Archive for the ‘football’ Category

New Citadel coach Brent Thompson hits ground running

January 21, 2016

Jeff Hartsell
Jan 20 2016

The Citadel held its news conference to introduce new football coach Brent Thompson at 9 a.m. Wednesday, the better to facilitate Thompson’s schedule. He wanted to get out on the road and recruit. Thompson, 39, is eager to sustain the momentum that former coach Mike Houston generated over the past two seasons, culminating in a 9-4 record and Southern Conference title in 2015. Thompson was offensive coordinator for those teams, following Houston to The Citadel from Lenoir-Rhyne. Before he hit the recruiting trail, Thompson laid out some of his plans for the Bulldogs:

Thompson said he plans to sign about 17 players on signing day, Feb. 3. Five of the nine prospects who visited last weekend committed to The Citadel, giving the Bulldogs about 10-12 commitments “We need to reel in some of our offers that are out there right now,” he said. “But I think in the next two weeks, we’ll be pretty darn close. And If we’re not, we’ll just hang out and see what comes down the line. Something always happens after signing day.”

The offense
Led by quarterback Dominique Allen, Thompson’s triple-option offense led the SoCon in rushing with 346.9 yards per game last year. “I controlled Dom a little bit, and kind of loosened the reins on him toward the end of the year,” Thompson said. “I thought he was pretty good and we need to take the reins off him a little bit more. He’s done a great job and if he trains hard this summer, he’ll be even better next year. “I want to throw it more, and that was more me than him last year. I said, ‘Let’s take care of the ball, we’re playing good defense, and let’s just not make a mistake.’ I think we need to take more shots down the field, and that can happen with an older quarterback.”

Maurice Drayton
Thompson and defensive coordinator Maurice Drayton were the two candidates for the head coaching job, but only one could get it. Thompson said Drayton, a 1998 Citadel graduate, will stay on as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. “I’ve never been through a situation like that,” Thompson said. “I think we had a good understanding of the process and we communicated through the whole process. Maurice is an awesome guy and has done a tremendous job here. He’s well respected in The Citadel community, and I’m glad to have him.”

Coaching staff
Thompson needs to replace himself at offensive coordinator, and outside linebackers coach Tripp Weaver is headed to James Madison to join Houston. “I’ve got a couple of guys in mind for offensive coordinator,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of interest, but I think I’m going to wait and see. We will consider some guys on staff. “As far as play-calling, I will probably let (the new coordinator) call it in the spring and see how well we do. Everything will run through me during the games.”


New Citadel coach Brent Thompson wants Bulldogs to ‘stick together’

January 21, 2016
Coach Thompson talks with the media after his introduction as Head Coach.

Coach Thompson talks with the media after his introduction as Head Coach.

Jeff Hartsell
January20 2016

New Citadel football coach Brent Thompson earned a degree in peace, war and diplomacy while at Norwich University, “The Military College of Vermont.” Thompson might need all of those skills as he embarks on his tenure as the 25th head football coach at The Citadel.

Thompson, 39, was introduced as the Bulldogs’ new coach Wednesday, just one day after former Citadel coach Mike Houston was welcomed as the new coach at James Madison University. Thompson came to The Citadel with Houston from Lenoir-Rhyne two years ago, serving as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator. In Houston’s two seasons, The Citadel went 5-7 in 2014 and 9-4 last year with a Southern Conference title, a playoff victory and an upset win at South Carolina. But that momentum has been threatened during the off-season. The controversial “white hoods” photo — which emerged in the midst of recruiting season and caused one basketball signee to seek a release from his letter of intent — preceded Houston’s sudden departure.

That was followed by a quick hiring process that pitted Thompson against Bulldogs defensive coordinator Maurice Drayton, a 1998 Citadel graduate seeking to become the school’s first black head football coach. Thompson, who will receive a five-year contract worth a starting salary of $175,000 per year, said Wednesday that Drayton will stay on as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Thompson met with Citadel players Tuesday night, and said he’s ready to keep the momentum rolling.

“I don’t think the momentum has stalled at all,” Thompson said at his introductory news conference at Johnson Hagood Stadium. “I think our players believe in this staff, and this staff believes in those players, and that’s the biggest thing. If we can move on from there, we’ll be fine. “When I went to that meeting, I said, ‘We’ve got to realize what brought us this far — hard work, sticking together and being a family.’ If we can do that, we’ll continue to make championships runs like we did last year.”

‘Chance to make statement’
Many Citadel alumni and former players had hoped that the school would hire its first black head coach in Drayton, especially given recent events at The Citadel, in Charleston and in South Carolina. The military school is still investigating the “white hoods” photo, in which cadets appeared wearing pillowcase hoods that some thought resembled those of the Ku Klux Klan. The city and state are dealing with the aftermath of the shooting at Emanuel AME and the controversial removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse in Columbia, among other issues. “It was a chance to make a statement,” said former player Nick Johnson, a 2001 Citadel graduate who played with and for Drayton. “It would have been huge, a way to bridge the gap.”

Brian Smith, another former player and 2001 graduate, is the football coach at C.E. Murray High School in Greeleyville. “It’s disappointing that we in 2016 have yet to have a minority in a position of leadership at our school,” Smith said. “Not just football, but commandant or president, or even baseball or basketball. We’re one of the last schools in the country that can say that, and that’s not a good thing. “A lot of people thought it was finally time, and Maurice has a great resume and I thought he deserved the job. I’m sure Coach Thompson will do a fantastic job, but I thought The Citadel had a chance to make history.”

Senter said he was aware of those hopes. Houston recommended both coaches, Senter said, and he received messages of support for both. The six-person search committee included two black members, former Citadel quarterback Stanley Myers and Dr. Michelle Richardson, a Citadel faculty member. “I would say we were conscious of that,” Senter said. “To say it did not enter our minds would not be correct. But at the end of the day, we wanted to hire the very best fit regardless of race, religion, creed or national origin. It was about, who is the best coach to take our program forward.”

Drayton would have been the first black coach in one of the three major sports at The Citadel, and according to SoCon officials the second black head football coach in that league. According to NCAA figures, there were 38 black head football coaches at 250 Division I schools (FBS and FCS) in 2014-15, including historically black schools.

Coach Maurice Drayton will be DC & Assistant Head Coach

Coach Maurice Drayton will be DC & Assistant Head Coach

Drayton stays
Thompson took a major step toward keeping the Bulldogs’ family together by announcing that Drayton will remain on staff. Drayton, who was not at Wednesday’s announcement, will continue as defensive coordinator and add the title of assistant head coach.

“Coach Drayton is an integral part of what we do here,” Thompson said. “He’s got inside knowledge of the institution, inside knowledge of the state of South Carolina and he’s a great Lowcountry recruiter. He’s a fabulous resource for us. “He’s going to be my assistant head coach, and everything that we do will be run through him as well, and we’ll make a lot of joint decisions.”

Senter limited his field of candidates to just Thompson and Drayton, and along with a search committee interviewed them on Monday. Thompson and Drayton met with school president Lt. Gen. John Rosa on Tuesday, and Thompson was named the head coach Tuesday night. “We didn’t feel like we needed to go outside for a coach,” Senter said. “Our fourth-year seniors, this will be their third coach in four years. I don’t know why we’d want to look outside when we had quality guys internally, ready to take the reins. There was a lot of interest, a lot of people reaching out, but that doesn’t mean they were the right fit at the right time at this institution.”

What elevated Thompson over Drayton, Senter said, was the offensive coordinator’s experience and success with the triple-option offense, a rushing-based attack that was also the foundation of The Citadel’s success in the 1980s and 1990s under Charlie Taaffe. “That’s the No. 1 thing,” Senter said. “Both coaches were great fits and both have a lot of outstanding qualities — the ability to keep the staff together and provide continuity. But the No. 1 thing with Brent was his leadership in running the triple option with a high level of success. “The triple-option offense is who we are. When we’ve won here, we’ve done it with the triple option, and we are going to continue to do that. That was probably the biggest separator among the candidates.”

Coach Thompson’s Introductory Press Conference

January 20, 2016
Newly minted Head Coach Thompson at his 1st Press conference

Newly minted Head Coach Thompson at his 1st Press conference

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Citadel football head coach Brent Thompson was introduced at a 9 a.m. press conference on Wednesday. Quotes from the press conference are below.

Opening Statement
Athletic Director Jim Senter

“Thank you everybody for coming, I appreciate you being here on this very important day for us. We’re excited to be here and obviously to be going through this exercise. I’d like to start by saying we are so blessed to have this great city, to have this great college to recruit to. We’re blessed to have the alums and the people that are here. It’s a privilege to be here and to serve in this capacity.

With that being said I can tell you when Coach Houston told me that another school was looking at him, I immediately went into ‘Okay we have to have a plan’ and we’ve got to be able to execute that plan as quickly as we possibly can without compromising what we stand for and want to get done. I do want to take this opportunity to thank our search committee members: Captain Geno Paluso , Dr. Michelle Richardson, Stanley Myers, Rob Acunto, Dr. Harvey Shiller and Mr. Wade St. John. I appreciate their help and their volunteerism and being able to be a part of the search process and help me and General Rosa vet these candidates.

It’s a complement to our school when someone else wants to take your coach. With that being said, Mike Houston put together a great staff which is why we had the privilege of having two really qualified, quality people we could look at, talk to and consider as our next head football coach. As we started to go through the process and talk to the committee, the number one thing we talked about was fit. What does fit mean? It means somebody that embodies what this place is all about, honor, duty and respect; somebody who believes in it, can live by and teach the young men their going to coach that the honor code is something to be valued and it’s something we’re going to live by. For those of you who don’t know a cadet does not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate those who do. That’s our honor code and we’re not going to waiver from that at all, it’s important, it’s part of who we are. That was important for us and we believe we found that in Brent.

As we continued to move forward and we talked about the strengths and what we wanted in our next head football coach, obviously a head football coach has a very important role in the lives of young people and it’s important that their able to help move men into a position where they’re going to grow and our core mission of helping and developing principle leaders is a very centric part of what we do here. So as we continue to talk and interview and contemplate the strengths and what we wanted in our next head coach, Brent kept coming to the forefront. But that’s just a piece of it because that’s just the fit part.

The triple option has been a very consistent part of what we do and when we’ve won here, we’ve always run the triple option. That’s really, I guess you would say, who we are as an offensive philosophy and style. We’re going to continue to do that. That was probably the number one thing that was a separator between our candidates. We had a gentleman here who had 13 years as an offensive coordinator, running the triple option, committed to it, excelling at it at every single level that he’s coached and that’s something we believe will be the cornerstone and the foundation of our program moving forward.

I’m not going to read off all the stats because I’m sure most of you all know them but one of them that stands out is Coach Thompson has had 27 individual 100-yard rushing games with players just here at The Citadel alone in two years. That’s remarkable and probably unrivaled anywhere in America. What we do and what he has done as the architect of the triple option at this school is unparalleled. He also graduated from Norwich, a military school, so he understands cadet life and what living the life of a cadet is, what it’s all about and what it means. We just couldn’t be more pleased and more excited to be able to have Brent here. I want to also welcome Tiffany and their beautiful twin daughters Harper and Emma to your new elevated role in the Bulldog football family and with that I want to introduce and welcome, Brent Thompson, our 25th head football coach at The Citadel.”

Opening Statement
Head Coach Brent Thompson

“Thank you Jim and thank you for this opportunity. I want to start by thanking my family, first my wife Tiffany, my twin girls Emma and Harper, my dad who came down from Wilmington today, Keith Thompson and my mom who couldn’t be here, Kathy Thompson. I also want to thank Gen. Rosa for his leadership and his trust.

I’ve had the benefit of working under some fantastic head coaches who have developed me in the business. Tim Landis gave me my first opportunity to be a coordinator at Bucknell University and I spent 12 years running the triple option at Bucknell. It is the cornerstone of what I believe in and it is the cornerstone of what we do here. There will continuity in our program that we have built over the last two seasons. On the field we will still run a physical triple option attack that will maintain the up-tempo, no huddle that we have established here. On defense we made huge strides last year, we’re going to continue those strides and I’m happy that we’re going to be able to keep Coach Drayton on staff with us. Our focus on defense will not change. It will be stopping the run, pressuring the quarterback and playing physical defense. That has been proven here at The Citadel that it’s what works and what is successful.

I spent four years as part of the corps of cadets at Norwich University. I understand the daily responsibilities of a cadet-athlete on and off the field. It is important to me to represent The Citadel appropriately on and off the field. We have shown that championship standard is attainable here and it is the goal every year to compete for a Southern Conference Championship.”

On the players reaction to the announcement
“I don’t think they had any particular reaction other than they just wanted someone who was going to come in and lead them. When you’re going through a transition like this, a head coach to another coach, I think really what they are looking for is the next leader. You’ve got upperclassmen who have been through this, they understand that it’s going to be okay. I think it was just a reassurance of the freshman that ‘Hey we’ve got a next guy in place’. The timeline was very quick and the best part about that was its going to be a fairly seamless transition because Coach Drayton will be on staff with us.”

On making his own stamp on program
“Coach Houston and I have been together for the last six years, five as the head coach. There’s going to be a ton of similarities between him and I but there are going to be certain things that come up that we will probably show a lot of differences in certain situations. You’ll see a lot of the same style of football out there I know that, that’s how we got a long so well for the past six years.”

On goal of becoming a head coach at a military school
“I believe in these places. I went to a military college, I think it’s a privilege, I think it’s one of the best opportunities a young man can have whether it’s a service academy or a military college. The education provided here is something that you can’t find everywhere else and I love the uniqueness of that. As far as being here I think it’s a great fit, I thought it was a great fit when Coach Houston came down here. I was really excited to come down as the offensive coordinator and I’m even more excited to be the head coach myself.”

On momentum from last season
“I don’t think it has stalled at all. Our players believe and that’s the most important thing. I believe in those players and that’s the number one thing is the belief. If we can move on from there we will be fine, we have to realize what got us to this point and that was hard work, sticking together and being a family. If we continue to do those we will continue to make championship runs like we did last year.”

On the future of the staff
“We haven’t had those discussions per say. We’re going to do everything we can here to keep the staff in place. These guys have done an excellent job this past year and I want to make sure we’re committed to keeping the staff in place. Coach Maurice Drayton is an integral part of what we do here. He’s got inside knowledge of the institution, he’s got inside knowledge of the state of South Carolina, he’s a great low country recruiter and he’s a fabulous resource for us. He’s going to be my assistant head coach. I think everything that we do will be run through him as well and we will make a lot of joint decisions.”

On the feeling from the recruits
“We’ve been able to retain most of the guys that we think are committed to us right now. It will be my priority to go visit those guys as soon as I get done here. The best thing about it is having such a short transition time because they want to know there’s a next guy in place. I’ve called most of our committed recruits so between calling and visiting them I think we will be able to handle them”

On the impact the photos had on recruiting
“First of all with the photo, I appreciate the strong leadership General Rosa has shown throughout the situation. Our values of honor, duty and respect are most important to us. I think it gives us the opportunity to face this issue head on and I think we have made it clear that this is not what The Citadel is all about. We’ve been very, very upfront, Gen. Rosa has spoken with our recruits. I think we’re going to be fine moving forward.”

On following Coach Houston
“I always consider that when taking a job, you know who you are following. But my number one belief was in these players. They work very, very hard, they do a great job and I think that we can do more with them. I think we have proven what we can do this past year and I think we have only scratched the surface. I think sustainability is the goal here.”

On nerves
“Of course, if I said I wasn’t I’d be lying. I’m excited, I’m running on a lot of adrenaline right now but I’m extremely excited and I think it’s a great opportunity and I’m extremely happy to be here.”

New Citadel coach Brent Thompson will retain defensive coordinator Maurice Drayton

January 20, 2016

Jeff Hartsell
January 20, 2016

The Citadel interviewed coordinators Brent Thompson and Maurice Drayton for the job of head football coach. As it turns out, the Bulldogs will be able to keep both of them.

Offensive coordinator Brent Thompson was formally introduced Wednesday morning as the Bulldogs’ 25th head coach, replacing Mike Houston, hired Monday at James Madison University. And Thompson said Wednesday that Drayton, a 1998 Citadel graduate, will stay on as defensive coordinator, with a promotion to assistant head coach.

That news was greeted with applause at Thompson’s introductory news conference at Johnson Hagood Stadium. “Coach Drayton is an integral part of what we do here,” Thompson said. “He’s got inside knowledge of the institution, inside knowledge of the state of South Carolina and he’s a great Lowcountry recruiter. He’s a fabulous resource for us. “He’s going to be my assistant head coach, and everything that we do will be run through him as well, and we’ll make a lot of joint decisions.”

Thompson will receive a five-year contract at $175,000 per year with built-in annual raises, athletic director Jim Senter said. Drayton also will receive a pay raise as assistant head coach, Senter said.

Citadel names Brent Thompson new head football coach

January 20, 2016
Brent Thompson, our new Head Football Coach

Brent Thompson, our new Head Football Coach

Jeff Hartsell
Jan 19 2016

The Citadel wasted little time in replacing former football coach Mike Houston. Just a couple of hours after Houston was officially introduced at James Madison on Tuesday — and just a day after his departure — The Citadel announced that offensive coordinator Brent Thompson will be the Bulldogs’ new head coach. The school will hold a 9 a.m. news conference Wednesday to formally introduce Thompson, who spent the last two seasons as the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator under Houston.

The choice for athletic director Jim Senter and Citadel president Lt. Gen. John Rosa came down to one of two coordinators on staff — Thompson or defensive coordinator Maurice Drayton. Drayton, a 1998 graduate of The Citadel working his second stint as a Bulldog assistant, would have been the first African-American head coach in a major sport at The Citadel. Thompson and Drayton were both interviewed Monday, and both met Tuesday with Rosa. In the end, the pick was Thompson, a 1998 graduate of another military school, Norwich University.

“(Thompson) has been the architect of our highly successful triple option offense, which we consider part of our identity here,” Senter said in statement. “He has experience as a coordinator at three different institutions and directed one of the best rushing offenses in FCS each of the last two seasons.” Senter said the choice of Thompson would allow The Citadel to “build on the foundation he helped establish.” “In addition to his football expertise and ability to connect with our cadet-athletes, he graduated from a military college and understands the additional demands placed on the team,” Senter said. “When we started this search, we wanted to find the perfect fit for The Citadel and I believe we found that in Coach Thompson.” Thompson’s triple-option offense helped revitalize Citadel football, boosting the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, Southern Conference championship, playoff victory and upset win at South Carolina last season.

“I’m looking forward to continuing the success we have begun to establish within the program,” Thompson said. “And it is important to me that we maintain continuity to give our cadet-athletes the best chance to succeed on the field and in life. We will build on the achievements from the last two seasons and represent The Citadel the proper way.”

Many former Bulldog players had hoped that The Citadel would hire its first black coach, especially in light of recent racially charged incidents at The Citadel and in Charleston. “I’m more hurt than disappointed,” said former Citadel player Nick Johnson, a 2001 graduate who played with and for Drayton. “I’ve seen the sacrifices Maurice has made for the institution, and guys like Kenny Carter, Keith Jones, Stump Mitchell and Everette Sands. “These are quality coaches who wanted to come back and be part of The Citadel tradition. “These are guys who care about the program, and they deserve an opportunity to come back and lead it.”

Citadel coach Mike Houston accepts job at James Madison

January 19, 2016
Mike Houston is gone but he left us a new culture. "just win baby!" to quote former Bulldog coach Al Davis

Mike Houston is gone but he left us a new culture. “just win baby!” to quote former Bulldog coach Al Davis

Jeff Hartsell
Jan 18 2016

In two years as The Citadel’s football coach, Mike Houston brought Bulldogs fans a Southern Conference championship, a playoff victory and an upset of South Carolina. And then, more quickly than Citadel faithful could have imagined, he was gone.

Little more than two years after he was hired at The Citadel, Houston left Monday to accept the head coaching job at James Madison University. It was not an easy decision, Houston said, even though James Madison offers a sizeable raise and more resources (the FCS school in Harrisonburg, Va., has more than 20,000 students).

“This is not the easiest move in the world,” Houston said in an interview Monday. “It has nothing to do with The Citadel or anyone at the institution. I have the greatest respect for everyone there. I can’t thank the people there or the kids in the program enough for the way they bought in and followed us. I’m excited to watch the future of Citadel football. It’s very bright.”

Citadel athletic director Jim Senter, hired in August 2014, already faces a second key coaching hire. He tabbed Duggar Baucom to take over Citadel basketball, and now he must find a way to sustain the football momentum created by Houston. “I’m happy for Coach Houston and appreciate the contributions he made to our program,” Senter said. “He has established a foundation which we can build upon for future success. We wish Mike and his family the best as they start their new endeavors at James Madison. We will move as quickly as possible to find the perfect fit for The Citadel.”

With National Signing Day and spring practice looming, time is of the essence for Senter, who sources said began interviewing candidates Monday.

Two logical candidates already are on staff: Defensive coordinator Maurice Drayton, a 1998 Citadel graduate, and offensive coordinator Brent Thompson, who came with Houston to The Citadel from Lenoir-Rhyne. Ex-Citadel great Everette Sands, a former assistant at South Carolina, North Carolina State and The Citadel, is a third potential choice.

Houston said his decision to leave had nothing to do with the fallout of from the controversial “white hoods” photo that emerged on social media last month. It depicted Citadel cadets wearing pillowcase hoods that some believed resembled the Ku Klux Klan.
“Absolutely not, and it’d be unfortunate if that were the perception,” Houston said. “That’s not what The Citadel stands for and not the climate or culture of the campus. It’s a good place for all people. “This is 100 percent about our family and my future, and my ability to provide for them. It’s a great opportunity here at James Madison.”
Houston lead the Bulldogs to a 9-4 record, a share of the SoCon title and a 23-22 upset of South Carolina last season.

In two seasons at The Citadel, Houston has a record of 14-11. In five seasons at Lenoir-Rhyne and The Citadel, he is 43-19. At JMU, Houston replaces Everett Withers, who left for FBS Texas State. He was 18-7 in two seasons at James Madison, including 12-4 in the CAA. The Dukes won a share of the CAA title this season.

JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne called Houston “a fast riser” in the coaching ranks.
“I am thrilled to welcome Mike Houston as the next football head coach at James Madison,” Bourne said. “Mike has been a fast riser in the coaching ranks with success turning programs around at the Division II and FCS levels. His pedigree for winning and ability to lead young men make him the perfect fit to build upon the foundation already in place at JMU.”

Withers reportedly earned at least $300,000 per year at JMU. That figure would be a hefty raise over Houston’s base salary of $210,000 per year at The Citadel.

The Mike Houston Era – The best in History?

January 12, 2016
The Houston Era at The Citadel is off to a fast start!

The Houston Era at The Citadel is off to a fast start!

Did you know that Saturday is the two year anniversary of Mike Houston’s hiring as head coach of The Citadel football program? Coach Houston, in the season before his arrival in Charleston, led Lenior-Rhyne to the 2013 Division II National Championship Game and he has the best two-year start a coach has ever had at The Citadel.

Here are a few of the highlights from the Houston Era of Citadel Football.

14-11 overall, 9-5 in SoCon

14 wins are the most by head coach at The Citadel in his first 2 seasons

9 SoCon wins is most in first 2 seasons by a coach at The Citadel and tied for 3rd-highest two-year stretch in program history

Houston is the only coach in Citadel history to win conference title within first 2 seasons

2015 Southern Conference Coach of the Year

2015 Southern Conference champions, the school’s 1st conference title since 1992 and 3rd overall

Won road playoff game for 1st time in program history, defeating No. 9 Coastal Carolina 41-38 in 1st round

9 wins in 2015 is 2nd-highest single-season total in program history

Tied program record with 6 Southern Conference wins in 2015

Led The Citadel to its 4th winning season since 1995

Won 23-22 at South Carolina on Nov. 21, 2015, only the 3rd SoCon team to defeat an SEC team, and the first FCS team to beat an SEC team since Georgia Southern won at Florida in 2013

Produced the two highest single-game rushing totals in the FCS in 2015 (535 vs. Davidson, 524 at No. 9 Coastal Carolina)

524 rushing yards at No. 9 Coastal Carolina was highest total in FCS Playoff game since 2012 (Georgia Southern, 602)

Produced single-season school-record 14 individual 100-yard rushing performances in 2015

27 individual 100-yard rushing performances in 2014-15 are the most at The Citadel in any two-year stretch

Ranked 1st in FCS in interception return yards and interception return touchdowns in 2015

Ranked 1st in Southern Conference and top five in FCS in tackles for loss allowed, rushing offense, rushing touchdowns, sacks allowed, interceptions, yards per completion, turnovers forced and yards per rush in 2015

The Citadel’s 2015 scoring margin of +117 ranked 1st in the Southern Conference. In conference play, the Bulldogs ranked 1st with a +100 scoring margin

Four All-Americans in 2015

First 1st-Team Academic All-American at The Citadel since 1989 in 2015

Coached 2015 Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year Mitchell Jeter, the first Bulldog voted Player of the Year by the conference’s coaches

13 All-Southern Conference honors in 2015

The Citadel earned 2 of 3 Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Month awards in 2015

Lance Thompson is a home run hire for South Carolina

January 4, 2016
If you can beat 'em, hire 'em.  Lance Thompson (R Co '87) has joined the Gamecock staff.

If you can beat ’em, hire ’em. Lance Thompson (R Co ’87) has joined the Gamecock staff.

By: JC Shurburtt
01/04/2016 From:The Big Spur on

There’s no question that South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp has put together quite a coaching staff.

On New Year’s Eve, he hit another home run- perhaps it’s even fair to call it a grand slam- with the hiring of Lance Thompson as the Gamecocks’ assistant head coach for defense and defensive line coach. Thompson comes to Columbia from Auburn having worked at four other Southeastern Conference football programs- LSU, Alabama and Tennessee in addition to last season under Muschamp on the plains- and as one of the top recruiters in the modern history of SEC football.

On the recruiting trail, the former national recruiter of the year has a track record that speaks for itself. Consider the following…

All-pro wide receiver Julio Jones is his highest-rated recruit ever and picked the Crimson Tide way back in the 2008 cycle before Alabama’s run of national championships began under Nick Saban. That cycle he also landed safety Mark Barron out of the Mobile, Ala., area. At the time, Mobile was a very important recruiting battleground for Alabama, which had not faired as well in the talent-rich area prior to the arrival of Saban and Thompson.

During his second stint at Alabama, Thompson was charged with recruiting northern Virginia for the Crimson Tide and he landed two of the most celebrated recruits in recent years from the area- defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Da’Shawn Hand. Though Alabama was rolling as a program when this was happening, it’s still not the easiest thing in the world to go that far from campus and land five-star prospects in back-to-back cycles. He also recruited athlete/wide receiver ArDarius Stewart out of Birmingham. The Crimson Tide identified Stewart early, which is exactly what you want to do when there are talented prospects that close to your campus.

During his short time at Auburn, he was in on defensive linemen Nick Coe (currently still committed to the Tigers) from North Carolina and Paul James (enrolled) of Copiah-Lincoln Community College. He also was heavily involved with four-star defensive tackle Antwaun Jackson, who has enrolled at AU already. He also was Auburn’s primary recruiter on five-star in-state linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson and was the primary recruiter for the nation’s No. 1 junior college prospect in this cycle- Tennessee commit Jonathan Kongbo of Arizona Western College. Kongbo is a Gamecock target.

Thompson’s recruiting track record speaks for itself, but he also brings a ton to the table in terms of on-field coaching and teaching. He’s worked under some of the best defensive minds in the game, including Saban and Muschamp and is familiar with Muschamp’s defensive scheme. He also did an excellent job running that defense in Auburn’s 31-10 win against a prolific Memphis team in the Birmingham Bowl last week.

On top of that, he’s surely the answer to developing South Carolina’s under-performing defensive front. Players like Dante Sawyer, Marquavius Lewis and Boosie Whitlow (among others) will surely benefit from someone with as much experience developing high-level talent as Thompson has.

Thompson is a graduate of The Citadel, so he’s familiar with the Palmetto State and the South Carolina program. Given his ability to recruit throughout the southeast and up and down the eastern seaboard (including the critical state of North Carolina) and his on-field ability, this is one of the best assistant coaching hires any Gamecocks head coach has made in the past decade and a half.

Citadel football will face increased expectations in 2016

December 16, 2015
Tyler Renew, left, and  Dominique Allen are set to return for the Bulldogs in 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Tyler Renew, left, and Dominique Allen are set to return for the Bulldogs in 2016. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

By: Jeff Hartsell
Dec 12 2015

It’s a good bet that The Citadel won’t be picked to finish seventh in Southern Conference football next season. That’s too bad, Bulldogs coach Mike Houston said. “I kind of liked being picked seventh,” he joked this week. After a 9-4 season that included a share of the Southern Conference championship and an FCS playoff berth, the Bulldogs will enter the 2016 season with vastly increased expectations. This team changed the perception of Citadel football,” Houston said. “They leave a legacy where things will be a little different when we start the next preseason.” Entering the 2015 season, the top priority for Houston and his staff was obvious — improve a defense that was seventh the SoCon in scoring defense (28.7 ppg) and seventh in total defense (442 yards per game) in 2014.

That mission was accomplished, as the 2015 Bulldogs produced a defense that was second in the SoCon in scoring defense (21.8 ppg) and total defense (356.2 yards per game), and led the league in interceptions with 20. Identifying a top priority for improvement during this off-season is not as easy. “This year, we’ve got to look at each phase individually,” Houston said. “I don’t think there are huge overhauls or huge adjustments that need to be made. But there are small tweaks and changes to be made, and just a continued push to improve.”

For example, as well as sophomore quarterback Dominique Allen played this season — he rushed for 958 yards and 13 touchdowns — Houston said the 6-1, 214-pounder can get better. “I’ve challenged Dominique to be very, very driven in this off-season,” Houston said. “He’s got to continue to develop his body, and then I’d like to see him really grab the reins of leadership of this offense of the team. He can’t be shy of being the guy.” Allen hit just 51.5 percent of his passes, with six interceptions against four touchdowns. The Bulldogs missed some deep balls throughout the season that are vital to executing the triple option. “We had at least two balls we missed against Charleston Southern,” Houston said. “That’s something both Dominique and our receivers can get better at, and need to.”

In recruiting, Houston said he plans to sign about 17 players in February, with immediate needs at offensive line and linebacker.

The Bulldogs have unofficial commitments from quarterback Brandon Rainey of Allatoona (Ga.) High School; linebacker Emanuel Holmes (6-2, 225) of Conyers, Ga.; defensive back Nick Graves of Lexington; and Mark Weakland, a 6-3, 265-pound lineman from State College, Pa.

The Bulldogs lose four senior starters on offense, including All-America guard Sam Frye and slotback Vinny Miller. Freshman slotback Rod Johnson will likely be granted a medical redshirt for this season, while freshman center Tyler Davis could get a look at guard. Freshman lineman Andrew Laulusa (6-2, 245), who redshirted this year, could be ready to step up, Houston said.

Four senior starters also are gone on defense, including All-America tackle Mitchell Jeter and linebacker James Riley. Freshman tackle Ken Allen got plenty of reps this season, but linebackers Myles Pierce and Israel Battle did not get as many behind Riley.

One important question is the future of kicker Eric Goins, who made 16 of 21 field goals. If he can put off his Army commission, he could return next season. “He’s young man who’s in demand,” Houston said.

Work on the 2016 season gets started soon — spring practice opens Feb. 23, with the spring game set for March 19.

Citadel’s 2016 Football Schedule

December 16, 2015
We need to show up to support our Bulldogs in  in 2016!

We need to show up to support our Bulldogs in in 2016!

Date Opponent
Sept. 3 at Mercer
Sept. 10 Furman
Sept. 17 at Gardner-Webb
Oct. 1 at Western Carolina
Oct. 8 North Greenville
Oct. 15 Chattanooga
Oct. 22 at Wofford
Oct. 29 ETSU
Nov. 5 Samford
Nov. 12 at VMI
Nov. 19 at North Carolina