Meet the Tigers of Towson

Navy hosts the Towson Tigers on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. GoMids.com's Chris Rohe gives us an intelligence report on the Tigers.

Location: Towson, MD
Total Enrollment (fall 2007): 19,758
Colors: Gold, White and Black

Former Tigers: Tony Vinson - Running Back - San Diego Chargers (1994); Atlanta Falcons (1995); Baltimore Ravens (1996-97), Jermon Bushrod - Offensive Tackle -New Orleans Saints (2007- present), David Meggett - Running Back and Kick Returner - New York Giants (1989-94); New England Patriots (1995-97); New York Jets (1998), Sean Landeta - Punter - New York Giants (1985-92); Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1993-96; 2003-04); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1997); Green Bay Packers (1998); Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2002)

Fast Facts: This will be Towson's first game against a FBS opponent. If they qualify for the FCS playoffs, Towson will be the first school ever to participate in the NCAA football tournaments at all three levels (Division III, Division II and FCS) that have playoff systems.

Coaching

Since football started in 1969, Towson has only had three Head Coaches, Carl Runk (1969-71), Phil Albert (1972-91) and Gordy Combs (1992-present). Coach Combs is entering his 39th year with the Tiger program (three as a player, 19 as an assistant and this fall is his 17th as Towson's head coach). He has been a part of 398 of the 407 games the Tigers have played. A graduate of Calvert Hall High School, also located in Towson, he transferred from the University of Dayton prior to Towson's second season of football. He is one of just 21 FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) coaches to be the head coach at their alma maters. Coach Combs has some experience on his staff with Offensive Line coach John Donatelli entering his 12th season, Offensive Coordinator Phil Albert entering his 27th season and Associate Head Coach Rich Bader entering his 39th season.

Offense

Towson runs a pass happy spread offense and it all begins with their 4th year starter at quarterback Sean Schaefer. Schaefer (6-1, 205lb, Sr.) is the returning leader in the FCS in yards, completions and pass attempts. He has passed for 400 yards in game twice, thrown 5 TD passes in game twice, passed for over 300 yards in 9 games, thrown 3-plus TD passes in 7 games, and was the only quarterback in FCS to average more than 300 yards passing per game in 2006. Schaefer took a bit of a step backward in 2007 averaging 232.1 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Much of his loss of production can be attributed to poor offensive line play, as evidenced by being sacked nine times in the season ending loss to James Madison. Schaefer will be backed up by Blair Peterson (6-3, 210lb, Fr.-R) who has yet to take a snap in college.

Even though the Tigers don't run the ball often, they have two viable options at tailback. Junior Matt Castor and sophomore Jas Lee Rouson have been competing to replace Nick Williams and Rasheed McClaude. Castor (5-10, 205lb, Jr.) saw limited action in 2007, finishing with 116 yards on 22 carries. Rouson (5-10, 225lb, So.) only played special teams as a red shirt freshman and had his season cut short due to injury. He recorded a 10.9 100 meter dash while in High School. Sophomore Damien Kinchen (5-10, 192lb, So.), a converted wide receiver, is also in the mix.

Leading the Tiger receiving corps is senior wide receiver Marcus Lee who was named to the pre-season All-CAA team. Lee (6-2, 202lb, Sr.) is a 4 year starter. With playing in every game of his college career and catching at least one pass per game, he has a chance of making Towson history. Last season, Lee finished with 66 receptions for 680 yards and 2 touchdowns. His 167 career receptions are currently 4th all time in Tiger history. Joining Lee at wide receiver are two very diverse players. David Newsom is a speedy transfer from Nassau Community College. Newsom (5-9, 185lb, Jr.) scored two touchdowns in the Tiger Spring Game. Tommy Breaux is a slightly different type of receiver, about a foot different. Breaux (6-8, 203lb, Sr.) is one of the tallest players in college football. His junior season was cut short due to a foot injury. Also returning for the Tigers is junior Casey Cegles. Cegles (5-10, 187lb, Jr.) is the second leading returning receiver with 21 receptions for 317 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight End John Godlasky returns after starting all 11 games in 2007. Godlasky (6-4, 240lb, Jr.) is expected to improve on his 5 catch sophomore campaign.

The Tigers are looking for improvement over a 2007 offensive line that allowed 39 sacks. Dan Bridges returns for a 3rd year starting at right tackle. Bridges (6-6, 290lb, Jr.) has started 22 consecutive games. Austin Weibley has played in 27 games in his career with 18 starts. Weibley (6-2, 298lb, Sr.) starts this season at left guard after bouncing between center and guard throughout his career. Senior guard Jeremy Williams is suspended for violations of Athletic Department rules giving sophomore Chris Ritter the start at right guard. Ritter (6-3, 275lb, So.) will be making his 4th career start. Leon Stevenson has regained his starting position at left tackle after suffering a season ending dislocated ankle at Massachusetts in 2007. Stevenson (6-4, 296lb, So.), a converted defensive lineman, had started the first three games before being lost for the season. Center Steve Jordan (6-3, 280lb, So.) started the final two games of 2007.

Defense

The Tigers use a base 3-4, but have been known at times to drop into 8 man fronts against option teams like Rhode Island. Their most experienced defensive lineman is tackle Richard Lee. Lee (6-4, 267lb, Jr.) is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease as a senior in high school. Lee is also a former walk on, who started all 11games in 2007 recording 27 tackles and 3 sacks. Starting at the other tackle spot is Scott Bullock. Bullock (6-3, 265lb, Sr.) has appeared in 28 games during his career, but will be making only his third start. He had 18 tackles in 2007. Nose guard Yaky Ibia will be making his first career start against the Midshipmen. Ibia (6-2, 295lb, So.) played in every game as a true freshman and made 15 tackles. Originally from Calabar, Nigeria, his given name is Yakayama.

Jordan Manning is by far the most experienced Towson linebacker, as his 3 fellow 2007 starters have graduated. Manning (6-0, 228lb, Sr.) has 23 career starts and 233 career tackles. He also has 34 career tackles for a loss. Though only a sophomore, Donte Blakey is the only other Tiger linebacker with a start on their resume. Blakey (6-0, 230lb, So.) started the season finale against James Madison. A pair of juniors will man the inside spots of the Towson 3-4. Josh Root and Alex Butt will be making their first career starts. Root (6-1, 235lb, Jr.) has appeared in 20 games, but has played mostly on special teams. He blocked field goal at Morgan State last season. Butt (6-2, 218lb, Jr.) transferred from University of Alabama where he nearly made the football team as a walk-on.

Though young in age, the Tiger secondary is old with experience. Strong safety Drew Mack is a pre-season All-CAA selection. Mack (6-1, 205lb, Sr.) finished 2007 by being named 3rd team All-CAA. He started 10 games and finished with 74 tackles an interception and 3 fumble recoveries. Free safety Raymond White played in all 11 games as a red shirt freshman. White (6-0, 205lb, So.) made one start and tied for team lead with two interceptions. Both corners are sophomores, but both played a great deal as red shirt freshmen. Jeremy Gardner started the first 8 games of 2007 before breaking his hand against Colgate. Gardner (5-10, 187lb, So.) finished with 30 tackles and four pass breakups. Ollie Thomas played in all 11 games and made 4 starts. Thomas (5-8, 190lb, So.) made 31 tackles in 2007.

Special Teams

The Tigers return both kickers from 2007. Mark Bencivengo converted 12 of 18 field goal attempts and all 15 PAT's last season. Bencivengo (6-0, 170lb, Sr.) also averaged 61.1 yards per kickoff in 2007.

Bill Shears is the third year punter. Shears (6-4, 240lb, Jr.) helped the Tigers lead CAA allowing only 4.8 yards per punt return.

Towson will be breaking in two new return men in 2008. David Newsom will be the primary punt returner with reserve wide receiver Hakeem Moore (5-11, 170lb, So.) handling kick off returns. Newsom may also return kick offs.

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