to be an infected wound.

He went to the emergency room at Halifax Health Center in Daytona shortly after the team returned May 20 and was treated for cellulitis, a common skin infection. His family doctor prescribed a medicine called bactrim and that’s when his severe problems started.

By May 31, he returned to the hospital with a rash he says felt like the worst sunburn of his life. Doctors temporarily took him off bactrim to try a new round of medicine. It seemed to work and they put him back on his original medication, unaware that he was allergic to it.

Day by day, his condition deteriorated. The rash returned with a vengeance, covering his entire body. He experienced flu-like symptoms and his skin started to blister and shed.

“It almost felt like the flu, but [also] being put in the oven,” Beverlin said.

His illness reached its apex on June 5 when he laid on his couch unable to move. A neighbor, who was checking in on him while his wife, Heather, was at work, took him back to the emergency room.

Doctors finally discovered what was wrong — toxic epidermal necrolysis. The medicine was poisoning his body.

Roughly one in 1.4 million people a year are treated for toxic epidermal necrolysis, making it difficult to get an early diagnosis. Typically, patients who can contract the disease can lose up to 30 percent of their skin and there is a 30 to 40 percent mortality rate. Beverlin was losing all of his skin and doctors were unable to treat him in Daytona.

“There’s a number of medications that have been tried with TENs and Stevens Johnson Syndrome,” said Dr. Winston Richards, a clinical assistant professor of surgery at the University of Florida. “But as a whole, I don’t think the medical field has enough patients or experience, say in a randomized or controlled trial setting, to determine if they work any better than an offending medication and topically treating the wounds and keeping them clean.”

Family friends watched Beverlin’s two sons — Cole, 14, and Lucas, 9, — as his wife got devastating news from an emergency room nurse.

“She said you need to bring the boys up to say goodbye,” Beverlin’s wife said, her voice cracking. “It was tough.”

Read on: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/os-bethune-cookman-baseball-shannon-owens-20140211,0,6561692.column?page=1

Greg Taylor picked BCU over MEAC Brethren

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DSC_0333RIVERDALE — Greg Taylor walked into the Riverdale High School media center on Wednesday morning with every intention of signing a letter-of-intent with Paine College in Augusta.

Then a call came to the coaches from Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina Central. All of a sudden, Taylor was thrust back into the recruiting process on a short notice.

With no visit to either school, the former Riverdale quarterback immediately took to the Internet to find as much information about the two NCAA Div. I Football Championship Subdivision schools that play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

After doing some brief research, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder decided to sign with Bethune-Cookman, the MEAC champions.

“I was definitely surprised when I found out this morning about those two offers,” Taylor said. “I just give the credit to the man above. Miracles do happen. It has truly been a blessing.”

Riverdale coaches frantically worked the phones and the Internet the last few weeks trying to land Taylor a bigger offer than Division II Paine.

It seemed to have paid off.

“I’m so excited about this for Greg, because he has worked so hard,” said Drew assistant principal William Silvera, a former counselor at Riverdale.

Taylor was having a breakout season before an ACL injury sidelined him for five games. He returned in the ninth game of the season with a heavily wrapped knee. Taylor passed for 1,093 yards and 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He had surgery on his knee in early December, and said the rehab is ahead of schedule.

“He essentially signed where he was supposed to be,” Silvera said. “Greg was the heart and soul of that Riverdale team.”

Continue reading here: http://www.news-daily.com/news/2014/feb/06/greg-taylor-picked-bethune-cookman-over-nc-central/?sports#

Wildcats ink 19 in 2014 Signing Class

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Bethune-Cookman sign 19 on Wednesday’s national signing day.  Click link for full story.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/High School
Trenton Bridges LB 6-2 220 DeLand, Fla./DeLand HS
Tysheem Bryant DL 6-4 245 Lake Worth, Fla./Lake Worth HS/Garden City CC
Khaleel Castillo DE 6-2 275 Bellaire, Texas/Bellaire HS/Eerie CC
Kendon Davis WR 6-3 180 Lauderhill, Fla./Plantation Senior HS
Tyler Gildner TE 6-5 265 Robbinsville, N.J./Robbinsville HS
Barry Johnson DL 6-3 265 Gainesville, Fla./Eastside HS
Derrick Johnson DL 6-6 310 Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast HS
Antonio Joseph DE/LB 6-5 195 Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS
Deonte Mayo SAF 6-2 207 Ocala, Fla./Forest HS
Alexander Morales OLB/SS 5-11 195 Miami, Fla./Hialeah HS
Gerald Nesbitt, Jr. DE/OT 6-3 250 Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Ft. Lauderdale HS
Anton Paige DL 6-4 210 Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee HS
Cameron Rigby RB 5-9 175 Miramar, Fla./Miramar HS
Greg Taylor QB 6-3 210 Atlanta, Ga./Riverdale HS
Austin Walker ATH 6-3 180 Sarasota, Fla./Riverview HS
Broddrick Waters DB 5-11 175 Palmetto, Fla./Palmetto HS
Demetrius Weaver OL 6-3 275 Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanche Ely HS
Troy Wilkins II DL/OL 6-3 310 Miami, Fla./Northwestern HS
Milton Williams ATH 5-10 175 Sanford, Fla./Seminole HS

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Extremely UNofficial Football offers/commitments

Gold and Silver HelmetsWe spent hours scouring the Twitterverse, newspaper articles, sports blogs, and various social media outlets in attempts to gain a sneak peek at Bethune-Cookman’s potential 2014 football signing class.  Admittedly this method of research is highly unscientific and extremely speculative to say the least, nonetheless we expect BCU’s signing class to look something like the list below.

Bethune-Cookman University EXTREMELY Unofficial Football Offers/Commitments for 2014

Jaleel Awini QB Air Force Academy 6’3” 195
Trenton Bridges OLB Deland, Florida 6’2” 205
Khaleel Castillo DL Erie Community College 6’2” 275
Danny Dillard RB Venice, Florida Venice HS 6’2″ 205 *** (Miami FL)
Tyler Gildner TE Robbinsville, New Jersey Robbinsville HS 6’5″ 265
Antonio Joseph LB Tampa, Florida Wharton HS 6’4″ 207
Deonte Mayo LB Ocala, Florida Forest HS 6’2″ 207
Alexander Morales SS Hialeah, Florida  5’10” 171
Gerald Nesbitt OL Fort Lauderdale, Florida Fort Lauderdale HS 6’3″ 247
Ty Reyonlds WR Crystal River, Florida 6’0” 160
Cameron Rigby RB Miramar, Florida 5’8” 175 **
Jordan Roberts WR Zephyrhills, Florida 6’2” 185
Austin Walker DB Sarasota, Florida Riverview HS 6’4″ 195
Broddrick Waters DB Palmetto, Florida Palmetto HS 6’0″ 170
Ciavy Wiles WR Ellsworth Community College (Iowa Falls) 6’4” 220 ***
Troy Wilkins DT Miami Northwestern 6’2” 290
Milton Williams WR Sanford, Florida Seminole HS 5’9″ 160 **
Romia Wilson OL Northeast Mississippi Community College 6’2” 305

Even more unofficial than the list above

Austin Copeland
Demtris Weaver

Jenkins granted permission to speak with UAB

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SONY DSCBethune-Cookman football head coach Brian Jenkins has been granted permission to speak with the University of Alabama-Birmingham to discuss their vacant head coaching position.

The UAB head coaching post became available when Garrick McGee resigned and accepted the offensive coordinator position at Louisville.

Last week, Jenkins was granted permission to speak with Jackson State officials about their vacant head coaching position but he later declined the interview.  Jenkins has accumulated a 37-11 record in his four seasons at B-CU collecting 3 MEAC titles in the process.

 

 

 

Jenkins Declines Jackson State Interview — Statement from Brian Jenkins

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Bethune-Cookman University head football coach Brian Jenkins has declined to interview for the vacant head coaching position at Jackson State University.  Jenkins, officially considered a candidate for the open head coaching position at JSU, made the announcement on Thursday afternoon.  Through an official from the B-CU Department of Athletics, Jenkins released a quote on his decision to decline the next step in possible talks with Jackson State.

“I am honored to have a school with a rich history of football like Jackson State University consider me for their head coaching vacancy,” said Jenkins. “It not only speaks volumes about how highly they think of me and my coaching philosophy, but also that of my coaching staff. After all, none of the success we’ve enjoyed over the last four years would be possible without a dedicated staff and great student-athletes. A year ago this time, Dr. Edison O. Jackson and Lynn Thompson showed their tremendous support not only of me, but towards my staff and family, when they extended my contract at Bethune-Cookman University. I said then that I had a goal to achieve. And since I’ve yet to achieve that goal, I stay firmly committed to believing B-CU is the place where that goal can be achieved in the future.

“Again, I want to thank Vivian Fuller and Jackson State for noticing what my staff and I have done here at B-CU, and believing it would take the JSU football program to even greater heights. I thank them for their consideration, but I thank B-CU even more for its love and support. We have a good nucleus of student-athletes coming back in 2014. Mixed with the strong recruiting class we’re expecting to sign next month, I believe we are poised to do something special for Wildcats Nation next season. And it’s something everyone should want to be a part of.”

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Brian Jenkins to interview with Jackson State

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HailWildcats.com contacted B-CU Athletic Department officials earlier in the day. When asked, B-CU Director of Athletics Lynn W. Thompson confirmed he received a call from Vivian Fuller – Athletic Director at Jackson State University, seeking permission to speak to Bethune-Cookman head football coach Brian Jenkins about the JSU football head coaching vacancy.

 “I can confirm that I did, in fact, grant permission for Jackson State to speak to Brian Jenkins about their head football coaching job,” said Thompson. “However, Coach Jenkins is in the first year of a new contract with us at B-CU. We recognize that his success has become attractive to other universities. However, based on our conversations, we feel that Coach Jenkins is committed to continue his quest towards winning a national championship here at Bethune-Cookman University.”

Jenkins has spent four seasons as B-CU’s head football coach compiling a 37-10 overall record during his tenure.  He has been named MEAC coach of the year 3 times and he has won at least a share of the conference crown in 3 of his 4 seasons on the job.

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