Houston, TX-The 2009 Football season is officially underway for the Texas Southern Tigers. The players report for their first practice of the season tonight at Alexander Durley Field. This will be head coach Johnnie Cole’s second season. He finished the first 4-8, which equally the Tigers total wins over the previous four seasons. Cole expects the 2009 team to be much more competitive than last year and fans can expect more wins for TSU.
The most improvement will be on defense which will be led by new defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey. He will run a 4-3 defense led by junior linebacker Dejuan Fulghum. The Tigers will be more experienced on defense after starting six freshmen in 2008. Sophomore cornerback DeMarkus Washington was one of those young starters. He was honored as the 2008 SWAC Freshman of the Year for his efforts. Curtis Thomas (LB), Antonio St. Rose (LB), William Parker (LB), Kydarian Wilkins
(CB) and Mark Orphey (CB) are the other defensive players returning after a full year of SWAC football.
The offense will be led by two-time All American wide receiver and return specialist William Osborne. Osborne had 2308 yards of total offense in 2008 along with seven touchdowns. He was the primary target of Bobby Reid and the Tigers most dangerous offensive weapon. Arvel Nelson is expected to step in now that Reid is gone. Nelson led Fort Scott Junior College to a championship title last season.
Coach Cole says Nelson is a proven winner with good size and a big arm. The starting job is not a lock for Nelson. He’ll have to fight off sophomore Gino Simoni and red shirt freshman Harry Brown who both have the talent to lead the Tigers. Other top offensive returning players include, Marcus Wright (RB), Brian Haith (WR), Charles Smith (OL) and Matt Hardrick (OL).
The Tigers apparently made an impression on their peers in 2008, because TSU had five players named to the 2009 Preseason All-SWAC team. Texas Southern’s First Team members were Osborne as a return specialist, Fulghum as a linebacker, Washington as a defensive back and Andrew Thomas as a tight end. Charles Smith was named Preseason All-SWAC Second team offensive lineman and Osborne was named Preseason All-SWAC Second Team receiver.
Texas Southern’s practices are open to the public. The schedule is listed below. We look forward to seeing you for an exciting season of Tiger Football.