Football Prospects Bright as Key Players Return
Samford’s offense began hitting on all
cylinders halfway through last season, and the second half
of 2001 was a lot of fun. The Bulldogs averaged 35 points
and 419 yards a game to win four of their last five. That
enabled them to finish 5-5.
Most of that team return for 2002, including such key performers
as quarterback Ramon Nelson, receiver Aryvia Holmes, running
back Jason Ogletree, linebacker Derrick Wheeler and defensive
back Robert Evans.
|Receiver Aryvia Holmes (7) returns
after catching a season-record 74 passes last year.
Head Coach Bill Gray has 53 lettermen back in all, including 10
who have started on offense and 11 on defense. So the outlook is
“We have a very talented group of athletes in our skilled
positions, especially in the receiving corps,” said Gray.
“And we have athletes on defense who can get to the ball and
Samford’s success, says Gray, will depend on the experienced
players playing to their capabilities and younger players making
Nelson was thrust into the starting quarterback position when
regular Josh Kellett broke his arm in the third play of last year’s
fifth game. Nelson responded by passing for 1,466 yards and 13 touchdowns,
most of it in the last five games. He set a Samford record by completing
32 passes in the season finale against Virginia Military Institute,
leading a 46-32 win.
Kellett, who ranks seventh in Samford career total offense with
3,220 yards, is also back for his senior year.
Holmes enjoyed a record-setting junior season, catching 74 passes
for 1,042 yards. Ogletree led the runners with 667 yards in 113
Replacing some key performers up front is a high priority. Plenty
of lettermen are on hand, but not many with extensive experience.
On offense, tackle Andrew Gunn and guard Mitch Welborn are proven
veterans. On defense, ends Blake Hall and Darold Williams, a converted
linebacker, will lead, along with tackle Ross Newton.
This is Samford’s last season as an independent, but the
schedule is tough. The Bulldogs play five home games and six away,
including I-A foe Baylor and perennial I-AA power Youngstown State
on the road.
Gray is glad that the Bulldogs open with three of their first
four games at home. He thinks that could help them start clicking
on all cylinders much earlier than last year.
2002 Football Schedule