TERRE HAUTE —
Pigskins are now flying through the muggy, late summer air and several Wabash Valley grads are continuing their careers at the next level as either players or coaches.
A complete list with season stats will be included in an upcoming “College Report,” but here are some of the highlights:
• Engle on sidelines — Terre Haute South grad Michael Engle thought his football days were over when he graduated from DePauw last spring with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
He had previously planned to attend law school upon graduation, but the allure of the gridiron won out.
“I was presented with the opportunity to return to DePauw as an offensive assistant this summer, specifically coaching running backs,” said Engle, who patiently waited three years for his turn while Spud Dick was destroying the school record book, but put together an outstanding senior season of his own.
“I felt it was a great chance for me to continue to stay involved in football, which is still a significant part of my life,” Engle said. “I am very thankful to continue to be a part of this program and to work on a day-to-day basis with a great staff and a great group of players.”
Coaching is sort of a family tradition, as Engle’s father Jay coached for many years at Terre Haute South.
Whether it becomes Michael’s long-term career goal remains to be seen, but he’s enjoying it for the time being.
“Each day is a learning experience for me, as I continue to develop my knowledge of the game itself,” he said. “This job has been amazing for me to this point, and I look forward to what the future may hold.”
• Oden lands at Lamar — Anthony Oden, younger brother of NBA center Greg Oden, is now the starting left tackle for Lamar University in Texas after transferring from Arkansas.
Oden was dismissed from the Razorbacks this summer after some legal trouble, and has lost some weight and now stands as a 6-8, 308-pounder.
Oden started as a freshman at Arkansas, helping a Razorback offense that lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring (36.0 points per game) and passing offense (295.5 yards a game).
“Certainly, because of his size, we are looking forward to having Anthony as a member of our football team,” Lamar Coach Ray Woodard said. “He has great feet to go with his size, and I’m looking forward to seeing him in a Lamar uniform.”
Oden only appeared in one game last season and was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA, giving him three years of eligibility at the Division I school that competes in the Southland Conference.
“Oden is a big, physical kid, and is probably as talented as any player we have on the team regardless of position,” offensive line coach Nathan Reeves said. “There’s no reason he shouldn’t be the best tackle in the Southland Conference this season.”
• Wheeler running second-string — Northview grad Scott Wheeler, who redshirted last year at Kent State, is the only other athlete with Wabash Valley ties competing for a BCS conference school.
He is the second-string right guard for Kent State, which opened its season on Saturday at No. 2-ranked Alabama.
• Weatherford makes debut — After redshirting last year, Scott Weatherford of Terre Haute North has earned the starting punter’s job for Eastern Illinois and made his debut in a win over Illinois State on Thursday night.
Weatherford punted four times for 153 yards for a 38.2 average, with a long punt of 50 yards. He had one punt downed inside the 20 and another that was a touchback.
Weatherford is the younger brother of New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford.
Marshall grad Taylor Duncan also redshirted last year, and also made his EIU debut Thursday.
He attempted only one pass, as he is the backup to standout sophomore Jimmy Garappolo. Garappolo passed for more than 300 yards in Thursday’s win after a dominant freshman season last year.
Duncan’s only pass Thursday was incomplete.
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Bits and pieces — Former Terre Haute North running standout John Mascari will be redshirting this fall, but will start running in 2012 for the Indiana University men’s cross country team.
Mascari placed third in the 3,200 meters in the state track meet last spring, and Coach Ron Helmer is looking forward to adding another ex-Patriot to his lineup.
“John comes from the same solid Terre Haute North program that gave us Zach Mayhew,” he said. “He is very talented, has trained consistently in high school and has consistently put good times on the board. John’s PR of 9:00.83 in the 3,200 was run indoors, indicating both his talent and potential. He could have the talent to make an impact sooner than expected.”
Mayhew is a junior standout for the Hoosiers, who are ranked eighth nationally to start the season.
Last year, Mayhew placed 78th overall in 30:56.8 in the NCAA championships at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course east of Terre Haute as the Hoosiers recorded a seventh-place team finish.
• Former Riverton Parke baseball standout Tim Johnson, who competed in the Indiana All-Star series this summer, originally signed to play for Southeastern Illinois College but has had a change of plans.
He now attends Vincennes and will play for the Trailblazers, who competed in the National Junior College Athletic Association subregional tournament last spring.
• Former Terre Haute resident James Kirkendoll, who played collegiately at Texas, went undrafted last spring but signed with the Tennessee Titans this summer as a free agent.
He had two catches for 19 yards in the team’s first preseason game against Minnesota, but did not have any catches in Tennessee’s last three preseason games.
On Thursday, he returned one kickoff for 12 yards. He likely found out on Saturday whether he will make the Titans’ 53-man roster.
• Sullivan basketball standout Rhagen Smith made an unofficial visit to Butler last weekend and picked up a scholarship offer from the Bulldogs.
The 6-2 post player, regarded as one of the top juniors in the state, also holds offers from Indiana State, Evansville and Ball State and will likely add to that list as the school season arrives. She currently helps anchor a strong front line for the outstanding Sullivan volleyball squad.
Sycamore hoop fans would love to see her in ISU blue joining her brother Rhett, a Golden Arrow senior who will begin his ISU career next winter.
• North grad Sarah Potter has gotten her Marian University tennis career off to a good start.
Potter and No. 1 doubles partner Olivia Pursell recently won 8-2 over Indiana-Southeast, and Potter won her match at No. 4 singles by a 6-1, 6-0 margin.
Potter then won 8-1 at No. 1 doubles and 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles in a match against Goshen. Marian won both matches 9-0.
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.