Fort Valley State bolsters signing class, interior line

mlough@macon.comFebruary 9, 2014 

Fort Valley State has added six players to its 2014 signing class.

Five of the six are linemen, and five come from Georgia.

FVSU signed tackle Jacob Elmore of Yuba City, Calif., center Elliot Toomer of Eagle’s Landing, defensive end Adonis Parks of Tift County, guard Deandre Hayes of Atlanta Sports Academy, defensive end Niykiem Floyd of Griffin and cornerback Brian Walker of Cairo.

The Wildcats signed five players Wednesday: wideout Dreilon Freeman of Carver-Columbus, cornerback Tyler Myles of Lovejoy and Rochester Community College, cornerback Tailik Quarterman of Carver-Columbus, safety/wideout Jaquan Swain of Jackson-Atlanta and lineman Cordarious Smith of Carver-Columbus.

Race gets tighter

No doubt the suspense for head coach Bob Hoffman at Mercer and Joe Dooley at Florida Gulf Coast is alive as things gear up toward their second showdown of the season.

The Bears and Eagles have two games this week and then five days before their ESPNU game Feb. 21 at Alico Arena, which will be -- if they take care of things this week -- the de facto regular-season championship game.

Mercer (19-6, 10-2) goes for its 20th win Thursday against visiting sixth-place Lipscomb and then hosts ninth-place Northern Kentucky on Saturday. Florida Gulf Coast (16-9, 10-2) has a tougher road, visiting the two teams tied for third, East Tennessee State and USC Upstate.

The top four teams host first-round tournament games, with Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast pretty much locked into the top spots, having already qualified for the tournament.

ETSU and USC Upstate are 7-5 in conference play, just ahead of North Florida (7-6), Lipscomb (6-7), Stetson (5-7) and Jacksonville (5-8). That’s not a lot of separation for six teams battling to host.

Mercer has swept ETSU (73-63 and 90-77) and split with USC Upstate (won 62-60 in overtime, lost 80-61). Florida Gulf Coast beat USC Upstate 63-60 and ETSU 90-62.

The Bucs and Spartans are likely to play a role in any tiebreaker for Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast.

ETSU can certainly make things interesting if it can pull off the upset Thursday night. And Lipscomb is trying to slip into the top four, so the Bisons can be expected to make life tough Thursday for Mercer.

Considering that both Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast are undefeated at home this season, being the top seed might be more important than ever.

Around Mercer/A-Sun

Mercer quarterback John Russ can update the resume and add FCS second-team All-America freshman to his honors, by way of the College Sports Journal.

The Pioneer had four players picked: Russ, Drake’s Eric Saubert, and Stetson’s Donald Payne and Chris Crawford.

Around Georgia College/Peach Belt

Georgia College is trying to get back into the USA Today Division II women’s basketball poll. The Bobcats got three points in the latest poll, good for 46th. It’s the seventh straight week Georgia College has gotten votes.

Fort Hays State is 25th with 56 points. Bentley (Mass.) is first, and Peach Belt Conference rival North Georgia is 20th.

The Bobcats get a chance to move on Wednesday when they visit Clayton State, which is 35th.

Around Fort Valley State/SIAC

The SIAC and commissioner Greg Moore have agreed to a contract extension. The council of presidents voted unanimously on the decision.

A release listed Moore’s accomplishments in five years, including increasing sponsorship revenues by 265 percent, doubling SIAC revenues, retiring debt and negotiating a broadcast agreement with the Bounce network.

Around the state

Georgia Southern was the preseason pick to win the Southern Conference softball title. Former Northside standout Sarah Purvis is one reason.

The two-time conference pitcher of the year picked up the same preseason honor for the second straight season. The Eagles got seven first-place votes for 49 points.

Purvis was joined on the all-conference first team by shortstop Kourtny Thomas, a senior from Houston County. Shelby Morrill was named to the second team.

The Eagles are off to a 3-1 start, outscoring opponents 27-2.

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