New hire, alums doing well: A preview of the football season

Category:  Sports
Friday, September 6th, 2019 at 11:07 AM
New hire, alums doing well: A preview of the football season by Madi Gross
Photo: Madi Gross

Just as school kicks off, a new season of collegiate football does the same, and the Fighting Scots have kept themselves busy since the end of their last season. Alumni news, new additions to both the team and staff, as well as brief social media fame, are just a few of the things the Scots were up to on the offseason.

Shortly after the 2018 season, Edinboro University Athletics and the NCAA at large announced postseason awards, which included several of the gridiron Scots. The announcement of Walter Fletcher as a nominee for the Harlon Hill Trophy was came in November. Harlon Hill is given to the top player in NCAA Division II.

Fletcher has since made his debut at Ball State University for his final season of eligibility — the former Fighting Scot recorded a touchdown in his first game of the season Saturday.

In December, Derek Door, Joshua Schmidt and Zuril Hendrick were all selected to participate in Dream Bowl VII (a college football all-star showcase). Hendrick was later invited to two rookie minicamps, one with the Chicago Bears and another with the Denver Broncos. The former Fighting Scot was recently announced as the newest addition to the Utica College football staff in July, serving as the running backs coach.

“I’m really proud how he (Hendrick) got himself ready for the NFL,” said Edinboro head coach Wayne Bradford.

He continued: “He prepared very hard, went to all the combines, tested very well, and was able to get into two camps.” The coach also added that he was proud of Hendrick for continuing his career in football as a coach.

Moving into the 2019 spring semester, nine mid-year transfers were announced in January, while another 16 recruits were added in early February.
“We’re youthful, but we’re athletic,” said Bradford.

“We recruited some great kids from some great high school programs and hopefully the success that they had there will carry over here,” he explained. Bradford later added how exciting it is to have these new additions.

He also made sure to mention the leadership still present.

“The biggest thing from that small group of seniors is the things that they’ve been through,” Bradford explained. “Guys who have been here five years [and] have been through an 0-11 season and a 9-2 season. They’ve experienced everything.”

The Scots’ 2019 schedule was released in March and includes Grand Valley State University. It will mark the first time the team has ever faced off against the Lakers, who have taken home four NCAA Division II championships. “[It’s] the opportunity of a lifetime — the experience of a lifetime,” Bradford said with a smile on his face. He explained that when ‘Boro steps out onto the field at Grand Valley, there will be upwards of 15,000 people watching, as well as the ones at home watching on ESPN3.

Following the schedule announcement, and a few weeks later, the defense pushed their way to a 49-20 win at the team’s annual Red and White game. Bradford believes both sides have improved since the intersquad tradition.

The addition of wide receivers coach Shanin Benniefield was announced in July; the coach was a former wide receiver at Albright College. “Shanin Benniefield [is a] great person, number one,” Bradford began. “[He’s a] strong Christian, very focused, committed, has big goals [and] has a passion for teaching and coaching.”

A few days after the announcement of Benniefield to the Scots’ staff, news came from Serbia that former Fighting Scots quarterback Jake Sisson was announced as the Serbian League MVP. Sisson had signed with the Kragujevac Wild Boars in November 2018, and as a rookie led the team to a 10-2 season and Serbian Bowl XV victory.

Just before the end of summer break, the Fighting Scots returned to camp at their usual time. But something quite unusual accompanied that return. A video of wide receiver Ta’Nauz Gregory and defensive back Maurice Simms went viral.

Bradford explained that during camp the team not only works on the field, but off the field. And each night at camp the team works at getting to know each other. “We want to work our tail off, but we want to have fun, and when our guys are interacting that way it’s special that they love one another and can entertain one another.”

Simms and Gregory were playing a game in which the objective was to look the opposite way the other pointed. As their teammates cheered and reacted, each move got more and more complex. Gregory would eventually prevail to screams of excitement in the room. The original video from wide receiver Locke Platt had 190,000 “Likes” and over 63,000 “Retweets” on Twitter.

To wrap up their camp, the team was paid a visit by Ricky Sapp, who is a former outside linebacker in the NFL. “Ricky is incredible,” Bradford said.
Sapp — who visited with a few ‘Boro teams while here — returned to speak to the football squad for the second year in a row. Sapp spoke of topics such as work ethic and using each and every one of your talents to their fullest potential.

The team is slated to travel this weekend to Michigan for their first game of the 2019 season, where they will not only be facing off against the decorated Lakers for the first time, but will also be debuting a new helmet style. The Scots formerly sported red helmets, but this year will be wearing all white helmets with a red Fighting Scot on the side. “We’re really excited and [we’re] thankful for the people who designed it,” said Bradford.

After traveling to Michigan, the Scots are set to return home to begin their PSAC play. “We’re very focused on number one: playing with great passion, energy, effort,” said Bradford. He noted that the team is looking forward to challenges and making the most of their opportunities.

Additional Photos:

File PhotoPhoto: Madi Gross

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