Johnathan Stokes Ready to Step Back On the Diamond

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By Alex Howle

Senior shortstop Johnathan Stokes is eager to get back on the diamond for one last chance to lead the Bulldogs to a Southern Conference Championship.

Stokes has stepped up this fall as a leader and looks to pull this team tightly together when the season rolls around in February. He will have to be a more vocal guy on the field this year to keep the young players on the right track. Stokes believes this team will have better chemistry with a different mindset from last year.

Stokes’ batting average for the 2014 season was .254 with 10 doubles and 36 RBIs. In conference play he improved and batted .289 with 6 doubles and 19 RBIs. Stokes has set himself a high goal for his final season in a Bulldog uniform to bat over .300 in the 2015 season, while hitting above .320 when conference play comes around.

Stokes has nothing but good things to say about the job new hitting coach Aaron Gershenfeld has done since joining this team in June as Coach Gershenfeld has prepared the hitters to the best of their abilities and it has paid off over the duration of the fall season.

“Coach Gershenfeld brings a lot of energy and knowledge to the team and thinks that the hitters will step up after losing (first baseman/DH) Bo Thompson and (second baseman) Mason Davis to the MLB Draft,” Stokes said. “If the bats stay hot, then this will be a big year for the Bulldog baseball team.”

Stokes has started at shortstop since he was a freshman and has been very consistent in the field. His fielding average in 2014 was .968 while turning the team-leading 17 double plays.

He is very anxious for the season to start and says he has a good feeling about this year. He believes all of their hard work in the offseason will pay off and did not like how the season ended last year, so they all are looking to bounce back strong in 2015.

Being the senior leader that he is, Stokes talks highly of the pitchers this year and the amount of depth they will have in the bullpen to fall back on. Stokes said the Bulldogs have 14 returning pitchers with the addition to 12 new freshmen pitchers. He believes the Bulldogs will have one of the best pitching rotations in the Southern Conference this year as they have looked very stout this fall, but they must remain healthy when conference plays comes around.

Stokes has set many goals for the upcoming season for himself, as well as the team. He says he wants to make the All-Southern Conference team, hit over .300 for the year, and win the Southern Conference Championship. Most importantly, his ultimate goal is to get drafted at the end of the year and his main goal for the team is to make it to Omaha for the College World Series because he says that has always been his dream goal ever since he picked up a baseball at a very early age.

Alex Howle, a cadet from Darlington, is a student in Andy Solomon’s Sport Communications class.

Cheerleaders’ Return Enhances Gameday Experience for Fans and Cadets

Cheerleader - CSU - MM

By Andy Solomon

Citadel cheerleaders have returned.

Through a unique relationship with The Stray Dog Society, they’re back, and the early reaction to them has been most positive.

Word is that the cheerleaders are indeed enhancing the game-day experience for fans and cadets alike.

Made up of current cadets and graduate school students as well as interested locals with cheerleading and public relations experience, the group of men and women cheer from the stands in front of the Corps of Cadets on the west side by the 15-yard line.

Put simply, they add spirit at the home games.

The Citadel had sponsored cheerleaders for many years and most recently had a “spirit squad” of cadets only.

And previously, there was a situation with our cheerleaders that simply wasn’t ideal and the department was searching ways in which to improve it when The Stray Dog Society offered suggestions and assistance.

“We’re happy to help,” said Stray Dog Society founder and president Joe Nuttall ’68. “The Stray Dog Society is positioned to help our beloved college in a multitude of areas, and we think this helps significantly with the spirit at our home football games.

Nuttall added that the cheerleaders’ primary focus is on the home football games, but they will also be positioned to help the Department of Athletics with a multitude of opportunities.

Cheerleaders - CCU - SH

The cheerleading group is led by Stephanie Slan ’08, whose responsibilities include recruiting, training and coaching the squad. Slan is a native of Wadmalaw Island and was a Citadel cheerleader from 2004-08. She currently is a clinical research coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is assisted by Vicki Gillis, a former Citadel cheerleader when she was a student at the College of Charleston in the 1980s. Gillis is the wife of Citadel Athletic Hall of Famer Paul Gillis ‘80.

Give the cheerleaders a lot of credit and a hand. Help them help us. They’re here for us, the fans, in addition to the Corps of Cadets.

The next time you see one of our cheerleaders, it would be great to say “thank you” for their spirit, hard work and the value they add to our gameday experience.

Only This Sort of Pound Can Hold These Dogs!

Head Strength Coach Donnell Boucher

Head Strength Coach Donnell Boucher

By Cadet Nate Brecklin

The Citadel is a school of pride when it comes most things, not to mention its NCAA Division I athletics program. High caliber athletes from all over the country — even the world — come here to compete for a job on his or her sports team, and every one of the athletes want to earn the respect that they cherish.

I have always believed that the body is a temple, and being a Citadel baseball player myself, the foundation of every sport comes with fundamentals.

That’s where it all really begins — at the start. That’s what you always go back to when you’re in a slump or a struggle. Fundamentals are the building blocks of success. And I don’t just mean on the field or the court, but especially in the weight room.

That’s what Coach Donnell Boucher, The Citadel’s head strength and conditioning coach, teaches us at the beginning of every semester. Building those fundamental blocks that help to keep you injury free and your body ready to take on any task your sport may throw at you.

Coach Donnell, who began his Citadel career as a graduate assistant in May 2007 and a specialist in just about every other strength and conditioning field there is, has helped Citadel athletes from all sports climb to their potential. With the help of his assistants, Coach D presents a sophisticated and healthy way to approach strength and conditioning towards athletics, catching the eyes of many other programs along the way.

The facilities of The Citadel’s Strength and Conditioning program consists of a full 5,500-square foot space for all varsity athletes to get those paws down and dirty before, during and after the long-awaited seasons. The ‘’Dawg Pound” is equipped with multiple squat and bench racks, free weight bum bells, rubber and iron plates, TRX band systems, and many of the state-of-the-art equipment to measure speed and athleticism.

The strength and conditioning program is run to make the athletes at The Citadel operate at their full potential through a system run and built around functional movement, speed, explosiveness and athleticism. The program keeps track of all athletes’ statistical attributes including weight, bench presses and squats, power clean, 40-yard dashes, vertical jumps, broad jumps and 60-yard shuttles. These are all taken to compare past and recent successes.

The strength and conditioning program is run in a topnotch facility by topnotch people for topnotch athletes, keeping the Dawgs hungry, healthy and ready to compete at any time and at any place.

Nate Brecklin, a baseball cadet-student-athlete from Eustis, Fla.., is a student in Andy Solomon’s Sport Communications class.

Citadel Baseball Swings Back

Baseball Hat

By Cadet Johnathan Stokes

The Citadel Bulldogs struggled throughout the 2014 baseball season and ended with a 24-34 record. They were a veteran ball club that did not play like the caliber of team that they were. A combination of entitlement and selfishness was a recipe for disaster.

Coming into the 2015 season, the Bulldogs will be without five of their starting players. First baseman Bo Thompson was taken by the New York Yankees in the draft and second baseman Mason Davis also signed with the Miami Marlins. The other three starters lost were senior left fielder Drew DeKerlegand, senior center fielder Hughston Armstrong and senior right fielder Tyler Griffin.

Upon losing these players, the Bulldogs have many returning veteran players and should have a good chance at competing for the Southern Conference championship. Returning are third basemen Bailey Rush and Brett Hines, and center fielder Jason Smith. Johnathan Stokes is returning at the shortstop position and Ryan Kilgallen will be coming back for his fifth year as the starting catcher. Along with these position players, the team has a number of starting pitchers and relievers returning, and are looking forward to having a stellar year due to their experience and hard work.

Fortunately, The Citadel did not lose any of their starting pitching and should return a very talented and veteran staff. Returning is James Reeves, Skylar Hunter, Ross White, Austin Mason, Austin Livingston, Zach Sherrill, and Zach Lavery. These pitchers saw the majority of the innings in 2014 and are projected to put up some very good numbers.

The expectations for the upcoming season are extremely high due to a winning tradition at The Citadel. Even though there are many incoming freshmen and new starters in the lineup, mediocrity will not be considered or allowed to encompass this ball club. Like every year, the expectations are to win the SoCon Tournament.

Johnathan Stokes, a cadet from Columbia, is a student in Andy Solomon’s Sport Communications class.

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Senior Jonathan Stokes

I’m Optimistic about Our Football Team

After a short hiatus from the blog to prepare for the ALL NEW CitadelSports.com website and video platform, we are back in action with Off the Collar: The Official Blog of Citadel Athletics. We apologize about the break, but will continue to post articles provided by various students, athletic administrators, staff and fans throughout the season.Today’s article is written by Cadet Wriston Barnes.

If you would like to write an article for the blog, feel free to email bgargone@citadel.edu.

Coach Houston Press Conference

By Cadet Wriston Barnes

With new head coach Mike Houston now at the helm of The Citadel football program, players, fans, cadets and alumni alike are all looking forward to positive and productive results this season.

The first two games of the season were hard fought, but unfortunately both ended in losses.

Even though both games did not go the Bulldogs’ way, one has to give them credit for putting up a fight with the 2013 Big South champion Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, as well as the defending BCS National Champion Florida State Seminoles. With last week being their bye week, the Bulldogs are looking to rest up, prepare and get back on track as they take on the Buccaneers of Charleston Southern and look to get their first win of the season.

As early as it is in the campaign, I am pleased with the effort and improvement of our team as compared to last season.

It may not come this year, but under the leadership of new athletic director Jim Senter and Coach Houston along with his staff, I can see The Citadel possibly bringing home a Southern Conference championship to the school.

Wriston Barnes, a cadet from Rock Hill, is a student in Andy Solomon’s Sport Communications class.

Citadel Football Pads Up For First Time in 2014

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Charleston, S.C. – Several freshmen showcased their abilities on Friday as The Citadel football team took the field in pads for the first time this fall at the Maybank Triplets Practice Facility at Willson Field.

Aaron Miller looked sharp under center with sophomore B-back Tyler Renew behind him playing with the first team. Jonathan Dorogy and Jake Stenson were taking first-team reps at slot back with freshman Jauveer Hammond and sophomore DeAndre Schoultz also in the mix.

Freshman quarterback Dominique Allen and redshirt freshman Cam Jackson shared time at the No. 2 quarterback spot. Juniors Alex Glover and Brandon Eakins hauled in some impressive catches at wide receiver.

Coach Mike Houston talking about the offensive line:

We changed it up today, we had a different line. We were not happy with our tempo yesterday, and we did a good job with the new line today.

We had Harrison Davis at center, Victor Hill and Isaiah Pinson at tackle and Sam Frye and Kyle Weaver at the guard position.

Defensively, the experienced starting front line of seniors Justin Oxendine and Cam Mobley, along with juniors Mitchell Jeter and Mark Thomas, played well and found their way into the backfield on a few occasions.

Freshman defensive lineman Stephen Knowles highlighted the day with an impressive batted pass and interception.

Houston talking about the cornerbacks:

We shook it up a little today with DeVonta Delaney and Walker Smith playing with the ones. Cody Richardson, Tyus Carter, Ben Roberts and freshman Shy Phillips, who was battling a shoulder injury, will provide some good competition over the next few weeks.

Houston talking about who stood out the most to him:

Freshman safety Josh Massey out of South Pointe High School had three or four big hits and doesn’t back down from everyone. He’s going to be a darn good player.”

Check us out on Twitter: @CitadelSports and @CitadelFootball
Check us out on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/citadelbulldogs

FALL CAMP SCHEDULE

Aug. 9: 8-11 a.m. (full pads); 2-4 p.m. (shells)

Aug. 11: 8-11 a.m. (full pads); 2-4 p.m. (shells)

Aug. 12: 8:50-11 a.m. (shells)

Aug. 13: 8-11 a.m. (full pads); 2-4 p.m. (shells)

Aug. 14: 8:50-11 a.m. (full pads)

Aug. 15: 8-11 a.m. (full pads); 2-4 p.m. (shells)

Aug. 16: 11 a.m. Media Day, Meet the Bulldogs

The Citadel opens up the 2014 campaign on Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. at home against Coastal Carolina. To purchase single game or season tickets, call the ticket office at (843) 953-DOGS (3647).

Pat Conroy & Joe Riley Lead The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2014

Mayor Riley  Conroy

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Famed author Pat Conroy and longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. lead a list of six individuals who make up The Citadel Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014.

Also entering the Hall is football player Mike Davitt ’71, baseball pitchers Rodney Hancock ’00 and Hank Kraft ’92, and wrestler Dan “Buddy” Thompson ’06. Conroy and Riley will be enshrined as honorary members.

The six will be inducted during a banquet on Friday, Nov. 14, at the Holliday Alumni Center on campus.

This year’s induction class increases the membership of the Hall of Fame to 178 individuals. The Hall, which originated in 1977, is located in the lobby of McAlister Field House on campus.

Pat Conroy ’67 (Honorary)

Perhaps the most famous former athlete in The Citadel’s storied history, Conroy was a member of the Mel Thompson-coached basketball teams from 1965-67 and was voted the team most valuable player his senior year when he averaged 11.8 points per game. One of America’s most renowned authors, Conroy served as The Citadel’s 2001 commencement speaker and received an honorary degree. While still a Cadet, he wrote and then published his first book, The Boo, which was a tribute to his beloved mentor, Col. Thomas N. Courvoisie. Other books include The Water is Wide (1972), The Great Santini (1976), The Lords of Discipline (1980), The Prince of Tides (1986), Beach Music (1995), My Losing Season (2002), South of Broad (2009) and The Death of Santini (2013) among others. In 2013, Conroy was named editor-at-large of Story River Books, a newly-created fiction division of the University of South Carolina Press.

Mike Davitt ’71 (Football)

A four-position performer for Coach Red Parker, Davitt played guard, center, tackle and end and earned first-team All-Southern Conference and All-South Carolina honors while being named second-team All-America by the Associated Press and honorable mention All-America by United Press International in 1971. A three-year letter winner who served as a team captain, Davitt was honored with an Outstanding Achievement Award by then-president Gen. James Duckett. Named in 1971 to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, Davitt earned a spot on the Brigadier Club’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s. Against rival VMI in 1969, Davitt caught 12 passes, three for touchdowns, and was the runner-up for national player of the week honors. He was an offensive lineman on the 1971 team that went 8-3 and whose offense was ranked fifth nationally with more than 450 yards per game. With Davitt leading the way, the ’71 offensive line was nicknamed the “Seven Cylinders.”

Rodney Hancock ’00 (Baseball)

A third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball after his junior season in 1999, Hancock was the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 1997 when he also earned Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Coached by Fred Jordan, he was a member of the 1999 regular-season championship team in addition to two SoCon Tournament championship squads (1998-99) that also participated in a pair of NCAA Regionals. The 1999 SoCon Tournament’s most valuable player and two-time SoCon and College Baseball player of the week, Hancock fired a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts against Furman on May 14 of that year as the Bulldogs triumphed, 24-0. Five days later, he fanned 20 against the Paladins in the SoCon Tournament. Hancock was selected in the 29th round (872nd overall pick) by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hank Kraft ’92 (Baseball)

The closer for The Citadel’s 1990 World Series team, Kraft remains the college’s leader in career saves with 29 while making 87 appearances. Playing for coaches Chal Port and Fred Jordan, he led the team in appearances and saves in 1990, ’91 and ’92. A two-time Southern Conference pitcher of the week, Kraft was the winning pitcher when the Bulldogs defeated Cal State-Fullerton in the College World Series in Omaha. In that game, Kraft threw 2.2 innings, surrendered two hits and struck out three. He played on teams that captured the 1990 and ’91 Southern Conference championship along with the 1990 league tournament and Atlantic Regional as the Bulldogs defeated the University of Miami at Mark Light Field to advance to the World Series.

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. ’64 (Honorary)

The longest-serving mayor in Charleston history (10 four-year terms), Riley, through his visionary leadership, has led Charleston to become the No. 1 destination city in the world. Fostering tremendous relationships between The Citadel and City of Charleston, Riley was the driving force for the construction of Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, home of The Citadel baseball team that has hosted many Southern Conference Tournaments. He also supported The Citadel’s formal relationship with the US Army National Guard to create the tower at Johnson Hagood Stadium while re-incorporating an Armory on the peninsula area. His support of Citadel athletics as a graduate and mayor has been consistent, and he possesses vivid memories of great Citadel teams and players from years gone by and current players and teams.

Dan “Buddy” Thompson ’06 (Wrestling)

Thompson upset opponents seeded seventh, ninth and 10th to become The Citadel’s first wrestling All-American, placing seventh in the 165-pound bracket at the 2006 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City. Thompson was the 2004 Southern Conference champion at 157 pounds with a record of 25-10 and was also the league titlist at 165 in 2006, earning all-conference honors both years while helping lead the Bulldogs to the 2004 SoCon team championship. A four-time placer at the league tournament, he was a team captain who earned The Citadel’s Most Outstanding Wrestler Award in 2003. A four-year letter winner, Thompson served as an assistant coach at The Citadel in 2008-09.