Know your foe: Five questions with Savannah Morning News beat writer Donald Heath
Each week, I’ll do a Q&A with the beat writer who covers Oklahoma State’s opponent to get some perspective on the game from the other side.
Donald Heath covers Savannah State for the Savannah Morning News. Here’s our exchange:
Gina Mizell: We’ve seen the record. We’ve studied the numbers. We know Savannah State is not a good football team. But where has this team shown the most growth as Steve Davenport enters his second season?
Donald Heath: Savannah State has had five football coaches in the last eight years, but there’s a sense that if Davenport stays, he can make the team a winner in the mediocre Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The state of Georgia is a high school football hotbed, and Davenport and his staff have recruited well. Sixteen freshmen are on the team’s two-deep depth chart.
GM: Based on players and coaches you’ve talked to, what’s the mood like heading into the season? They get to play at defending Big 12 champ Oklahoma State and perennial power Florida State in back-to-back weeks. In a way, is that being viewed as a once-in-a-lifetime experience?
DH: Last year, I covered Georgia Southern’s game against Alabama. GSU ran for more than 300 yards and stayed within 10 points for 3 ½ quarters. Last year, Norfolk State (another MEAC school) led West Virginia (then ranked 19th) at halftime. Savannah State isn’t GSU or Norfolk for that matter but my point is, it’s hard to discourage any athlete that’s playing at this high level. Even players on Savannah State probably think they should’ve been recruited by I-A teams. You see upsets in the NCAA basketball tournament all the time when smaller schools get excited about playing bigger schools and the athletes of those bigger schools just can’t match the emotion. Of course, football is a little different.
GM: Give me the scouting report on 2-3 of SSU’s top players.
DH: Quarterback Antonio Bostick has good mobility, which he needed last season because Savannah State didn’t have a very good offensive line. The Tigers’ offensive tackle Chris Jones (6-5, 330) transferred in from Illinois and linebacker Randy McKinnon played at Syracuse for three years before suffering a season-ending injury in 2010. He was given a medical red-shirt by the NCAA and eventually found his way to SSU. The Tigers just wish Shannon Sharpe had one game left of eligibility.
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