Dooley Names Bennett as Starter; Melancon Out

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley announced Friday that transfer Taylor Bennett will be the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs when they open the season Aug. 30 against Mississippi State.

Taylor Bennett beat out sophomore Ross Jenkins for the role although Dooley said both quarterbacks impressed him during fall camp.

"We are not disappointed with the progress of either quarterback," Dooley said. "But after evaluating 20 practices, the decision was made to start Taylor in the first game. As I told both Ross and Taylor, we have two No. 1s and we are going to need both of them during the course of the season."

Bennett started all 13 games last year for Georgia Tech before earning his degree in international affairs. He is eligible to play this year after receiving an academic waiver from the NCAA to pursue a master's degree in business information.

As the starter for the Yellow Jackets, he passed for over 2,100 yards and 13 touchdowns while also running for four scores. He started two bowl games in his Georgia Tech career, including the 2006 Toyota Gator Bowl and the 2007 Humanitarian Bowl.

Dooley also announced that freshman defensive tackle Rolando Melancon would not be eligible to play this year for the Bulldogs.

"We're disappointed that Rolando did not meet the NCAA eligibility requirements to participate this season," Dooley said. "It is a big blow to our team and especially to our defensive line. "Rolando has a great future ahead of him at Tech, and I hope he can learn from this and embrace the importance of his academic responsibilities. We believe in him and expect him to be a great contributor to our team in the future."

Melancon, who originally signed with Tennessee, is still eligible to practice with the team this fall and attend classes.

Tech Signs Two-Year Deal with U.S. Naval Academy

RUSTON – Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Derek Dooley announced Thursday that the university has signed a contract to play a home-and-home football series with the United States Naval Academy.

The series will begin next year when the Bulldogs travel to Annapolis, Maryland, for a game on Sept. 12, while the Naval Academy will return to Ruston on Sept. 18, 2010.

It will mark the first time Tech has faced the Naval Academy in football and only the second time a Bulldog team will play a service academy team. Tech is scheduled to play Army on Oct. 25 this year.

"Anytime you are able to compete against one of the service academies it provides not only a great game for our fans but tremendous exposure nationally for the program," Dooley said. "We have received very positive feedback from our fans about going to West Point this year (to play Army), and we felt this would be another great opportunity for them to experience the tradition and atmosphere of another military academy."

Navy was 8-5 last year, including a 35-32 loss to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 21.

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