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Tusculum kicks off football season this Thursday

Posted on 29 August 2014 by

The Tusculum College football team will kick off its 2014 campaign this Thursday night when the Pioneers host the College of Faith for a 7 p.m. contest at the Niswonger Sports Complex and Pioneer Field.

The Pioneers 46 lettermen, including 17 starters from last year’s 4-7 squad that finished sixth in the South Atlantic Conference.

Head coach Frankie DeBusk, who is entering his 17th season at the helm of the Pioneer program, brings back a strong nucleus of experience and leadership, but will have to replace NCAA Division II’s all-time leading passer and the program’s all-time tackles leader.

Bo Cordell, who passed for a DII-record 16,265 yards and completed a SAC-record 112 touchdowns passes, has graduated.  The two-time Harlon Hill Trophy national finalist re-wrote the NCAA and league record books and leaves a huge void on the offensive side of the ball for the Pioneers.

On defense, All-American linebacker Brian Alexander has graduated after amassing a school-record 366 tackles in his career, including 126 stops in 2013.

The Pioneers will have added depth at every position as the Black and Orange broke camp with nearly 170 players on the TC roster.  It was an intense and spirited camp and Tusculum’s winningest football coach has been pleased overall with the results.

“We have had a very, very physical camp. I feel we have pushed our players to the limit, from a conditioning standpoint,” said DeBusk.  “A lot of times when you do those things, you get negative vibes from your team.  But our team has been very positive and I feel they do anything and everything we ask them to do and that is a great feeling for a coach.  Our players are showing hustle and effort and that is a tribute to our captains and the veterans of our football team.  I like where we are as a team right now.”

On offense, over 91 percent of last year’s receiving yardage returns for the Pioneers, including their top five receivers, highlighted by 2013 All-American Justin Houston.  Houston, a 5-8, 190-pound junior from Cleveland, Tennessee, established TC single-season records in receptions (110 – 2nd in SAC history), receiving yards (1,347 – 4th in SAC history) and all-purpose yards (1,914).  The Bradley Central High School graduate accounted for seven touchdown catches and scored once on special teams.

Houston, who was also a member of the Capital One Academic All-District first team, enters his third TC campaign sixth all-time with 150 career receptions and eighth with 1,740 career receiving yards.  He finished second in the country in receptions per game (11.0 rpg) and fourth in NCAA II in receiving yards per contest (134.7 ypg).  Houston posted over 100 receiving yards in nine of his 10 outings in 2013.

Senior Deon Hicks is back after garnering All-South Atlantic Conference second team honors in his first TC season.  Hicks, a 6-3, 225-pound senior from Fresno, California (Fresno City College/Fresno HS), finished second on the team with 43 receptions for 784 yards and tied for the team lead with seven TD grabs (T10th in TC history).

All-America tight end Wesley Powell is back for his final collegiate campaign.  The 6-10, 265-pound senior from Titus, Alabama (Elmore County HS) finished third on the team with 38 receptions for 520 receiving yards (8th in SAC) and four TD catches.  In his 31 career contests, Powell has made 81 grabs for 853 yards and is looking to become only the second tight end in school history with over 1,000-receiving yards to his credit.

Lexington, Kentucky senior Johnathan Diliberto (5-10, 185, Tates Creek HS) returns following a 2013 season where he posted 29 receptions for 515 yards and six touchdowns.  Junior Ken Funnye (6-0, 165, Georgetown, S.C./Andrews HS) finished fifth on the roster with his 27 catches for 254 yards and a touchdown, while senior Matt Levine (6-0, 180, Anderson, S.C./Westside HS) added 13 grabs for 189 yards.

“We have a very talented group of receivers coming back for us, led by Justin Houston and Wesley Powell,” added DeBusk.  “I have been most impressed with the play of Johnathan Diliberto during fall camp.  This group has accepted the challenge before them and are looking for great things from them.”

Also returning to receiver corps are junior CJ Dawson (5-11, 175, Lithonia, Ga./Arabia Mountain HS), sophomore Neil Lee (5-10, 165, Clinton, S.C./Clinton HS) and redshirt freshmen Dalton Barrier (5-9, 175, Lynchburg, Tenn./Moore County HS), Rian Hall (5-10, 155, Oak Ridge, Tenn./Oak Ridge HS) and Thomas Barnett (5-9, 175, Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS).

Sophomore Caleb McCormick (6-2, 210, Freeport, Fla./Freeport HS) and the redshirt freshmen duo of Drew Schreder (6-3, 225, Cosby, Tenn./Cosby HS) and Jaylynn Kesterson (6-2, 245, Mosheim, Tenn./West Greene HS) will be looking to make contributions at tight end.

With all the offensive weapons, the big question is who will get the football into the hands of this talented group.   Four returners will be vying for the starting quarterback position, as well as some talented newcomers.

Redshirt freshman Malcolm Pendergrass, a 6-3, 185-pound native of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, is slated to get the start under center against the College of Faith in the season opener.  In Tusculum’s final fall scrimmage, he passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns.  Pendergrass saw significant playing time during the Tusculum spring game as he passed for 171 yards and accounted for a pair of touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush).

Senior Kyle Dickey has nine career games under his belt as Tusculum’s signal caller, including a pair of starts, but those came in 2011.  The 6-3, 205-pound McDonough, Georgia (Luella HS) product has completed 60 percent of his passes for 469 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Junior Cameron Tallent, a 6-2, 200-pound native of Dayton, Tennessee, has played in 13 contests in a TC uniform, while posting a completion percentage of 75 percent.  At the 2014 spring game, Tallent threw for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Eric Lynch, a 6-4, 200-pounder from Matthews, North Carolina, did not play in the spring game in April due to injury.  He earned All-State and All-Conference honors in his senior year at the Charlotte Christian School, where he led his prep squad to a 2012 state title.  He passed for over 4,800 yards and 54 touchdowns.

True freshmen Romario Atkinson (6-2, 185, Jonesboro, Ga./Jonesboro HS) and Luke Manning (6-0, 185, Sevierville, Tenn./Sevier County HS) are also competing for the quarterback position.

Sophomore Fernando Smith is the only running back returning with significant reps in the offensive backfield for the Pioneers.  Smith, a 5-10, 220-pound product from Baltimore, Maryland, led Tusculum with nine rushing touchdowns (4th in SAC) as he played in all 11 games, including two starts as a true freshman.  Smith averaged four yards per carry, while rushing for 353 yards.  The Sherwood High School alum also made 10 receptions for 66 yards.

Last year’s starting running back Isaac Robinson (5-11, 205, Soph., Palmyra, Va./Monticello HS) is anticipated to be lost for the entire 2014 campaign due to injury.

Redshirt freshman Justin Ware (5-11, 180, Cleveland, Tenn./Walker Valley HS) will be in the mix for playing times as will true freshmen Dalton Brown (5-8, 160, Limestone, Tenn./David Crockett HS), Trevonte Emmons (5-9, 215, Fayetteville, Tenn./Fayetteville HS), D.J. Haney (5-10, 235, Greeneville, Tenn./Greeneville HS), Joe Ledet (6-2, 210, Ragley, La./South Beauregard HS), Cameron Lusk (6-0, 235, Morrison, Tenn./Warren County HS), DJ Samuels (5-11, 195, Decherd, Tenn./Franklin County HS), and Nick Sandstrom (5-9, 160, Greeneville, Tenn./Chuckey-Doak HS).

Freshmen receivers Evan Altizer (6-2, 185, Waxhaw, N.C./Weddington HS), Jordan Barnes 6-2, 175, Goose Creek, S.C/Goose Creek HS), Ryan Booker (6-1, 180, Greenwood, S.C./Ninety-Six HS), Rodnell Cruell (6-0, 175, New Orleans, La./McDonough Senior HS), Ken Drummond (5-9, 165, Woodruff, S.C./Woodruff HS), Desmond Geter (5-10, 185, Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman HS), Layson Giles (6-5, 180, Pedergrass, Ga./Jackson County HS), Gregory McHam (5-9, 180, Duncan, S.C./Byrnes HS), Hunter Mullican (6-0, 205, McMinnville, Tenn./Warren County HS), Myles Neils (6-0, 180, Concord, N.C./Concord HS), Derrick Parks (6-1, 190, Knoxville, Tenn./Karns HS), Tyrique Robinson (6-4, 175, Little River, S.C./North Myrtle Beach HS), Deion Sims (6-1, 185, Spring Hill, Tenn./Independence HS), Michael Stampfel (6-3 ,185, Dacula, Ga./Dalton HS) and Qua Stocks (6-1, 175, Taylorsville, Ga./North Paulding HS) are competing for playing time.

Newcomers at tight end include the trio of Drew Davidson (6-1, 190, McMinnville, Tenn./Warren County HS), Austin Hoyle (6-2, 180, Greeneville, Tenn./South Greene HS) and Zack Jones (6-4, 230, Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Mt. Juliet HS).

Junior Billy Munker will be anchoring the Tusculum offensive line this season.  The 6-4, 300-pound product of West Palm Beach, Fla. (Royal Palm Beach HS) earned Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference second team honors after starting in all 11 games last season, while grading out above 88 percent in every outing.  Joining Munker in the trenches are returning offensive line starters Jake Bridwell (Sr., 6-1, 275, Duncan, S.C./Byrnes HS), Jeremy Wagner (Sr., 6-6, 325, Gulfport, Miss./Volunteer (TN) HS) and Max Gaubert (So., 6-3, 305, Bogart, Ga./North Oconee HS).

Also returning are senior Jay Roberts (Sr., 6-0, 300, Anderson, S.C./Greenville Tech/T.L. Hanna HS), sophomores Rictrell Harris (6-3, 285, Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven HS), Patrick Benson (6-4, 320, Cleveland, Tenn./Bradley Central HS) and Nick Wasylyk (6-3, 300, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada/Duluth (GA) HS), and redshirt freshmen Cody Armstrong (6-4, 340, Greenville, S.C./Riverside HS), Seth Betsel (6-3, 295, Franklin, Tenn./Page HS) and Zach Bradbury (6-2, 280, Cumming, Ga./West Forsyth HS).

“We are as strong at offensive line then we have been in the past,” DeBusk commented.  “We have eight or nine players that we feel very confident about, which should give us a boost, offensively.  We are expecting some great things from our men up front.”

New to the offensive front are freshmen Kory Gilliam (6-6, 320, Atlanta, Ga./Riverwood HS), Michael Khoury (6-4, 260, Old Hickory, Tenn./Mt Juliet HS), Landon Ramey (6-1, 290, Smyrna, Tenn./Smyrna HS) and Cody Santmyers (6-5, 305, Flowery Branch, Tenn./Flowery Branch HS).

Senior free safety LiRonta Archie will lead the Tusculum defense in 2014.  The Preseason All-America and All-SAC choice finished second on the team with 76 tackles a year ago, along with two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four passes defended.  The Fairburn, Georgia (North Atlanta HS) product enters his final collegiate campaign ranked in the top-10 in school history, including second in fumble recoveries (6), fourth in fumbles forced (6), fourth in interception return yards (107) and eighth in career interceptions (5).  The North Atlanta High School alum has totaled 185 tackles and 13 passes defended during his Pioneer career.

Joining him in the defensive secondary are 2013 starters Irim Aiken and Evan Dansby.  Aiken, a 6-0, 175-pound junior cornerback from Hanahan, South Carolina, finished sixth on the team with 51 tackles, including 30 solo stops which were third-most on the roster.  The Hanahan High School graduate tied for the team-lead with seven pass break-ups.  Dansby, a 6-0, 180-pound senior cornerback from Augusta, Georgia (Richmond Academy), led the Pioneers with nine passes defended to go along with his 36 tackles, including two for loss.

Sophomore Cameron Thomas (6-0, 190, Nicholasville, Ky./East Jessamine HS) saw significant playing time last year, mostly in a reserve role at strong safety where he amassed 38 tackles, including 22 solos and two pass break-ups.

“Our secondary is as talented from top-to-bottom as it has been in a while,” DeBusk added.  “They are physical, fast and we have some depth at those positions.  We have several players who have made plays from there during fall camp and right now they are the best part of our defensive football team.”

Despite sitting out last season, sophomore Deres Benn brings experience to the defensive back position as the Chattanooga, Tennessee native totaled 67 tackles in 2012, which were the third most on the team.  In his rookie season, the 6-2, 190-pound Red Bank High School product accounted for 10 or more tackles on four occasions.

Also back in the TC secondary are junior Mike Mosah (6-0, 200, Memphis, Tenn./Whitehaven HS), sophomores Cole Waddell (5-10, 170, Macon, Ga./Tattnall Square Academy), Brandon Thompson (6-1, 185, Bartow, Ga./Woodland HS), Chris Jackson (5-10, 185, Alachua, Fla./Sante Fe HS), Rashad Bennett (5-11, 175, Taylors, S.C./Blue Ridge HS) and redshirt freshmen Jason Ware (5-10, 165, Cleveland, Tenn./Walker Valley HS) and Akeem Peoples (6-0, 190, Lamar, S.C./Lamar HS).

Several new faces are in the defensive backfield for the Pioneers this fall, including: Dominic Alexander (5-11, 170, Jonesboro, Ga./Jonesboro HS), Jailyn Allen (5-9, 170, Acworth, Ga./Woodland HS), Quadre Allen (5-11, 180, Jonesboro, Ga./Jonesboro HS), Bryce Bartlett (5-10, 180, Dacula, Ga./Dacula HS), Tyriek Bell (6-2, 180, Columbia, S.C./Westwood HS), Quentavious Byrd (6-0, 180, Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove HS), Chris Childs (6-0, 180, Dalton, Ga./Dalton HS), Devonte Davis (5-10, 170, Dalton, Ga./Dalton HS), Wan’ye Davis (6-1, 185, Cary, N.C./Cary HS), Kendall Davis-Brister (6-1, 180, Douglasville, Ga./Hiram HS), James Dees (6-1, 180, Charlotte, N.C./Cox Mill HS), Christopher Franklin (5-7, 165, Covington, Ga./Newton HS), Evan Gates (6-1, 210, Charlotte, N.C./Davidson Day HS), JaQuan Jackson (5-9, 180, Fort Washington, Md./Friendly HS), Octavius McKinney (5-9, 180, Memphis, Tenn./Frayser HS), Quincy Nelson (6-0, 185, Powder Springs, Ga./Hillgrove HS), Rahmoi Parsons (5-10, 175, Hiram, Ga./McEachern HS), Eric Tate (6-1, 205, Riverdale, Ga./Mundys Mill HS), LaBrock Thomas (5-11, 190, Murfreesboro, Tenn./Siegel HS), Martez Thompkins (5-10, 165, Atlanta, Ga./Booker T. Washington HS) and Devin Williamson (6-1, 175, Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road HS).

Three starters are gone at linebacker including two-time All-SAC standout Brian Alexander.

“I’m a little concerned about the depth at linebacker,” said DeBusk.  “We lost some very good players at that position, but I think we are so much faster then we have been.  We have moved some personnel around that will help us there.”

Riverside, California senior Wayne Soliai (6-0, 225) moves to linebacker after playing last season at strong safety for the Pioneers in his first TC campaign.  The 2014 Preseason All-SAC second team choice finished fourth on the team with his 63 tackles, including 27 solo hits and three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.  The San Bernardino Valley College transfer also posted an interception, three passes defended and forced a fumble in his 11 starts.

Senior Darien Crank (Fort Campbell, Ky./Fort Campbell HS) recorded 26 tackles, including three for loss last season.  The 5-10, 180-pound linebacker added a pair of interceptions, including one he returned for a 44-yard touchdown in last year’s season-opener.

Dominic James is back for his senior year after his 21-tackle performance from a season ago.  The 5-9, 200-pound St. Petersburg, Florida native (St. Petersburg HS) has made 89 tackles for his TC career.

Also returning are linebackers Ahlija Blake (RFr., 6-0, 205, Clover, S.C./Clover HS), L’Keith Brown (RFr., 6-0, 210, Athens, Ga./Cedar Shoals HS), Zack Lane (So., 5-11, 210, Atlanta, Ga./Sandy Creek HS), Austin Raynor (RFr., 6-2, 200, Benson, N.C./South Johnston HS), Devin Starnes (5-11, 220, Rock Hill, S.C/South Pointe HS) and Quez Gaines (So., 6-0, 215, Anderson, S.C./Westside HS).

Looking to make their mark at linebacker are newcomers Brandyn Bartlett (Jr., 6-1, 215, Dacula, Ga./Dacula HS), Glenn Frazier (5-10, 230, Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern HS), Michael Guidry (5-11, 225, Ragley, La./South Beauregard HS), Christopher Hill (6-1, 185, Oliver Springs, Tenn./Coalfield HS), Payton Holbrooks (6-0, 210, Gainesville, Ga./Forsyth HS), Malek Holman (6-1, 185, Murfreesboro, Tenn./Oakland HS), Brett Larkin (6-0, 220, Alpharetta, Ga./South Forsyth HS), Stetson Mayes (6-2, 205, Atlanta, Ga./Riverwood HS), Dustin Mcabee (5-11, 185, Nashville, Tenn./McGavock HS), Chad McClanahan (6-2, 220, Kennesaw, Ga./North Cobb HS), Anthony Patrick (6-1, 205, Nashville, Tenn./Pearl-Cohn HS), Brigham Powell (6-2, 245, Mt. Juliet, Tenn./Mt. Juliet HS), Jacob Quillen (5-10, 215, Chuckey, Tenn./Chuckey-Doak HS), Robert Ramsey (6-1, 210, Mount Caramel, Tenn./Volunteer HS), Tristian Ramsey (5-11, 185, Newport, Tenn./Cosby HS), Matt Simon (6-1, 200, Lithonia, Ga./Chamblee HS), Elijah Stidmon (6-2, 180, Dalton, Ga./Dalton HS), Dwayne Taylor (6-2, 230, Decatur, Ga./Martin Luther King HS), Travis Thomas (6-0, 230, Duncan, S.C./Byrnes HS) and Brandon Williams (6-3, 225, Morrow, Ga./Forest Park HS).

Senior tackle Caushaud Lyons and sophomore nose guard Marlon Joyner are returning starters from the defensive front for the Pioneers a year ago.

Lyons, a 6-5, 295-pound native of Ellenwood, Georgia, finished seventh on the team and second amongst defensive linemen with 44 tackles.  His six tackles for loss were tied for second-most on the roster, including three sacks.   The Woodland High School graduate also broke up two passes and forced a fumble.  He enters his final collegiate season with 92 career tackles, including nine for loss, four sacks and an interception.

Joyner, a 6-2, 330-pounder from Decatur, Georgia (Decatur HS), recorded 11 tackles, including eight solo hits as he played in 10 outings, including the last four in a starting role.

Senior Rocky Jones will be looked too for leadership as he moves to the defensive end spot after playing the last three seasons at linebacker, including last season, posting 44 tackles.  Jones, a 6-3, 235-pound native of Anderson, South Carolina (Westside HS) also contributed an interception and a fumble recovery while starting in all 11 games at the linebacker slot.

Senior Chaz Moulder (6-1, 345, Atlanta, Ga./North Atlanta HS) enjoyed in his best Tusculum campaign last year after his 28-tackle performance, which including two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

Greeneville, Tennessee senior Chaz Story moves to the defensive front after playing his three previous TC campaigns at linebacker.  The 5-11, 260-pound Greeneville High School alumnus recorded 29 tackles, including 14 solo hits in his 11 outings.

Back in the defensive trenches are D’Andre Johnson (So., 6-1, 265, Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway HS), Matthew Jean-Gilles (5-11, 225, Concord, N.C./Cox Mill HS), DJ King (RFr., 6-3, 270, Cleveland, Tenn.), Troy Owens (So., 6-3, 260, Newnan, Ga./Decatur HS) and Malik Brewer (RFr., 6-4, 330, Chattanooga, Tenn./Boyd Buchanan HS).

New to the program this season are incoming defensive linemen: Jaquinton Alston-Thompson (6-4, 220, Marietta, Ga./Robert Lee Osborne HS), Paul Bain (6-3, 260, Powder Springs, Ga./Hillgrove HS), Tyler Brown (6-0, 260, Rockwood, Tenn./Rockwood HS), Justin Campbell (6-1, 245, Winchester, Tenn./Franklin County HS), Cooper Chaplin (6-0, 250, Marathon, Fla./Marathon HS), Trevor Ellis (6-3, 220, Cary, N.C./Cary HS), Emmanuel Gbunblee (Jr., 6-2, 250, Salisbury, N.C./Eastern Arizona/West Rowan HS), Tyler Josey (6-3, 260, Knoxville, Tenn./South Doyle HS), Montel Lipscomb (6-1, 270, Boiling Springs, S.C./Boiling Springs HS), Matt Roos (6-3, 240, Port Orange, Fla./Spruce Creek HS), Dominick Rowdy (6-1, 275, Winston-Salem, N.C./West Forsyth HS), Andrew Thomas (6-3, 210, Marietta, Ga./Marietta HS), Beze Uzoma (6-2, 240, Wake Forest, N.C./Heritage HS), Dechey Williams (6-4, 260, Jr., Laurel, Miss./Mississippi Gulf Coast/West Jones HS) and LJ Young (5-10, 210, Raleigh, N.C./Ravenscroft HS).

Almost the entire corps of Tusculum’s special teams personnel return, including senior placekicker Logan Cornelius and senior punter Logan Haynes.

Cornelius, a 6-0, 190-pound native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, enters his senior campaign listed in the top-10 in eight statistical categories, including his 165 career points, which are second-most amongst TC kickers and fourth all-time.  The East Hamilton High School graduate was the Pioneers’ leading scorer in 2013 with his 55 points, including 5-of-7 on field goals and 40-of-46 on his extra point efforts.

Haynes, a 5-11, 190-pound Dublin, Virginia (Livingstone College/Pulaski HS) product averaged 35.94 yards per punt last season, and pinned the opposition inside its 20-yard line on 12 occasions.

Returning for the Pioneers are specialists sophomore punter Austin Bennett (6-1, 200, Woodstock, Ga./River Ridge HS) and redshirt placekicker Jose Esparza (5-9, 235, Dandridge, Tenn./Jefferson County HS).

Redshirt freshman Ian O’Grady is the early favorite to earn his starting long snapper position back.  The 6-1, 200-pound Orlando, Florida native (Dr. Phillips HS) saw action in his first three outings, but was injured in the third contest and sidelining him for the remainder of the year.

Justin Houston was Tusculum’s primary kickoff return threat last year, averaging 21.7 yards per return which was the eighth-best average in the league in 2013, including a school single-game record 99-yard TD return against Wingate University.  Also seeing action on kickoffs were Evan Dansby (4-45, 11.2 ypr), Neil Lee (4-51, 12.8 ypr), Ken Funnye (3-33, 11.0 ypr), Fernando Smith (2-13, 6.5 ypr) and Johnathan Diliberto.

Deon Hicks also saw playing time on Tusculum’s punt return unit (9-44, 4.9 ypr), while Irim Aiken (2-27, 13.5 ypr) also saw action for the Pioneers.

Newcomers joining Tusculum’s specialty unit are: William Arrington (LS, 5-11, 195, Dacula, Ga./Dacula HS),  Corey Cantrell (PK, 6-0, 235, Goodlettsville, Tenn./White House HS), Hunter Cantrell (P, 6-2, 220, Sparta, Tenn./White County HS), Dennis Dominiquez (PK, 6-0, 175, Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern HS), Kelly Donnelly (P/LS, 6-3, 200, Pulaski, Tenn./Giles County HS), Drake Dormann (PK, 5-7, 160, Thompsons Station, Tenn./Independence HS), Scott Mode (PK, 5-9, 175, Easley, S.C./Easley HS) and Chris Watts (P, 6-0, 170, Ringgold, Ga./Ringgold HS).

The Pioneers will play an 11-game regular-season schedule and will host six home games for a second straight season.  The 2014 slate will also include four night games, including three at the Niswonger Sports Complex and Pioneer Field.

Tusculum will kick-off the gridiron campaign on Thursday, Sept. 4 when they host the College of Faith.  The Pioneers posted a 63-0 win over the Saints in last year’s inaugural meeting.  It will be the first of two Thursday night battles that the Pioneers will host this year.

The Pioneers will hit the road for the first time in 2014 when they make the 484-mile trek to Elizabeth City, N.C. to take on Elizabeth City State University.  Tusculum amassed a school-single game record 782 offensive yards in TC’s 54-41 win over the Vikings last year.

North Greenville visits Pioneer Field on Sept. 20 for a Saturday night clash with Tusculum.  The Crusaders won its first four games of 2013, including a home win over the Pioneers. But NGU would drop six of its last seven games to end the season at 5-6.  The Sept. 20 meeting will be the sixth installment of the series that began in 1995.

The Pioneers will kick-off its 16th season in the South Atlantic Conference when they take on three-time defending league champion Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C.  The Bears are coming off one the best seasons in their history.  L-R dropped its season opener, only to rattle off 13 straight wins, while advancing to the NCAA II national championship game, where they lost to Northwest Missouri State University.  Tusculum is 10-7 all-time against L-R in a series that started 90 years ago (1924).

The Pioneers will remain in North Carolina to take on SAC foe Catawba College on Oct. 4.  Tusculum defeated Catawba 43-25 at Pioneer Field last fall to record its sixth win in the series that started in 1996 (Catawba leads 12-6).

Tusculum returns home on Oct. 11 to face Newberry College as the Pioneers will play four of its next five contests at Pioneer Field.  The Wolves went 9-3 last season and tied for second place in the SAC.  Newberry punched its ticket for the NCAA Playoffs where they were eliminated in the opening round.  The Wolves opened 2013 with six straight victories, including a homecoming victory over the Pioneers.

Tusculum will host arch-rival Carson-Newman University on Oct. 18 at Pioneer Field for Homecoming.  It will mark only the second time the Pioneers have faced the Eagles for its annual Homecoming contest and first since 1937.  This year will mark the 44th encounter between TC and Carson-Newman in the second oldest collegiate gridiron rivalry in the State of Tennessee.

The Oct. 18 game will also be Sports Hall of Fame weekend as members of the 2014 induction class will honored at the game.

The Pioneers travel to Wingate University on Oct. 25 to take on the Bulldogs at Irwin Belk Stadium.  Wingate has won five in a row against TC, including a 41-33 decision in 2013 at Pioneer Field.

Tusculum returns home on Nov. 1 to face UNC Pembroke for Senior Day.  The Braves went 9-2 last year, and earned a berth to the NCAA Playoffs, where they were eliminated in the opening round.

The Pioneers will host Brevard College on Nov. 6, in a rare Thursday night game late in the season.

Tusculum will wrap up the regular season on Nov. 15 as the Pioneers travel over Sam’s Gap to face cross-mountain rival Mars Hill University.  Tusculum scored 21 unanswered points en route to a 49-42 win over Mars Hill in last year’s season finale.

The 2014 NCAA Division II Playoffs will begin Nov. 22 and will culminate with the DII National Championship Game on Dec. 20 and will be held in Kansas City, Missouri.


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Tusculum to host first fall open house Thursday, Sept. 4

Posted on 25 August 2014 by

Tusculum College is offering  high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn about college life and options available to them in continuing their education during open houses Sept. 4, Sept. 20 and Nov. 1.

The first open house will be Thursday, Sept. 4, and will include presentations on financial aid and the admission process. The event will also include a faculty fair, in which high school students can explore the academic majors offered at Tusculum and meet with professors. A tour of campus will also be provided.

Registration for the open house will begin at 3 p.m. Following the scheduled activities, participants will be guests at a tailgate with live music, food and other fun activities, and enjoy the opening home game for the Tusculum Pioneer football team.

Saturday, Sept. 20, is the date for the second open house. This event will also include presentations about financial aid and the admission process, the faculty fair and campus tour. In addition, this open house will include a parent and student panel, which will allow participants to ask specific questions. Registration for the open house will begin at 2 p.m. Participants will be invited to enjoy the football tailgate that evening prior to the Pioneers’ second home game.

The third open house in the fall will be Saturday, Nov. 1. The open house agenda will be the same as the one for Sept. 20. Registration will begin at 8 a.m., with participants invited to attend the football tailgate and the following game, which will be Senior Day for the team.

The open houses are for high school junior and seniors only.

Registration for the open houses can be completed online. Space is still available for all three events.


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Tusculum’s Williams publishes book on good works in 1 Peter

Posted on 21 August 2014 by

Tusculum College’s Dr. Travis B. Williams, assistant professor of religion, has released his second book, entitled, “Good Works in 1 Peter: Negotiating Social Conflict and Christian Identity in the Greco-Roman World.”

In this work, Dr. Williams, who served as the 2014 Theologian-in-Residence at Tusculum College, examines the question of 1 Peter’s call to “do good.”

Dr. Travis Williams

According to Dr. Williams, “Most interpreters understand the letter’s call to ‘do good’ as an admonition to behave in a manner which was consistent with popular standards of conduct. As such, many contend that the Petrine readers could expect their good works to be favorably acknowledged by Greco-Roman society. This has been the consensus opinion in scholarship for many years, shaping and directing modern investigations of the letter’s social strategy.” The goal of this work, however, is to challenge the modern consensus regarding the meaning and function of good works in 1 Peter in order to thereby provide a fresh reading of the letter’s social strategy.

Drawing on recent insights from postcolonial theory and social psychology, the book demonstrates that the exhortation to “do good” envisages a pattern of conduct which stands opposed to popular values. The Petrine author appropriates terminology that was commonly associated with wealth and social privilege and reinscribes it with a new meaning in order to provide his marginalized readers with an alternative vision of reality, one in which the honor and approval so valued in society is finally available to them. The good works theme thus articulates a competing discourse which challenges dominant social structures and the hegemonic ideology which underlies them.

The book is available through or by contacting the Tusculum College Bookstore at 423.636.7300423.636.7300.


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Tusculum to host College Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 27

Posted on 18 August 2014 by

Tusculum College will offer local high school and home-schooled students the opportunity to explore higher education options when it hosts its annual College Fair on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

There is no cost to attend the College Fair, which will be 9 – 11 a.m. in Pioneer Arena inside the Niswonger Commons. Participating in the event will be a wide variety of colleges and universities as well as vocational schools from the Southeast region. Each institution will have a display providing information about its academic programs. Most also have representatives on hand to answer specific questions about programs or the school.

The College Fair, coordinated by the Tusculum College Office of Admission, has grown in size in recent years, and the department is appreciative of the opportunity to bring this service to area students and their families.

For more information about the College Fair, please contact the Office of Admission at 423-636-7312, or e-mail


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‘History Night at the Greeneville Astros’ on Saturday to feature Museums of Tusculum College

Posted on 16 July 2014 by

The Museums of Tusculum College will be featured as part of “History Night at the Greeneville Astros” on Saturday, July 19, during its game with the Danville Braves.

The evening will feature the two museums on the Tusculum campus, the Doak House Museum and the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library, and several other area museums and historic groups on the concourse at Pioneer Park, also located at the college.

In addition, the Tennessee Association of Vintage Baseball will promote living history by bringing the 19th century to life through baseball events that use the rules, equipment, costumes and culture of the 1860s.

The ball game will begin at 6 p.m. The evening will also feature a concert by Nikki Moulder at 4:30 p.m., and fans arriving early will receive a free Astros jersey of former Greeneville Astros MVP and MLB All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve as they enter the gates.

For more information, please visit the Greeneville Astros web site or contact the Museums of Tusculum College at 423-636-8554 or email

The Doak House Museum and the President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library are operated by the Department of Museum Program and Studies of Tusculum College. In addition to the museums, the department is responsible for the College Archives and offers one of the few undergraduate Museum Studies degree programs in the country. The two museums are also part of the National Historic District on the Tusculum College campus. Follow the museums on Facebook and Twitter to learn the latest news and upcoming events or visit its Web site to learn more about the variety of programs offered at the museums.




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Ronda Gentry named director for Tusculum College’s Center for Civic Advancement

Posted on 09 July 2014 by

Ronda Gentry

Ronda Gentry joins Tusculum College in the Center for Civic Advancement (CCA) as the director of the center.

Gentry comes to Tusculum from Virginia Intermont College where she most recently served as vice president for institutional advancement. She has a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Campbell University, a Master of Divinity from the Duke Divinity School. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Union Institute and University and is working on her dissertation.

Previously Gentry has also worked as an adjunct professor and served as dean of student development at Virginia Intermont College. In addition, she served as chaplain at the college.

“It is great to have Ronda join us in the Center for Civic Advancement, and I’m certain she will be inspiring to students, staff and faculty who participate in the various service projects and programs of the CCA,” said Dr. Lisa Johnson, interim vice president for academic affairs.

The Center for Civic Advancement is dedicated to effecting positive change by promoting social responsibility, social justice and equity through civic engagement and service learning partnerships involving students, campus and the community. The CCA promotes service-learning on Tusculum’s campuses by connecting students to volunteer opportunities in the local area. The Center also provides faculty with resources to incorporate course-related service projects into their classes.

In her new role, Gentry will lead efforts to support academic service, including action research, service-learning and public scholarship and initiate dialogue about issues of social concern through trainings, lectures, and forums. She will also assist in providing students with a variety of community-based service and learning courses and project opportunities that emphasize the virtue competencies, build moral character, encourage compassion and promote social justice and civic engagement.


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Tusculum College names Dr. Lisa Johnson interim vice president of academic affairs

Posted on 30 June 2014 by

Dr. Lisa Johnson has been named interim vice president of academic affairs at Tusculum College. Johnson steps into the position previously held by Dr. Melinda Dukes who will be returning to the classroom as a member of the Tusculum College faculty. Dr. Johnson will serve in this capacity until August 11.

Dr. Lisa Johnson

Dr. Johnson previously served Tusculum College as assistant vice president for academic affairs, as director of the School of Education and as assistant professor of education.

In her new role she will be responsible for facilitating academic affairs strategic planning goals and providing leadership as new academic programs are implemented.

“Dr. Johnson has contributed to the success of Tusculum College for many years in the various leadership and administrative roles she has held,” said Tusculum President Nancy B. Moody. “She has been part of a strong academic leadership team and extremely active in working with others to more fully engage students and faculty.”

Johnson, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in special education from East Tennessee State University, also earned her master’s degree and doctorate of education, both in educational leadership and policy analysis, from ETSU.


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Tusculum College’s Dr. Nancy B. Moody invited to be part of Leadership Tennessee class

Posted on 27 June 2014 by

Tusculum College President Nancy B. Moody has been invited to participate in the second class of Leadership Tennessee.  The class was announced this week through the Lipscomb University Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership.

The program is designed to cultivate a network of business, nonprofit, education and government leaders who are committed to addressing the state’s challenges and opportunities. The class includes 31 members from across Tennessee.

“By bringing together top leaders in the business, education, health care and the nonprofit arenas, Leadership Tennessee introduces participants to different perspectives while also helping them understand the collaborative nature of conversation and action that will continue to move our state ahead,” said Cathy Cate, executive director of Leadership Tennessee and director of community leadership programs for the Andrews Institute.

Leadership Tennessee is a 10-month program that provides collaborative learning and dialogue spanning the state’s three grand divisions, issue-specific education for demonstrated leaders, a diverse representation of participants and opportunities to affect change. It will meet several times as a group in addition to participating in other activities, research and projects throughout the program. The program was launched in August 2013.

Dr. Nancy B. Moody

The inaugural class focused on three main issues—education, government efficiency and health and wellness. During the course of the program, the group produced a plan of action designed to impact the entire state, as well as each region. The program took participants to Chattanooga, Memphis and Knoxville among other locations in Tennessee. The 2014-15 Leadership Tennessee class will also meet throughout the state and examine important issues facing Tennessee. The class will begin the program with a retreat in August.

Members of this year’s class, in addition to Dr. Moody, include Sarah Morgan,president of Benwood Foundation; Carolyn Chism Hardy, chief executive officer of Chism Hardy Investments LLC; Doug Banister, pastor of All Souls Church; Joan Cronan, women’s athletic director emeritus at the University of Tennessee; Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee; Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation; Jim McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools; Madeline Rogero, mayor of the City of Knoxville;

Calvin Anderson, senior vice president of corporate affairs for BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee; Darrell Cobbins, president/principal broker for Universal Commercial Real Estate; Dorothy Gunther Pugh, CEO and founding artistic director for Ballet Memphis; Teresa Sloyan, executive director for Hyde Family Foundations; Michael Ugwueke, president and chief operating officer for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare;

A.C. Wharton, mayor of the City of Memphis; Charles Robert Bone of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC; Bo Campbell, attorney with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP; Mark Cate, chief of staff to the governor of the State of Tennessee; Jen Cole, executive director for the Metro Nashville Arts Commission;

Jaynee Day, president and chief executive officer for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee; Jose Gonzalez, finance director and instructor of management and entrepreneurship for Conexion Americas/Belmont University; Tre Hargett, secretary of state for the State of Tennessee; Beth Harwell, speaker of the House for the Tennessee General Assembly;

Henry Hicks, president and chief executive officer at the Nashville Museum of African American Music; Bob Higgins, president and chief executive officer for Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon; John Lowry, vice president of external affairs for Lipscomb University; Robert J. Martineau Jr., commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; Joelle Phillips, president of AT&T Tennessee; Michael Skipper, executive director for the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization; Remziya Suleyman, director of policy and administration for the American Center for Outreach, and Ted Brown, president of Martin Methodist College.

For more information about Leadership Tennessee visit or contact Cate at 615.966.5180 or


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Former Tusculum professor publishes book

Posted on 24 June 2014 by

Dr. Rick Toomey, former assistant professor at Tusculum College, has written a book about the life of his cousin, Debbie McDonald, who experienced severe brain trauma that left her in a vegetative state, and her journey to a life dominated by joy and hope.

Toomey’s book is titled, “I’m Fine:  A Story of Overcoming Adversity Through God’s Grace.” It details Debbie’s story beginning with a tragic automobile accident in January 1965, which took the life of her brother and left her in a comatose state.  Through prayer, loving care and her indomitable spirit, Debbie regained all her mental functioning and some of her physical abilities.

Toomey is a graduate of McMinn County High School and earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Tennessee. He also received a Master of Religious Education from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and served in several ministerial positions for 10 years.

During Toomey’s time at Tusculum, he taught numerous courses in the master’s program for Human Resource Development and Organizational Training and Development.

The book can be purchased on Amazon on Kindle Direct Publishing.


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American Society for Training and Development Award Scholarship to Tusculum College student

Posted on 23 June 2014 by

A $1,000 scholarship gift was awarded to Tusculum College student Michael Fawley for the current academic year. The award was presented from the organization’s Smokey Mountain Chapter.

Fawley is employed by Energizer as a marketing analyst in Knoxville and pursuing a master’s degree in education in human resource development at Tusculum College.

The American Society for Training and Development developed the annual scholarship in order to support a student or students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Education – Human Resource Development program at Tusculum College.

Michael Fawley

Recipients are selected who have high financial need and who have shown academic promise and a commitment to being active and involved in the field of training and development. Preference is given to adult students studying on the Knoxville campus of Tusculum College.

Fawley is a member of ASTD, vice president of the East Tennessee Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication and a member of the Institute for Packing Professionals.

In addition to his degree at Tusculum, Fawley has a Master’s of Business Administration and a bachelor’s degree in English, both from the University of Tennessee.


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Wayne Thomas named Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences at Tusculum College

Posted on 18 June 2014 by

Wayne Thomas has been named interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tusculum College, effective July 1.

Thomas has served as chair of the Department of Fine Arts and as associate professor of English. He has served previously as the chair of the English Department. He joined Tusculum College in 2005 and has not only continuously worked to serve his students and grow his departments, but has built several strong arts and humanities programs that have become part of the College’s culture.

“Under the leadership of Mr. Thomas, many students have successfully published, graduated and been admitted to graduate programs,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of the College. “Through the guidance of Mr. Thomas and other faculty members, many Tusculum students  have received scholarships and built relationships to pursue master’s degrees at a wide array of universities including Columbia University, the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Central Florida, the University of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee the School of Law, East Tennessee State University, Chatham University, Eastern Kentucky University, Washington University in St. Louis, Tampa University, the University of Memphis, the Art Institute of California and the Pittsburgh School of Mortuary Science.”

Wayne Thomas

After being named the College’s first chair of the Fine Arts Department, Thomas was instrumental in the resurrection of the tradition of the Old Oak Festival, working to bring it back with a focus on fine arts, music, theater and writing.

During his time with the English Department, Thomas coordinated the annual Humanities Lecture Series, bringing guest authors to campus not only to share their works, but to meet with students and share their professional experiences through small panel sessions. He has previously served as editor of the Tusculum Review, overseeing the student-driven production of the College’s literary journal.

Professor Thomas’s essays, stories and plays have been seen in several literary journals and anthologies, including “Sudden Stories: The Mammoth Book of Miniscule Fiction” and “River Teeth. In addition, he recently co-edited an anthology of Appalachian literature, “Red Holler.”

He has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre History and Literary Criticism from Georgia College, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Scriptwriting from Georgia College and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing/Fiction and Nonfiction from West Virginia University.

Thomas is the 2012 recipient of Tusculum College’s Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. He also received the alumni-presented National Living Faculty Award for dedicated service to students in 2013.


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Tusculum College students inducted into Psi Chi Honor Society

Posted on 04 June 2014 by

Tusculum College inducted 10 new students into the Psi Chi Honor Society in May.

Founded in 1927, Psi Chi recognizes psychology students whose diligent efforts have elevated them to the top 30 percent of their graduating class. This most recent induction ceremony focused on the accomplishments of Tusculum’s Graduate and Professional Studies students.

Inductees from the Morristown site included: Tracy Vandiver, Linda Burton and

Amanda Brooks. Inductees from the Greeneville campus were Jacquelyn Waddell, Toni Kingery, Nyki Bitton, Sara Cedillo, Tracy Ealey, Tara Cox and Lori Hull.

The ceremony, officiated by Dr. Brian Pope, professor of psychology and Dr. Bill Garris, associate professor of psychology, noted the importance of drawing from the social sciences to help solve complex human problems and celebrated the accomplishments of these students, inside and outside of the classroom.


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