Written by Edythe Bradley
Four Albany State University Golden Rams senior football players have been invited to play in a national black college all-star game.
Linebacker Jamarkus Gaskins, defensive back Rashad McRae and defensive lineman Antorio Wells of the Golden Rams “Dirty Blue” defense, and quarterback Stanley Jennings of the “Gold Rush” offense were selected to play in the Third Annual HBCU All-Star Bowl, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 18. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. The HBCU Bowl is the nation’s only post-season football game that showcases the top FCS and Division II HBCU football talent.
The Golden Rams star athletes, who are among the top 120 draft-eligible seniors from the HBCU football conferences selected to participate in the HBCU Bowl, will play on the West Team with other SIAC and Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) players. They will face the East Team and compete against senior players from the Mid-eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). The East leads the series 2-0.
A 6-2, 200-pound senior from Tifton, Ga., Gaskins, who is the 2011 Daktronics NCAA Division II All-Super Region Two Defensive Player of the Year and SIAC Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 73 tackles (42 solo), with 17.5 for a loss of 75 yards in 12 games for the Rams. He led the team and the SIAC with 11 sacks and is ranked 20th in the nation in the category. He also had five pass breakups, three fumble recoveries for 67 yards, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
The SIAC Offensive Player of the Year, Jennings passed for 2,662 yards, completing 169-of-344 passes for 24 touchdowns. The 6-2, 250-pound senior from Marietta, Ga., also rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
McRae, a 5-10, 195 pound senior from Douglas, Ga., was second on the team with 85 tackles (53 solo) with 10.5 tackles for losses. Named to the Super Region Two second team, McRae also had nine pass breakups, five interceptions, three forced fumbles and a sack for the Rams.
A 6-2, 300-pound senior from Rome, Ga., Wells recorded 32 tackles (18 solo) with 10 tackles for losses, eight quarterback hurries, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Wells was named to the All-SIAC second team.
Other SIAC players selected to play in the bowl game include DeMario Pippen and Wayne Williams of Tuskegee University; Ricky Johnson, Tony Davis, Demario Barber, Marquette King, Courtney Daniels and Bobby Young of Fort Valley State University; and Darrius Williams, Jarvis Canty, Derrick Hector and Chigbo Annunoby of Morehouse College. Hardcourt Farquharson, Kiece Crite and Darel Strong of Clark Atlanta University; Kyle Hurt of Lane College; Jarrel Noland and Jesse Mitchell of Kentucky State University, and DeQuan Starling of Benedict College were also invited to participate.
For the first time in the game’s history, professional coaching staffs will take the sidelines to lead the all-star bowl teams. Canadian League coaches Chris Jones, defensive coordinator and assistant director of player personnel/football operations for the Calgary Stampeders, will coach the West Team, while Montreal Alouettes’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar will lead the East Team.
Bowl week kicks off with a one day official combine administered by National Football Scouting of Indianapolis, Ind. on December 13, 2011 and continues throughout the week. In addition to the combine, the bowl week schedule includes practices and player interviews with NFL, CFL, UFL and Arena Football teams. The week also includes community visits by the players, a life skills session, financial adviser seminar and a weekend of entertainment and events.
The game will be broadcast live on the Classic Sports Radio Network, with the pregame show starting at 2:30 p.m., and online at www.classicsportsradio.com. Donal Ware will handle play-by-play duties, while Eric Curry will handle color analyst duties. The game can be heard on ASU’s campus radio station, WASU-FM 92.7.
General admission tickets for the game are $20 at the gate. Fans may also visit www.ticketmastercom to purchase tickets. A portion of the proceeds from the game will benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
For more information about the all-star game, visit http://www.hbcubowl.com.