BCU’s Fields, Monroe Garner Weekly MEAC honors

BCU LB - Jarkevis Fields

BCU LB – Jarkevis Fields

NORFOLK, Va., September 2, 2013 –  The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference announced on Monday that Jarkevis Fields and Alex Monroe were named Defensive Player of the Week and Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week respectively.

Fields (LB, 6-0, 230, Sr., Sanford, Fla.) recorded a game-high 10 tackles, six solo, in the Wildcats’ 12-9 victory over Tennessee State.  He added one sack for 10 yards and was named the John Merritt Classic’s Most Valuable Defensive Player.

Monroe (LT, 6-5, 305, Sr., Jacksonville, Fla.) anchored the Wildcats’ offensive line that accounted for 260 yards of total offense.  He graded out at 88-percent on his assignments and helped paved the way for the final game-winning drive in the Wildcats’ victory over Tennessee State.  Behind his protection, Bethune-Cookman rushed for 162 yards and tallied 98 yards through the air.

Morgan State’s Karim Barton joined Monroe as Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week.

South Carolina State’s Tyler McDonald was selected as the Offensive Player of the Week, Justin Taylor also of South Carolina State was named Rookie of the Week.  MSU’s Lawrence Forbes and SCSU’s Nick Belcher earned Co-Special Teams of the Week accolades.

 

Other Top Performers

Darian Baker (B-CU) recorded two kickoff returns for 71 yards, including a 41 yarder, in his first collegiate game.

Jordan Murphy (B-CU) caught three passes for 35 yards and one touchdown in the Wildcats’ 12-9 victory over Tennessee State.

 

Who Will Ascend – (Week 1) #20 BCU at Tennessee State

Credits: BCU Athletics

Credits: BCU Athletics

In the spirit of Bethune-Cookman’s legacy of faith…THANK YOU JESUS IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON.

In less than 36 hours, the 2013 edition of the Fighting Wildcats will square off against Tennessee State in one of the most anticipated matchups of the HBCU season.  BCU will look to jumpstart its season and proclaim to the HBCU and FCS football world that they are worthy of the preseason hype.

When the Wildcats are on Defense

BCU return 7 starters to a defensive unit that led the nation in turnovers and ranked 7th nationally in Total Defense a season ago.  Among those expected to impact Sunday’s contest are 2013 MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Jarkevis Fields (103 tackles, 4 BU, 4 PD); All-American defensive end LeBrandon Richardson (53 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 13 TFL); and All-American safety Nick Addison (68 tackles, 4 INT, 7 BU, 11 PD).  The Wildcat D will look to make the Tennessee State offense, who will be without starting quarterback Michael German (suspension), one-dimensional.  Redshirt freshman and Tallahassee native Ronald Butler has been named as German’s replacement.

Butler will take snaps behind an experienced offensive line which includes All-OVC left guard Kadeem Edwards and All-American tight-end and former University of Florida signee A.C. Leonard.  New Smyrna High School product Telvin Hooks is expected to take over the starting running back duties for Tenn. State.  In a twist of irony, Tennessee State’s key offensive starters are all native Floridians: Butler (QB-Tallahassee), Edwards (OL-Sanford), Leonard (TE-Jacksonville), Hooks (New Smyrna Beach).

Key Matchup #1: BCU’s Front Seven vs. TSU’s running game
The football adage suggests great defenses take away something from the opposing offense.  Can Yogi Jones’ defensive front seven control the TSU running game and force redshirt freshman quarterback Ronald Butler to beat them with his arm?

Key Matchup #2: Nick Addison vs. A.C. Leonard
BCU’s All-American safety Nick Addison and Tenn. State’s All-American tight end A.C. Leonard are sure to lock horns throughout this contest.  Conventional wisdom suggests Leonard will be the primary pass receiving option for TSU’s young quarterback.  On the second play of last year’s contest, Leonard’s 80 catch and run setup TSU’s first score.  BCU defenders, Addison chief among them, must account for Leonard in the passing game and limit his big play ability.

When the Wildcats are on Offense

MEAC Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year Isidore Jackson has gained more rushing yards than any running back in BCU history.  Jackson’s 2,449 career rushing yards only trails Allen Suber and Pa’Tell Troutman (both of whom were option quarterbacks) on the school’s all-time rushing list.  Jackson is expected to be joined in the backfield by Anthony Jordan.  The one-two punch of Jackson and Jordan provides the Wildcats with great mix of physicality and elusiveness in their rushing attack.

BCU’s two depth chart, released earlier this week, did not clearly reveal who will start the game under center.  The starting quarterback for this contest was listed as Quentin Williams –or- Brock Waters –or- Jackie Wilson.  Expect two (if not all three) of the aforementioned quarterbacks to see the field in some capacity on Sunday.  Quentin Williams ended last season with the best numbers statistically (1163 yards on 85 of 142 attempts, 11 TDs, 2 INTs—445 yards rushing, 3 rushing TDs), however, it appears that both Wilson and Waters have had good preseason practices and have earned the right to be considered for the top position on the depth chart along with Williams.

Eddie Poole returns on the outside for what will be his 6th year of eligibility.  Poole, who was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, has caught a pass in every game of his BCU playing career (35).  The former Rutgers man will look to extend his consecutive game pass catching streak and take advantage of the single coverage he is sure to see during stretches on Sunday.  Preston Cleckly, Jhomo Gordon, and Justin Henderson will also have opportunities to make an impact in the passing game.

Perhaps the most important unit to watch during Sunday’s contest is the Bethune-Cookman offensive line.  All-MEAC performer Alex Monroe will look to anchor a unit featuring at least 3 new starters.

Tennessee State’s defense was tops in the OVC and returns all 11 starters from a season ago.  Top performers returning to the Tiger defense include All-OVC performers Stephen Godbolt (CB), Daniel Fitzpatrick (safety), and Nick Thrasher (LB).

Key Matchups #1: BCU offensive line vs. Tenn. State’s blitz package
TSU simply did not respect BCU’s passing game during last season’s meeting.  The Tiger’s loaded the box and run blitzed the Wildcats for the better part of 4 quarters.  Will the young BCU offensive line gel quick enough to create seams for the running game and protection in the passing game?

Key Matchup #2: Eddie Poole vs. Stephen Godbolt
This is a matchup of two of the best athletes and players at their respective positions in all of HBCU football.  The winner of this individual matchup may very well dictate their respective team’s play-calling ability throughout this contest.

Other Notes:

  • Bethune-Cookman and Tennessee State played annually from 1982-1987 with TSU winning 5 of the 6 contests.  The series was revived in 2012 and played before a near capacity crowd in Daytona Beach.  TSU defeated the Wildcats 21-14 in last year’s contest to improve their series advantage to 6 games to 1.  Bethune-Cookman’s lone victory against TSU occurred the last time the two teams faced off in Nashville in a 16-13 Wildcat win (1987).   Although TSU holds a decisive head-to-head advantage, the series has been very competitive with 5 of the 7 matchups being decided by 7 points or less.
  • Isidore Jackson is just 449 yards away from becoming Bethune-Cookman’s all-time leading rusher.
  • The Marching Wildcats will be in attendance.
  • Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM (EST).  The game can be viewed live on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app; click here for link http://es.pn/BCUvsTNST.

5 Questions from Fall Camp

 

DSC_0119The Bethune-Cookman football team has enjoyed a prolific run of success under the leadership of now 4th year head coach Brian Jenkins.  Over the past 3 seasons, the Jenkins led Wildcats have accumulated the highest winning percentage of all Division I (FBS and FCS) football programs in the state of Florida; BCU has earned 2 MEAC titles during that span; and they are currently riding a 14 game conference winning streak.

14 starters return to the offensive and defensive units (7 on each side) this season.  Among those returning are 2013 MEAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Jarkevis Fields (linebacker), and 2013 MEAC Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Isidore Jackson (running back).  The Beach Cats led the conference in Total Offense (387.9 yards per game) and ranked 7th Nationally in Total Defense (301.4 yards per game) a season ago.

In less than 30 days, the Wildcats will carry their talented squad and extremely high expectations into Nashville to square off against fellow Top 25 foe Tennessee State.

Here are 5 key storylines to watch throughout Fall Camp as BCU continues its pursuit of becoming one of the nation’s premier FCS programs.

 

How Well/Quickly Will the Offensive Line Gel?

BCU suffered its greatest attrition from a season ago along the offensive line.  All-MEAC first teamer Alex Monroe and capable starter Rashard Brown will look to anchor the unit.  Brian Dorsey, Michael Jones, and Josue Joseph are all highly talented players who have played quality minutes at the collegiate level.  The trio will have first dibs at claiming the 3 vacant starting roles along the offensive front this season.

The Wildcats signed 6 quality offensive linemen on signing day including 2 JUCO transfers; and if history is any indicator, coach Jenkins’ has one or two transfer offensive linemen walking around campus whose identities will remain concealed until kickoff draws near.

There is no shortage of talent or bodies at this position.  The question is will this group gel quickly enough and well enough to help BCU lead the MEAC in Total Offense for a 4th consecutive year?

 

Will the Passing Game Progress in 2013?

The overall success of this year’s team may very well come down to how effective the Wildcats will be in the passing game.  The Beach Cats passed for a pedestrian 147 yards per game and only eclipsed the 200 yard passing mark in one contest last season.

Top pass catching target Eddie Poole returns for another year as does big play potential receivers Preston Cleckley and Jhomo Gordon.  CFPA Awards Watch transfer tight end Justin Henderson is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses and provides the Wildcats with another quality pass catching option.

Jackie Wilson, Quentin Williams, and Brodrick Waters are in their 4th, 3rd, and 2nd year respectively in this offense.  Brian Jenkins has repeatedly stated that all three quarterbacks are capable of leading the Wildcat offense, but if BCU is to truly take that next step, at least one of the aforementioned signal callers will need to elevate the passing game into a more lethal component of the BCU attack.

 

Who Will Emerge as the Team Leaders?

Coaches lay the foundation and parameters of a successful program, but players lead players.  BCU received a great deal of on the field and emotional leadership from players like D.J. Howard, Eugene Solomon and Dawud Lane last season.  All three have moved on and a new crop of vocal, performance and emotional leaders must now emerge.

Speaking about leadership only excites coaches, but it is as critical to a team success as 1,000 yard rushers and All-American quarterbacks.

 

What Newcomer Will Have the Greatest Impact?

Justin Henderson has yet to play an official down for the Maroon and Gold, yet the transfer from the University of Memphis has already been named to the CFPA Awards Watch list for tight ends.  Henderson enjoyed a highly productive spring campaign and will look to provide BCU quarterbacks with a security blanket and matchup advantage in the passing game this coming fall.  On the defensive side of the ball, University of Miami transfer Thomas Finnie will likely compete for one of the starting cornerback spots and help bolster a defensive backfield which led the country in takeaways last season.

Returning players Anthony Jordan (RB) and Erik Williams (DL) possess all-conference level talent and will surely be highly impactful this season if they can overcome the injury bug.

 

How Well Will the Team Handle Expectations?

Bethune-Cookman received 16 of the 21 first place votes casted in the MEAC’s annual preseason poll.  The Wildcats are coming off a perfect 8-0 mark in conference in 2012.  Brian Jenkins’ squad is sure to get every team’s best effort in the 2013 campaign.  If the Wildcats wish to defend The Belt, they must stay emotionally and physically engaged for 12 weeks next season.

Bethune-Cookman travels to Nashville on Sunday, September 1st for a 7:00 P.M. kickoff against Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic.  The Wildcats are 3-0 in season openers under the leadership of head coach Brian Jenkins.

 

Richardson becomes 3rd BCU player named to the 2013 CFPA Awards Watch List

LeBrandon Richardson -Credits BCU Athletics

LeBrandon Richardson -Credits BCU Athletics

Junior Defensive End LeBrandon Richardson, who led the Wildcats in sacks (8.5), tackles for loss (13), and quarterback hurries (7) last season, has been named to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Watch List for the 2013 season.

Richardson joins quarterback Brodrick Waters and tight end Justin Henderson as 2013 CFPA Award Watch Lists selectees.

According to their website, “the goal of College Football Performance Awards is to provide the most scientifically rigorous conferments in college football. Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.”

Click below for the complete story.

http://www.bcuathletics.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=23910&ATCLID=208097762

2013 MEAC Baseball All-Academic Honorees Include 12 Wildcats

Jackie Robinson Stadium

Jackie Robinson Stadium

Norfolk, Va., Twelve (12) members of the Bethune-Cookman baseball team were named to the 2013 MEAC Baseball All-Academic Honors List.

In total, the MEAC honored eighty-one (81) sophomores, juniors, seniors and transfer students from member schools with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.

Congratulations to all of the honorees for their performance both on the diamond and in the classroom.

2013 MEAC BASEBALL ACADEMIC HONORS LIST

BETHUNE-COOKMAN (12)

Paul Biocic

Jordan Dailey

Montana Durapau

Scott Garner

Gabriel Hernandez

Joshua Johnson

David Lee

Lenny Martinez

Juan Pizarro

Ali Simpson

Brandon Turner

Jake Welch

Click here for full story: http://www.meacsports.com//ViewArticle.dbml?SPID=12091&DB_OEM_ID=20800&ATCLID=207991860

BCU ranked 17th in Lindy’s Preseason Top 25

LeBrandon Richardson -HailWildcats.com

LeBrandon Richardson -HailWildcats.com

Bethune-Cookman picked up its first national ranking of the 2013 season when Lindy’s Magazine ranked the Wildcats 17th in their initial FCS Preseason Poll.

BCU finished 9-3 last season (8-0 in MEAC play) securing its fifth MEAC title and an FCS playoff berth in the process.

Eight offensive starters return from last year’s squad including 1,000 yard rusher Isidore Jackson, leading receiver Eddie Poole and All-American left tackle Terrance Hackney.  The Wildcats lead the MEAC in total offense (4,665 yards), rushing offense (2,928 yards), and points per game (29.4) in 2012.

Seven starters, including leading tackler Jarkevis Fields and top sack man LeBrandon Richardson, return to the defensive unit.  Last year BCU caused an FCS best 36 takeaways and ranked 7th nationally in total defense (301.42 yards per game).

The Cats open up the 2013 campaign with a trip to Nashville to face off against Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic on Sunday, September 1st.  Other marquee games include a September 14th matchup with Florida International, a first ever engagement with Florida State on September 21st, a homecoming showdown with South Carolina State on October 26th, and the Florida Classic on November 23rd.

Lindy’s Top 25:
1. North Dakota State 2. Georgia Southern 3. Montana State 4. South Dakota State 5. Wofford 6. Eastern Washington 7. Central Arkansas 8. Towson 9. Villanova 10. Sam Houston State 11. New Hampshire 12. Appalachian State 13. Northern Iowa 14. Stony Brook 15. Coastal Carolina 16. Northern Arizona 17. Bethune-Cookman 18. Eastern Illinois 19. Youngstown State 20. Chattanooga 21. Richmond 22. Illinois St 23. Montana 24. Wagner 25. Tennessee State

(Baseball) Wildcats advance to MEAC Title Game

Skipper Jason Beverlin

Skipper Jason Beverlin

MEAC regular season co-divisional champions @CookmanBaseball (35-23) and Savannah State (32-21) will square off on Sunday afternoon in the finals of the 2013 MEAC Baseball Championship.

The Cats and Tigers shared identical conference records (17-7) and split their six head-to-head matchups during the regular season.

SSU, who was awarded with the Southern Division’s top seed based on the conference’s fourth tiebreaker (head-to-head record against common divisional opponent), enters the finals from the winner’s bracket.  The Tigers are 3-0 in the tournament and have scored an average of 12.6 runs per contest during the three game stretch.

In additional to scoring a plethora of runs, Savannah State will have the services of the MEAC’s top pitcher, Kyle McGowin (11-1) on Sunday.  McGowin allowed just 1 earned run in a complete game effort against Maryland Eastern Shores in his last outing.  McGowin’s lone defeat this season was suffered at the hands of Bethune-Cookman on May 5th in Savannah.

BCU, who dropped an opening round MEAC tournament contest for the first time since 2005, have won four consecutive tournament games eliminating Delaware State, North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T, and Coppin State in the process.

The Wildcat’s Ace, Montana Durapau, will likely toe the rubber for BCU in the championship game scheduled for 1:00.  Durapau pitched 8 2/3rds in the Cats’ 5-1 victory over Delaware State on Thursday night.

The MEAC Baseball Championship is a double elimination tournament therefore the Wildcats will have to defeat SSU twice on Sunday if they hope to retain their crown.  If the Wildcats can hold in the 1:00 contest, a second winner-take-all championship game will begin 35 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Bethune-Cookman is looking to secure its eighth consecutive MEAC crown.

You can follow the championship action on BCU’s official Twitter feeds at @BCUathletics or @Cookmanbaseball.

(Baseball) Wildcats look to remain atop MEAC standings

Jackie Robinson Stadium

Jackie Robinson Stadium

Daytona Beach – A quick glance at the MEAC’s Southern division standings reflects Bethune-Cookman in a familiar position atop the table.  However, a closer look at the standings reveals a more telling story.  Two games in the loss column is all that separates first place BCU from 4th place North Carolina A&T.  Savannah State is a game better than the Wildcats in the conference loss column (but the Tigers have a lower winning percentage against conference foes) and North Carolina Central is just a single game behind the Cats.

Jason Beverlin’s squad will look to cushion their lead and maintain their stranglehold on the conference when they take on North Carolina Central in a three-game set beginning today at 1:00 PM at Historic Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Daytona Beach’s City Island.

BCU (20-17, 10-5 MEAC) has won a season high six consecutive games with five of those victories occurring on the road.  Anthony Stokes has paced the Wildcats offensively over the winning streak logging three home runs and 11 RBIs during the run.

The Wildcats defeated Jacksonville University 5-3 in their last outing (on Tuesday, April 9th).  David Lee recorded three RBIs in the win for the Cats.

NCCU (21-15, 9-6 MEAC), who enters the weekend just a game behind the Wildcats in the MEAC’s Southern Division, are 1-2 against BCU this season and 2-6 against the Wildcats since re-joining the MEAC.  NCCU dropped 2 of 3 games against rival NCA&T last weekend.

The pitching matchups are slated as follows:

Game One:  NCCU’s Junior righty Terry McNabb  vs. B-CU righty Scott Garner (3-4, 5.33 ERA)   Garner is coming off a complete game, 4-1 victory over Florida A&M in his last outing.

Game Two (doubleheader 7 inning contest):  righty Glenn Frye (3-3) against BCU lefty Ali Simpson (3-4, 5.77 ERA).  Simpson also pitched solidly in his last outing allowing no runs in seven innings of work against FAMU.  BCU won that contest 4-0.

Game Three (Sunday): Michael Romano (2-5, 5.43 ERA) vs. BCU right hander Montana Durapau (5-3, 4.07 ERA).  Durapau earned his 5th win of the year in his last outing against cross-county rival Stetson.

Live Stats will be available from the link.  Also, NCCU will provide live audio coverage of this weekend’s matchups on the  NCCU Sports Network .

BCU (baseball) defeats Miami Hurricanes

Photo Credits: BCU Athletics

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (15-17) traveled to South Florida for the first of their two trips to Coral Gables this season and exited Wednesday night’s contest with a 5-3 victory over perennial power the University of Miami (20-12).Junior right hander Montana Durapau had another strong outing on the hill yielding just 2 earned runs and striking out 7 in seven innings of work for BCU.

Jordan Dailey entered the contest in the 8th and held the Hurricanes scoreless through the final 2 frames earning him his 5th save of the season.

BCU never trailed in the contest and plated all five of its runs in the middle innings:  two each in the fourth and fifth and another in the sixth.

Eric Sams’ RBI single in the fourth brought home the Wildcats first two runs of the contest.

Shaun McCarty added an RBI in the 5th on a sharply hit double deep into the right field corner.  McCarty scored on a Brandon Turner fielder’s choice later in the inning and pushed the BCU lead to 4-0

Miami responded with an Alex Hernandez RBI single through the left side to put the Hurricanes on the board, narrowing the lead to 4-1.

Freshman catcher Chris Biocic’s RBI single in the sixth capped the Wildcats’ scoring at 5.

Michael Broad launched a monster two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Wildcat lead to 5-3, but the Canes could get no closer.

BCU’s 5-3 victory adds Miami to an impressive list of out of conference foes Jason Beverlins’ squad has defeated this season.  Arizona State, Miami, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Florida International, South Florida and Jacksonville University have all suffered defeat at the hands of the Wildcats in 2013.

The Cats return to MEAC play and will travel to Tallahassee on Friday for a three game weekend series against Florida A&M.

(Basketball) BCU upsets Norfolk in MEAC tourney

Courtesy of BCU Athletics

Courtesy of BCU Athletics

Norfolk — The Bethune-Cookman basketball team pulled out a dramatic 70-68 upset victory over regular season MEAC champions Norfolk State on Wednesday night in the Conference Tournament.

The Spartans, who played the role of Cinderella in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament by defeating the #3 ranked Missouri Tigers, finished the MEAC’s regular season with an unblemished conference record.  The Wildcats came closes to defeating NSU during the regular season but came up 1 point short (61-62) when the two teams squared off eleven (11) days ago in Norfolk. Interestingly, the last four contests between the Wildcats and Spartans have come down to the final possession.  The Spartans prevailed in the previous three (3) contests but Wednesday night belonged to Bethune-Cookman.

Gravelle Craigs’ squad trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half and seemed unable to overcome the hostile, pro-NSU crowd or the regular season champs.  But a second half energy boost from senior Paul Scotland and a bit of sharp shooting from the entire squad helped the Wildcats erase the double-digit halftime deficit and force the game into overtime. 

BCU shot 59% from the field in the second half and 50% in the overtime session.  The Cats are now two games away from making their first ever appearance in the NCAA tournament

Full story to be updated soon.