Sept. 28, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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After getting in the win column to open Pioneer
Football League play, JU will continue conference
action against Valparaiso at Brown Field on Saturday,
Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. EST. The Dolphins, who played at
Butler on Sept. 23, are in the midst of a season-high
four-game road trip and will play in the state of
Indiana for the second-consecutive weekend.
The game will be broadcast live on ESPN
1460 WZNZ with Barry Milligan returning for a second
tour of duty as the "Voice of the Dolphins." The
contest can also be heard live on
www.judolphins.com as part of the JU Sports Network.
Head coach Steve Gilbert
Head coach Steve Gilbert is in his ninth
season at Jacksonville, his 10th year overall. The 49-
year-old Freehold, N.J. native, hired in February of
1997, has built the program from the ground up. He
has posted a 32-49 (.390) mark at JU, including a 22-
21 mark against similar non-scholarship programs and
10 wins against scholarship teams.
Gilbert, who was named the 1996 NCAA
Division III Coach of the Year after leading Ursinus
College to its first-ever NCAA playoff berth, led the
Dolphins to their first winning season in 2001 (6-5)
and the PFL South Division Championship with a
perfect 3-0 mark in divisional play. Gilbert has a
career record of 73-98 (.427) in 17 seasons as a
collegiate head coach.
Junior Nate Conner has made plays as a
receiver but is most lethal when he is sitting under a
ball for a return on special teams.
In three games, Conner leads the nation in
all-purpose yards with an average of 208.7 yards per
contest. He also leads the conference with an
average of 12.7 yards per punt return, including a
high of 64 yards.
At Butler, Conner racked up 247 yards of
total offense (70 receiving yards, 176 return yards)
en route to PFL Special Teams Player of the Week
accolades. Included in the receiving performance was
a 64-yard score in the first quarter.
Conner earned all-PFL honors as a freshman
after finishing with 21.0 yards per return, including a
career-high 66-yard touchdown return against Austin
Peay on Oct. 16, 2004. He expanded his talents to
punts as well in 2005 as he finished with 13.0 yards
per return, including a season-high 67-yard
touchdown at Austin Peay on Oct. 22. Conner also
finished with an average of 30.4 yards per return with
a season-high 46-yard return against Morehead State
on Oct. 8.
Horton earns PFL weekly honor too
The incumbent starter heading into the
2006 season, junior Chris Horton has picked up where
he left off at the end of last season in which he took
over the starting role in the final three games.
In six career starts, Horton has led the
Dolphins to a 2-0 mark in the PFL.
In 2006, Horton has become more of a
threat through the air by tying a program record with
four touchdown passes in a 31-7 win at Butler.
Although he completed only 9-of-16 passes for 156
yards, Horton had touchdown strikes of 64, 44, 18
and six yards to earn PFL Offensive Player of the
Week honors on Sept. 25.
JU in the national rankings
After kicking the full-scholarship opponents
from the schedule, JU is finding its way back into the
national rankings in 2006.
The Dolphins rank 11th in Don Hansen's Top-
12 poll, 12th in the College Sports Report.com Top-20
poll and are receiving votes in The Sports Network
JU has been nationally ranked in 46 of the
last 53 weeks since entering the polls at the start of
the 2001 season. JU had spent 15 straight weeks in
the Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Top-10 Poll,
reaching as high as No. 2 on Oct. 1, 2001. The
Dolphins briefly entered the Sports Network Top 10 in
2003 with a No. 9 ranking on Sept. 29 following a 3-1
start. The Division I-AA Mid-Major polls includes the
22 programs of the MAAC, NEC and Pioneer Football
League, which play at a non-scholarship or limited
Brant breaks out
It took three weeks, but senior running
back Jerry Brant has finally broke the 100-yard barrier
In his defense, Brant gained 88 yards and
scored a touchdown against two full-scholarship
opponents in the first two games. Against Butler, he
gained 101 yards on 19 carries to break the 100-yard
plateau for the eighth time in his career.
In the JU career record book, he needs only
210 yards to surpass Jon Underhill for third place in
the all-time rushing list.
Putting the clamps down
The Dolphin defense made some changes
during the Southeastern Louisiana contest and the
results were noticeable as JU won the second half
battle by a score of 7-6 and earned its first win over
After allowing 35 points, 147 rushing yards
and 292 yards of total offense in the first half, the
Dolphins rebounded in the second half against SLU by
allowing only six points, 81 rushing yards and 131
yards of total offense.
Against Butler, the Dolphins allowed only 26
yards rushing and 167 yards of total offense as the
unit dominated the contest.
Freshman strong safety Jason Wood has
made the most of his opportunity to replace former
Dolphin Bernard Opaku in 2006.
After being converted from running back in
preseason camp, Wood was inserted into the starting
lineup within a week and has never looked back.
After three games, Wood leads the squad
with 19 tackles (10 solo) and is tied for eighth in the
conference with an average of 6.3 tackles per
Nose for the ball
Freshman linebacker Allen Fennell has
become the force in the middle for the Dolphins after
earning the starting nod during fall camp.
Although he is still learning the intricacies of
the position, his athleticism and natural instincts
have made him the second leading tackler on the
squad with 18 (10 solo) while also forcing and
recovering a fumble through three games. He is also
tied for 13th in the PFL with an average of 6.0 per
The power of many
One of the major holes to be filled for the
Dolphins in 2006 was left by all-time leading tackler
Brandon Torre in the linebacker corps. Torre, who
finished with 277 career tackles, was a mainstay on
the strong side and a fierce competitor despite his
lack of outstanding athletic ability.
The counter balance to that loss has been
a team effort in which several linebackers have
rotated during games. The "team concept" approach
has served the unit well as the defense has
continued to make an identity for itself.
Starting in Torre's place has been
sophomore Winston Ward. In three games, Ward has
racked up 10 tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced
fumble and a fumble recovery.
Also making an impact has been junior
Quintan Salery. In three games, Salery has seven
tackles, including two tackles for a loss.
Forcing the issue
Another bright spot for the Dolphins in 2006
has been the playmaking ability of the defense, which
has forced seven turnovers.
A major point of emphasis during preseason
camp, the Dolphins have set a goal of causing three
turnovers per contest.
Among the season-high five turnovers
forced by JU against Gardner-Webb (four fumbles,
one interception), two of the fumbles came inside the
Dolphins' own five-yard line in back-to-back
possessions by the Bulldogs.
The Dolphins also forced a fumble against
SE Louisiana and Butler.
Curry named PFL Special Teams POW
Freshman place kicker Donovan Curry was
named Pioneer Football League Special Teams Player
of the Week after tallying seven points, including a
pair of field goals, in a 41-13 loss to Southeastern
Louisiana on Sept. 16 at Strawberry Stadium.
Curry, who connected on his first collegiate
field goals in the contest, nailed a 23-yard attempt
to put the Dolphins on the board first. He ended the
half with 37-yard attempt to match the longest made
field goal by former kicker Ryan Feely in 2005. Curry
also added an extra-point in the third quarter to
finish the perfect night.
Against Butler, Curry put up seven more
points to help the squad to its first win of the
season. Included in the mix was a career-high 39
yard field goal, which was the fourth longest kick in
A three-year letterwinner as a kicker at
Eastside High School in Gainesville, Curry also played
four years of soccer for the Rams. He won the kicking
job during fall camp in a four-man freshman tryout.
As we make our way to the trenches, you
will find the heart and soul of the Dolphins' defensive
attack in 2006. Senior nose guard Ryan Young and
junior defensive tackle Kiel Pierce have been a one-
two punch on the defensive front for three years .
With a defense that got younger in a hurry,
the duo will be faced with the largest role of their
tenure: create havoc at the point of attack. In
2005, the twosome combined for 64 tackles, seven
tackles for loss and a sack and helped pave the way
for linebacker Brandon Torre to set the program
record for tackles. Young ranked third on the squad
with 40 tackles (20 solo) and registered at least five
tackles in 5-of-8 contests. Pierce finished with 24
tackles (13 solos) and one sack.
In 2006, the duo has combined for 19
tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a pass
deflection, two quarterback hurries and two forced
How about replacing an All-American?
Probably the biggest shoes, and leg, to
replace will be those left by All-America kicker Ryan
Feely earned first team all-conference
honors for the second straight year after ranking
sixth in the nation with 42.8 yards per punt.
The competition to replace Feely began
with four true freshmen during preseason camp. The
man who emerged from the rubble has been Joe
Through three games, Recktenwald ranks
fifth in the conference with an average of 33.4 yards
Rich named Pre-Season All-American
Dolphin senior offensive lineman Pat Rich
was tabbed second team I-AA Mid-Major Preseason
All-America by Don Hansen's Football Gazette.
Rich, who was named team captain in the
spring, earned honorable mention Division I-AA Mid-
Major All-America accolades by
CollegeSportsReport.com at the end of the 2004
A two-time first team all-Pioneer Football
League selection, Rich has developed into the anchor
of the Dolphin line since playing in all 11 games as a
true freshman in 2003. During that season, the
Dolphins produced a school-record 4,463 yards of
total offense, 2,103 rushing yards and running back
Emmett Hunter rushed for a program-record 1,467
yards en route to All-America honors. As a
sophomore, Rich had a key role in the Dolphins'
success in the rushing attack as JU ran for 180.8
yards per game, fourth-best in the PFL. Last season,
the Dolphins set the program record for total offense
(585 yards) against Butler as well as the second
highest total offensive output (578 yards) and the
second highest rushing total (371) against North
Jacksonville University Dolphins
JU is entering its ninth season of
intercollegiate football at the NCAA Division I-AA non-
scholarship level and has a 32-49 (.390) record in 81
games. The Dolphins are 19-23 all-time at Milne Field,
12-25 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites.
After competing as an independent for the
first three years of the program, JU is in its sixth
season as a member of the Pioneer Football League.
Former Dolphin players who have reached
the professional ranks include Micah Ross, a wide
receiver and special teams player (Jacksonville
Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, and Carolina Panthers)
and Linj Shell, a corner with the Cologne Centurions
(Philadelphia Eagles) of NFL Europe.
D.B. Milne Field
The Dolphins are 19-23 (.452) all-time at
D.B. Milne Field in six-plus seasons of football. In
2003, JU started 3-0 at home for the first time ever
and finished the season with a program-best four
home wins. The Dolphins' record was a standing-room-
only crowd of 4,890 in the inaugural game against
Davidson on Sept. 12, 1998.
JU selected fifth in new PFL Poll
JU was selected to finish fifth in the
restructured Pioneer Football League in the preseason
The PFL, which featured a north and south
division the past five seasons, will revert back to a
single division comprising eight teams in 2006. Due to
the loss of a league championship game, the PFL
regular-season winner will face the winner of the
Northeast Conference in the inaugural Gridiron Classic.
Defending champion San Diego was
predicted to finish first with five first-place votes (45
points) and Dayton earned two first-place votes for a
total of 43 points. Drake rounded out the top three
with 37 points and three-time defending South
champion Morehead State was picked fourth with 32
JU, which received one first-place vote,
ranked fifth with 26 points ahead of Davidson (17),
Valparaiso (15) and Butler (9).
JU in the Pioneer Football League
JU went a perfect 3-0 in the South Division
en route to the 2001 PFL South championship in its
first year in the league. Amongst teams which are still
in the PFL, the Dolphins are 8-16 in five seasons.
The Dolphins are 2-9 against opponents
from the former North Division (1-0 vs. Butler, 0-5 vs.
Drake, 0-2 vs. Dayton, 0-1 vs. San Diego, 1-1 vs.
Valparaiso) and 6-7 (.462) all-time against the former
PFL South teams (5-3 vs. Davidson, 1-4 vs.
New additions to the staff
Three new faces will grace the Dolphin
sidelines in 2006 with the additions of Brian Ferguson
(RB), Scott Hughes (WR) and Lt. David Hills as a
volunteer kicking specialist.
After announcing the promotion of fourth-
year coach Luther Price from wide receivers to
defensive backs, special teams and recruiting
coordinator this summer, second-year coach Thomas
Wagers moves from tight ends to quarterbacks and
third-year offensive coordinator/offensive line coach
Andy McLeod will incorporate tight ends.
The trio replaces Jason DesJarlais (Yale),
Chris Norris (Southeast Missouri) and Ryan Silverfield
Strength of schedule
The Dolphins' 2006 schedule features one of
the toughest schedules in program history, including
only four games being played at D.B. Milne Field.
Gardner-Webb, a scholarship program from
the Big South, will be the home opener for the
Dolphins on Sept. 2. JU will embark on a four-game
road trip which begins with another scholarship
program, Southeastern Louisiana, on Sept. 24.
The squad will open Pioneer Football League
play with three road games against Butler (Sept. 23),
Valparaiso (Sept. 30) and Davidson (Oct. 7), before
returning home against PFL power Dayton on Oct. 14.
The Dolphins head back
to the road for two weeks beginning with three-time
PFL South Champion Morehead State (Oct. 21) and
North Greenville (Oct. 28).
Jacksonville closes out its home slate on
Nov. 4 against defending PFL champion San Diego
before ending the year against Drake (Nov. 11).
The Dolphins have nine wins all-time against
scholarship opponents, including seven in the last
four seasons. JU's last win was against Webber
International in 2004.