Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Volume One, Number Ten
April 21, 2008
Editor: Tom James,
ISU Football Alumni Blog Page: http://isufootballalumni.blogspot.com/


With plenty to prove, salvaging ISU program ties team together

Sycamores compete in annual Blue-White scrimmage

By Todd Golden, Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Suiting up for a program that’s lost 37 of its last 38 games, there wasn't an Indiana State Sycamore on the field during the Blue-White scrimmage who didn't have something to prove.

Salvaging Sycamore football is the tie that binds all of ISU’s coaches and players. But within the framework of team-wide improvement, the degree to which each player has something to prove varies by the player.

That contrast was evident when it came to two of the best performers on the field during Saturday’s offense vs. defense scrimmage, won 35-29 by the offense as a modified scoring system was used.

Antoine Brown rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns and was one of two ISU running backs to top the century mark. Darrius Gates led the way with 127 yards and a touchdown. Brown has shone under the brightest lights of college football, having transferred by way of Kentucky from the Southeastern Conference to the Gateway Football Conference.

“I was just trying to show all of the players and show all of the coaches I can play ball. I came from the University of Kentucky, so I have to prove I can bring my game everytime,” Brown said. “The bar is higher for me. I have a lot of pressure. I have to try to change this program around.”

Meanwhile, ISU’s leading tackler comes from a more humble background. Walk-on linebacker Josh Jenkins was so far under the radar, his hometown wasn’t even identified on the roster distributed to fans at Memorial Stadium.

Jenkins made the fans take notice. He had 14 tackles, twice as many as fellow walk-on Chris Stepp had.

“They gave me the opportunity to walk-on and all I can do is just fight for a position,” said Jenkins, who is from Greenwood and who played at Indianapolis Roncalli. “I was nervous. I have something to prove. I have to prove I’m not a walk-on, I’m a player.”

Miles was impressed with players on both sides of the ball.

“Josh played a lot of snaps, we only have two scholarship linebackers, but you can’t take that away from Josh. He had a good spring,” the ISU coach said. “And our two backs ran well and our line blocked well for them.”

In the big picture, Miles wasn’t exclusively looking at position battles or any other aspect that usually comes with the spring game. Saturday’s scrimmage was a simple who could play and who couldn’t proposition.

“I liked the fact they were spirited and they showed some passion was there. The passion was there,” Miles said.

Chuck Dowdell had a solid day numbers-wise at quarterback, completing 8 of 12 for 140 yards and a touchdown in an ISU offense that skewed conservative. Backup Matt Seliger, who starred at Terre Haute North, completed 4 of 5 for 41 yards.The flip side of the offensive production were the struggles on the defensive side. ISU’s runners averaged 6 yards per carry and ISU’s receivers averaged 15.1 yards per catch. ISU’s offense scored easily on the first two drives of the game and would lead 28-8 at halftime. The defense did better in the second half, scoring 21 points in the modified scoring system thanks to two forced turnovers and four three-and-out stops.

“They ran the ball well on us, but we made it really simple for the defense out there. They couldn’t do some of things we’ve practiced on. I saw some guys running up to hit, but they ran the ball too much and had too many big plays,” Miles said.

The Sycamores coach was pleased ISU came out of the game injury-free. No mean feat considering nearly half of the intended fall roster isn’t even eligible for practice yet.

ISU will come together with its full contingent of players — according to Miles, 36 to 42 future Sycamores will join the existing roster — in August in preparation for the season opener on Aug. 28 at Eastern Michigan.

2008 Blue-White Game

Offense (White) 35, Defense (Blue) 29

Rushing — Darrius Gates 16-127, Antoine Brown 19-124, Matt Seliger 5-44, Chuck Dowdell 6-14, Tyler Williams 3-10, Robert Barcliff 4-6, Josh Jones 1-0.Passing — Dowdell 8-12-1, 140 yards, 1 TD; Seliger 4-5-0, 41 yards; Kyle Toney 0-2-0, 0 yards.

Receiving — Verlain Betofe 3-88, Ryan Patrick 3-41, 1 TD; Gates 2-19, Jeramie Gray 2-12, Williams 1-18, Gabe Mullane 1-3.

Tackles (leaders) — Josh Jenkins 14, Chris Stepp 7, Russell Dedeaux 5, Kevin Wilson 5.Sack — Dan Millington.

Interception — Donye McCleskey.


Three LIC players bring Valley, family ties to young Sycamore football team

By Andy Amey, Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The high schools that make up the Little Illini Conference aren’t among the bigger ones in Illinois, and it’s certainly not every year that three LIC athletes earn Division I college football scholarships. Three LIC football players heading to the same school might be unprecedented, in fact.

Which worries coach Trent Miles of Indiana State — the school that signed Cumberland’s Kye Butler, Marshall’s Travis Johnson and Palestine-Hutsonville’s Ryan Roberts — not one bit.

“I’m not concerned, because I got to know them as competitors and people,” the new Sycamore coach said last week of his LIC recruits — part of a recruiting class ranked among the best in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision.

“And I got to know their ability. Go back and remember [former ISU linebacker] Craig Shaffer,” Miles said. “He came here from a smaller school as a linebacker at 185 pounds … and he developed into a big-time athlete [who played several seasons of professional football]. It’s what’s in their heart. They all bring something we need. We want to start [our recruiting] at home, and they’re three of the best athletes in the area.”

Sycamore fans will be able to see the three players in action in about two months at the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association’s all-star game. Until then, they’ll have to trust the word of former LIC coach Troy Johnson.

“Ryan Roberts is probably the purest athlete in the whole LIC,” last season’s Marshall coach — now Miles’ linebacker coach at ISU — said recently. “He was a force. Obviously we had 11 guys watching him when he was on offense, and we stayed away from him as much as we could when he was playing defense. And he’s a good kid: we never saw him drop his head, and he was always playing hard.“

Kye Butler is obviously a huge kid,” Johnson continued, “and he had some of the best hands in the conference. We always knew where he was at too, and when he played defensive end we did what we could to stay away from him.”

Travis Johnson is Troy Johnson’s son.“Four years ago I was trying to move him out of the quarterback position, and thank God I didn’t,” the coach said. “The next thing you know, he’s got every passing record Marshall keeps.

“That was a team effort, but we’ve had some pretty good quarterbacks here,” the future Sycamore’s father continued. “He showed some football smarts, knowing not to throw long every time and knowing where his checkdowns were, and the other kids caught the ball … he was a linebacker on defense too, and it’s great to have a quarterback with a linebacker mentality.”

So far, the younger Johnson isn’t looking to be a Sycamore linebacker like his father was.

“With my weight, I’m just looking at [playing] quarterback right now,” said Travis Johnson, who is currently 6-foot-1 and 179 pounds. “I’m doing everything I can [to get bigger].”

Both coach and son joked, however, that by playing quarterback Travis Johnson can finally be coached — and yelled at — by someone else.

“I loved playing for my dad,” Travis said. “It’ll be a little different with him on the defensive side, but it should be fun.”

Travis Johnson is also looking forward to playing with two of his former opponents.

“Kye Butler and Ryan Roberts were two of the best athletes in our conference,” he said. “I can’t wait to play in the all-star game with them.“Kye has unbelievable hands — you usually don’t find big kids with those soft hands — and Ryan has unbelievable speed and is outrageously athletic.”

The 6-4, 195-pound Roberts was also a quarterback for the Pioneers, but isn’t expecting to have to battle Travis Johnson for that position with the Sycamores.

“I think I’ll most likely play wide receiver,” said the two-sport star, who was also a linebacker and strong safety for Palestine-Hutsonville. “As long as I can help and contribute, that’s all that matters to me.”

Roberts saw most of his action for the Pioneers at safety during his freshman year, then started both ways the next three seasons. He’s the program’s all-time leading passer and rusher and has its most wins ever by a quarterback, he said, and was also recruited for basketball. In that sport, he broke the Hutsonville career scoring mark previously held by his father, Greg Roberts.

“After coach Johnson went [to Indiana State], it was pretty easy [to decide to go there for football],” Roberts said. “It’s close to home, and knowing some [other recruits] made my choice easier.”

Playing with Butler and Travis Johnson is “pretty nice,” Roberts said.

“I’ve known ‘em since we were all younger … we were usually pretty competitive [with one another]. Me and Kye would be in a play, but after it was over we’d be laughing and talking. It’s nice we’re not big enemies anymore.”

“It’s nice to go [to college] with people you know,” agreed Butler, currently 6-5 and 225 pounds and expecting to grow.

“He’ll put on 20 or 30 pounds of good weight the first year,” Troy Johnson predicted. “And he loves the game, because his dad’s a coach.”

“I’ve had a good time [coaching Kye],” said coach Todd Butler of the Pirates. “There were ups and downs with it, of course … and he didn’t just get coached the two and a half hours of practice. He’s watched a lot of film, and he spent a lot of time at practice even before he was in high school.”

The younger Butler was a three-year starter for a Cumberland team that’s made the Illinois playoffs three of the past four years, and had some significant receiving statistics for a run-oriented offense.

“We could just throw it up for him,” his father noted.“I’m a big, pretty strong kid, and a good runner,” said Kye Butler, maybe the most heavily recruited player of the three. “I need to work on my blocking a little bit.

"When I went [to ISU] for my visit, I really liked the coaching staff, and it seemed like a great place to be,” he added. “It will be a great experience to play with [Johnson and Roberts]; they were the best in the LIC.”

With ISU’s spring football practice having ended with Saturday’s Blue-White game, the three might also be getting a little more rest. The Indiana-Illinois time difference has been a mixed blessing for the three, who have often come to watch morning practices and then returned to Illinois in time for school. They’ve been getting up at 2 a.m. to do so. That dedication has also impressed Miles.

“Kye Butler is an athletic tight end who’s going to get bigger, and his dad’s a coach,” Miles said. “Ryan Roberts is a really, really good multitalented athlete who can play, and Travis [Johnson]? Travis is going to be a football player.“We can win with guys like that, and we will.”

Sycamores pick up another recruit

Indiana State has signed another high school football recruit for the 2008 season, inside linebacker Almondo “Al” Vick (6-1, 240) from Southfield Lathrup High School in Michigan.

Vick could end up playing either inside linebacker or could be used as a defensive end to take advantage of his quickness and speed as a pass rusher.

The Sycamores also reportedly added a wide receiver from the same high school, but details on that recruit are sketchy.

According to ISU sources, the football program could have as many as 45 new players on the roster when preseason drills begin in August. That total includes the 31 players added in signing day in February along with a large group of “preferred” walkons.

In years past – especially during the Tom Harp, Dick Jamieson and Dennis Raetz coaching regimes – Indiana State utilized a large, and very successful, walkon program. That program is being revitalized under the guidance of head coach Trent Miles and recruiting coordinator Kyle Caskey.

Good turnout for Indiana State Football Golf Outing

A year ago, approximately 40 or so golfers assembled for the annual Indiana State Football/Ballyhoo Golf event, which serves as a fund-raiser for the Sycamores football program.

This year, 90 golfers got together at the Idle Creek Golf Club on the south side of Terre Haute for a day of fun and a chance to reconnect with Sycamores football. The goal for the 2009 event is to have an excess of 120 golfers take part in the outing.

Kudos to Assistant Athletics Director John Sherman for piecing everything together and a pat on the back to Dave Brazier and the people at the Ballyhoo for helping to sponsor the day of golf as well as to Idle Creek Golf pro (and former Sycamores basketball standout) Ray Goddard.

Among the former Indiana State players taking part in the golf outing were Richard Moss, Eric and Kirk Christensen, Robert Egidi, John Sahm, Corey Potter, John Deem, David Busch, Kyle Bibbs, Dre’ Knox, Quentin Mikell, Kurt Bell, Rob Hufty, Chuck Orlando, Tim Swanson, the Barrett Brothers (Chris, John and Greg), Kevin Cox, Pete Georges, David Allen, Rich Dawson, Doug Hurt, Gary Nickleson, and Milton Seaton.

Your trusty newsletter editor was there as well, but we won’t talk about me getting a golf cart stuck in the mud (with Dennis Raetz sitting next to me).

One other highlight of the golf outing included head coach Trent Miles showing off the Sycamores' new football helmet. For those who played under Coach Raetz, the design will be somewhat familiar -- a metallic white helmet with the script Sycamores in black in front of the state of Indiana (which is in ISU navy blue), with a star where Terre Haute is located, on each side. The helmet also has a blue stripe down the middle and a white face mask. It's somewhat similar to what the players at the University of Tennessee wear.

Nice turnout of former players on hand for Blue-White Scrimmage at Memorial Stadium

In addition to the golf event, there was a great mixture of former players prowling the sidelines at Saturday’s Blue-White scrimmage.

Ex-players such as Mel Burks, John Brewer, Chris Hicks, Vincent Allen, Kurt Bell, Doug Arnold, Quentin Mikell, Tim Swanson, Chuck Orlando, Chris Barrett, Greg Barrett, Kevin Cox, Milton Seaton, Darren Tucker, and Rob Hufty were on hand.

We ran into former ISU assistant coach Bob Warren there as well. Bob coached defensive backs under Tom Harp in the late 1970s and he has also served as an assistant football coach at Terre Haute South Vigo High School.

Coach Warren told me that ex-ISU offensive line coach Bill Dole is retired and living in Fresno, California. Those of you who would like to contact Bill let me know. I have his phone number and address.

One special guest, of sorts, at the scrimmage was Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who was there watching the action and meeting former players along with his son Marcus and his wife. Marcus Lewis will be a freshman linebacker for the Sycamores in the fall.

Goodbye to Brett Burchette, hello to Jackie Gustafson

The ISU Football Golf Outing was one of the last major events for outgoing assistant athletic director Brett Burchette, who will be leaving in a few weeks to attend graduate school as he works towards his master’s degree.

In the short time that he was at Indiana State, Brett did a very good job and the athletic department will surely miss him. Under his direction, the department re-instituted the Sycamore Varsity Club and revitalized the I-Men’s Association. His last day is July 1.

Assuming many of his responsibilities now will be former Indiana State women’s basketball player Jackie Gustafson. All former ISU football players are urged to call and touch base with Jackie, especially when it comes to making any type of financial donations to the football program.

Jackie’s email address is
jgustafson@isugw.indstate.edu. Her phone number there is 812-237-3958.

And just one addendum to contacting Jackie or assistant athletic director John Sherman about making any type of financial contributions to the football program. There are always items that is needed that may not have been covered by the existing athletic department budget.

It might be a good idea to contact head coach Trent Miles or John Sherman and ask them what -- if anything -- they need that would help make things run more smoothly. Any contributions along those lines would undoubtedly go a long way in helping the program in a major way.

Some other phone numbers and email addresses of interest:

Head coach Trent Miles, 812-237-4074,
Recruiting coordinator Kyle Caskey, 812-237-3812, rcaskey@iisugw.indstate.edu
Assistant athletics director John Sherman, 812-237-3047, jsherman1@isugw.indtate.edu


There has been some questions concerning interest for a pair of Indiana State Football Reunion events this upcoming season. Indiana State will open the 2008 home season on Saturday, September 27 against Southeast Missouri State. Kickoff is set for 12:05 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The 2008 Homecoming Game will be Saturday, October 25 against South Dakota State. Kickoff for that game will be at 2:05 p.m.

We would like as many players to return for the first game at Memorial Stadium to help support Trent Miles, his coaching staff and players. The same goes for Homecoming, where there is always a good turnout of former players.

If there are any of you who would like to form some sort of committee to help plan activities for those two dates (such as having large tents available both dates for cookouts), please feel free to proceed. Just let us know what we can do to help. Chris Hicks planned such a reunion two seasons ago with several of his late 1970s teammates and it was a big success (they watched the Sycamores get their lone win in the past three years).

Did you know????

--That the son of former Indiana State All-Missouri Valley Conference center Rich Dawson was a former fourth-round draft pick of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes?

Aaron Dawson stands in a 6-5 and 220 pounds and is a defenseman. Rich and Aaron played in the ISU Football golf outing last Friday in Terre Haute in a foursome with Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman and ex-Sycamores baseball standout Brian Dorsett. Brian is a successful auto dealer in Terre Haute now and is the current president of the I-Men’s Association.

--That Pat McKee, the younger brother of former ISU sports information director Ed McKee, will be inducted into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame? Pat is the longtime prep editor of the Indianapolis Star.

--That former ISU assistant football coach Marty Fine is now the head coach at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Marty is in his fifth year at the school. Here is his email address:

--That ex-Indiana State defensive coordinator (under Jerry Huntstman) Doug Kay is in his third season as the head coach of the Arena Football League's Columbus Destroyers. Kay coached at ISU from 1967-69.

--And, finally, that there is now a contact page on the Indiana State Football Alumni Newsletter Blog page.

Just click here
http://isufootballalumni.blogspot.com/ and take advantage of the opportunity to let people know what you’re doing now or to just make a few comments. And, as a reminder, the newsletter editor will be keeping an eye out to make that all comments are in good taste.

Where are?????

--Mike Sotak, Royce Allen, David Vandercook, Willie Weber, Scott Zeiser, Kenny Klein, John Wayhart, Terry Dzmiera, Dan Hall, Pat Teefy, Larry Brumfield, Jim Brumfield, Don Jackson, Kevin Jackson, Donnie Warner, D.A. Daniels, Zach Washington, Jimmy Edwards, Reggie Allen, Kyle Frondorf, Steve Elmlinger, Todd Jochem, Kirk Wilson, Eddie Ruffin, John Spradley, Keith Ward, Mike Johannes, Scott Bridges, Joe Downing, Terry Bell, Dwight Tripp, Dale Harvel, James Massey, Walter Seaton, Chuck Standiford, Milt Allen, John Stites, Hubert Moore, Chris Delaplaine, Mike Rutherford, Brian DeCree, Dan Galbriath, Rick Murphy, Bob Pychinka, Carroll Puricha, Bimbo Cecconi, Jerry Huntsman, Dick Comar, Jim Donahue, Max Payne, Ron Green, Keith Herron, Lavent Blaylock, Tori Vactor, Sam Logan, Dan Brandenburg, Steve Brandenburg, Matt Nelson, Cornell Johnson, Kent Drew, Carl Berman, Derrick Franklin, Darrold Clardy, Mike Megyesi, Kevin Henderson, Craig Shaffer, Dennis Teegarden, Bob Koehne, Matt Cole, Blayne Baggett, Chris Johnson, Steve Schmid, Dietrich Lapsley, Joe Stellern, Jim Shaughnessey, Bobby Boyce, Jerry Boyce, Kyle Hooper, Soso Dede, Craig Hamblet, Chris Libaire, Mike Brantley, Pat Jordan, Dennis Wilkerson, Bruce Montagner, O.B. Barnett, Mark Hardy, Bill Griffith, Ken Monroe, Jim Keister, Steve Steinway, John Montgomery, John Skelton.

Just a few names of some former Sycamores players, coaches and student managers from the top of my head who seem to be missing. And if there some names not mentioned that you know the wherabouts of, let us know. Send email addresses so we can add them to the football alumni newsletter email list.

And I need updated email addresses for the following: Kurt Bell (home if possible), Kevin Buchanan, Rodney Porter, Brian Krueger.

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