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JSU Gamecocks Begin Spring Practice
The Jacksonville State football team began spring football practice on Wednesday as the Gamecocks look to build on back-to-back 8-3 seasons, including posting a final national ranking of No. 16 and the best record in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2009.
Head football coach Jack Crowe says he will use this spring to continue to develop his returning players, but his focus is going to be evaluating younger players.
“The guys that you expect to set the tone, all appear to be doing that,” said Crowe following the first practice.
“Then your looking for the guys that this is their opportunity, this is their first time to be in the situation and this is the area that I’m more focused on,” Crowe added. “We’ve got some young players that we feel like is time for them to step up.”
The Gamecocks lost 12 seniors and six starters, but return All-OVC selections Tyler Chambers (OG), T.J. Heath (DB ), Cory Freeman (TE) and Curt Porter (OT).
Heath, who was also an All-American for the Gamecocks last season, led the OVC in passes defended from his defensive back position and led the Gamecocks with six interceptions. He returned two for touchdowns against UT Martin and also led the team with 10 pass break-ups, with one forced a fumble and blocked a kick. The Alexandria, Ala., native recorded 34 total tackles on the season, including 20 solo stops.
Chambers, from Hixson, Tenn., graded better than 88 percent for the season at his offensive guard position. The sophomore finished with 103 knockdowns, 42 pancake blocks and more than 210 bonus points for the Gamecocks after playing 586 snaps this season.
Freeman, from Brewton, played in all 11 games with 10 starts on the season. He helped the Gamecocks lead the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing offense (188.82), total offense (431.09), passing efficiency (161.19) and scoring offense (35.0), while recording six catches for 42 yards.
Porter, a native of Fayette, started all 11 games and graded out better than 91 percent on the season. He led the offensive line with 315 bonus points after recording 93 knockdowns with 55 pancake blocks after playing a total of 711 snaps. He was instrumental in the Gamecocks leading the OVC rushing offense and passing efficiency, among several other offensive categories.
Additionally, Alan Bonner (RS/WR) and Jamal Young were both named to the OVC All-Newcomer squad and will return for the 2010 season.
Bonner, from Newnan, Ga., led the Ohio Valley Conference in punt returns and was ranked ninth nationally with a 13.89 yard average. He also finished the season with 300 yards on 14 catches and four touchdowns. The rising sophomore was also named OVC Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 64 yards for a touchdown at Alabama A&M.
Young, a native of Jackson, Miss., was second on the team with 523 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He added 147 yards on 15 catches and two more touchdowns and was named the OVC Newcomer of the Week vs Nicholls State after returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
Jax State will practice five times before taking off a week for spring break, before returning for the final 10 workouts. The Gamecocks have scheduled their annual J-Day football game for April 10th at 3 p.m.
By Jacksonville State University Sports Information