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Alexander, CU staff hit homestretch
Feb 03, 2007 12:00 am
Forgive Dewayne Alexander if he thinks he's added a body part to his anatomy in recent days.
"I feel like I've had a phone to my ear the last week, week and a half," the Cumberland University football coach said Wednesday night during a conversation – over the phone.
It's an occupational hazard for college football coaches this time of year, otherwise known as recruiting season.
"We've had recruiting weekends the last two weekends and we'll have another this weekend," Alexander said. "We've brought over 40 students-athletes and their families on campus each of the last two Saturdays and we'll have another 40 come through Saturday. That's not counting the ones who've made visits during the week.
"We're going to end up with 140-150 potential student-athletes visiting campus."
With the NCAA national signing day less than a week away, Alexander said he has around 20-25 commitments and hopes to have as many as 45 signatures, including some 35 from Tennessee, next Wednesday.
"I got three or four commitments tonight," Alexander said.
As a coach at an NAIA school, Alexander doesn't have to wait until next week to sign players. But he said everyone seems to like doing it then because that's when attention is focused on them. He also has several recruits who are still checking out other schools.
"Many of the guys who have visited us have visited two or three other schools," Alexander said.
No position is being ignored by the second-year Cumberland coach, but he does have some particular areas he and his staff are trying to address.
"We have been actively recruiting offensive linemen," said Alexander, whose Bulldogs went 3-7 during his first fall on Cumberland Square. "We graduated two starters in the offensive line. We played two freshmen. We need some depth there.
"Defensively, our linemen and linebackers and our safety positions have been a big point of emphasis. Our front seven on defense, we're really trying to upgrade and improve. We've got to shore up our run defense. We gave up too many big plays last year."
Alexander said his staff has also put an emphasis on recruiting players who are solid citizens and students as well as athletes.
"We're committed to bringing in some solid athletes, but also guys who are going to make our campus better, our classrooms better," Alexander said.
The coach has already picked up four transfers who came in at the semester break and are currently in class and the weight room.
They are, with their upcoming class listed:
—Jared Fugate, a sophomore running back from Brentwood who played for LSU against Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl less than a month ago. His fiance lives near here, Alexander said.
—Kevin Smithson, a redshirt freshman quarterback who spent the fall at NCAA Division I-AA Charleston Southern. At Tennessee Temple High School in Chattanooga [the same school which lost at Friendship Christian in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs last November], he passed for some 5,500 yards and 68 touchdowns.
—Darius Mohn, a junior tight end/receiver who played for Alexander when the coach was an assistant at Tennessee Tech. The Memphis Player of the Year in 2002 at White Station High School, he played football and basketball at Tech before illness put him behind in the classroom. He went to a junior college in Memphis to get his grades up.
—Ishmael Saddler, a freshman wide receiver who was a senior on Alexander's 10-2 playoff team at Wilson Central in 2005. After graduating in '06, he didn't play anywhere last fall.
Alexander will also have some coaching vacancies to fill when the current wave of recruiting ends.
Longtime coach Wes Elrod, an offensive line coach under Alexander at Central and CU after serving in the same capacity under former Cumberland coach Herschel Moore, has retired. The former longtime Metro Nashville high school coach also served as a Mt. Juliet assistant in the '90s. Alexander said Elrod remains involved in other areas of the game.
Troy Crane, who followed Alexander from Central to CU as receivers coach, will set his college duties aside to concentrate on his high school chores, which include assisting boys' basketball coach Troy Bond.
Defensive backs/special teams coach Cory Chamblin left the staff just days ago to coach the secondary for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. He played at Tech when Alexander was on the staff and served as an assistant for the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe when they won the World Bowl last May.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.