Archive for November, 2014

The Citadel retains the Silver Shako!

November 24, 2014
The 'Dogs celebrate retainin the Silver Shako for another year.

The ‘Dogs celebrate retainin the Silver Shako for another year. Russ Pace, The Citadel

Staff reports from
Nov 22 2014 5:35 pm

LEXINGTON, Va. – The Citadel retained the coveted Silver Shako with a 45-25 win over VMI on Saturday, capping a 5-7 season that first-year coach Mike Houston hopes sets a foundation for better things in the future.

Freshman Isiaha Smith ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and senior Jake Stenson added 120 yards and a score for The Citadel before 7,097 fans at Foster Stadium. Five Bulldogs ran for TDs and Alex Glover caught his first career TD pass as The Citadel won for the eighth straight time over VMI and finished the year at 3-4 in the Southern Conference.

Houston’s five wins are the most for a first-year Citadel coach since Art Baker went 5-6 in 1978. “Obviously, we wanted a better record,” said Houston. “It’s tough going 5-7. But at the end of the day, the things I’ll reflect back on are that we established a physical nature within our program that we want to play with. We had a character base that was already here from coach (Kevin Higgins) and built on that. I do think our guys believe in what we are doing, and the bar will be set higher every year.”

The big question in Houston’s second season will be quarterback. Senior Aaron Miller played his final game on Saturday, running for a TD and throwing a 32-yard pass to Glover for another score. Miller finished the season, his only one as a starter, with 1,080 rushing yards, second in the SoCon and third-best all-time for a Citadel quarterback. His 932 passing yards left him 68 short of becoming the first Bulldog to rush and pass for at least 1,000 yards in the same season.

“That will be the big question,” Houston said. “Who will step in Aaron Miller’s shoes?” The big question at VMI concerns Sparky Woods’ future as the Keydets’ coach. Saturday’s loss put the Keydets at 2-10 overall and 1-6 in the SoCon, and Woods at 17-62 in seven seasons in the final year of his contract.

The Citadel jumped to a 21-0 lead over VMI as Miller scored on a 1-yard run, then hit Glover behind the defense for a 32-yard score. Tyler Renew’s 23-yard TD run made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. But the Keydets rallied behind true freshman QB Al Cobb, who hit 27 of 43 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns. His 5-yard TD pass to Dane Forlines brought the Keydets to within 21-13 before Eric Goins kicked a 30-yard field goal for a 24-13 Citadel lead at the half. Cobb threw 28 yards to Aaron Sanders for a TD that made it 24-19 early in the third quarter, and it looked like the game was on.

But The Citadel answered with three straight touchdown runs, of eight yards by Jake Stenson, seven yards by freshman slotback Reggie Williams and 16 yards by Smith. Smith dragged a VMI defender into the end zone for a 45-19 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. Eleven Citadel seniors went out with a win in their final game.

“I feels good to get a win to finish the season,” Houston said. “We are so much better a team than 5-7. So for our seniors to go out with a win like this over VMI and take that trophy back to Charleston, it’s a significant achievement.”


Horgan leads way for Citadel in 81-50 win over Bob Jones

November 24, 2014
P.J. Horgan has returned from back issues!

P.J. Horgan has returned from back issues!

BY DANNY REED Special to The Post and Courier
Nov 23 2014

Citadel senior forward P.J. Horgan is finally fully healthy for the first time since his freshman campaign. And he could not be happier. The 6-9 powerhouse registered his fourth career double-double – and first since Feb. 23, 2013 – with 23 points and 11 rebounds, as The Citadel shrugged off a bumpy beginning to muzzle Bob Jones University, 81-50, at McAlister Field House on Saturday night. Horgan, who missed the first two months of last season with nagging lower back issues, went 7 of 11 from the field and 9 of 11 from the foul line in pacing The Citadel (2-2) to its fourth straight home win dating back to the end of last season.

Marshall Harris tied a career-best with four 3-pointers as part of a 17-point, four-assist, three-steal effort, while Ashton Moore added 16 points, three assists and a pair of steals. James Island native C.J. Bray contributed a career-high five assists. While the Bulldogs had a 41-34 lead at intermission, nearly half of their shots (14 of 30) came from beyond the arc.

“At halftime, I told them to get me the ball,” said Horgan, who also posted his third career 20-point game. “I thought I needed to get some shots in there to help the offense get going.” It worked. The Dogs shot 55 percent from the field in the second, taking 22 of their 27 shots from two-point territory and took advantage of the Bruins’ foul troubles, canning 82 percent (19-of-23) from the free throw line.

For the second straight game, The Citadel also impressed on the glass, holding a 34-26 edge led by Horgan’s 11, which included 11 offensive boards. Most impressively, the Dogs held the Bruins (3-5) to zero second chance points. “I told our guys that on any given night, anybody can beat anybody and that you’ve got to be ready to play,” said The Citadel head coach Chuck Driesell. “I thought we were ready to play tonight.”

Harris’ layup at the 15:20 mark was part of an 8-0 Citadel run and a 49-38 cushion that pushed the lead to double digits for good. Horgan then scored nine of the Dogs 13 points over a pivotal five-minute stretch in the half to push the margin to 63-42 with 10:29 left. Bob Jones, which shot 50 percent in the first half, could not maintain the hot hand in the second hitting at a 30 percent clip and going 0-for-7 from three-point territory, as The Citadel mixed in a seldom-used 1-3-1 zone on several occasions after halftime in forcing season-best 21 turnovers. “We wanted to change some things up because they were in a rhythm and shooting at a high percentage,” Driesell opined. “I like that as part of our package because sometimes it gets the offense thinking.”

Unable to solve Bob Jones’ early defensive puzzle, the Dogs started 1-of-6 from the field and fell behind 8-2 less than four minutes into the game. The Bulldog offense began to click after the first dead-ball timeout, scoring 13 straight points over a 4:24 stretch for a 15-8 advantage with 11:40 remaining in the half.

Defensively, the Dogs showed a full-court press in forcing a pair of turnovers that resulted in and-ones for Harris and Quinton Marshall, who scored six points in 22 minutes off the bench after missing the Toccoa Falls game on Wednesday with an ankle injury. “I’ve told our guys all year long that our press could help us win some games this year,” Driesell said. “We sped [the Bruins} up and got our guys going at the same time, so I thought it was effective.”

Consecutive threes from Harris and Moore lengthened the lead to 23-14 at the 9:38 mark of the half. Bob Jones refused to go quietly making a majority of its shots with less than 10 second on the shot clock, while the Dogs reliance on the outside shot limited them to just 5-of-14 from distance and 43 percent overall. “I give Bob Jones credit, they slowed the pace down, they played zone which they hadn’t done all year long,” added Driesell. “Once again we didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half to build the type of lead that can pull them out of the zone.”

An 8-1 Bruins run capped by Ray Holden’s layup gave Bob Jones its final lead of the game at 32-31 with 2:43 on the first-half clock. Harris quickly knocked down a three on the other end with 2:25 left to help spark a 10-0 run for a 34-32 Citadel edge. Bob Jones (3-5) was led by Kyle Turner’s 16 points.

The Citadel heads to Tallahassee, Fla. on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. matchup against Florida State in the first clash between the schools since 1999.

Citadel coach Mike Houston’s one regret: Only one season with QB Aaron Miller

November 21, 2014
The Citadel’s Aaron Miller has a chance to set the Bulldogs’ single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. (Paul Zoeller/Staff)

The Citadel’s Aaron Miller has a chance to set the Bulldogs’ single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. (Paul Zoeller/Staff)

By: Jeff Hartsell
Nov 20 2014

If 2014 Citadel coach Mike Houston could go back in time and whisper in the ear of 2011 coach Kevin Higgins, he might say this: “Redshirt Aaron Miller. Please.”

Houston’s one season with Miller as his quarterback will draw to a close with Saturday’s game at VMI (1:30 p.m,, ESPN3). And if there’s one thing Houston regrets about his first season with the Bulldogs, it’s that he got to coach Miller for only 12 games. “That’s probably the biggest disappoint I have,” said Houston, who when he was coach at Lenoir-Rhyne recruited Miller out of Clover High School. “Especially considering how little Aaron played at certain times in the past, I would give anything to have him back for one more year.”

Miller played in eight games as a freshman, and spent three years as the backup to starting QB Ben Dupree, appearing in 11 games as a sophomore and eight games last season. But in his one season as a starter, the 6-0, 220-pound senior has turned in one of the best rushing performances by a quarterback in Citadel history. With 1,042 yards through 11 games, Miller needs 110 yards at VMI to match the single-season QB rushing record set by Jack Douglas in 1991 (1,152 yards). And with 159 passing yards at VMI, Miller would become the first Citadel quarterback to both rush and pass for at least 1,000 yards in a single season.

He also has a chance to finish the season as the leading rusher in the Southern Conference; he currently trails Mercer running back Alex Lakes by 52 yards.

But it’s not just the numbers that make Houston long for more Miller time. “Aaron has been such a tremendous leader for us, but not just on the field,” Houston said. “He’s the most competitive kid I think we have in the program, and he’s great in the weight room and on the practice field. And he’s always fun to be around, always upbeat and never gets down. “As proud as I am of him for this year, I really do wish we had him for another year. He syncs so well with (offensive coordinator Brent Thompson), and you have no idea how many checks at the line of scrimmage. He rarely puts us in a bad play.”

When he turned down Lenoir-Rhyne and Houston to come to The Citadel, Miller was eager to play as a freshman in 2011. Higgins, now an assistant coach at Wake Forest, originally hoped to redshirt Miller and play that season with Dupree and Matt Thompson at quarterback. “Hopefully we don’t have to play Aaron, but if we needed to, I think he is going to be ready. We would scale down the package, but he is still a work in progress,” Higgins said before the season. “You have to keep in mind for any freshman that they have to go through this knob year and we have to evaluate and see how guys are going handle that part of it, but Aaron Miller is going to be a good player.”

But after the Bulldogs began the season 1-2 and scored just six and 15 points in losses to Furman and Elon – and after they fell behind 14-0 in the first half at Chattanooga – Miller made his college debut in the fourth game of the 2011 season. He rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries and helped the Bulldogs rally from a 27-0 deficit for a 28-27 win against the Mocs.

“The only disappointing thing was when I got hurt last year,” Miller said. “If I could have redshirted after that … But I didn’t mind playing as a freshman. I knew I might have a chance to play my freshman year, so that’s one reason I came to The Citadel. If I could do it again, I might say yes to redshirting, because this season didn’t go as planned. But that game experience helped me to get where I am today.”

Miller said playing almost every snap this season after three years as a backup has been demanding, but fun. “It’s been a lot more bruising, more punishment on the body,” he said. “But I’ve enjoyed it. The main thing for me is seeing the look of accomplishment on the faces of your teammates, after a successful drive or a win. That’s the satisfying thing for me.”

A business major, Miller will graduate in December and look for a job in sales, with an eye toward one day owning his own company. Before then, Houston is hoping that Miller’s rushing stats will earn him some recognition on the all-SoCon teams, chosen by league coaches and media. Jacob Huesman, quarterback of league champion Chattanooga, is the likely choice for first-team quarterback and offensive player of the year.

“For us, he’s what’s made us go on offense,” said Houston, whose team ranks second in the SoCon in total offense with 421.5 yards per game. “And we’ve been very successful on offense. I would hope the other coaches in the league would recognize him for that. Without him this year, we are a much different team.”

After Miller’s departure, the battle for the starting QB job should be the main storyline in spring practice next year. Freshman Dominique Allen played sparingly as Miller’s backup this season, and freshman Shon Belton will be ready to play in the spring after redshirting this fall. Cam Jackson, who moved from QB to slotback this season, could also return to QB in the spring. The next recruiting class of about 15 players will be heavy on defense, but the Bulldogs will sign at least one more QB. It’ll be wide open,” Houston said. “It should be a good competition.”

Citadel football ‘ticked off’ heading into final game at VMI

November 20, 2014
Coach Houston prowls the sidelines during the disappointing lose to Samford.

Coach Houston prowls the sidelines during the disappointing loss to Samford.

By: Jeff Hartsell
Nov 18 2014

By Tuesday, the heartbreak of The Citadel’s 20-17 loss to Samford on Senior Day last week had hardened into something else. “We’ve moved on from feeling sorry for ourselves to more of a ticked off, mad as fire attitude,” coach Mike Houston said at his weekly news conference Tuesday.

For the Bulldogs, that’s not a bad way to be heading into the final game of the season, the battle for the coveted Silver Shako in the Military Classic of the South on Saturday at rival VMI. The Citadel (4-7, 2-4 Southern Conference) has beaten VMI (2-9, 1-5) seven straight times and has held the Silver Shako, the trophy that goes to the winner of the game, since 2003. Keeping the Silver Shako in Seignious Hall would ease some of the pain of Saturday’s loss to Samford, when the Bulldogs also lost their chance at a .500 overall record and winning mark in the SoCon.

“I’ve had some tough losses in my career, but that one was right up there with the toughest,” said Houston, whose team outgained Samford by 419 yards to 360, and held the ball for 37:42 of the game’s 60 minutes. “That’s because of the way our players went out and executed our game plan in all three phases. I could not be more proud of the effort and intensity and the way they did what we asked them to do. They outplayed an extremely talented team in Samford.

“The way we played Saturday is the way we want to play as a program – solid in the kicking game, played well on defense all day long, and on offense we controlled the line of scrimmage and drove the ball well. At the point of contact, we were extremely physical with a much bigger opponent. All that made it a very tough loss.”

It might take a similar effort to win at VMI, despite the Keydets’ struggles this season and The Citadel’s dominance in the rivalry in recent years. The Bulldogs have beaten VMI by an average of 18.9 points during the current seven-game win streak. VMI, led by former South Carolina coach Sparky Woods, has the top passer in the SoCon in redshirt freshman quarterback Al Cobb, averaging 234 yards per game. Cobb, a 6-3, 190-pounder from Pulaski, Tenn., has hit 242 of 395 passes (61.2 percent) for 2,575 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Six VMI receivers have at least 21 catches, led by sophomore Aaron Sanders with 51 catches for 736 yards and three TDs. The Keydets are averaging 37 points per game at home. VMI dominated Furman in a 31-15 win two weeks ago, and lost by 42-27 at Western Carolina last week.

The Citadel has played six games this season decided by seven points or fewer, going 3-3 in those games. A win Saturday at VMI would lend credence to Houston’s belief that the Bulldogs are better than their 4-7 record indicates. “When you look at where we started in our first game against Coastal Carolina to the kind of team we are now, I don’t think there’s any coach in the league who would really want to play us,” he said. “This group of seniors and this team deserves to go out with a big win.”


Citadel quarterback Aaron Miller has 1.042 rushing yards, 52 yards behind SoCon leader Alex Lakes of Mercer (1,094) heading into the final game. Miller needs 110 rushing yards at VMI to match Jack Douglas’ 1991 Citadel record for rushing yards by a QB (1,152). A total of 159 passing yards at VMI would make Miller the first Citadel QB to run and pass for 1,000 yards in the same season.

Citadel statistics show that offensive linemen Isaiah Pinson, Kyle Weaver and Sam Frye have played all 834 of the Bulldogs’ offensive snaps this season .

The Citadel’s average of 342.6 rushing yards per game is on track to be the second-best in school history, behind the mark of 382 yards per game in 1994.

Moore leads Citadel over Toccoa Falls

November 20, 2014
#12 Ashton Moore

#12 Ashton Moore

By Danny Reed Special to The Post and Courier
Nov 19 2014 11:48 pm

Ashton Moore drilled a career-best six 3-pointers en route to a team-best 20 points to lead The Citadel to a 71-58 victory over Toccoa Falls in the Bulldogs’ home opener Wednesday night at McAlister Field House, After starting the season just 2-of-13 from downtown, Moore went 6-of-15 from deep – including 4-of-8 in the first half for 14 points – and dished out four assists and grabbed three rebounds for The Citadel (1-2), which is now 15-2 in its last 17 home openers.
“I was getting up a lot of extra shots during practice, mainly focusing on my catch-and-shoot threes,” said Moore, who now ranks ninth in Citadel history with 136 career triples. “I give all the credit to my teammates, though. They were the ones that gave me the opportunity to take and make those shots.”
P.J. Horgan dumped in a season-high 18 points on 9-of-13 from the field and added seven rebounds while igniting the 1,522 in attendance with four powerful dunks.

Brian White registered his fourth career double-double with 14 points and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench, while Marshall Harris contributed a game-high seven assists. “I’m glad for the win, but I thought we could’ve played better on both ends of the floor,” said Citadel head coach Chuck Driesell. “We need to keep working on both ends of the floor if we are going to be successful.”

In a lineup shakeup, sophomore Warren Sledge made his second career start, filling in for Quinton Marshall, who did not play due to a twisted ankle suffered during the Air Force game at West Point, and the early results were good. The Dogs started 6-of-9 from the field for a 16-0 lead, as Toccoa Falls (4-2) missed its first seven shots and did not connect on a field goal until the 12:33 mark of the first half.

The Citadel, though, had difficulty getting inside Toccoa’s matchup 2-3 zone, but Moore’s hot hand forced the defensive focus to the perimeter and allowed The Citadel to control the glass by a 44-27 margin. The Bulldogs collected 18 offensive rebounds, most for the squad since grabbing 19 against Chattanooga on Jan. 6, 2014, helping to remedy an Achilles heel from the All-Military Classic last weekend where The Citadel was out-rebounded by nearly 11 boards per contest.

“That’s awesome. That’s what we are looking for,” said Driesell. “I was pleased with our aggressiveness in getting to the rim, and that’s something we’ve worked a good bit on.”

In the first half, The Citadel held a 22-17 edge on the boards, including eight offensive rebounds that led to seven second-chance points. This helped offset a Bulldog offense that went dry for a 5:14 stretch late in the first half, highlighted by four straight misses and four turnovers, but their tight man-to-man defense held the Screaming Eagles to 30 percent shooting while forcing nine turnovers, which The Citadel turned into 17 points.

Moore drilled 3s on back-to-back possessions to give The Citadel its largest lead at 38-17 with 2:15 remaining in the half, but Toccoa Falls ended the half on a 6-0 run, including a buzzer-beater from Derek Westfall, for a 38-23 halftime score.

Toccoa Falls shot the ball much better in the second half, hitting at a 52 percent clip and eventually getting within single digits at 54-45 following two free throws from Josh Barrett with 6:56 left. Barrett scored a game-high 27 points for the Screaming Eagles, with 20 coming after halftime on 4-of-7 from 3-point territory. “I give Toccoa Falls a lot of credit. They showed me a lot tonight,” added Driesell. “They were very poised, they handled pressure very well and they did not fold when we got up big.”

The Citadel swiftly responded with nine straight points as part of a 15-4 total run keyed by eight straight points from White over the next 4:42, for a comfortable 69-49 cushion. Overall, the Cadets shot 42 percent from the field and 30 percent (8-of-26) from 3-point range, but the significant rebounding margin and scoring 21 points off 15 Screaming Eagle turnovers created a desired end result. “We haven’t shot the ball well enough yet,” said Driesell. “But we are hunting for that highest percentage shot, and I’m OK with that.”

The Citadel plays host to Bob Jones University Saturday at 6 p.m. in the first-ever meeting between the schools.

The Citadel’s all-new AdArt brand scoreboard made its home basketball debut. The center-hanging scoreboard measures approximately 13 feet high by 23 feet wide and is fully equipped with four widescreen high-definition video displays and smaller display boards placed behind both hoops, with live game stats and in-game replay capabilities. The project was spearheaded by the Class of 1964, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The game was termed a Blue Out, as the first 2,000 fans through the turnstiles received a Citadel basketball T-shirt which also can be worn for free admission for every Saturday home game.
The Lower Richland High School Diamond Dogs High Steppin’ group provided the halftime entertainment with a bevy of crowd-pleasing dance moves and choreography

Citadel loses a heartbreaker on Senior Day, 20-17 to Samford

November 18, 2014

by:Jeff Hartsell
Nov 15 2014

Citadel quarterback Aaron Miller stood with his helmet tucked under his left arm, staring straight ahead at the Corps of Cadets in the stands. After he finished singing the alma mater, the senior looked backed at the scoreboard before walking off the field at Johnson Hagood Stadium for the final time as a player.

What he saw on that scoreboard hurt. Despite holding the Southern Conference’s best offense two touchdowns below its average; despite scoring a go-ahead TD with less than two minutes to play; despite getting Samford to fourth-and-10 with 51 seconds left; despite all that, The Citadel lost, 20-17, before 7,638 fans at Johnson Hagood. Miller’s glance at the scoreboard and the silence in The Citadel’s locker room confirmed that 11 seniors would not have a victory in their final home game to remember, and that they will go out this season with a losing record. The Citadel is 4-7 overall and 2-4 in the Southern Conference with just next week’s game at VMI left to play.

“I take a loss pretty hard,” said Miller, who ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns, including a 4-yard score for a 17-13 lead with just 1:57 left. “I know it’s too late to change anything, but I always look at the scoreboard and think about what I might have done better, how it might have been different.” For first-year coach Mike Houston, there was not too much The Citadel might have done differently, save for two plays on Samford’s game-winning drive. Samford quarterback Michael Eubank, a 6-6, 246-pound transfer from Arizona State, completed throws of 29 yards on fourth-and-10 and 26 yards to The Citadel’s 2-yard line, setting up Denzel Williams’ game-winning TD with 17 seconds to play. “Our team went out and executed our game plan exactly the way we needed them to all day long,” an emotional Houston said. “They made the plays they needed to make. So for it not to go our way at the end, that’s pretty tough.”

The 20 points by Samford (7-3, 5-2) matched its lowest output of the season against an FCS opponent, and its 360 yards were its second-lowest against an FCS team. Samford had averaged 45 points in its last three games, all victories. Citadel fullback Tyler Renew ran for 102 yards on 23 carries as The Citadel out-gained Samford, 419-360, and held the ball for 37:42 to 22:18 for Samford.

But when The Citadel’s defense needed it most, it could not stop Eubank, who hit 18 of 28 passes for 228 yards and a TD. On 4th and 10 from his own 43, Eubank found Karel Hamilton, the SoCon’s top receiver, between two defenders for 29 yards and a first down. On the next play, Eubank avoided pressure and hit his check-down receiver, Robert Clark, who rumbled 26 yards to the 2. “We knew right where the ball was going on the fourth-down play,” Houston said. “He’s the leading receiver in the conference, and we had over-and-under coverage on him. He made a great play and out-leaped the defender for the ball and the first down. “It’s a tough deal,” Houston said. “Person for person, Samford is as talented as anybody in our league. Our kids, honestly, they outplayed them today and should have won the ball game.”

The Citadel’s 11 seniors were honored before the game, heartbroken after it. “Not being able to close out this game, with the significance of this day, it really hurts,” said senior defensive end Justin Oxendine, who had The Citadel’s lone sack. “The emotions are going to spew out, I can feel it. To have them clamped down all day and then not be able to cut it on that last possession, that really hurts.”

The game was tied at 7-7 going into the fourth quarter, right where The Citadel pulled out recent wins over Mercer and Furman. Eric Goins’ 30-yard field goal gave The Citadel a 10-7 lead with 12:39 left, but that came after an illegal-shift penalty wiped out what would have been a 13-yard TD run by Vinny Miller.
Samford responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, with freshman Krondis Larry scoring from 14 yards out on a quick-snap trick play for a 13-10 lead with 8:39 to go. Aaron Miller somehow found Vinny Miller for 21 yards on fourth-and-3 at the Samford 38, setting up his own 4-yard TD for a 17-13 lead with 1:57 left. As the scoreboard confirmed minutes later, it wasn’t enough.

“I just wish our kids would have had a different memory on Senior Day,” Houston said. “But the thing I will remember is the way they played this game, the way led this team and the kind of character they have.”

Freshman slotback Reggie Williams made his season debut, running three times for 3 yards. Injuries to Cam Jackson, Dalton Trevino and Jonathan Dorogy forced The Citadel to burn Williams’ redshirt … Safety Nick Willis (ankle) also did not play.

The Citadel welcomed Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, famed author Pat Conroy, baseball’s Rodney Hancock and Hank Kraft, football’s Mike Davitt and wrestling’s Dan Thompson into its athletics Hall of Fame … Seniors who played their final home games included Aaron Miller, Oxendine, Julian Baxter, Victor Hill, Cam Mobley, Rah Muhamamd, Carl Robinson, Walker Smith, Jake Stenson, Kevin Thornton and Dalton Trevino.

Citadel seniors talk about ‘that one person’ who helped them make it through

November 14, 2014
Citadel linebackers Carl Robinson (left) and Rah Muhammad are seniors and best friends who will play their final home game Saturday against Samford. (Paul Zoeller/Staff)

Citadel linebackers Carl Robinson (left) and Rah Muhammad are seniors and best friends who will play their final home game Saturday against Samford. (Paul Zoeller/Staff)

by: Jeff Hartsell,
Novemember 13, 2014

If The Citadel teaches anything, it’s that nobody makes it through the military school, or life, alone. The Post and Courier asked some of those seniors to talk about the people who helped them make it through:

Walker Smith, cornerback
Smith came to The Citadel from Orangeburg Prep as a walk-on, but the fifth-year senior played in more career games (42) than anyone on the team. He began his college career working for equipment manager Kevin Yeager. “Aside from my family, I really credit Kevin Yeager for helping me get where I am today. When things are not going as well as you hope here at The Citadel, you always need somebody to listen to you. Working as a manager my first semester here, I really developed a bond with Kevin Yeager, and I knew if I needed to talk to anybody about anything, good or bad, his was the first office I could drop into. He’s definitely been a strong advocate for me at The Citadel.

“I’ve had my grandfather and a good friend of mine from home pass away since I’ve been at The Citadel, and Kevin’s office was the first one I went to, to go in there and let everything spill out. When you are away from home, you really need that, that one person you can go to for comfort.”

Rah Muhammad, linebacker
Muhammad was part of that 2011 signing class, along with fellow senior linebacker Carl Robinson. The second-leading tackler on the team, Muhammad said former Bulldog standout Tolu Akindele, a 2012 graduate, took the freshmen under his wing. “Tolu always gave me and my best friend, Carl Robinson, great advice on getting through tough times and how to handle the system. And Carl and I came in at the same time, we’re both from Alabama and we have been through a lot of tough times together. If there’s someone I know I can always count on, it’s Carl.

“Tolu, Carl and I were always together during my freshman year. Tolu was like our big brother, and he gave us a lot of savvy advice. He told us that public speaking was key at The Citadel, so he got us involved with Toastmasters. Carl and I started doing that as freshmen, and now I feel like we are pretty good public speakers. I credit Tolo for introducing us to different avenues in the school that a lot of people don’t know about and really helping us get the most out of the school.”

Aaron Miller, quarterback
Miller also signed in 2011, and has started every game this season after three years as a backup to Ben Dupree. Miller credited his relationships with classmates such as Carl Robinson and Carson Smith, and with his roommate, SoCon champion wrestler Marshall Haas.”I feel like Marshall and I just really helped each other through tough times. There are times you just feel like you can’t go on, and it’s good to know you are not the only one that feels that way. It’s hard to see that when you are going through it, but once you get past the problem, you learn from it and better yourself from it, and you can help somebody else get through a similar problem.

“Marshall and I got stuck together our sophomore year, because we were some of the last ones to send in our room requests. At first, we really didn’t know each other very well, and we were from two different backgrounds. But we grew together and realized we were very similar people on and off the field. He’s very successful in his sport, and that really helped me stay on track, keeping me humble and making sure I’m the hardest worker in my group, because there’s always somebody out there working harder.
“Marshall is one of the hardest working people I know; he’ll get up at 5:30 a.m. on his day off to get in extra work if he lost or didn’t perform to his standards. He likes to get up and work when he knows his opponents are not, and that’s been a great example to me.”

Justin Oxendine, defensive end
Oxendine is another fifth-year senior, and one of 11 seniors in all who will play their final home game Saturday. The all-SoCon performer from Sumter has 5½ sacks and 8½ tackles for loss this season. Like the rest of the seniors, Oxendine credits family, especially his mom, Valerie Oxendine.

“My mom, she’s that driving force in my life and everything I do in life is to make her proud. My sophomore year, I was going through a lot, being faced with tough things in the classroom and in football. I’d call her at least three or four times a week for her guidance. I’d tell her about my frustrations I had, or maybe something good that happened, and she’d reaffirm why I was here and why it was important to stick it out. She made sure I was never satisfied with where I was and made sure I never fell into that area where you are just skating through.

“I never called her and said, ‘I want to come home,’ because I knew what she’d say: ‘Shut up and keep on going. I’m not going to let you back in my house, because you are there.’ She was always there and she’s the person I can credit for why I am where I am today.”

For Citadel football, senior buy-in has been key

November 13, 2014
Walker Smith has played in a team-high 42 games for the Bulldogs in his career. He plays his final home game on Saturday against Samford. (Paul Zoeller/P&CStaff)

Walker Smith has played in a team-high 42 games for the Bulldogs in his career. He plays his final home game on Saturday against Samford. (Paul Zoeller/P&CStaff)

Jeff Hartsell
Nov 11 2014

The Citadel’s senior class this season is small, with just 11 Bulldogs slated to play their final home game against Samford on Saturday at Johnson Hagood Stadium. Of those 11, only six are currently in the starting lineup. But first-year football coach Mike Houston knew that getting a buy-in from those seniors would be key to any success the Bulldogs would have this season. According to Houston, that senior buy-in has been complete.

“If there is a group that the coaching change was unfair to, it was the seniors,” said Houston, whose team has won two straight to get to 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the Southern Conference. Those guys were recruited by another staff and were with those coaches for three or four years, and having a coaching change before your senior year sometimes isn’t ideal. “I told those guys our biggest goal was to make sure they had an enjoyable senior season, one they can reflect back on with a lot of pride.”

Defeating Samford (6-3, 4-2) in their final home game and winning the Military Classic of the South at VMI on Nov. 22 would send the seniors out with a 6-6 overall record and 4-3 mark in the SoCon. Only three Citadel teams in the last 21 years have posted a winning mark in the SoCon.

“Coming in with a new staff and ending up at .500 (overall), that would be big for us,” said linebacker Carson Smith, a senior who will return for a fifth year next season. “That would be very important to having the rest of the team buy in, to have a good recruiting season this year and for the entire program.”

Senior slotback Jake Stenson, who will play his final home game Saturday, said the new coaching staff challenged the seniors this season. “It was exciting having a new coaching staff come in,” said Stenson, who ran for 80 yards and a touchdown and caught a TD pass in a 42-35 win over Furman last week. “We knew from their success at Lenoir-Rhyne that we’d have success here, too. They challenged us to buy in to their system, and my position coach (Lou Conte) challenged me to step up for the slotbacks. He said if I didn’t perform, they’d play the younger guys because they are trying to build a program. “I understood that and knew that I had to step up my game and lead the younger guys.”

Other seniors playing their final home games on Saturday include:
Quarterback Aaron Miller, who is second in the SoCon in rushing with 917 yards and has twice been the SoCon offensive player of the week.

Linebacker Rah Muhammad, who has played in all 39 career games for which he’s been healthy, and is second on the team with 62 tackles this season.

Defensive end Justin Oxendine, who has played in 41 career games and has 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks this season.

Linebacker Carl Robinson, who leads the team with 32 career starts and has 41 tackles this season.

Cornerback Walker Smith, a former walk-on who has played in a team-high 42 career games.

Safety Julian Baxter, who has played in 41 career games and forced a crucial fumble in the win over Furman.

Defensive tackle Cam Mobley, who has played in 37 straight games.

Other seniors include Victor Hill, Kevin Thornton and Dalton Trevino, whose final season was cut short by injury.

“Some of the seniors play a lot, and some don’t play that much,” Houston said. “But all of them have had great attitudes and have been positive in the locker room and on the practice field. A guy like Dalton, who is not able to play anymore, was in there stuffing laundry in the lockers for (equipment manager) Kevin Yeager. Citadel football means a lot to those kids, and it’s a big part of their life and of their memories here.”

With his TD run and TD catch against Furman, Jake Stenson became the first Bulldog to run for a TD and catch a scoring pass in the same game since Andre Roberts in 2008. Roberts, now in the NFL with the Redskins, caught a 52-yard TD pass and ran for a 5-yard TD in a 44-41 triple-overtime loss to Georgia Southern in 2008.

Offensive linemen Isaiah Pinson and Sam Frye have played all 755 of the Bulldogs’ offensive snaps this season, and Kyle Weaver has played all but 12 snaps. Since he joined the starting lineup seven games ago, right tackle Mike Mabry has played all 549 snaps

Anita Zucker pledges $4 million to name The Citadel’s School of Education

November 12, 2014
Cadets Overcash and Eggers present a gift to thank Anita Zucker

Cadets Overcash and Eggers present a gift to thank Anita Zucker

Generous gift will enhance educational leadership and childhood literacy

Clebrated Charleston business leader and philanthropist Anita Zucker and the Zucker family have generously pledged $4 million to support and advance The Citadel’s School of Education. The family’s gift will name and endow the Zucker Family School of Education, providing support for current programs and expanding its educational curriculum. “Anita’s lifelong commitment to education is evident throughout the state and far beyond its borders. Her drive to repair the world through careful and intentional giving demonstrates true principled leadership,” said Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa. “This gift to establish the Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel will transform the way we operate, significantly enhancing our ability to educate and prepare the next generation of teachers and school administrators to serve in classrooms across the Lowcountry and throughout the nation.”

The Zucker family’s gift is designated to support several innovative educational initiatives. A primary component will establish and endow the Anita Zucker Institute for Entrepreneurial Educational Leadership to develop programs focusing on workforce development. An associated endowed chair will host a prominent scholar in educational entrepreneurship to align the college’s educational programs with cradle-to-career workforce initiatives in the Lowcountry and beyond.
A portion of the gift will also establish the Anita Zucker Endowment for Literacy Education to fund the design and delivery of literacy workshops and provide need-based scholarships for teachers seeking to complete graduate-level literacy education certificate or degree programs at The Citadel. This endowment will also promote community outreach and collaboration among tri-county organizations focused on literacy.

Additionally, the gift will establish the Zucker Family Educational Leadership and Innovation Forum, a biennial conference on leadership in public education to be organized by representatives of higher education institutions in the region. “My family and I are thrilled to support such a worthy endeavor, certain to play a substantial role in preparing future educators in their quest to address the literacy issues in Charleston and the surrounding region,” said Zucker. “The gift of literacy provides our children with a lifetime of adventure – the key to exploring all the wonderful things this world has to offer. Perhaps Dr. Seuss said it best, ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.’”

Among the top five largest outright cash pledges and the top ten overall gifts The Citadel Foundation has ever received, this contribution supports the LEAD Plan 2018, The Citadel’s strategic plan, one objective of which is to expand academic programs that foster excellence in the learning environment and elevate institutional prominence. Dedicated at a recognition ceremony on November 11, the Zucker Family School of Education is the first of The Citadel’s academic schools to be named for a major contributor. This gift will transform the School of Education into one of the foremost proponents of educational leadership, innovation, and collaboration, a goal consistent with the Zucker family’s vision of investing in people to improve public education across the state of South Carolina.

About the Donor

Ms. Anita Zucker

Anita Zucker is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She received a Master of Education degree from the University of North Florida in Educational Administration and Supervision. Zucker taught elementary school for over ten years and currently serves as Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer for The InterTech Group, Inc. She also owns the Carolina Ice Palace, the Original Ms. Rose’s Fine Food and Cocktails, the Relish Restaurant Group, and the South Carolina Stingrays.

Highly active in the community, Zucker is a past president of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and one of the founders of The Education Foundation of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. She also chaired the Drug-Free Workplace Program and participated in the School to Work Task Force. Zucker serves on the Coastal Community Foundation Board and is a past president. She also serves as a trustee (the first woman) of the Saul Alexander Foundation and the Jewish Endowment Fund, supporting organizations of The Coastal Community Foundation.

About the Zucker Family School of Education

The mission of the Zucker Family School of Education at The Citadel is to support the development and preparation of individuals who are knowledgeable about the learning process and learners and who are effective, ethical, and reflective educators prepared to assume leadership roles in the profession and community. Further, with a focus toward learner-centered education, they are effective in educating a diverse learner population to high academic standards. The mission is based on the School’s philosophy and conceptual model.

2014-15 Citadel Basketball Schedule

November 12, 2014

Nov. 14 VMI 1:30 p.m.
Nov. 15 Air Force/Army TBA
Nov. 19 Toccoa Falls 6 p.m.
Nov. 22 Bob Jones 6 p.m.
Nov. 25 at Florida State 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 29 Warren Wilson 1 p.m.
Dec. 2 at College of Charleston 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 6 Navy 1 p.m.
Dec. 11 Chattanooga 6 p.m.
Dec. 20 at Virginia Tech 1 p.m.
Dec. 22 at Michigan State 6 p.m.
Dec. 30 Bethune-Cookman 7 p.m.
Jan. 3 at Western Carolina 2 p.m.
Jan. 5 at UNC Greensboro 7 p.m.
Jan. 8 Samford 7 p.m.
Jan. 10 at Mercer 4 p.m.
Jan. 15 Wofford 6 p.m.
Jan. 17 Furman 1 p.m.
Jan. 22 at ETSU 7 p.m.
Jan. 24 at VMI 1 p.m.
Jan. 31 at Chattanooga 6 p.m.
Feb. 5 Mercer 6 p.m.
Feb. 7 UNC Greensboro 1 p.m.
Feb. 12 at Samford 8 p.m.
Feb. 14 VMI 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 at Furman 7 p.m.
Feb. 21 Wofford 7 p.m.
Feb. 26 ETSU 6 p.m.
Feb. 28 Western Carolina 1 p.m.
March 5-8 SoCon Tournament TBA