The 2007 college football season is almost upon us, with most Football Bowl Subdivision teams getting started with their schedules next weekend and some smaller schools beginning on Sept. 8.
After updating last year’s list and scouring the most likely Web sites, there appear to be 64 Wabash Valley area college football players this fall as well as four coaches.
St. Francis in Indiana and Greenville and McKendree in Illinois have not yet posted their rosters yet this year, so any players at those schools last year with eligibility remaining are listed but not confirmed.
The list of players accompanies today’s column, and — as always — readers are encouraged to send any additions or corrections to the e-mail address listed at the end of this column.
Statistically, Marian College’s first-ever football team has nine Valley athletes listed on its roster to lead all collegiate programs. The Knights are under the direction of former Rose-Hulman coach Ted Karras. Franklin College is second with eight Valley players, and Rose-Hulman places third with seven.
Terre Haute North easily leads the high schools with the most players in college with 17. Northview is second with six and Terre Haute South and Casey tie for third with five each.
Terre Haute South’s Matt O’Neal completed his career at Indiana last fall, so or the first time in a while there are no Valley players listed on Division 1-A rosters. Robinson’s Jared Whipkey is a walk-on member on Florida State’s team, but in a rather unusual situation is not listed on the team’s player roster.
Most of the local players playing at college football’s highest level since the consolidation of the Terre Haute schools in 1971 have come from North or South, and most years there has been at least one player at the 1-A level.
In the 1970s, North’s David Stewart and South’s Cam Cameron played for Indiana, Schulte’s Craig Shaffer played for Indiana State (before it switched to I-AA) and North’s Tony Campbell played for Louisville. The early 1980s also brought South’s Mark Jackson to Purdue.
The mid-1980s to early 1990s was the period that could be considered the “Glory Days” of local football recruiting.
During that period, North had Anthony and Ernie Thompson go to Indiana and Anthony Williams and Kraig Baker to Michigan, while South’s Mark Donnelly and the late Shawn Stephens went to Colorado State, Bryan McGrone went to Illinois, Tony McGee went to Michigan and Jason Orton went to Indiana as a walk-on and wound up with an outstanding career as a defensive back.
In the mid-1990s, Ball State got into the local recruiting scene and attracted North’s Jamar Cottee and Shawn Smith and South’s Chuckie Hawkins. North's Tsali Ricketson played for Yale, while South’s Mark Raetz was a member of the team at Air Force and David Lewis went to Indiana.
Unfortunately, not many players in that last group were given much of an opportunity to showcase their skills.
The new millennium has not made local football a hotbed for recruiters. North’s Steve Weatherford went to Illinois and eventually to the NFL, and O’Neal went to IU as a walk-on and worked his way into the starting lineup.
There were probably some people omitted from that list, but it’s pretty close to being accurate.
So, who’s the next area player to make the step to college football’s highest level? It could be 2007 Northview grad Joey Evinger, a huge and quick lineman who will play this fall for the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif. UCLA has been mentioned as one of the schools planning to keep an eye on Evinger’s performance.
It’s impossible to determine whether North and South’s lack of success in the brutally-tough Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, with only one winning season between them in the past nine years, has any impact.
Here’s hoping that some of the up and coming younger local players can be impressive enough to bring the big-time recruiters back to the Wabash Valley.
• Franklin has the local flavor – Franklin College Coach Mike Leonard, like Marian’s Karras, has no qualms about coming to the Wabash Valley to find players for his team.
Leonard recently gave an assessment of five of the eight players on this year’s roster and how they fit into this year’s team:
Jarred Kleptz (Terre Haute North) — “Jarred is a senior veteran that has some quality game experience under his belt. We’re expecting him to contribute on the offensive line. He’s a great team guy in terms of chemistry.”
Shawn Hines (Terre Haute North) — “Shawn is a sophomore defensive lineman who plays behind a team captain [Dan McManus]. He’s a very quality backup and he could contribute to our special teams for sure because he is a big guy who can run and hit.”
Pat Hancewicz (Terre Haute North) — “Pat is working to break into the main rotation of wingbacks in Franklin’s run-and-shoot offense. “He has gained the confidence of the coaches and the quarterbacks as a receiver. He could gain some playing time. He has a chance for sure.”
Kyle Roberts (South Putnam) — “This is the first year playing on our football team. He’s a big body, but has a steep learning curve playing on our offensive line where we’re a little thin. He’s just working hard and trying to be in the lineup right now.”
Joey Pigg (North Central) — “We really like him. He also has a big learning curve as well. But he’s a great guy who’s intelligent and just learning the system right now. Like Hines, he also might contribute as a special teams player because he also can run and hit.”
Franklin was 9-1 last year and finished second in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, losing only to league champ College of Mt. St. Joseph. The Grizzlies have been picked to finish second again this season by the league’s coaches.
“Our goal that we set every year is to win the conference championship,” Leonard said. “We need to start fast in our first three non-conference games and then finish strong.”
• Little Giants honored — The Wabash College football team cracked the top-10 of the Street & Smith's 2007 College Football Annual. The Little Giants are picked seventh.
Senior co-captain Mike Russell of Terre Haute North was named a second-team preseason All-Americans by Lindy's College Football 2007 Preview. The national magazine has also ranked the Little Giants 16th.
Russell was fifth in the nation in 2006 with a 105.2 receiving yards per game average and 29th with an average of six receptions per contest. He led the NCAC with 60 catches for 1,052 yards and tied for the top spot with 13 TD receptions to earn First Team All-Conference and D3football.com First Team All-North Region honors. He became the fourth Wabash player in school history to top the 1,000 receiving yards mark.
He has changed from uniform No. 24, which he has worn his entire career, to No. 1 for this season.
The Little Giants open the 2007 season at home against Franklin on Sept. 8.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at email@example.com
Wabash Valley football players in college
Mitch Yates, Rose-Hulman, sophomore
Mike SIverly, McKendree, senior
Steve Hawkins, Rose-Hulman, senior
Daniel Moore, Murray State, freshman
Nick Murphy, Rose-Hulman, sophomore
Justin Hacker, DePauw, freshman
Brandon Mescall, Franklin, freshman
Former area residents
Shaine Tierney, St. Francis, sophomore
Michael Richards, Franklin, freshman
Robert Bittle, Anderson, freshman
Matt Plessinger, Greencastle, junior
Adam Brewer, Marian, freshman
Dan Allen, Marian, freshman
Brock Goggins, Hanover, junior
Seth England, Greenville, senior
Derek Eitel, Rose-Hulman, sophomore
Lee Edington, Eastern Illinois, sophomore
Chris Stepp, Indiana State, freshman
Josh Turner, Blackburn, sophomore
Trent Dahnke, Greenville, senior
Ira Drummy, Anderson, sophomore
Joey Pigg, Franklin, freshman
Joey Evinger, College of the Canyons (Calif.), freshman
Broc Miller, Indiana State, freshman
Dane Upperman, Marian, freshman
Jamie Bays, Marian, freshman
Devon Chamberlain, Marian, freshman
Matt Crooks, Marian, freshman
Aaron Haase, McKendree, senior
Jacob Griffin, McKendree, sophomore
Chip Keys, Paris, junior
Ryan Keys, Paris, junion
Brad Shaner, Blackburn, junior
Jared Whipkey, Florida State, senior
Ben Wassel, Rose-Hulman, sophomore
Josh Buis, Eastern Michigan, assistant coach
Jacob Page, Franklin, junior
Kyle Roberts, Franklin, junior
Drew Christy, Rose-Hulman, sophomore
Chris Alexander, Indiana State, junior
Terre Haute North
Steve Englehart, Rose-Hulman, head coach
Kevin Dean, Rose-Hulman, assistant coach
Michael Russell, Wabash, senior
Jared Lange, Wabash, senior
Drew Oehler, Wabash, junior
Jarred Kleptz, Franklin, senior
Pat Hancewicz, Franklin, junior
Luke Johnson, Butler, junior
Kyle Monroe, DePauw, senior
Shawn Hines, Franklin, sophomore
Chris Russell, Anderson, freshman
Matt Seliger, Indiana State, freshman
Seth Woodason, Harding (Ark.), sophomore
Derek Guggenberger, Butler, sophomore
Paul McGuire, SE Missouri State, sophomore
Dan Millington, Indiana State, sophomore
Justin Hall, Marian, freshman
Daniel Watson, Marian, freshman
LaShawn Tyler, Indianapolis, sophomore
Terre Haute South
Trent Miles, Washington, assistant coach
Kyle Toney, Indiana State, sophomore
Derelle Hankins, Indiana State, freshman
Kyle Harruff, Southern Illinois, freshman
Pat Duncan, Rose-Hulman, sophomore
Michael Engle, DePauw, freshman
Jerod Lucas, Olivet Nazarene, senior
John Brashear, St. Francis, sophomore
Zach Avary, Marian, freshman
The 2007 college football season is almost upon us, with most Football Bowl Subdivision teams getting started with their schedules next weekend and some smaller schools beginning on Sept. 8.
- College Report
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While many people have varying opinions on the most important position on a football team, most old-school gridiron veterans would consider strong line play as a necessity for anything else to work — kind of like pitching in baseball and guard play in basketball.
College report: Wabash Valley hoops pair earn MVC weekly honors
Two Wabash Valley natives picked up big honors this week from the Missouri Valley Conference for their excellence on the basketball court. Evansville freshman Sara Dickey of Riverton Parke earned the league’s Newcomer of the Week for the third time while Loyola sophomore Matt O’Leary of Terre Haute North was chosen as the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the week.
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Mahurin scored 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3 point range. He also recorded seven rebounds and two assists while knocking down both free throws in the contest.
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But two Wabash Valley standouts have made that leap and are significant contributors for top-ranked and defending national champion Mount Union (Ohio).
College Report: North grad enjoying sophomore season at Virginia Tech
A.J. Hughes had an admittedly up and down freshman season as the punter for Virginia Tech’s football team, but the sophomore from Terre Haute North High School has elevated his game like one of his long, hanging left-footed punts.
Hughes ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in punting with a 44.8-yard average per punt, a 4.7 increase over last year and a lofty number that ranks him ninth nationally.
College Report: South graduate becomes Wabash College swim coach
Brent Noble’s climb up the collegiate swimming coaches has taken another big step, after the Terre Haute South grad was recently named the new head swimming and diving coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.
Noble joins the Wabash program after serving for a year as the women’s head swimming coach at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
College Report: People with Valley ties getting up-close look at top-ranked Crimson Tide
Trivia question: What do Trent Miles, A.J. Hughes and Johnny Manziel have in common?
Maybe nothing right now, but after Saturday they will all have played against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide already this season.
Manziel has no known local ties, but was involved in the most-hyped game of the year last month as Texas A&M fell just short in a late comeback against Alabama.
Hughes, a sophomore punter for Virginia Tech from Terre Haute North, did his part in the Hokies’ 35-10 season–opening loss to the Tide.
Turner hoping to prove himself in junior college
Jeffrey Turner hopes a couple of years at junior college will do for his basketball career what it did for Derek Shouse.
COLLEGE REPORT: Watson, Seliger move on in strength and conditioning careers
Three members of the Indiana State athletics strength and conditioning staff, including two from Terre Haute, have advanced their careers and moved on to other opportunities.
Daniel Watson, former graduate assistant from Terre Haute North, has been hired by Rocky Mountain College to serve an assistant football coach and the head strength and conditioning coach.
Matt Seliger, also a former graduate assistant and North Patriot, has been hired by Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas, to serve as an intern.
Longtime Butler assistant stays loyal to new job
Matthew Graves waited patiently for nine years as a member of the Butler men’s basketball staff for his chance to be a head coach.
COLLEGE REPORT: Several Valley standouts busy with baseball
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COLLEGE REPORT: Kentucky baseball star Reed earns All-SEC
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- COLLEGE REPORT: Wabash College All-American relay team has TH flavor
Catching up as the school year winds down
Odds and ends from here and there as the school year quickly winds down. For starters, high jumper Nick Jaeger of Terre Haute South was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s male track & field newcomer of the year:
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
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COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed earns SEC Player of the Week honors
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COLLEGE REPORT: Spring newcomers making marks
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COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed named third-team preseason baseball All-American
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COLLEGE REPORT: Sponsler honored after big week for Wabash men's hoops
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COLLEGE REPORT: North grad Hughes finds success after facing preseason adversity
A.J. Hughes knew he was in for a battle as he competed with three other walk-on punters in the preseason for the lone starting job on the Virginia Tech football team.
Etling, Meggs enjoying great year
It’s been a great year so far with more to come for a pair of longtime friends and St. Patrick’s School classmates.
Former Terre Haute resident Jack Meggs quarterbacked the Bellevue Wolverines football team to the Washington Class 3A state championship this fall, culminating with a 35-3 win over Sammamish Eastside Catholic — Bellevue’s fifth straight crown.
Danny Etling, meanwhile, has completed graduation requirements at Terre Haute South and is preparing for an upcoming high school all-star game and his first college classes in a couple of weeks.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley’s women’s college hoops players start strong
Several women’s college basketball players from the Wabash Valley have gotten off to good starts this season on the hardwood. Highlights:
COLLEGE REPORT: Mayhew, Mascari provide fall highlights
Several dozen Wabash Valley athletes enjoyed successful fall seasons collegiately in cross country and tennis this year.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former North teammates start strong in college
Former Terre Haute North teammates Ross Sponsler and Matt O’Leary made their college basketball debuts last week and had outstanding initial performances.
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