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Football Media Day kicks off 2009 Bearkats' season
Southland Conference football excitement kicks off this week as the league’s head football coaches and a pair of the top players from each squad gather in Lakes Charles, LA, for the annual SLC Football Media Day.
Highlights of the event will be the announcement of the 2009 preseason All-Southland Conference football team and the preseason Southland predictions based on the votes of the league’s head coaches.
Sam Houston State head coach Todd Whitten, offensive lineman Hunter Schmidt and wide receiver Jason Madkins will represent the Bearkats.
The Kat football team reports for 2009 preseason camp on Wednesday, August 5. Camp will begin with a team meeting on that evening at 7 p.m. The first practice will be held Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Sam Houston State returns 44 lettermen returning including 12 starters (seven offensive, three defensive and two specialists) from last year’s squad.
The Bearkats ended the 2008 season with a 4-6 record, but three of their Southland losses came by margins of a field goal or less. Sam Houston lost to Central Arkansas by two and Texas State and Southeastern Louisiana by a field goal.
A priority for Whitten and his staff will be replacing 11 starters including eight on the defensive side of the line. But a solid group of athletes with experience as backups last season showed they are ready to step into starting roles.
“We were pleased with the progress our young defensive group made during spring ball,” Whitten said. “They’re learning a new scheme and appear to be right on schedule. I like their aggression.”
Offensively, the Bearkats will look to run as James Aston and Chris Poullard return at running back. Aston rushed for 886 yards and 11 TDs in 2008 and Poullard totaled 1,038 yards and 13 TDs in 2007. Four starters including All-SLC guard Hunter Schmidt return in the offensive line. The line made impressive strides in spring ball.
The Bearkats must replace quarterback Rhett Bomar who finished his career ranked both as Sam Houston’s all-time passing and total offense leader. Bryan Randolph, Bomar’s backup in 2008, passed for 418 yards and three touchdowns in the Orange-White spring game. Chris Lucas and Jason Madkins who combined 68 catches last year lead the receiving corps.
“We have a good group of offensive linemen back and the opportunity to be more balanced offensively,” Whitten said. “Our young receivers are becoming more comfortable in their roles and we look to be stronger with our special teams.”
Four new assistant coaches with a wealth of experience joined Whitten’s staff this spring. Scott Stoker, twice led Northwestern State to the NCAA playoffs as head coach of the Demons, is the Bearkats’ defensive coordinator. Lee Hays, formerly offensive coordinator at Baylor, will tutor the offensive line. Also joining the staff are Ben Beasley (safeties) from Northwestern State and Brandon Jones (running backs, tight ends) from Texas Tech.
Sam Houston State will play six home games at Bowers Stadium in 2009 with two of the contests to be televised regionally on the Southland TV Network. In pre-Southland Conference action, the Bearkats will face Conference USA West Division and GMAC Bowl champion Tulsa and NCAA Football Championship Subdivision powers Western Illinois and North Dakota State.
Sam Houston State Media Relations