Oct. 13, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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With the program-tying four-game road trip finally
over, the JU football team returns to D.B. Milne Field
for Homecoming against No. 8 Dayton on Saturday,
Oct. 14, at 12:30 p.m. The Dolphins, who are 5-3 in
Homecoming games, have won their last two
The game will be broadcast live on WJGR
1320 "The Patriot" with Barry Milligan returning for a
second tour of duty as the "Voice of the Dolphins."
Frank Callihan, the play-by-play announcer for The
Bolles School and a JU grad, will serve as guest color
commentator during the game. 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 33-50 (.398) mark at JU, including a 23-
22 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 74-99 (.428) in 17 seasons as a
collegiate head coach.
Brant close to a milestone
After a slow start to the 2006 season,
senior running back Jerry Brant is six yards shy of
surpassing Jon Underhill for third place on the all-time
JU rushing list.
The Jacksonville native currently sits at
1,688 yards and is only 295 yards from overtaking
Brent Alexander for the number two spot with five
games left in his Dolphin career. Emmett Hunter holds
the program record with 2,349 career yards.
Against Valparaiso, he tallied a career-high
159 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns (53,
one). He also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass to
total 201 yards of total offense. Against Butler, he
gained 101 yards on 19 carries.
Thus far in 2006, JU is 2-0 when Brant
surpasses the 100-yard mark.
You gotta love the "Big Uglies"
Heading into the Valparaiso contest, the
Dolphins were faced with a major dilemma. On the
offensive line, senior All-American left tackle Pat Rich,
junior center Rusty Stiglitz and sophomore right
tackle Michael Aguilar were not available for the
contest due to injuries.
To compensate for the changes, senior
right guard Josue Sanchez was moved to left tackles
which made junior left guard David Locander the only
starter to remain in his original spot. Making their way
into the starting lineup was sophomore Joe Vitale
(center), sophomore Steve Reynolds (right guard)
and sophomore Zach Huffmon (right tackle). Also
mixed into the rotation was sophomore Chris
Tessitore (right guard) to allow Reynolds time at
The makeshift line, which only had five days
to practice as a unit, made a major statement
against the Crusaders. Not only did the Dolphins rush
for a season-high 239 yards, including a career-high
159 yards by senior running back Jerry Brant, but
the "Big Uglies" did not allow a sack in the contest
and were flagged for only one penalty (false start).
Defensive streak ends
After shutting out opponents in the second
half in PFL play, the defense got a rude awakening on
the scoreboard at Davidson.
Although Davidson scored 38 points,
including 14 in the second half, the Wildcats managed
305 yards of total offense compared to 227 by the
Dolphins. The difference being Davidson starting four
drives inside the JU 40-yard line.
The streak began after allowing 35 points,
147 rushing yards and 292 yards of total offense in
the first half against SE Louisiana, the Dolphins
rebounded in the second half by allowing only six
points, 81 rushing yards and 131 yards of total
Against Butler, the Dolphins allowed only 26
yards rushing and 167 yards of total offense as the
unit dominated the entire contest. In the second
half, JU did not allow a score and the Bulldogs
generated only six yards rushing and 67 yards of total
Against Valparaiso, the defense shut out an
opponent in the second half for the second straight
weekend. After allowing 84 yards rushing and 248
yards of total offense in the first half, the Dolphins
worked their magic again in the second frame with
only 68 yards rushing and 101 yards of total offense
Forcing the issue
Another bright spot for the Dolphins in 2006
has been the playmaking ability of the defense, which
has forced nine turnovers in four games.
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.
Against Valparaiso, the Dolphins chalked up
another interception and forced a fumble.
The Dolphins also forced a fumble against
SE Louisiana and Butler.
However, JU did not force a turnover
JU in the national rankings
After starting off the PFL season at 2-0, JU
had found its way back into the national rankings in
The Dolphins ranked 10th in The Sports
Network Top-10 Poll and Don Hansen's Top-12 poll
and are seventh in the College Sports Report Top-20
poll on Oct. 2.
JU had spent 15 consecutive weeks in The
Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Top-10 Poll, reaching
as high as No. 2 on Oct. 1, 2001. The Dolphins also
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 scholarship level.
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 four games, Conner is second in the PFL
and is eighth in the nation in all-purpose yards with
an average of 155.0 yards per contest.
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
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 seven career starts, Horton has led the
Dolphins to a 3-0 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.
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 37
tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, a pass
deflection, two quarterback hurries and two forced
Curry named PFL Special Teams POW
Freshman place kicker Donovan Curry was
named PFL 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.
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 is Joe
The Deland, Fla., native had his best
performance at Valparaiso after finishing with 360
yards in nine attempts (40 yards per kick), including
four punts inside the 20-yard line.
Through four games, Recktenwald ranks
fourth in the conference with an average of 35.4
yards per punt.
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 College Sports Report
at the end of the 2004 season.
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. Shell is currently
a member of the Orlando Predators of the Arena
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 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 10-17 in five seasons.
The Dolphins are 4-9 (.308) against
opponents from the former North Division (2-0 vs.
Butler, 0-5 vs. Drake, 0-2 vs. Dayton, 0-1 vs. San
Diego, 2-1 vs. Valparaiso) and 6-8 (.429) all-time
against the former PFL South teams (5-4 vs.
Davidson, 1-4 vs. Morehead State).
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).
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.