TERRE HAUTE —
Harding University knows exactly what it wants in terms of football players to fit Coach Ronnie Huckeba’s system.
South Vermillion’s James Craigmyle knew exactly what he was looking for in a college.
It was a match made in heaven, and the Wildcat speedster will be taking his athleticism to Searcy, Ark., this fall to compete for the Division II school that competes in the Gulf South Conference.
Huckeba runs the Navy-Georgia teach spread offense, which results in his receivers often drawing only single coverage. Craigmyle runs a 4.56 40-yard dash.
Harding is a faith-based school, and Craigmyle is a strongly faith-based person.
“With his work ethic and his fit here regarding his character, it’s a great match,” Huckeba said. “We have a picture of what we are looking for, and he fit it.”
Craigmyle felt very comfortable with the Bison coaches and the entire school atmosphere in making his choice.
“I chose Harding primarily because of the connection I was able to develop with their coaching staff,” he said. “On top of that, they have a great community, run the same offense I’ve ran in high school, and have an opening at wide receiver which is the position they recruited me for.”
Modern technology played a huge role in arranging this football marriage, since Craigmyle would have been easy to overlook at a mid-sized school hundreds of miles away – especially since his statistics suffered due to nagging injuries over his junior and senior years.
Huckeba recalls getting an e-mail about Craigmyle, and checking out his profile on the NCSA college recruiting website.
“He had some video highlights on there, but what stuck out was his profile he mentioned how important his faith was to him,” Huckeba said. “We got in contact with him, and invited him to come to our senior camp last June. He and his dad came down, got to visit with him and tour his campus.
“It’s a workout-based camp, and he worked out great for us,” Huckeba added. “He and his family were perfect fits for what we are looking for at Harding.”
Wildcat Coach Ron Whiteman predicts success for Craigmyle at the next level.
“James is an explosive athlete that is a threat to score every time he touches the ball,” he said.
“James is a very intense player, and playing college football has been what he wanted to do and planned out how to do since he started playing in high school,” Whiteman added. “Harding University is getting a very gifted player and great kid, and I look forward to seeing what he will be able to do in college. I know he will do well.”
South Vermillion had an outstanding season during Craigmyle’s junior season, but heavy graduation losses contributed to a 0-10 record last fall.
Huckeba knows a team’s record does not always reflect the value of any individual player.
“They were not able to get the ball to him much last year, which may have made him overlooked,” Huckeba said. “Actually, one of our best wide receivers played for a winless team in high school and he’s been great for us.”
Craigmyle was limited to just 11 games over his final two seasons, missing three during his junior year due to an emergency appendectomy and only playing in two and a half games his senior year due to recurring hamstring injuries.
In his limited appearances, Craigmyle averaged over 32 yards on nine kick-off returns and returned two for a touchdown. In his senior year, he caught seven passes for 86 yards and one score and also rushed 52 times for 330 yards and three TDs.
“James doesn’t show much emotion, but I could tell when he returned from his first visit to Harding that he knew Harding was right for him,” Whiteman said.
Whiteman’s favorite plays by Craigmyle didn’t even involve him having the ball in his hands and came against Brown County two years ago.
“On one play he made the key block for Cody Mumaw on a split end screen to score a touchdown,” Whiteman recalled. “On another play, our quarterback, Andy Walsh, dropped back to pass and was rushed, started to scramble to the side James was on, Walsh started to run down the sideline with a Brown County defensive lineman chasing him, and James peeled back and knocked the defensive lineman chasing Andy head over heels into our sidelines.”
Craigmyle knows he will need to improve upon his physique for the next level, but he’s ready for the challenge.
“I'm hoping I can make the transition to college a little easier by working harder than I ever have over the offseason,” he said. “I'm sure two-a-days there will give me a whole new definition of “tough” and of course everyone at the college level will be bigger, faster, and stronger which equals much harder hits.
“My main goal when I check in for the fall is to make every single one of the upperclassmen there ask themselves, “Who the heck is that freshman and where did he come from?”
• Northview’s Miller to SMWC — Northview senior Hayley Miller will continue her golf career at St. Mary-of-the-Woods next fall.
Miller has only been playing for three years, but has taken her game to lofty heights in a sort amount of time. She finished fourth in the Western Indiana Conference meet as a junior and was second in the WIC and the sectional meet last fall.
Several Wabash Valley area players are already members of the Pomeroy squad, something that Miller likes.
“It'll make it a lot easier to bond,” Miller said. “I already know all the girls on the team so we already feel like a team and we already have that aspect of teamwork down. I really enjoyed my campus visit, the campus is so pretty. It was such a friendly environment.”
Northview Coach Josh Trout is sad to be losing such a top-flight player, but is happy for her to be able to continue her career.
“I’m very proud of her. Especially because of the fact that she's only been playing golf for three years,” Trout said. “For her to work that hard to get her game up to the capacity to play at the next level, that says a lot about her ability and her work ethic. I have to attribute a lot of that to her hard work and dedication.”
Trout sees no problem in Miller making the transition to collegiate golf.
“I think the biggest thing is playing from the yardages that they do in college. She'll have to get used to hitting long irons rather than short irons and gaining more distance off the tee, but she's got the strength and ability I think, to make the adjustments. She’ll be just fine,” Trout said.
Miller, an excellent student who will major in medical technology, set a goal in her junior year of playing collegiately and is glad to have achieved it.
“It feels great to be able to accomplish it,” she said. “It was a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. I set my mind to it and practiced really hard to make any chance I could get.”
SMWC Coach Steve Higham likes having local players on his team, and feels that Miller will fit in fine with his returning Pomeroys.
“She is a really fine young lady, and she has great support from home,” Higham said. “My wife had her in class at Woodrow Wilson and really liked her, and she was highly recommended from Coach Trout.”
Higham likes Miller’s ability to hit the ball long off the tee, something necessary in making the transition from high school to college golf.
“In my brief time as a college women’s golf coach, that’s probably the biggest difference we have in moving from high school to college,” he said. “The tees are moved back and the course plays quite a bit longer.
“You have to have the ability to find more distance on approach shots, and Hayley can do that.”
Higham also likes Miller’s drive and determination.
“She has the desire to improve, and her work ethic is her best asset,” he said. “She’ll fit in very well here.”
• Meggs out for season — Former Terre Haute North basketball standout Kelly Meggs had improved enough for the California-Irvine women’s basketball team to enter the starting lineup, scoring eight points and dishing out four assists on Jan. 29 in 35 minutes of action.
Her season came to an end shortly afterward, though, due to a lingering shoulder injury that never healed.
“I re-tore my labrum when our season started,” she said. “I tried to play through it, but I started dislocating too often and had to have surgery [last week].”
Meggs played in 22 games, starting three, averaging 15.5 minutes per game while scoring 2.7 points and handing out 1.3 assists. She was shooting 39.4 percent from 3-point range — good anytime but exceptional with only one healthy shoulder.
Anteater coach Molly Goodenbour considers Meggs a “fantastic” addition to her program and especially likes her work ethic and drive to succeed.
“Kelly is an excellent teammate and is respected by peers and coaches alike,” Goodenbour said. “I have no doubt that she will work extremely diligently to get back on the court as soon as possible.
“She is just a great kid and has been a real warrior this season, basically competing with one good arm and being able to earn a starting position and valuable minutes even in that condition.”
Goodenbour also likes Meggs’ ability to see the floor well and make good decisions.
“She understands how to play, and she will have a very productive career here at UCI,” she said. “Kelly figures to play a significant role immediately, and she needs to step up and embrace the opportunity to lead our team next season.
“I feel very good about her ability to be successful and be a tremendous player in the Big West Conference over the next few years.”
• EIU signs Valley pair — Eastern Illinois signed a pair of Wabash Valley area football players this month, both rugged defensive linemen.
Josh Griffin of Paris (6-6, 265) and Clinton Scott of Casey-Westfield (6-4, 230) both became Panthers on Feb. 2, the national signing day.
Griffin was a two-way starter for Coach Mike Brouwer at Paris, earning first-team All-Apollo Conference honors on offensive and defensive line. He was named first team All-Wabash Valley by the Paris Beacon News and first-team Class 3A All-State.
Scott was a three-time first team All-Little Illini Conference selection at Casey-Westfield, helping the team post a 12-1 record as they reached the IHSA Class 2A State semifinals during his senior year.
He recorded 62 tackles with eight sacks as a senior, and also spent time as a tight end and kicker during career. Scott was a first-team Illinois Football Coaches Association Class 2A All-State and all-Wabash Valley All-Area team choice.
• Laker standout to LLC — Shakamak’s Holli Moore, a senior outside hitter, will continue her volleyball career at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill.
Lake Land program is losing nine sophomores to graduation, giving her ample opportunities to play next fall.
Moore is Coach Amory Porter’s first recruit this season after moving up to the head coaching position from his assistant’s post.
“We are really excited that Holli is going to be part of our program,” Porter told the Greene County Daily World. “She is a great kid and has a great family.
“Right now we have five commitments and it is good to get started by signing Holli. We are hoping to get nine girls signed before we start next fell.”
Moore is a versatile player who is willing to do whatever it takes to contribute.
“I would like to hit right side,” she said. “I've played all the way around and can play all the positions. But I really enjoy the right side position. I like the short right side hits the best.”
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil.