Monday, November 7, 2011

Tale of the Tape: What Do You Make?

Tale of the Tape: What Do You Make?
by Alyson Gramley

November 7, 2011

Can you believe it's time for basketball season already? I know I can't. Time really does fly when you're having fun...right?! I have attended my first Church of the Hardwood at Sartain of the season. Somehow the effect just isn't the same, but it'll have to do.

This weekend produced a less than desirable outcome for the Men of Troy on the foosball team [ I love calling it that]....but guess what? We're still here. Four more games left and the most important one is the next one. I am disappointed at the cries from fans. These guys work hard day in and day out. It's unfathomable to think every game is a victory and that every loss should result in a call for changes in the lineup or coaching staff.

I'm not here to instigate or prognosticate, just reporting the facts and my opinions thereon. I bleed Trojan colors, not because I HAVE to, but because I want to. Because I see those fellas and gals giving tons of hours and effort in the name of Troy University. And because I care. And I show that in ways most of you will never even think about.

If there aren't many people on the old wagon to start with, you can only imagine how lonely it is when people start jumping off just because we aren't a dead ringer to win a SIXTH conference championship. Five Conference Championships won or shared in the last five years and people are complaining? These boys need our support (just like the basketball team did last year) and if you don't give it, then who will??

Shifting gears a morning drive to school with my daughter (on a day when I actually got to drive her to school) sounded something like this and caused me reason to reflect:

Me: Ok, today is Monday and I'll take you and the boys (carpool) and pick y'all up from school today, tomorrow, and Thursday. Orthodontist on Wednesday - touch and go...looking ahead to Thursday through this weekend, I'll be in Texas. We're going to miss Homecoming with the game time change.
Her: Oh...that's a bummer about Homecoming.
Me: Then I'll be back Saturday and next week seems mild with maybe a home game or two. I'll be in Tennessee next weekend.
Her: Ok...
Me: Then, not sure when your school gets out for Thanksgiving break, but we'll be in Birmingham Tuesday.
Her: Then you'll be in Vay-gas...[rolls her eyes]
Me: Wow! Maryland, Texas, Tennessee, Vegas...all in one month...this really is the LIFE, isn't it?
Her: Suuuurrrrre it is...

She's well-adjusted, or as much as possible. Growing up-literally- in the Athletic Training Room has a profound effect on people. I think I've done a LOT of growing up here, as well.

Week in and week out, whether the weekends bring wins or losses, the individuals of the Athletic Training staff are the voice of reason in a somtimes unreasonable world. Although some see it as 'just a game', it is truly our calling. I was reminded of this when I saw a Facebook post from one of our alums. I don't usually repost things, but couldn't resist this time. (Thanks, Kara!)

"Oh, you're a Trainer??"
No, I'm an ATHLETIC TRAINER, not a trainer.
"Oh, that's cool. I wanted to do that. What do you make?"
I make an ankle sprain that some say should take four weeks to get your athlete back on the field, playable in a week.
I can make wearing a fanny pack and driving a golf cart with lights look cool.
I can devise a rehab program after your total knee replacement so you can run in that marathon you've always dreamed of.
I can tape an ankle before you can miss 2 minutes of play.
I can make saving your child's life easier by explaining that "getting your bell rung" isn't normal, it can be deadly.
I can help you and your child survive a heart attack.
I can look at an athlete's pee and tell them how much water to drink.
I can make an athlete bigger, faster, and better.
I can translate "doctorese" from "torn anterior talofibular ligament" into ankle sprain.
I went to college to EARN A DEGREE in more than just "water girl" but also injury prevention, evaluation, rehabilitation, administration, and overall problem listening (and solving).
I do it all because I love my athletes and my profession. Today I might ice your knee, tomorrow I might save your life.
I hope I make a difference, what do you make?

Choose to be a difference maker!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tale of the Tape: What is the Recipe for Success?

Tale of the Tape - What is the Recipe for Success?
by Alyson Gramley, ATC
November 2, 2011

It's time to play basketball!! YAY! Or, in my case, watch other people play basketball!! I've been getting a little football action in every once in a while, but have almost officially made the transition. I'll be making the trip to the Naval Academy and I am waaaaayyyy beyond excited about that! I'll have to dedicate a blog to that adventure upon our return.

Men's Basketball has been practicing for a month now already...time FLIES when you're having fun...and all those hours in the A1 seat of Sartain cause me to ponder. My original thought for this blog [that has been circulating for about a month now, thanks for reminding me, Constable Wayne Floyd] was something By-the-Numbers. Somewhere between random numbers and their significance in my world and those paint-by-number horses my parents used to buy me in hopes I would be a Renaissance artist. You can obviously see that didn't work out quite like we'd hoped...

Another avenue I contemplated was the "Recipe for Success" which brings to mind all the cupcakes and sweet treats I like bake in my spare time. I'll try to combine the two as I type and see where it takes us. After all, this is a JOURNEY. Right? goes with the random numbers and hopefully along the way, I'll reveal some insight to this crazy life:

11/2/1955 - the day a "simple man" was put on this green mass, 56 years ago! We've been trying to chase Chuck Ash (THE Head Athletic Trainer, father figure, mentor, pain in the derriere sometimes, but all-around Best Boss in the Whole Wide World) into the cold whirlpool all morning. It was a "trainer" tradition back in the 'ol days' when you made another trip around the sun that you came to work and somewhere along the day were tempted into the wet area for your annual dousing. We are afraid to do that now, partially because the whirlpools are in a raised area and partially because we think Chuck might break a hip...Happy Birthday, Boss, a.k.a.Chucky-Fresh, the Diesel, Master Healer and whatever else might slip out in the trenches! I want to be just like you when I grow up!

8/1/1994 - approximate day I met Chuck life has forever been changed! I'm sure many of you feel the same way. Dang! I get all teary just thinking about it...teary about how he's changed my life, not necessarily regarding the first day I was acquainted with him. Although, I bet he's made THAT sort of impression on some people as well.

8 - not only is this my favorite number, jersey number during my Most Athletic career at Walton Senior High School in DeFuniak Springs, FL, but it also represents the beginning of another season for me as an assistant here...8 seasons of Men's Basketball and various other mixtures of volleyball, high school outreach, and football round out the resume thus far. Eight could also represent the numbers of wins in last year's basketball season...we are definitely hoping to improve on that a bit this go 'round.

2 - number of weeks I spend a season sitting in seat A1 in Sartain watching basketball practice. That's 14 DAYS a year, which would mean in the last 7 years, I have spent roughly 98 days, 14 weeks, just a smidge over 3 months, of my entire life sitting in the gym...can't think of words to accurately explain this phenomenon...

220 - number of DOZENS of cupcakes it takes to get to Italy...

2640 - that's a lot of cupcakes! I started baking in February to raise the money for our mission adventure to Italy. {Italy is having a revival of sorts and we were the special music for a 2 week stint} That only represents cupcakes SOLD, not those eaten personally or given away to willing taste-testers...Baking is therapy at its best, for me. You see, I am a 'do-er' and like to see people smile. Now, don't get me wrong, making cupcakes in the wee hours of the morning and then frosting can get a little whacko at our house. At least it smells good, right, Meres?!

448 - number of current student-athletes on our rosters between 18 sports, including Football, Baseball, Softball, Soccer, Men's & Women's Basketball, Men's & Women's Tennis, Men's & Women's Golf, Volleyball, Rodeo and Cheerleading and all the Tracks (indoor, outdoor, cross country, field events). I think....

4 - number of full time Athletic Trainers, all of which are Troy Alumni and have been working here for a combination of about 60 years of uninterrupted, quality service. As different as we may all be as individuals, we make it work on the 2nd floor of the Stadium Tower! Don't ever doubt that oil and vinegar won't mix (at least for a few minutes under proper environmental conditions). At the very least they make a very good salad dressing pair. :)

4 - also the number of athletic trainers that have covered Men's Basketball under Coaches Don Maestri and David Felix: Chuck Ash; Jon Adams, PA-C, ATC; Bobby Templin; me

7 -part time Athletic Trainers on staff that fill all the gaps. I have tried to think of an appropriate analogy for them, but words are not sufficient. They do all the things we can't or don't want to do in the name of 'experience.' Hope that works out for them...I have a feeling it will.

748 - injuries sustained by football players last year, ranging from hangnail to torn ACL. Oh wait...we didn't have any ACL tears last year! NONE! Almost unheard of, to make it through fall and spring football seasons without the ACL tear amongst the boys. We think it's the shoes...a topic for another blog....

603 - injuries sustained by athletes in all other sports combined, not including football, last year...I won't elaborate on this too much because I don't want to get myself in trouble...plainly stated, over 1,351 times individual student-athletes needed the care of our staff in some form or fashion.

I think that may be enough for now. Mostly because I have to go spend some time imparting knowledge to some Athletic Trainers in Training. If any point can be made from all these random numbers, I'll make one...consistency and stability are key to success, but don't always do the job.

You have to have the basics, like flour and sugar and eggs. Strong go-to's that you always use, regardless of the flavor desired. Too much or too little of these and you'll have a batch for the garbage dispos-all! Throw in a little sweet and salty and a pinch of the unexpected and you COULD have a great treat. Bake it too long or not enough and your end product will be unpalatable.

My end thought is this...sometimes you can mix it all up, just like the recipe says, with the best ingredients and an expert baker, and it still comes out wrong. No matter how many times the cook has done it before...think about that!

See you on the sidelines at Navy!!!
and for good measure, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Chuckles!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Tale of the Tape: Inspired to do great things

Tale of the Tape

by Alyson Gramley

September 30, 2011

From my window to the world in the Athletic Training Room I can see many things this morning. Directly out the window of my office I can see a post-operative baseball athlete engaging in early rehab following shoulder surgery, being guided by the baseball ATC, Sean Boland and one of the Student Athletic Trainers assigned to baseball. There are a group of football Student Athletic Trainers discussing the plan for game preparations - when to bag the fruit, when to meet up in the morning to set up the field - when is the Pharmacology teacher going to post the rest of the midterm grades (that would be ME), and assisting the Football Graduate Assistant, Michael "the Boss" Welch in rehab of the guys in here this morning. And it's only 9:30 Friday morning.

I'm just happy I can actually SEE out the's basketball workout sessions have begun. And when do great basketball teams practice, you might ask? All great basketball teams practice at 6:30 in the morning. Which means one Athletic Trainer and her students arrive at approximately 5:45 AM. Which means, ipso facto, if I want to look halfway presentable for the remainder of the day, I have to hit the alarm at 4:45AM! Needless to say, with all the practices and rehab and planning and craziness we call life going on at the Gramley house these days, my head has not spent nearly enough time with my pillow...but I solved that dilemma last night with a 10 hour conversation with the down comforter. It was lovely and I am having a great hair day because of it.

Before I ramble on too much and forget, I must share with you the most recent Athletic Training Room Players of the Week (unofficially sponsored by PowerAde). Criteria for this award is a little different than the typical Player of the Week awards because it isn't based on statistics racked up on the field. This one rewards athletes who have rehab-ed and injury during the week prior to the game (doing all that was asked of them with a pleasant attitude and not having any NO SHOWs on the record) and subsequently made it in the game on Saturday. They could have had a stellar performance or only got in for one little victory formation snap...doesn't matter. Then we all put our heads together in the field house Athletic Training Room and pick somebody through super secret voting techniques not to be revealed in this medium. The athletes know about this award and have actually been known to bring bribes to the voting staff...but we will not be persuaded.

For the week of the Arkansas, the dubious award goes to Eric Thomas. He is a pleasant young man who had overcome a nasty hand injury in weeks prior. Hand injuries aren't all that bad for some positions, but as a receiver, you kinda' need your hands to work and hold on to the ball! Congrats to's a picture of him with his reward. An ice-cold PowerAde after a long, hot day of practice!

Last week's PPOW award goes to a defensive guy, Brynden Trawick. Brynden had a bummed up knee (we use very specific terms like that around here) and worked really hard to get better during the week. He's a guy that has come around lately and is slowly moving up our "like-o-meter" in the Athletic Training room. Look for good things out of him...#10. You might even see a TROY jersey in the bookstore with that number one day.

Honorable Mention goes to Jamie Hampton. This is the first Honorable Mention we've had, but since I'm the administrator of the program I can make up the rules as we go. Jamie needs no description of his injury, sustained a year ago at MTSU. He took the victory snap in the Bowl Game, but I wasn't there to see it...and was on a blogging hiatus. This was Jamie's first appearance in live game action where he had to do more than fall on a knee. I'm a big fan of Jamie, especially after sharing some thought-provoking moments in a sparkly new hospital in Murfreesboro last year. I wrote a blog about it last year if you'd like to read more.

All of these things inspire me to do great things, day in and day out: the students trying to learn their place in the Athletic Training profession, the athletes trying to get better so they can showcase their talents to the world, and the scarce occasion of 10 hours of sleeping bliss.

I love my job! I love TROY! Being an Athletic Trainer is a trying profession, but in my journey to find something that is enjoyable to do while satisfiying my desire to help people I found the best profession in the world. Of course, it's not for everybody. I often explain it like this: one of my sisters is a flight attendant and the other is an accountant...they are sympathetic vomitters and I don't like to give people drinks and pretzels at 40,000 feet nor do I like to balance my checkbook, but yet vomit doesn't bother me. Problem SOLVED!

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a little game at the Larry Blakeney field Saturday at 6:30 you might want to attend. Nothing like an in-state rival to bring out the fans! Here's to hoping I stay off the field and the players stay on it!



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last Minute...

Tale of the Tape
September 17, 2011
Alyson Gramley, ATC
Athletic Trainer Extraordinaire

Sitting in the floor of the Magnolia conference room at the Doubletree in Bentonville, Arkansas, I am overcome with the urge to blog. My superstitious side would say I don't need to blog pre-game this time because we lost last weekend....but then I remember we didn't LOSE last weekend because we didn't even play!

I can honestly say it seems like we've been doing this football stuff for just a little less than FOREVER. Upon further consultation of the calendar, however, we've only been doing this a few weeks. Camp started August 3, a mere 45 days ago. Furthermore, this is only our second game of the season! Unbelievable!!

Clemson was a long time ago. And gladly so. We played a great thirty minutes. Unfortunately it takes a spectacular 60 minutes to beat great teams...with that said, I liken the BIG opponents to toads. Stick with me on this one.

All our lives, us women-folk have had a fairly tale dangled in front of our beautiful faces with the expectation of happily ever after. And that "happily ever after" is contingent upon kissing a toad! He will then turn into our Prince Charming and we'll be destined to a life in a castle until the end of time. That analogy is similar to the likelihood of beating a "big time" opponent and living happily ever after in a bigger conference, with bigger, more lucrative bowl game appearances, or the prospects of football fairy tale-dom.

Now don't go twisting my words into thinking we can't or won't be an out of conference foe. I've been on the field when we've carried the goal posts out of the stadium after TROY kissed a toad. And for a week or so, we were living the life. Where nobody is injured and everybody smiles.

But then, we returned to the hard-nosed team that wins some and loses some, but churns out conference championships over and over and over again. We didn't change in the process, we just did what it took for 60 minutes to beat a great team. We're still TROY. And we're still capable of beating a team that some may consider to be 'out of our league.'

And David, a small boy, did kill that giant with a few small rocks....

Maybe today is the day...and maybe I have been sniffing too much QDA...

I'd be remiss if I didn't announce the initial 2011 Powerade Player of the Week for the Clemson game, Barry Valcin. Barry sustained a grotesque and potentially career-ending injury during a ho-hum Thursday practice about a year ago. Come to find out, he'd already sustained a similar injury to his other leg a few years prior. He is a champion! He made his return in the Clemson game in a big way!

The criteria of Powerade Player of the Week doesn't hinge on stats on the field. It is bestowed upon an athlete who has had an injury and has done everything in their power to get better, faster, stronger, as the Athletic Training Staff has directed them. We are super proud of Barry for his determination in his recovery...and hope he never gets the award again! taping begins, I'll sign off. Hoping we can do what it takes to be 'happily ever after' at least for a day or two!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Que hora es??

Translated into American, that means "What time is it?"

Now say it in your exclamatory voice...What time IS IT???

Not only is is 11:15PM as I sit in the lobby of the Greenville Marriott-where the interwebs are free...IT'S FOOTBALL TIME!!! (I don't know how to say that in Spanish...)

I couldn't resist starting off the first blog of the season with that title for all of my new family members. You see, my baby sister got married last weekend (because nobody in their right mind gets married during football season) and I told her I'd dedicate the first blog of the season to her! And...she's in Spain right now, so she'll really appreciate it. Miss you, love you, mean it! She's a big fan and alumna of TROY, by the way. As all of my family is...

They say confession is good for the soul, so I must confess why you haven't heard from me since New Year's Eve...I've been really, really, reaaaalllly busy. Plain and simple. I've baked over 220 dozen cupcakes, spent two weeks in Italy on a mission trip, and filled my "free" time with lots of fun crafting projects, on top of all the normal mom, laundry, housekeeping, and life stuff. I'll share some of them as we go along this season, maybe.

I am glad to say I'm back! I've missed this therapeutic writing thing that I do. Hopefully I can share some insight with you that you can't get anywhere else. There are some things that are just too good to write down, so you may have to stop me on the sidewalk one day and get me to tell you some of the "good" stories.

I will start by saying, hands down, I have the best job in the world! TROY is the best place to do what I do. I have grown up here in the halls of Eldridge and Sartain and now in the beautiful Stadium Towers. This is where I belong, doing a job I absolutely love. I am a Certified Athletic Trainer and this is my platform to tell you what we do.

We were reminded at our faculty pep rally for the year that we should be grateful to be engulfed in an atmosphere that spends so much effort supporting a GAME! I do agree to that statement on many levels. It's a wonderful beginning to my work day to walk through the weight room where potential professional athletes are honing their muscular physiques. My conflicts with those words however reflect the dedication I have to my profession, that of recognizing injuries, educating about nutrition, concussions, hydration and such, holding the hands of injured or ill athletes. These are my babies, all 450 of them!

But this is more than a game...Scrabble and solitaire are games. When people die because of things that happen during a 60-minute session at your work, it's more than just a game. Every day, every practice, every game, the Athletic Training Staff is ready to save someone's life. We know how to spineboard an athlete with potential damage to their spine, how to recognize numerous life-threatening conditions, and work seamlessly, side by side with orthopedic and general practice physicians to deliver top-notch healthcare to these young men and women who have dedicated their lives to a sport. Luckily I've never had to call on those "big" skills, but colleagues all over the nation have had to do just that. THAT is why it's more than a game.

[stepping off soap box] I can't express to you my excitement for the upcoming event tomorrow at Clemson. It will be soooo hot at game time. That is my only complaint. Other than that, I live for the excitement - from room check earlier tonight, to pre-game taping, to the locker room in preparation, through half time rally speaches, and singing the fight song after a victory. Sprinkle a leisure jog across the field and to the locker room and back and it'll be a good day at the office. I do have a license to run with scissors, but don't tell my mom!

For a little peek into the game tomorrow...we're in good shape. Physically, we've made it through camp with minimal issues. Nobody has been injured in the air scrimmage (Jared Flemming) and other than a few bumps and bruises, we're looking pretty scrappy!

I never know how to feel about a game. Surely there are games on the schedule supposed to win. I don't think this is one of those. They have a bigger stadium than we do, more fans at the games, and more money in their bank accounts most likely...but we've seen those teams fall before to TMTDM!!

We'll give it a good Trojan try and see how the ball bounces. I remember a comment by Coach Blakeney that went something like this "We don't have to be better than them all the time, just better than for 60 minutes."

I'll be the one with the pink bow in my hair, screaming and coercing best as I can. But you can guarantee that I'll be counting to 11 every time the whistle blows to end the play. And if I don't see 11 get up, you may just see me smoke Chuck Ash as I run past him to the rescue of a player in need.

There are many things to share, but I've got to get my beauty rest. A little game day jog to get things going early tomorrow morning and then we'll be off to "Death Valley." Again, not a name given to a place where you play a game...


Friday, July 29, 2011

One Last Time

by Travis Jarome
July 29, 2011 - 11:10 am

Goodbyes are always the hardest, and today is no exception. I was going to bid adieu quietly this afternoon, but after four years here at TROY it is just too hard to say goodbye without saying something.

The journey started almost five years ago to the date with a simple e-mail from Ricky Hazel, and it has turned into so much more than that. The friendships that have been built here will last a lifetime, not just with co-workers, but with student-athletes, coaches and even the fans.

Inevitably someone will be left out if I tried to mention all the names that have meant something to me over the time I have been associated with the Trojan Nation. And for that I apologize.

I was told when I interviewed that people around TROY were like a family, and since day one I can tell you that is exactly how it is. Once you walk in the door as an administrator, coach or student-athlete it is just that, one BIG FAMILY. Everyone cares for one another, each sport cares about the next; and that is how it should be.

TROY will always hold a special place in my heart. I have only missed a handful of games since I got involved in college athletics, and most of those (with the exception of one) have been here at TROY. My daughter was born at the beginning of the 2008-09 basketball season, and she has become one of the biggest fans of TROY athletics. We have brought her to basketball games, football games and softball contests here in Troy, and she has loved every minute of it. She has become a part of this family here at TROY, and that will never change.

This morning I had a lot of time to think about things that have happened at TROY, special people that have touched my heart and places I have had an opportunity to visit thanks to the athletic department.

I have had a chance to visit places such as our nation’s capital, the US-Mexico border in Brownsville (TX) and New York among others. I have also to been to places such Dallas (although much of it was spent in the airport) and Denver.

But none has ever meant more to me than to drive down 231 to get to office. I have never referred to my job here at TROY as work, it has always been fun for me … I mean, come on, really, I get to be at athletic events all the time.

It has never been about me, and I know I am rambling a little, but it comes with the territory when you realize the time is drawing near. It has always been about the program … how can I get the name out more? How can I get our athletes more attention? Will this look good for the fans? Things like that. I have always, and will continue to be for the student-athletes, coaches and fans. Whether it be from publications or from websites, those are things that the public sees. Those are things that drive interest when nothing is going on around you.

I had a chance recently to redesign Were there things I would have changed after the design went up, sure, there are always things you want to change. But the one thing I took pride in was the fact that people said they liked it, that is all I cared about. I redesigned the site for the FANS, and the day it launched I crossed my fingers that people enjoyed it.

My last project here was the Football Media Almanac, something a little different than what we have done here in the past. It was a lot of work, but there were a lot of people involved in the process; but like I said before as long as it is liked by the fans and everyone else involved than we have done our job.
I will never forget the first week, or month, I was here at TROY. My first day, I was thrown into a webcast for a home volleyball match with Taylor Bryan and then just a few weeks later I was on the air with Barry McKnight on the road for men’s basketball. I have had a chance to be on the air with those two individuals, as well as Buddy Johnson, Jerry Miller and Jason Wright over time – and it makes a broadcast so much easier when you have people that care about TROY as each one of those people do.

I know I am going to leave a lot of things out, and a lot of people out, but those people know who they are since I have gone by and visited over the last few days.

To the women’s basketball team and to the softball team, my two teams who I have media responsibilities for, I have enjoyed my time with each of you over the years. Good luck to all of you during the upcoming season and your careers, I know you will do well.

To all of the administrators – Steve Dennis, Sandy Atkins and Ricky Hazel especially – thanks for giving me the opportunity to work here at TROY and believing in me. Without all of you, not just those three, thank you for what you have done for me and the path you have shown me over the last four years.

To the behind scenes people – Matthew Carlo, Mike Frigge, Tony Ferrante and so many others – thanks for all your hard work and assistance in things when they needed to get done and for being a sounding board when things didn’t go well.

To all of the student workers, past and present, thanks for everything here in the Media Relations office. Things would never get accomplished at events without your help. To all of our graduate assistants since I have been here – Jason Wright, Taylor Bryan and Matt Mays – thanks for serving your time. You played a great hand in the success of the office.

To the coaches, thanks for everything. It has been a pleasure to work with each and every one of you at some point during my stay here. To Michael Murphy, Craig Kennedy and Jennifer Wasson you have been like a family to me since my time here – Murph, you and Craig have been just that as you were the first ones I worked with when I got here. To Melanie Davis, Sharon O’Mara and Mick Hokanson – I enjoyed the one season I got to work with you, and saddened I will not get another.

To the student-athletes, past and present – thanks for being a Trojan and doing what you do. To Kevin Glackmeyer and the rest of the photography staff, thanks for giving me some outstanding shots to work with over time.

And finally, to all the fans, thank you for enjoying the things we did here in the Media Relations Office. Without you there would be no drive. I hope you enjoy the 2011 Football Almanac, the new layout of the Game Day Illustrated and the Women’s Basketball Almanac for next season.

I will see many of you at home events as a fan this season, and look forward to it as I move on to Montgomery Catholic beginning Monday. I leave behind the media world to run an athletic department.

I will leave it at this … I sent a message this morning and it said this “If you ever need anything, and I mean anything at all don’t hesitate to call. Thanks for the memories over the last four years. I will always consider everyone associated with the program family.”

As I do on all of my broadcasts … Thank you for listening, it’s been fun. Until next time Trojan Nation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ESPN/Blue Ribbon Team Up

The following is copied from the ESPNsider area. A fairly comprehensive preview of the 2011 Trojans.

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 120 FBS teams. To order the complete 2011 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit or call 1-877-807-4857 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern. This information is up to date as of June 25, 2011.


Life as a head coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level can change in a hurry. The same guy who signs a multi-year extension can, in the span of less than one calendar year, find himself jobless.

That's especially true in the Sun Belt Conference these days. Heading into 2011, three of the league's nine teams have new head coaches. Add in Western Kentucky's Willie Taggart and ULM's Todd Berry, and the majority of the conference has experienced coaching changes since Barack Obama was elected president.

And yet, Larry Blakeney endures at Troy. "We get coaches fired in our league that are good people and dang good coaches," said Blakeney, entering his 21st year as the Trojans' head coach. "You've got to play two or three guarantee games to make the budget for the whole athletic department and then fight your guts out to have a chance to compete in your league. "I'm not trying to sound amazing or anything, I'm just trying to say that a lot of my peers, that I think a lot of as football men, have been passed on and put out of the office of the head coach because of, in my opinion, the tough schedules we have to deal with."

There's no secret behind Blakeney's longevity at Troy. He wins football games -- lots of them. The 2010 Trojans reeled off three straight victories to notch the 15th winning record under Blakeney's stewardship, and clinch at least a share of the Sun Belt title for the fifth straight year.

Troy and FIU finished atop the league standings with identical 6-2 records, though the Golden Panthers earned the automatic bowl bid by virtue of winning the head-to-head tiebreaker. That 52-35 loss to FIU, on the Trojans' home field, still sticks in the craw of all those affiliated with the Troy program.

With eight starters back on defense and one of the top returning skill-position players in the league, quarterback Corey Robinson, Troy intends to contend in the Sun Belt yet again. "Going in with the bull's eye on your chest, we should be used to that," defensive coordinator Jeremy Rowell said. "We want to win it. With a couple of losses that we had last year, we'd like to come back and redeem ourselves on some of that."


Only one freshman cracked the top 30 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense last season and he plays for the Trojans. Corey Robinson (6-0, 214) accomplished that feat for Troy in 2010, after completing 321-of-505 passes for 3,726 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Among all Troy signal-callers, only Levi Brown has thrown for more yards in a single season, and Robinson equaled Brown's record for completions.

Robinson enters his sophomore season with no chance of losing his starting job, barring injury, but that wasn't the case a year ago. "He got yanked in the first game when he threw back-to-back interceptions," said offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield, a former quarterback at Troy himself.

The national record holder for single-season touchdown passes in high school with 91, Robinson was not the typical redshirt freshman last season. He arrived at Troy in January of 2009 as a grayshirt, then sat out the 2009 campaign, giving him plenty of snaps in practice before he saw the field in a live situation.

Jamie Hampton (6-1, 212), who began the 2008 campaign as the starter, saw the field in Troy's Wildcat package until he broke his leg in the fifth game of the season. The fifth-year senior was still recovering this spring but should be at full strength by preseason camp. He'll serve as Robinson's backup.

Freshmen Luke Barnes (6-2, 195) and K.D. Edenfield (6-0, 185), the son of Troy's offensive coordinator, went through spring drills after grayshirting. The Trojans also signed Dallas Tidwell (6-7, 200). Two of the three freshmen should redshirt, but one of them will have to be positioned as the third-string QB in case disaster strikes and Robinson and Hampton get hurt.


Troy has to replace starting tailback DuJuan Harris, but the most productive runner on the roster returns to the fold.

Junior Shawn Southward (5-8, 182) led last year's team in both carries and total rushing yards, compiling 623 yards on 115 touches with seven touchdowns. Southward is not a giant, but he's got enough muscle to run downhill and break tackles.

Fellow junior Chris Anderson (5-8, 185) spent a good chunk of spring practice cross training at inside receiver, but he's also next in line behind Southward and should play both positions. What Anderson lacks in breakaway speed he compensates for with his ability to make cuts.

Troy split carries primarily among three backs last season. If that strategy persists, there's a good chance signee Montrell Conner (6-2, 220) claims a share of the reps. A sophomore, Conner began his career at Mississippi State, where he redshirted in 2009 before transferring to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mendenhall, Miss. Coming out of high school, ESPN rated Conner the seventh-best running back in the country. His presence will make it tougher for juniors T.J. Mitchell (5-7, 184) and D.J. Taylor (5-11, 228) to make the rotation.


New York Giants draft pick Jerrel Jernigan leaves a huge void after setting both the school and Sun Belt records for catches, receiving yards and all-purpose yardage.

Replacing his production is a tall task, but it's compounded by the fact that Troy lost the five leading receivers from last season. Tebiarus Gill and Jason Bruce joined Jernigan as exiting seniors. Then Chip Reeves and Jamel Johnson, fourth and fifth on the team in receptions, were among four Trojans ruled academically ineligible for the 2011 season.

Reeves and Johnson were starters at Troy's X and Z outside receiver spots coming out of spring practice, but losing Reeves is a particularly huge blow. He was Troy's fastest player and earmarked as the team's new No. 1 receiver. In their absence, senior Brett Moncrief (6-3, 205) becomes Troy's top returning wideout from last season with 16 catches for 214 yards and a pair of TDs and he missed spring practice with a broken foot.

Moncrief should be the starter at Z receiver, one of Troy's two outside spots. Redshirt freshman B.J. Chitty (6-3, 177), sophomores Eric Haskins (6-3, 195) and Felton Payton (6-0, 193) and junior college transfer Hollis Moore (6-3, 195) are among the others vying for playing time at either outside position, X or Z.

Corey Johnson (6-1, 185), another junior college product, enrolled early and went through spring, putting him a step ahead. He and sophomore walk-on Justin Albert (5-8, 175), a running back, move to the top of the list at H-receiver, the slot in Troy's scheme.

Sophomores Sam Haskins (6-4, 214) and Khary Franklin (5-7, 165) and junior T.J. Mitchell (5-7, 184) are also candidates at inside receiver heading into preseason practice. With so little proven experience available, any depth chart will remain in a state of flux as Edenfield tries to put together this puzzle.

"We'll do some shuffling around at those spots as fall camp gets started, and just see how they're progressing," the coordinator said, adding "We might play some young guys a little quicker than I thought."

ESPN ranked freshman Bryan Holmes (6-0, 170) as one of the top 100 receivers in the country, and freshman Chandler Worthy (5-9, 175) should get his first chance at H-receiver, Troy's slot position.

The entire two-deep at tight end from last season is gone, but Blakeney thinks highly of sophomores Jim Teknipp (6-6, 225) a transfer from UCF and Gavin Ellis (6-6, 239). Both should have chances to make plays in the passing game. "The tight end is open a lot. If you rig it up for him, he's going to have some chances to make plays," Blakeney said. "We're better, I think, at that position than we've been."


As a staff, Troy embraces the concept of rotating personnel on offense -- except along the line. "We try to find who can play for us," Edenfield said. "If there are seven guys that can play, then we play seven guys."

The Trojans should be able to count on at least that many players up front in 2011, despite losing three starters. Senior left tackle James Brown (6-4, 329) tops the list. A second-team all-conference pick last season, Brown enters his third year as a starter as a potential pro prospect, in Blakeney's opinion.

Juniors Kyle Wilborn (6-4, 311), also a third-year starter, missed the spring recovering from shoulder surgery. He has prior experience at left tackle or right guard and could fill either spot -- or center, if neither senior Zach Swindall (6-1, 282) nor junior college transfer Andrew Phillips (6-3, 315) rise to the occasion to replace two-time all-conference choice Tyler Clark.

Jacob Creech (6-3, 292) logged three starts at left guard in 2010 before a shoulder injury shut him down for the season. He missed spring ball still recovering from the surgery but will be ready in August to battle with Jay Stansberry (6-3, 269) to be the right guard. Massive junior DeMarkus Underwood (6-6, 315) redshirted last season after signing out of junior college and has dropped about 30 pounds since he arrived on campus. Underwood's in the lead at right tackle, with redshirt freshman Terrence Jones (6-4, 315) his closest competition.

Junior college transfer Cody Woodiel (6-4, 275) enrolled early, as did freshman Zach Johnson (6-3, 300). They're in the mix at tackle and guard, respectively. Junior Jarred Fleming (6-5, 281) is another option at tackle, and sophomore Cody Jenkins (6-5, 325) is competing at guard.


With 14 years experience on the Troy coaching staff, including the last six as defensive coordinator, Jeremy Rowell identifies one key to success when trying to stop the various versions of the spread offense in the Sun Belt Conference. "If you can pass rush from the edge and can create pressure from that guy, then you've got a really good chance in this league," Rowell said.

No team in the Sun Belt boasts a more accomplished rusher off the edge than Troy senior end Jonathan Massaquoi (6-2, 250), a first-team All-Sun Belt choice who led the league in both sacks (13.5) and tackles for loss (20.5) last season. That total included 2.5 sacks against Ohio, a New Orleans Bowl record. "He's not right every time, but he makes up for it by making a bunch of plays," Rowell said. "And, he's relentless to the football. He creates pressure on the passer. People are conscious of him. You've got to try to block him. He's a force to be dealt with."

Troy's starting ends combined for 24 sacks and 36 tackles for loss last season, but the other part of that equation -- Mario Addison -- was a senior. John Robles (6-4, 245) was Addison's backup and enters his senior year as the starter opposite Massaquoi. Robles was a bit undersized when he arrived last year out of junior college but has bulked up and should be ready to make an impact.

Rowell expects junior college signees Marty Stadom (6-2, 240) and Xavian Evans (6-5, 265) to claim the backup jobs and provide some competition for Massaquoi and Robles when they arrive this summer. Seniors R.J. Roberts (6-3, 241) and Brandon Boudreaux (6-2, 231) also could play, depending on how deep a rotation Rowell uses at end. Boudreaux certainly is strong enough; he benched 225 pounds 44 times at Troy's last pro day.

Returning nose tackle Emmanuel Dudley (6-1, 285) missed the spring recovering from ankle surgery but should reclaim his starting position. Junior Tony Davis (6-0, 252) is the incumbent at the 3-technique, but he'll be pushed in preseason practice by sophomore John Clark (6-4, 275), who missed most of spring ball.

Senior Sidell Corley (6-3, 288) missed four games in 2010 with an Achilles injury but was healthy this spring and got most of the work at nose in Dudley's absence. Corley and junior Jeremy Elder (6-4, 275) began their collegiate careers at LSU and Alabama, respectively.

Junior college transfer Tony Gillespie (6-2, 315) immediately will become the heaviest option on the interior when he arrives on campus.

Rowell plans to substitute liberally at both tackle spots. "We've had a couple dominant guys there before. And we don't have that guy right now," he said. "Let's get as many people as we can play and keep them fresh and keep them rotating and keep the pressure on the offense by playing so many different people."


Xavier Lamb (5-9, 220) led the Trojans in tackles and ranked ninth in the league in stops per game. A senior, he should continue to set the tone for Troy's defense for a second straight season -- while also aligning the front as Rowell's middle linebacker. Junior Brannon Bryan (6-0, 230) returns at the Will spot. He did not come close to matching Lamb's production, but Rowell likes Bryan's intelligence and competitiveness.

The third spot on the second level of the defense is what Rowell calls "a nickel linebacker." It makes it look as if Troy is running a 4-2-5, but it's still the 4-3 base, with that linebacker playing out in space.

Junior Kanorris Davis (5-10, 205) is set to start there, with sophomore Johnny Thompson (6-0, 215) behind him. Davis, who has forced five fumbles in his career, is a tremendous athlete who can run a 4.4-second 40 and boasts a 42-inch vertical jump. Junior Jacoby Thomas (6-0, 245) has played a bunch of football for Troy and backs up Lamb. Redshirt freshman Mark Wilson (6-2, 225) was listed as Bryan's understudy on the post-spring depth chart.


Rowell, who also serves as position coach for the secondary, introduced some new concepts for the safeties this spring. Free and strong safety are out. Left and right are in. It allows Rowell to teach all the safeties the same way in the event guys have to play different spots because of injury.

Senior Barry Valcin (5-11, 195) was one of several players at the back end who were hurt in 2010. Valcin fractured and dislocated his ankle during an onside kickoff drill last preseason. This technically marks his last season but Valcin intends to petition the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility. "I thought he was the best football players that we had on defense, and we lost him before the first ballgame," Rowell said.

Fellow senior LaDarrius Madden (6-0, 200) was scheduled to redshirt last season but ended up starting by the end of September because of the injuries at safety. Madden may have to concede some playing time to junior Brynden Trawick (6-3, 210), a talented addition from junior college who began his career at Michigan State and impressed this spring.

Sophomore Cam Hudson (5-10, 193) appeared in every game as a true freshman. Angelo Hadley (5-11, 190) is another junior college transfer with three years' eligibility left. Freshman Joe Lofton (6-0, 175) enrolled in January after taking a grayshirt last fall. The depth chart at cornerback received a jolt when KeJuan Phillips, a starter coming out of spring practice, was ruled academically ineligible. That still leaves three corners with starting experience last season: junior Bryan Willis (5-9, 182), senior Jimmie Anderson (5-8, 154) and sophomore Chris Pickett (5-10, 170). Redshirt freshman Dionte Ponder (5-11, 175) was a consensus three-star prospect out of high school.

Two junior college signees, David Whitmore (6-1, 190) and D.J. Jones (5-10, 165), arrive this preseason. Whitmore went to high school with Valcin, and Jones began his collegiate career at Wake Forest.


Troy was respectable on punt and kickoff coverage, but there's a huge question mark in the return game. Jernigan, in addition to his work as a receiver, got all the work on punt returns and was Troy's primary option on kickoffs as well.

Anderson and Southward, Troy's top two running backs, each got a few chances on kickoff returns last season and could take over that duty. "We're not sure who the punt returner's going to be," Blakeney said, though Pickett and sophomore walk-on Justin Albert (5-8, 175) were listed on the post-spring depth chart.

Long snapper Wes Henry (6-0, 242), a senior, is back. Robinson will be the holder.


Senior place-kicker Michael Taylor (5-10, 215) led all specialists in the Sun Belt in scoring, tallying 101 points while going 17-of-20 on field goals -- with a long of 50 yards -- and making 50-of-53 extra-point tries.

Taylor heads into his third season on kickoffs as well, where he averaged 60.9 yards with nine touchbacks among 85 attempts.


Troy had one of the better punting units in the Sun Belt. Senior Will Goggans (6-0, 233) ranked third in the league with a 42.2-yard average, and the Trojans were second in the conference in net punting.

Goggans was masterful at pinning opponents deep. Twenty of his 64 attempts were downed inside the 20, and he had only three touchbacks.


Blakeney heavily emphasized the line of scrimmage in his 2011 recruiting class, bringing in nine linemen among the 20 players who sent in their letters of intent on national signing day.

Troy also had seven players enroll in January and go through spring practice.

The Trojans traditionally have recruited junior colleges heavily and this was no exception, with 12 of the 27 signees falling in that category.

Running back Montrell Connor, who ran for 506 yards and seven touchdowns on 132 carries at Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College last season and originally signed with Mississippi State, comes with big-time credentials. As a high school senior, he was first-team Class 5A all-state and rated the No. 11 player in talent-rich Louisiana. Conner, who has run a 4.4 40, rushed for 1,961 yards and 19 touchdowns his senior season at Quachita Parish High School.

JUCO receivers Corey Johnson and Hollis Moore will also get every opportunity to contribute immediately.


Troy is a traditional contender in the Sun Belt, and 2011 promises to be no different.

Robinson's return anchors the offense, and the defense should be much improved with eight returning starters and an influx of new talent headlined by Trawick.

The biggest question lies at receiver, where the Trojans will have to replace almost every key contributor from a year ago. That's a daunting proposition given how much Troy throws the football. No team in the Sun Belt had as many pass attempts last season. Nevertheless, the league race should come down to Troy and FIU again.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Tyler Ray
June 2, 2011
2:34 PM

editor's note: Tyler, along with two other Trojans were named All-Americans by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Thursday. Congrats.

In my first blog, I mentioned why we were going to be a special team this year. We have done that and more. This is has been a memorable year for our team and me individually:

-We continuously gave the home crowd something to cheer for going 30-5 at “The Pace”. We won every series that was played at home. That is something to be proud of as a Trojan baseball fan. That isn’t possible without all the support we received every game day.

- After getting off to a red hot start, we were able to find ourselves in Top 25 polls all across the country. We were the first team in Troy Athletic history to produce a Top 25 ranking. That was special for our team to accomplish that and was nice to know we were getting credit for our work on the field. Not to mention the fact, seeing “#__ Troy Trojans” beside our names in articles, pre-game notes, etc., was sweet! The coolest part about all that was when the Auburn game (the beat down) was televised on CSS and the scoreboard on TV had #20 by the Trojans for the first time ever. That will instantly gain respect across the country from college baseball fans.

- This team has had to face more adversity than any team I’ve been apart of at Troy. Losing a 90+ inning, senior leader, weekend starter, Drew Hull to surgery. Playing nine straight games against #2 teams in the conference trying to hold the #1 spot. Traveling to ULM in late May while they are fighting to qualify for the Sun Belt tournament, in which they hosted. Finishing the regular season at South Alabama during the final weekend of Coach Steve Kitrells career with thousands in attendance to support. This is all while being chased by the hottest team in country, FIU, who rolled off 18 straight wins…. just to come up 0.5 games short of the ring. Clinching the regular season crown on the final day couldn’t have scripted any better.

- Now we are heading to Nashville, TN in the Vanderbilt regional with an excited bunch of guys ready to keep the season alive. Nobody said the road to Omaha would be easy. Cant wait to see the Trojan Nation in attendance. Its going to be a week to remember!

“ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Tyler Ray #12

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jimmy Hodgskin Blog: IT'S REGIONAL TIME

Jimmy Hodgskin
May 31, 2011
10:04 PM

As everybody in Troy should know, we are going to Nashville tomorrow morning for a regional. The series of events leading up to this day were pretty unpredictable. We faced a lot of adversity as a team involving many things, but at the end of the day, we finished out on top and posted 42 wins to this point.

Riding back on the bus Saturday, not playing in the conference championship, left everybody questioning and hoping. We were in a situation that for some reason it was a question if we could or would get in. With the season we had there should have been no doubt, but there was.

The Trojans all gathered on the 4th floor of the stadium tower on Monday morning awaiting the news. Predictions all over the internet and TV had us going to such places as FSU and the ATL, some even had us at Rice. Then there were some predictions that didn't have us in at all. The bottom line is your Troy Trojans popped up on ESPN around 11:45 am and were placed in the Nashville, TN regional.

Being that we are in one of the toughest regionals out there, everybody is ready to bring their best games. Three wins and we move on.

The bottom line is we have to take it one pitch at a time and not get caught up in any other stuff. We play our best game, we will beat them.

We play Oklahoma State Friday at 2pm as Tyler Ray looks to get us rolling on the right tracks. Come out and support you don't want to miss a pitch. 5 more wins...and your Trojans are going to OMAHA!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2011 Sun Belt Conference Champions

What a finish to an unbelievable 2011 regular season in Mobile. The Trojans found a way to seal the regular season conference championship on the last day of the season with an improbable 10-7 win on the road. Tyson Workman stole the show with an incredible pitching effort that included his longest outing of his career with the highest pitch count of his career. He was exhausted in the heat of the day and the intensity of the game but kept competing until the last out was secured in deep center field by freshman Ali Knowles. That set off a celebration by a group of players that earned our first conference title since 2006.

This group of players has continued to show a steady resolve that has led them to this moment and allowed them to secure the championship they so desperately coveted from the first day of fall practice. For seniors Adam Bryant, Drew Hull and Daniel Peterson, all four year players in our program, their look of accomplishment after the game yesterday was something a coach will always remember. In particular, we were all proud that Drew was in Mobile as he was not active due to his surgery but was such a HUGE part of our team and our success this season. He will forever be known as a champion along with all of the 2011 Trojans. It's hard to truly quantify what Adam Bryant means to me personally and to this team. He will go down as one of the best players to ever wear the Trojan uniform and for him to lead our team to the championship on his 22nd birthday will be a cherished memory for many years to come.

Each player on the roster had their bright moments throughout the season in the 40-win season and the championship. Tyler Ray started the year as the Friday night starter and his work led us to win the first game of each series for 13 weeks in a row, which has never been done before here at Troy. His regular season will long be remembered by all who follow the Trojans. The starting pitching was dominant early in the season as the bullpen and offense tried to find their groove. Down the stretch, the offense began to produce more consistently and the bullpen, led by Nate Hill and Workman, settled into their roles and carried the team.

As a former Trojan, it gives me great pride to see our players celebrate their achievements because I see their hard work and commitment each and every day. They earned this championship starting in the fall, fought off one of the best teams in the country playing their best baseball of the season in FIU to secure the title and deserve to be called CHAMPIONS! It's hard to explain how fortunate I am to be involved with the program I played for, work for such a quality person in Coach Pierce and be around the type of players we have here in Troy. It is with tremendous pride that we always say GO TROJANS!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kanorris Davis on

For those of you who don't have a subscription to the INsiders portion of, here is what Bruce Feldman had to say about Kanorris Davis.

5. Kanorris Davis, LB, Troy Trojans

The Trojans have a couple of guys who could've made the Freaks list Top 10. Defensive end Brandon Boudreaux is under 240 pounds and has repped 225 on the bench almost 50 times. But it's the 5-9, 203-pound junior linebacker who really gets Troy strength coach Richard Shaughnessy gushing. Yeah, Davis -- who has forced five fumbles in the past two seasons -- can run a 4.40; however, it's jumping ability that turns heads. Want proof? Check out this video of Davis, whose vertical has been measured at 42 inches, vaulting clear over 6-foot Troy punter Will Goggans (of Santa Claus beard fame) in the weight room. The Trojans' strength coach also points out that Davis even looks like a freak. "The guy needs to be modeling for Calvin Klein," says Shaughnessy, who predicts that Davis can make it to the NFL on his special-teams prowess alone.

Monday, April 25, 2011

We Are Ready For Sun Belt Championship

The 2011 Sun Belt Conference Golf Championship is here.

We had a good week of practice leading up to the tournament, and are feeling confident about the week ahead. The weather is supposed to be warm and sunny, perfect for posting low

Troy's team this year will consist of three seniors: Zach Portemont, Chase Whitehead, Reid Merritt; one junior: Ricky Casko; and one freshman: Nathan Kinch. Kyle Thommesen, a freshman, is also at the tournament as an individual. The three seniors are looking to end their college careers on a high note.

On Sunday we played the practice round. The course is in great shape, and the greens are rolling pure. We are coming off of bent grass greens from our last tournament, and are feeling good about putting on similar greens.

The wind blew hard at times, but we were more than up to the challenge.

We get off to an early start on Monday at 8:10 a.m. This will give us a chance to take command of the tournament early by posting a low number.

Ricky Casko

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tyler Ray Blog: HOW SWEEP IT IS

Tyler Ray
April 24, 2010
7:28 PM

First off, I would like to apologize for my slacking on the blogs recently. We have had a really busy schedule over the past few weeks, we actually had to leave Riddle Pace Field on the weekend for a change and I guess that threw me off. Yes, I know I only play one time a week but I was still very busy with school… only saying that because my parents read this!

This past weekend against Western Kentucky couldn’t have gone any better. They were one game behind us coming into the weekend and now leave four games behind and slipping next week contenders, FAU in to second place at three games behind. It was a statement we needed to make going into the end stretch against the top half of the Sun Belt. We are definitely going to have our work cut out for us during the upcoming month. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

We will be going into that stretch without the best Saturday starter in the conference, potentially the nation. Drew Hull had been nothing but dominate this year and was my backbone in the rotation. It is something that we as baseball players all fear, the name “Tommy John”. Drew was a leader to the pitching staff and brought the most experience to the table. With his last outing of the season against FIU, he was able to set the school’s career record for appearances. You have to be a freak out of the bullpen for a couple years to even sniff that record. It is a shame that this injury occurred when he was the most well rested of his career. Hopefully it will all work out with the medical red shirt and he will come back to Troy throwing some heat. If not, then some pro ball team is going to lucky to have him. My main concern for him is that he is out of his sling by time we are playing on ESPN in Omaha. That’s going to be a long enough bus ride as it is.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

#12 Tyler Ray (@TroyTrojan12)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

End of Golf Career is Bitter-Sweet

Liz Balkcom Blog

Writing this Blog for me is hard because it forces me to think about the end of college golf. Golf has been my life for so long, it’s going to be strange not having it as a job anymore.

My college golf career is definitely something that has shaped and molded me into a better person. It has taught me patience, to trust myself, and balance.

It is funny to think about all of the memories that I have made with some of my best friends/teammates. The golf team is a lot like my family. We grow to love one another, lean on one another, and we don’t always agree. All the same, we are always there for each other.

It is going to be hard to close this chapter of my life because I want it to stay like this forever. Just like I was excited to get to Troy, I am excited to see what is in store for my next chapter.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

OUR FRIENDLY SCHEDULE I just finished putting together my travel bag for our road trip to Jonesboro, Arkansas this weekend for a Sun Belt series with Arkansas State. As I was double checking all the things you have to take on the road; it hit me that it's March 31st and this is the first time this year we've had to pack an overnight bag. The early season schedule has been very friendly to the Trojans as we have played 24 games and have not left the state of Alabama. Our three road games were all against in-state opponents and were one day trips back and forth. The other 21 games were played right here at home, on our beautiful surface in front of our great group of fans. It has been wonderful to spend so many nights in a row at home, that's for certain! One of my responsibilities here at Troy is to coordinate the scheduling for the program, which I have done for the last nine years. First of all, the conference schedule is handled by the Sun Belt office. Their staff posts the 10-week, 30 game schedule of which 15 are at home and 15 are on the road. That leaves four weekends and 26 non-conference games to schedule each year. Alabama, Auburn, Jacksonville State, Samford & UAB comprise 10 midweek games in the state that we typically play on Tuesdays throughout the year. We try and have three non-conference weekends in Troy and one weekend on the road. Two of the three weekends at home we will play a 4-game series. Add all those together and that equals 24 games that are built into the schedule. We have to locate two more games during the midweek to complete the schedule. The 2012 schedule has been completed for over a month as the arrangements are made well in advance. The 2013 schedule is halfway completed and should be done by the late spring or early summer. Our 2012 home schedule consists of two 4-game non-conference series and our five Sun Belt series along with our in-state midweek opponents. We also will host East Carolina in a Wednesday night game in early March which should be a great matchup. We have 29 games scheduled at Riddle-Pace Field in 2012. We lose a non-conference weekend at home as we have two return trips we must make. We continue our four-year home and home series with Southern Miss as we travel to Hattiesburg and we return a trip to Bethune-Cookman, who we hosted in 2010. The 2013 schedule will likely have 32 home games as that number is our target each year we schedule. I wish every year could be like this season, with six straight home weekends and 21 of the first 23 at home, but this year was a lucky scheduling year that we have all definitely enjoyed. Heading toward the bus now to load up the gear and head to Jonesboro. Be sure and tune in to your radios and computers this weekend and follow all the action. See you next week right back here at Riddle-Pace Field as we host Auburn on Tuesday and Florida International next weekend. Go Trojans!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trojans Get Some Love in Polls

E-Mail Ricky Hazel

It took a while, but the Troy baseball team finally cracked into one of the major national polls this week. Baseball America had Troy as the No. 21 team in their latest poll. I traded e-mails with Aaron Fitt of Baseball America yesterday and he confirmed that it is the first time Troy has ever been nationally-ranked by the publication.

Here is a rundown of the BA Top 25 this week.

The other major polls continue to look the other way where Troy is concerned. Collegiate Baseball ranks the top 30 teams, and does not list an "others receiving votes" list.

The USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll does list the others receiving votes. Troy is 33rd in that poll this week.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBWA) Poll, of which I am a voting member, lists the others who receive votes, but not how many votes they receive. They just list them alphabetically. Troy has been receiving votes for a while, but there is no way to know how many others besides yours truly has been voting for the Trojans.

There is one other poll, which is published by, which is a subscription site. That site is edited by Kendall Rogers, who covered college baseball for Yahoo! before taking his new gig. The folks at PG don't have Troy in their top 25 this week, but have a feature about the Trojans being one of several teams on the brink of cracking the rankings.

One of my favorite web sites for college baseball is Publisher Mark Etheridge has his regional projections up for this week as well as a breakdown of potential seeding. He has Troy as a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. In his regional projections, however, he has Southern Miss as a No. 1 and host while Troy is a No. 2 in the Gainesville Regional.

Obviously, there is still a lot of baseball to be played, and polls and projections will change dramatically over the next two months. If the Trojans continue to pitch and play defense they way they have, the polls and regional seeding will take care of themselves.

The Trojans will take their No. 21 ranking on the road tonight to face Auburn. It is just the third road game of the year for Troy, and the team is still looking for that first road win. Following the Auburn game, the Trojans will travel to face Arkansas State in Sun Belt play this weekend.

The links above will take you to see the various polls this week. Below is a look at how I voted in the NCBWA poll. Hopefully I will see a lot of Trojans at the park tonight over in Auburn.

Rank Team Record
1 Virginia 24-2
2 Vanderbilt 22-3
3 Florida 21-4
4 South Carolina 18-5
5 Texas A&M 19-5
6 Oklahoma 19-6
7 Arizona State 18-6
8 Florida State 18-6
9 Fresno State 18-2
10 Troy 19-4
11 Texas 17-7
12 Arizona 17-7
13 Arkansas 18-6
14 North Carolina 23-3
15 Georgia Tech 21-4
16 LSU 17-7
17 Rice 16-11
18 UCF 18-6
19 Southern Mississippi 18-5
20 Auburn 14-10
21 Stetson 20-5
22 New Mexico State 19-5
23 Mississippi 18-7
24 TCU 15-8
25 Charlotte 19-6
26 Oklahoma State 18-6
27 East Carolina 18-5
28 Tulane 18-6
29 UC Irvine 14-6
30 California 16-5

It Seems Like Pitchers Have Become Targets

It Seems Like Pitchers Have Become Targets

As of recently, hitters are trying to hit the ball back at pitchers. At least it feels like they are.

I don’t know if they are frustrated with the BBCOR bats and decided to take it out on us, the pitchers, or what, but I’ve seen more balls in the past two weekends come back and hit pitchers than I have in my entire life.

Unfortunately, I was a victim of it twice … on the shin … exact same spot … with the skinniest legs on the team.

Wasn’t fun!

But that was no problem for Sean Boland, the best college baseball trainer in the country. Thanks to him and the proper care, I was able to be back out there the following week!

Sometimes its hard to understand the rankings and the voting that goes into determining the weekly Top 25. When it’s all set and done, its just a number and it all gets erased when regionals start. But with that said, it is pretty special to get the recognition for the start of the season that we have deserved.

As of this week, we got ranked No. 21 in Baseball America. That’s great recognition for us, but its just a number and we still have a very long ways to go. Not to mention, we have a very tough conference schedule ahead against competitive teams with the same goals.

We take our first weekend road trip of the year to Arkansas State this week … yes it is April and we are just now leaving Troy! We were very spoiled ball players until now, but back to reality.

It was an awesome six weeks at home to start the year and couldn’t have asked for better support from the Trojan baseball fans. All of you have earned a weekend off from baseball at Riddle-Pace Field but it is a great opportunity to tune into the radio and listen to one of the best radio announcers in college baseball, Barry McKnight.

Thanks again for all the support! We look forward to returning home with another series win!

Go Trojans!

#12 Tyler Ray (@TroyTrojan12)

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." -1 Timothy 4:8

Friday, March 25, 2011

All In, All The Time

All In, All The Time

From the minute the alarm clock goes off, until you lay your head down at night, the Troy Trojans’ baseball team is on the grind. Not only dealing with the practice and workouts, but with studying and study hall.

Workouts and practice are the payoff, the fun part that you look forward to during the day. Unfortunately, we don't get to be on the field all day.

Classes go anywhere from 8 a.m. to around 3 p.m. for our players. We usually have practice at around 3 or 4, with the occasional night practice. Our mandatory workout schedule is Sundays at 7:15 p.m. and Wednesday at 8:15 p.m.

However, our players are so dedicated that we end up being in the weight room pretty much every day. That's the fun part. The downer comes after the workouts – study hall.

Study hall can be frustrating at times, and very stressful but, in the end, it is good for you. As a college athlete, it’s great to have because it forces you to study. However, sometimes you just can't do it and that's just reality.

These are the times when you procrastinate and, as baseball players, go get some more work in at the field and make up your study hall time the next day.

Different players have different opinions on the daily routine of college athletes. Here are some one line summaries from your Trojans on a day in the shoes of a Trojan baseball player.

Ivan Carter – "It’s a struggle sometimes, but always grinding."

Nathan Hill – "Since I was a young boy I played the silver ball."

Ali Knowles – "It's a full time job with no pay."

Joshua Dozier – "I might as well not even pay for housing or rent because I live at the field and at study hall."

Day-in and day-out, your Trojans are giving everything they can, therefore you should come out and support and show some love because nothing’s better than looking up into a packed stadium.

Come out this weekend. Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1p.m. and support.

Go Trojans

Jimmy Hodgskin

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another week, another snub by the national polls

E-mail Ricky Hazel

I've been at this college baseball gig for quite a number of years now, but there is one thing that has always escaped me. I just don't understand how the people who put out national polls come to the conclusions they reach.

I have voted on all kinds of polls in my career. I voted in the AP Football poll when I worked in the newspaper business, I have "helped" three different head coaches vote in the USA Today Coaches poll, heck I even had a Heisman Trophy vote one year.

But I just do not understand the college baseball polls.

I can look at teams results and see who is playing well and who is not. It is not all that hard. My feeling is that if you are playing well, you deserve to get votes. If you are not playing well, you don't deserve to get votes.

If you are Florida and you just swept a series at LSU, then you deserve to be ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. That is a fairly unanimous pick.

Other teams that are fairly obvious to me are Vanderbilt, Virginia and Arizona State. Even Florida State, Oklahoma and LSU, who are all coming off tough weeks, are still deserving because their losses came to teams ranked ahead of them.

Where I lose it is after those first five or six teams.

Teams like TCU, Clemson, Cal State Fullerton, Stanford, Rice and Oregon continue to receive enough votes each week to maintain their spots in the polls even though they are regularly posting 2-2 records during each week. Heck, Stanford hasn't even played in two weeks, but at 6-5 they are still a nationally ranked team.

Those teams all opened the season ranked high and I think some of the polls keep them ranked just to save face. I am not saying these teams are bad, I am just saying they have not played well enough to continue hogging poll positions from other quality teams who have played well.

If you look at my vote this week in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Poll, I have 10 teams ranked who were not in last weeks poll. Of those 10 teams that I voted for, exactly one received enough votes to be ranked.

I even have to laugh at that one team because of their three losses this year, two came at Riddle-Pace Field to the Troy Trojans. Southern Miss is 15-3 on the year and deserves a national ranking, but they don't deserve a spot over Troy, who they lost to twice.

In my vote, I have Southern Miss ranked 17th, one spot behind Troy. I think this is fair.

I am also amazed by the coaches poll. Last week Troy had 15 poll points. This week the Trojans only got 11. The only Sun Belt coach who votes on the poll is South Alabama's Steve Kittrell and I can't see him dropping the Trojans after losing a series to Troy. So, who changed their vote, and better yet, why?

I guess the only way for Troy to get the attention of some of these pollsters is to go on a long winning streak. Wait, that happened back in 2006 when Troy won 14 in a row, but never got ranked. Maybe a 20-game win streak would be enough, who knows.

I know the joys of having home cooking every night are quickly coming to an end. After this weekend's series against UALR, the Trojans will play four straight on the road, first at Auburn and then at Arkansas State.

You hate to make the two or three games each year against the "big boys" in the state seem more important than any other games but, for the Trojans to get into the national conversation, those games are critical.

Playing well on television is also a big factor. Troy has two regionally televised games coming up in the next couple of weeks. First, the game at home against Auburn on April 5 will be televised on CSS with Joe Davis, the Montgomery Biscuits' radio voice, and former Atlanta Braves/Atlanta Falcons star Brian Jordan on color.

The Trojans will make their lone appearance on the Sun Belt Conference game of the week on Saturday April 9 against FIU. That game is being moved to a 7 p.m. start to accommodate TV. Like the Auburn game, the FIU tilt will be on CSS.

I'll be out of commission for the next couple of days. Having a little sinus surgery tomorrow morning. Hopefully everything will go well and I'll be able to breathe much better after the procedure. I'll be back at Riddle-Pace Field this weekend for the battle of the Trojans.

Here is how I voted in the NCBWA poll this week. You can click here to see how the poll turned out.

Rank Team Record
1 Florida 18-2
2 Vanderbilt 19-2
3 Virginia 19-2
4 Arizona State 15-4
5 Florida State 16-4
6 Oklahoma 17-5
7 LSU 16-4
8 South Carolina 14-4
9 Texas A&M 15-5
10 Texas 15-5
11 Arizona 15-5
12 Auburn 14-6
13 Fresno State 14-2
14 UC Irvine 14-2
15 Arkansas 15-4
16 Troy 16-4
17 Southern Mississippi 15-3
18 North Carolina 18-3
19 Rice 13-9
20 Georgia Tech 17-4
21 UCF 16-4
22 Georgia State 18-4
23 Tulane 16-4
24 Mississippi 15-6
25 TCU 12-7
26 College of Charleston 15-6
27 Stetson 16-4
28 East Carolina 16-4
29 New Mexico State 15-5
30 UNLV 17-6

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Real Season Starts Tonight

E-mail Ricky Hazel

So far, the 2011 baseball season has been great for the Troy Trojans. With the exception of one rain-soaked night in Tuscaloosa, no one could have expected more from the team when the year started.

Now that the preliminaries are over, it is time for the team to get down to the serious business of conference play. Like in any sport, the most important games during the season are the ones you play against conference foes.

I've heard Coach Larry Blakeney talk about the important of league play literally hundreds of times. He makes a valid argument that without conference play, teams literally have nothing to play for but pride.

But more than pride will be at stakes when the Trojans host South Alabama this weekend in baseball and ULM this weekend in softball. Both series will begin the road to a conference title, which is something every college student-athlete wants to accomplish.

For the baseball series, it will be the first of two times for Troy and South Alabama to face off. The teams will meet in another three-game set in Mobile at the end of the season. That series will mark the final home games for Jaguars coach Steve Kittrell, who is retiring after this year.

But, before that big season-ending series, the Trojans have nine weeks of conference play to deal with. The Trojans have the advantage of opening the season with not only the first three league games at home, but the first six.

After the first two weeks, Troy will alternate road and home series until the tough final stretch of the year. The last three weeks of the season will include a trip to Monroe, a trip to Mobile and then, hopefully, another trip to Monroe for the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

Speaking of the tournament in Monroe, the event will have a new format this year. There will be two four-team pools. Each team will play the other three squads in their pool and, after round-robin play is completed, the teams with the best records in pool play will meet for the league title.

The benefit of the new format is there will only be three games played each day, so no more midnight or later starts. No team will have to play more than once on any day, and every team will have a day off during the week.

The new format should make the games more competitive and should also leave any teams advancing to NCAA Regional play with healthy pitching.

Pitching and defense have been the reasons Troy is off to a 14-3 start this year, the best since the 1990 team opened 19-1. The Trojans lead the Sun Belt in both ERA and fielding percentage, and those categories are always the best indicators of success.

I didn't get a chance to post my National Collegiate Baseball Writers Poll vote last week, but I'll make every effort to update my blog each week with that vote as well as the results of the poll. You can see all of the national college baseball polls in the game notes for each weeks series, or you can find them on the various college baseball sites.

One site I use almost every day is In addition to live scoring updates from every game played, there are also plenty of links to other items of interest.

Here is how I voted this week as well as how the poll turned out.
2Florida State15-1
7South Carolina11-2
8Arizona State11-3
10Texas A&M12-4
11College of Charleston14-3
13UC Irvine12-1
16Fresno State11-2
18Southern Mississippi11-3
21North Carolina14-3
26Oregon State13-3
29Oklahoma State12-3
30Georgia Tech12-4

And here is how the voting turned out.

No School Record Pvs
1 Vanderbilt 16-1 2
2 Florida 14-2 1
3 Oklahoma 16-1 3
4 Florida State 15-1 5
5 Virginia ACC 16-1 6
6 South Carolina 11-2 4
7 LSU 15-1 10
8 Arizona State 11-3 7
9 TCU 10-5 9
10 Texas 11-5 12
11 Arkansas 13-2 15
12 Texas A&M 12-4 16
13 Arizona 13-3 18
14 Clemson 7-6 8
15 UC Irvine 12-1 21
16 UCLA 8-6 11
17 North Carolina 14-3 14
18 Stanford 6-5 17
19 Louisville 11-3 20
20 Cal State Fullerton 8-6 13
21 College of Charleston 14-3 22
22 Georgia Tech 12-4 25
23 Coastal Carolina 11-5 24
24 Rice 10-8 19
25 Fresno State 11-2 26
26 Auburn 11-5 23
27 California 10-4 29
28 Oregon 8-7 27
29 Baylor 11-5 NR
30 Oregon State 13-3 NR

I don't understand why so many voters choose to vote for teams with bad records just because of who they are (Rice, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, Clemson, Cal State Fullerton). To me, rankings should always be about performance on the field. Obviously, quality competition plays a factor, which is why I do have Stanford and Clemson in my vote, although they are both in the bottom 10.

I can tell you that Clemson, without a big weekend, will be out next week after dropping mid-week games again this week. Stanford is on the verge of dropping out as well because the Cardinal hasn't played much in a while.

I hope to see you at the ball park this weekend. I'd also like to send out a big congratulations to former Troy punter, and media relations graduate assistant, Jason Wright and his fiance Amy Adams on their wedding, which will be on Saturday.