Big Blue football seniors ready for 15th John Merritt Classic

TSU football seniors with head coach and TSU president.   photo: Sam Jordan

TSU football seniors with head coach and TSU president.
photo: Sam Jordan

A whirlwind of activity last weekend helped prepare the Tennessee State University Football team for the 15th annual John Merritt Classic, held this Sunday, September 1. The TSU athletic department held the John Merritt Press Conference on August 22 at LP Field in preparation of Big Blue’s game against Bethune-Cookman University. The Tigers will square off against the Wildcats on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 7 pm at LP Field for the first game of the 2013 season for both teams.

The TSU athletic department held the 2013 senior football players Kickoff Luncheon on August 23. The next day, the Tigers football team welcomed fans and Big Blue supporters to Fan Day on Aug. 24 in the Indoor Football Facility. The seniors and the rest of the Tigers then played a scrimmage immediately following Fan Day.

Howard Gentry welcomed the crowd and introduced the emcee of the conference, Hope Hines, who opened the floor for TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips to speak, followed by Bethune-Cookman’s Athletic Director Lynn Thompson. The two ADs exchanged playful barbs, but the amount of respect for each other’s program was evident. Tiger head coach Rod Reed spoke next before BCU’s sports information director Bryan Harvey.

TSU Aristocrat of Bands director Dr. Reginald McDonald introduced his friend and colleague Prof. Donovan Wells, director of the BCU Marching Wildcats. Bethune has a huge band and is looking forward to filling LP Field with sound and pageantry on Sunday in what should be as intriguing a battle as the football teams.

BCU’s head coach was not in attendance because he was engaged back in Daytona Beach, Florida with his team’s first day of practice. Lunch was provided for all by TSU sponsor Jack’s BBQ.

Big Blue supporters, fans, coaches, cheerleaders and members of the TSI Aristocrat of Bands met at the Maxwell House Hotel on Friday to honor the 17 member senior class, including: Tim Broughton, Deshawn Byrd, Kadeem Edwards, Vernon Frett, Jamin Godfrey, Marquaveus Jackson, Troy Jones, Demetrius Rhaney, Wilson Robinson, Wesley Samuels, Gregory Barksdale, Holt Claiborne, Antonio Harper, Michael Murphy, Andrew Taylor, David Van Dyke and Devin Wilson.

The luncheon was hosted by George Plaster. TSU Head Coach Rod Reed, Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips and President Glenda Glover spoke about the student-athletes’ accomplishments. They also wished them luck as the Big Blue starts its season on Sunday, Sept. 1 against Bethune-Cookman in the John Merritt Classic.

Boxtorow has released its annual HBCU FCS Coaches Poll, and Tennessee State was selected third. TSU was pegged behind Bethune-Cookman and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, even though the Tigers defeated both teams last year by a combined 34 points. Boxtorow also selected five Tigers to its All-American Team, the most of any other team, including: guard Kadeem Edwards, tight end A.C. Leonard, defensive end Antonio Harper, linebacker Nick Thrasher and cornerback Stephen Godbolt III.