Brevard, N.C. - The Tornados made major strides both offensively and defensively in their third season in the South Atlantic Conference, and look for those advancements to carry over into the 2011 season as they prepare to enter their fourth year in the NCAA Division II and SAC.
Head Coach Paul Hamilton continues to build a strong program as Brevard finished the 2010 season with the nation’s third-best rushing attack in the Division II rankings. The rushing attack will continue to be a strength for Brevard as the Tornados return 17 starters from last year’s squad, but the defense retains the most experience with nine returners on the defensive side of the ball as Brevard looks to continue their march toward the top of the conference.
Headlining this season’s team are the seven Preseason All-Conference selections, including the reigning Offensive Freshman of the Year in slot Kelvin Jeter. Jeter became the first BC offensive player to be named to the Preseason First Team in 2011, being selected as a running back. Jeter became the first Brevard player to receive Player of the Year honors as the rising sophomore slot from Gastonia, N.C. added accolades to his record-setting campaign in being recognized as the 2010 SAC Offensive Freshman of the Year. Jeter carried the ball 135 times for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 8.5 yards per carry and 104.1 rushing yards per game, setting Brevard single-season records in net yards, yards per carry, longest play from scrimmage and rushing yards per game.
Seniors Prince Simunyu, Salonick Amos and Eric Watts also were named to the Preseason All-SAC First Team. Simunyu, named a First Team Linebacker for the second consecutive year, finished second on the team with 75 tackles last season, adding five tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble return for a touchdown. Amos was selected as a Preseason First Team Defensive Back, tying for the conference’s overall lead with 14 pass breakups, while Watts is the First Team Punter, having led the conference with a 42.9 yard punt average.
Caleb Campbell and Michael Gist were also named to the Preseason Second Team, while Watts doubled up on the honors in being named a Second Team Wide Receiver.
For the first time in two years, the Tornados will have a new face receiving snaps under center. Returners Aaron Reese and Billy Muscatello have the most experience on the roster, but several talented incomers will also compete for the chance to replace Michael Crumbaker, the all-time leading rusher from the quarterback position in BC history.
The backfield situation is a place of stability for Brevard though, as redshirt senior Derek Church and Jeter return to take on the bulk of the carries for Coach Hamilton. Church is the sixth-leading rusher in Brevard College history and tied for third in career touchdown runs, finishing last season by crossing the goal line five times. Church had a powerful showing in Brevard’s Spring Blue-White game, scoring a pair of touchdowns and will see the bulk of the carries near the end zone again this season. Also joining Church in the backfield this year will be returning senior Jerel Drew, while several incoming players will also challenge for playing time early in the season to provide support for the BC rushing game.
When the Tornados take to the sky, Watts will draw the majority of the attention as the senior wide receiver caught a team-high 18 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns. His ability to get open contributed to his being selected as a Preseason Second Team Wide Receiver. Trey Bray and Devon Holmes also return to line up outside for the Tornados and Brevard will look to a talented incoming group to help solidify this position in the fall.
The strength of the Brevard offense remains the Tornados offensive line as they return three of their starters, welcoming back Jacob Richardson who saw his season end early last year due to injury. Campbell was selected as a preseason All-SAC Second Team selection as he helped pave the way for Brevard to average 285.5 rushing yards per game. Returning starter Tyler Fisher will also help solidify the line, while Andrew Velazquez, Jordan Bookhart, Garrett Johnson, Cody Anderson and Dusty Holder provide depth and experience for Brevard this season in the trenches.
Defensively, Simunyu, Amos and Gist return with valuable leadership and experience for the Tornados under Defensive Coordinator Scott Brumett.
On the defensive line, the Tornados welcome back senior Richard Ray in addition with returners Christian Lumbu and Rommie Fairchild as Brevard will look to again control the line of scrimmage. Lumbu led all BC defensive linemen with 42 tackles and chipped in seven quarterback hurries, while Fairchild contributed 14 stops and a sack on the season. Ray returns having last suited up for BC in 2009 when he had 41 tackles and helped the Tornados to victories over Lenoir-Rhyne and Catawba. The Tornados will get a boost from redshirt freshman Matt Jones and Charles Chambers also returns to provide depth, while several newcomers will challenge for playing time.
Simunyu captains the linebacker corps for the Tornados and is joined by junior middle linebacker C.J. Wilson as the leading returners in the middle of the defense. Rufus Jenkins also returns, having shown the ability to pressure the quarterback last season, while Donovan Barker and Rodney Donald will also see playing time in the defensive scheme.
In the defensive backfield, Amos and Gist return with a combined nine interceptions and 38 pass breakups over the past two years. Rashad Dirton also has shown the ability to converge on the ball as the Tornados possessed the second stingiest pass defense in the conference in the 2010 season. Phillip Curcio, Chris Jones and Anthony Shakir also return having received experience under Coach Teddy Gaines last season and help solidify Brevard’s last line of defense in the 2011 season.
On special teams, Watts returns to handle the punting duties, having set multiple BC records over the past two seasons. Watts was 10th in the nation in punt average with 42.9 yards per attempt and had six punts travel beyond 55 yards last season including a 73 yard attempt at Johnson C. Smith University.
The placekicker position is open for Brevard in the 2011 season as all-time leading scorer Chase Henry graduated. Justin Powell was 9-for-10 in extra point attempts last season and handled kickoffs for Brevard last year and returns with the most experience, but he will battle it out with newcomer Austin Clark until the beginning of the 2011 regular season.
The Tornados will have one final preseason scrimmage before opening the 2011 Football season on the road on September 3rd, when Brevard travels to Boiling Springs, N.C. to take on FCS opponent Gardner-Webb University. Kickoff time for the season opener is set for 6:00 p.m. in Spangler Stadium.