Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Volume One, Number Five
March 21, 2008
Editor: Tom James,


By Tom James
Editor, Indiana State University Football Alumni Newsletter

I spent a few hours visiting the ISU football offices on Thursday, March 20 and came away impressed with what I saw and heard. Here are a few observations from that visit:

--Former players should come away impressed with some of the decor now on the walls of office area. Action photos of players ranging from the late 1970s to current day are highlighted, along with All-America plaques of ex-ISU gridders such as Vincent Allen, Vencie Glenn, Mike Simmonds and Ed Martin. More photos and plaques are planned for the future.

--The Sycamores will be wearing new uniforms and have a different looking helmets when they take the field in the fall. I think everybody will get a kick out of the designs, which are a little bit on the retro side. That’s all I feel safe in mentioning right now, but alumni should be impressed.

--As I walked in the offices, I saw a familiar face from the late 1970s waiting to talk to ISU Head Coach Trent Miles. Former Sycamore inside linebacker Marty Murray -- gray beard and all -- was there. Marty now lives in Oklahoma City, where he works as a contractor (JMS Construction). He spent some time talking to Coach Miles and to former head coach Dennis Raetz, who is now a part-time member of the defensive coaching staff. Marty knows of some high school players down in Oklahoma who the coaching staff might be interested in talking to and who may be interested in becoming future Sycamores. By the way, Marty got a big kick out of seeing his picture displayed on the walls of the coaching offices.

--Another former Sycamore linebacker, Kevin Buchannan, and his family also stopped by to meet with the coaching staff. It seems as if Kevin and his wife would like their oldest son to play for ISU in the not too distant future. Any maybe one or two of his high school teammates, along with some more family members, as well. They are both happy to see the change in direction of the football program, especially with the return of Trent, Troy Johnson, Shannon Jackson and the retention of Coach Raetz. Kevin, who played at ISU in the mid-1980s, now resides in suburban St. Louis.

--The fact that both Murray and Buchannan is nothing new. Coaches report that there have been several former ISU players stopping by in recent weeks to offer their well wishes as well as to offer their full support to the program.

--Assistant coach Kyle Caskey, ISU’s recruiting coordinator, said that he appreciates all the information on prospective recruits that have been sent his way by former players. In turns out that previous editions of the football alumni newsletter have ended up being read by some alums who are coaching, but didn’t play while at Indiana State. They’ve been sending in information – including video – on players from their respective areas. Keep up the good work!!!!

--Caskey also told me that they expect around 10 invited walk-ons to join the program in the fall, giving the Sycamores nearly 40 new players since the end of last season. Indiana State signed 31 players in February. There could be more than 10 invited walk-ons by the end of the spring.

--While ISU’s 2008 recruiting class was composed entirely of high school players, Trent Miles says that he is not adverse to bringing in junior college or Division I-A transfers to the program. His late hiring hurt the Sycamores chances of getting a few junior college prospects, since most had already made up their minds on where they wanted to go by that time. As for any potential Division I-A transfers, he expects things to start shaking out after spring football practices around the country are concluded. The addition of any junior college or Division I-A transfers to the program, though, must meet the necessary guidelines: no previous on-the-field, off-the-field, academic, social (legal) or eligibility problems. If those guidelines are met, they would be welcome to join the ISU program.

--Discipline – both on and off the field – will probably be the biggest watchword for the Sycamores under Miles’ regime. He has been happy, for the most part, with how the returning players have taken to his new regime. Attendance and effort in ISU’s off-season conditioning work has been good so far, as has the team’s academic standing. But there’s still a lot of work to be done in all those fronts before the Sycamores will be ready for the start of the 2008 season.

--Some of ISU’s upcoming spring football practices will be conducted in the early morning hours at Memorial Stadium. The team will be taking the field around 6 a.m. on selected days so as to not interfere with the late afternoon classes that some players had previously signed up for. Needless to say, players will hopefully get the message that they are not to schedule any classes after 2 p.m. when the fall semester gets underway.

--Trent Miles and the Indiana State football coaching staff spoke at a recent meeting of the Indiana High School Coaches Football Association. Reports are that their reception from the high school coaches attending was good.


Seven of Indiana State’s 2008 football recruits have been named to play in the 2008 Indiana High School Coaches Association North-South All-Star game, which is scheduled for Friday, July 18 at North Central High School in Indianapolis. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The recruits are:

NORTH TEAM:OL Mike Smith – Mishawaka PennDL Mike Palmer – South Bend Riley

SOUTH TEAM:OL Casey Paswater – Columbus NorthOL Justin Wood – Center GroveWR Jared Blue – Vincennes LincolnLB CJ Cook – Columbus NorthDB Alex Jones – Centerville

That Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is the nephew of former Indiana State offensive guard Mark “Ziggy” Gradkowski. Mark’s brother, Bruce, had originally been recruited to play at ISU along with Mark but wound up staying in western Pennsylvania in order to help care for their parents.
The younger Gradkowski earned All-Mid America Conference honors at the University of Toledo. He will be entering his third season with the Buccaneers.

If anybody knows the email addresses of some or all of the following former players, please feel free to send them along: Reggie Allen, Jim Brumfield, Larry Brumfield, Don Jackson, Bob Radzis, Mark Hardy, Kevin Weatherby, Mike Sotak, Royce Allen, Pat Teefey, Ed "Poncho" Martin, John Allman, Pete Pokerjac, Chuck Drewey, Stan Garrard, Doug Garrard, David Vandercook, Scott Bridges, Zach Washington, John Wayhart, Willie Weber, Terry Dzmeira, David Allen, Kirk Wilson, John Spradley, Kenny Klein, Rick Dwenger, Jimmy Edwards, Eddie Ruffin, Derrick Franklin, Kevin Henderson, Mike Brantley, Steve Englehart, Jeff Lorick, James Banks, Donnie Warner, Craig Shaffer, Dan Brandenburg, Tori Vactor, Bruce “The Tag” Montagner, Bob Koehne, Glenn Damato, Scott Bartel, Steve Elmlinger, Von Ganaway,Darrold Clardy, Joe Downing, Terry Bell, Fred Bell, Hubert Dawson, Dennis Wilkerson, Kyle Frondorf, Todd Jochem, John Stites, Dale Harvell, James Massey, John Sahm, the Bridgewater Brothers (Brian and Bruce), all the Barretts (John, Chris, Kevin), Steve McKeel, Kip Hennelly, Chris Delaplaine, Carl Spruill, Pete McCoy, Kevin Ramsey, Bobby Boyce, Tunch Ilkin.

That’s just a handful of the names that I could remember off the top of my head. I would enjoy hearing from as many people as possible and getting their email addresses.
Where are all the Western PA guys? The Louisiana guys? The Cincinnati guys? The Chicago guys? The Detroit guys? The St. Louis guys?

I have some email addresses already. But some have been changed, or inactive or don’t work. I especially need email addresses for those who played under coaches Jerry Huntsman and Tom Harp, Coach Jamieson in the late 1970s, or those who played for Coach Raetz in 1980s and 1990s.

Also, the email addresses of any former players from the 1960s, 1950s, 1940s and beyond who would like to receive this newsletter on a regular basis would be appreciated.
If you know of a former teammate who is not getting a newsletter, pass one along and tell them to send me their email address.

Indiana State University Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman along with Steve Brown, Vice President for Development of the ISU Foundation, have announced that Brett Burchette has resigned his position as Associate Director of Athletics to take a Sport Management faculty position in the Goodwin College of Professional Studies at Drexel University.

Burchette’s resignation will take effect July 1, 2008.

“Brett Burchette has been an invaluable member of our administrative team in Sycamore Athletics,” Prettyman said. “He has established relationships with new constituents and has reconnected with many outstanding alumni in the short time he has been here. He has been an integral part of the formula for success that we are developing in the ISU Athletics Department. We wish Brett, Patty and Caroline well as they begin this new chapter in their lives.”

“Brett Burchette has been an invaluable member of our administrative team in Sycamore Athletics,” Prettyman said. “He has established relationships with new constituents and has reconnected with many outstanding alumni in the short time he has been here. He has been an integral part of the formula for success that we are developing in the ISU Athletics Department. We wish Brett, Patty and Caroline well as they begin this new chapter in their lives.”

Sycamore Athletics has experienced significant growth during Burchette’s tenure at ISU. This includes the re-establishment of the Sycamore Varsity Club, official booster club of ISU Athletics; increase in restricted fundraising efforts, which has doubled in two years; 400% growth in corporate sponsorship; substantial increase in the courtesy car program; the launching of the new Athletics Department website,
GoSycamores.com and formulation of new ticket and pricing options for Sycamore Athletics, which has resulted in increased season ticket sales across the board.

"I would like to thank Indiana State University and the ISU Foundation for providing me the opportunity to serve as the Associate Director of Athletics for the past two years,” Burchette said. “My family and I have enjoyed our time in Terre Haute and at Indiana State University.” “Specifically, I would like to thank Ron Prettyman for his support,” Burchette continued. “Ron has been a tremendous mentor and I have learned a lot under his guidance. He has assembled a talented team of athletics administrators and coaches at ISU. I believe Sycamore fans will see championship seasons in the coming years as a result of our staff's efforts.”

“Brett has worked tirelessly over the past two years strengthening Sycamore Athletics,” Brown said. “Brett’s efforts in re-establishing the Sycamore Varsity Club will have a significant impact. The ISU Foundation wishes him and his family well on their new endeavor.”

A national search for Burchette’s replacement is currently underway. For the time being, ISU alumni are urged to contact John Sherman (Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Media Relations) in order to make any monetary contributions to the Sycamore football program. John may be contacted at 812-237-3047 or relay emails to

ISU hopes 1990s standout Shannon Jackson can step in and fix Sycamores’ defensive problems

By David Hughes, The Tribune-Star

When Shannon Jackson played defensive line for Indiana State’s football team from 1996 through 1999, the worst record he experienced in a season was 3-8.

That happened twice — 1997 and 1999 — the latter made somewhat more tolerable by the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Jackson earning third-team NCAA Division I-AA All-American status from The Sports Network.Back in 1996, when Jackson was a redshirt freshman, the Sycamores actually finished 6-5.

Fast forward to 2008 as Jackson begins his first year as ISU’s defensive coordinator, having replaced Steve Barrows, who replaced Aubrey Kelly one year earlier.If the Sycamores post six victories in 2008, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett should consider giving Jackson and new head coach Trent Miles keys to the city.Indiana State hasn’t compiled six wins in a season since 1996. In the last four seasons combined, ISU has won only five games and four of those came in 2004.

Probably the biggest reason for those hard times has been the failure of its defenses to contain opposing offenses.Take 2006, for example. The 1-10 Sycamores ranked 116th in the nation — in other words, last — among Division I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision) teams in points allowed per game (44.82), total yards allowed per game (503.45) and rushing yards allowed per game (301.36).

Those numbers got worse in 2007 when ISU ended up 0-11. Its per-game averages were 49.18 points allowed, 519.64 total yards allowed and 329.36 rushing yards allowed.“Everything starts with defense,” Miles stressed last week. “It’s the most important thing. If they can’t score, they can’t win. And Shannon and the rest of the defensive staff are the guys to fix it.

”To say the least, Jackson’s new job will be a challenge.But he welcomes it with open arms.“I’m just excited to be back,” said Jackson, who graduated from Indiana State in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in criminology. He coached Eastern Illinois’ defensive line from 2005 through 2007 after spending five seasons as an ISU assistant.“

Also, coach Miles,” Jackson continued. “I don’t know if I would have come back if it had been anybody other than him. Indiana State has been such a big part of my life for a long time. Just being able to come back as a defensive coordinator has been a professional dream for me. We all have goals. A new staff always brings excitement to a program and I just feel fortunate to be a part of it.”

Jackson thinks the addition of several skilled high school recruits, including at least three from the Detroit area, will help him succeed where Kelly and Barrows could not.“There have probably been more great players to make good coaches than good coaches to make good players,” Jackson explained. “

So we’re going to take it very simple and try to get back to the basics this spring. As a former player who had some success here, hopefully I can bring some excitement to the defense.”Asked about his base scheme, Jackson replied: “It just depends upon what we’ve got out there. With our recruiting class, it’s going to be some form of a 4-2/4-3 scheme.”

Although Jackson believes some of the incoming freshmen could start immediately, he also sees talent among the returnees from last season.

“It all starts up front,” he emphasized. “We went out and recruited some defensive linemen, so we’re very excited about our young guys coming in. And there’s some defensive linemen already here, Dan Millington [from Terre Haute North High School] and Kevin Wilson. So for us, it’s all going to start up front. We’re just looking to build depth there.“I feel like our secondary is probably going to be the strength of our defense. We’ve got a lot of guys back from that unit and I’m very pleased with the way they’ve been working so far.”

Jackson mentioned that nobody is assured of a starting spot on defense Aug. 28 when the Sycamores’ season opens at Eastern Michigan. Regardless of who starts, he expects to have more depth than the previous defensive coordinators enjoyed.

“There’s going to be open competition this spring for playing time,” Jackson noted. “When our incoming freshmen get here in August, there’s going to be open competition too. It’s our job to put the best players on the field and that’s what we’re going to do here.

"A lot of these [high school] kids come from good programs where football is very important to them. They’ve all had success at the high school level and they fit a need in our recruiting. We went after positions that we felt our team needed, like defensive linemen, linebackers, offensive linemen. Hopefully with another good recruiting class [in 2009], we can have even more depth.”

Spring practices will begin March 30. Public scrimmages are scheduled for April 5, April 12 and April 19 at Memorial Stadium, with the latter being the annual Blue/White Scrimmage.

With the additions of South Dakota State and North Dakota State to the Gateway Football Conference in 2008, ISU will play a 12-game schedule for the first time since 2003. ISU’s homecoming will be Oct. 25 when South Dakota State visits Memorial Stadium for the first time ever.

“Oh man, this conference is tough,” Jackson said of the Gateway. “Every week is definitely going to be a challenge for us.“There are definitely no weeks off, which is good for recruiting. When you go to a school and play in a conference, you want to play in the best conference. And we definitely feel like the Gateway is the best I-AA [FCS] conference out there.”

2008 Indiana State Football Schedule

(Starting times not available for most games yet, all games on Saturday unless noted)

Thursday, Aug. 28 — at Eastern Michigan, 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 — ByeSept. 13 — at Eastern Illinois

Sept. 20 — at Northern Illinois

Sept. 27 — Southeast Missouri State

Oct. 4 — Illinois State*

Oct. 11 — at Southern Illinois*

Oct. 18 — at Western Illinois*

Oct. 25 — South Dakota State* (homecoming)

Nov. 1 — at North Dakota State*

Nov. 8 — at Youngstown State*

Nov. 15 — Northern Iowa*

Nov. 22 — Missouri State** — denotes Gateway Football Conference game

Sycamore analysis -- SU plays two Division I teams for the third time in as many years as the Sycamores play against Mid-American Conference teams Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois on the road.

The Gateway Football Conference, which has discussed the possibility of renaming itself as the Missouri Valley Conference, has added North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Western Kentucky left the fold last season.

There are now eight conference games for ISU and 12 overall, a change enacted this season.As ever, a key for ISU will be to remain healthy through its first three road games to build momentum for the conference schedule.

The best chance for a nonconference win is when Southeast Missouri State visits on Sept. 27. ISU lost at SEMO 13-10 last season, by far its most competitive game. (By Todd Golden, Sports Editor, Tribune-Star)

Indiana State University football All-American Wayne Davis, 44, passed away on Sunday, March 16, after a lengthy battle with Lou Gehring’s Disease outside of Atlanta.

Davis, who was inducted into the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002, wasthe Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year and earnedthree NCAA All-America honors in 1984.

After leaving ISU, he was selected in the second round (39th pickoverall) of the National Football League draft by the San DiegoChargers. Davis also played for Buffalo and Washington before ending his professional playing career in 1989.

Services for Davis will take place Friday, March 21 at the New MerciesChristian Church in Lilburn, Ga. A public viewing will be held from 10a.m. to 11 a.m. with services beginning immediately after.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Wayne Davis tothe ALS Association of Georgia, 1955 Cliff Valley Way, Suite 116,Atlanta Georgia 30329.

One of ISU's best: 1980s All-American succumbs to Lou Gehrig’s Disease

By David Hughes,The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A heavily recruited two-way standout from Mount Healthy High School in Cincinnati, Wayne Davis initially wanted to play running back for Indiana State’s football team in the early 1980s.

But longtime ISU coach Dennis Raetz and his assistants persuaded Davis into playing cornerback for the good of the team.The result was enough stellar performances to earn Davis the 1984 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year award as a senior, a second-round selection (39th overall) by the San Diego Chargers in the 1985 NFL draft and a six-year NFL career that included stints with the Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins.

One of ISU’s best football players ever, Davis died Sunday after a lengthy battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease near Atlanta. He was 44.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Davis received three NCAA All-America honors in 1984. In the NFL, he totaled five interceptions in 73 games (14 starts), according to the www.pro-football-reference.com Web site. In 2002, he was inducted into the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame.

“Wayne was arguably the only shutdown corner Indiana State ever had,” Raetz recalled Wednesday. “He could really cover wide receivers one on one. He had very soft feet and great speed. He was a highly intelligent kid too.”

In the early 1980s, Indiana State had three athletes who won MVC Defensive Player of the Year — linebacker Craig Shaffer in 1981, Davis in 1984 and safety Vencie Glenn in 1985. But Davis, a three-year starter for the Sycamores, ended up being the highest-drafted ISU player by an NFL team.

“Wayne was a great guy,” said Tribune-Star sports correspondent Tom James, who worked with the football team for ISU’s sports information department in the early ’80s. “He was very musically talented. Wayne was a rapper before anybody knew what rapping was. He was very good at it."

“Wayne was a leader on the field, but he was a leader by example,” Raetz added. “Wayne was not loud at all, but everyone who saw him play knew he could play.”

A glance through the pages of ISU’s 2007 football media guide does not show Davis among the statistical leaders in many categories, but Raetz said there’s a good reason for that.“Most people didn’t throw at him,” the veteran coach said.

During Davis’ junior and senior seasons, the Sycamores finished 9-4 and 9-3 respectively.

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