Football Govs ready for actionAs a first-year head football coach, all Carroll McCray had was film on his players and a padless spring practice. In other words, even after hours of practices and instructional meetings entering Fall 2003, he really didnt know how his players would respond once the ball was kicked off.
A year later, McCray has a much better grasp of the Govs returning players, including 40 letter-winnersâ€“the core players who will determine the prospective success in 2004.
As a first-year head football coach, all Carroll McCray had was film on his players and a padless spring practice. In other words, even after hours of practices and instructional meetings entering Fall 2003, he really didn't know how his players would respond once the ball was kicked off.
A year later, McCray has a much better grasp of the Govs returning players, including 40 letter-winners—the core players who will determine the prospective success in 2004.
“We have returning guys who played in games last year and some who developed and helped us win some games late last year,” says McCray. “Not all of those guys were starters, but they played enough in games to prepare to win. You know how they react in game situations, how they handle that type of pressure, and we are excited we have them back.”
The Governors are coming off a 4-7 season that saw them overcome an 0-4 start to win four of their next six contests. Their second-place Pioneer Football League standing was the first time the Govs had finished better than third place.
“We are making progress, and we continued to show that improvement in the off-season,” McCray says. “Our older players were faithful in their workouts in the off-season and this summer. I have seen consistency, leadership and mentoring of the younger players, asking them to handle their business and holding them accountable. I am excited about this bunch.”
One good thing, all APSU areas, except punting and tight end, have at least some experience returning.
Offensively, quarterback junior quarterback Jesse Kellogg (50.4 percent, 1809 yards, 8 TDs) returns after starting all 11 games a year ago. His receiving corps will be led by seniors Pat Curran (56 catches, 707 yards, 3 TDs) and Paul Derrick (12 catches, 19.3 ypc).
In the backfield, junior tailback/fullback Quea Williams (724 yards, 5.1 ypr, 5 TDs) offers great versatility (16 receptions, 146 yards) as the Govs leading returning back. Senior Kenneth Ellison (274 yards, 3.8 ypr), who started at tailback early in the season before injuries slowed his progress, will challenge for more playing time.
Up front, the Govs will build around three starters: senior Geoff Stahl (6-1, 270), who begins his third season as starting center, senior guard Adam Rector (6-2, 315) and junior tackle Wes Proctor (6-2, 280).
Defensively, the Govs lost pass-rusher extraordinaire Joe Bell but return a trio of defensive ends—junior Jordan Richardson (35 tackles, 5 sacks), senior Justin Meyer (27 tackles) and sophomore Steven Young (39 tackles)—while the Govs also have a quartet—junior Matt Wade, senior Marcus Tucker, junior Ivorey Guy and sophomore Drew Wilson—of returning tackles who either started or played considerably a year ago.
At linebacker, senior Ryan Taylor again returns as a starter on one side as does Vernon Wright on the other while the secondary, in particular at cornerback, has an abundance of experience. Senior Teddy Carruthers returns for his third season as a starter at corner. Opposite him should be Corey Phillips, a two-year starter who sat out last season because of academic problems. R.J. Haskins, who started in Phillips' stead last fall, could become the nickel back and provide quality depth at the corner spot.
At strong safety sophomore Chase Mitchell (84 tackles, 2 interceptions) led the Govs in tackles a year ago while Todd Avery (21 tackles) started at free safety because of injury during the season's early stages.