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Arkansas State (3-2) at Memphis (1-4)
October 14, 2006
The Liberty Bowl (62,380)
Memphis, Tenn.
6:05 p.m. (CST)
Radio:  Arkansas State Radio Network (KCJF 103.9 FM, flagship)

ON TAP:  Arkansas State travels to Memphis to take on the University of Memphis Tigers in a 1 p.m., non-conference game at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.  Every Arkansas State game can be heard live on 103.9 FM in the Jonesboro area and the live radio broadcast can be accessed through the Arkansas State athletic web site (

THE PRINCIPALS:  Arkansas State hits the road for the third time this season when it travels to Memphis Saturday to take on the Tigers.  The Indians are 3-2 overall and 1-1 on the road this season, losing at SMU 55-9 Sept. 23 before bouncing back the following week to record a 31-6 Sun Belt Conference victory at Florida International.  Memphis will be retuning home after dropping a 35-28 decision on the road at Alabama-Birmingham.  The Tigers are 1-4 on the year, but 1-1 at home in the Liberty Bowl.  In its two home games, Memphis defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga 33-14 Sept. 9, then lost to Tennessee 41-9 Sept. 30.

THE COACHES:  Arkansas State head coach Steve Roberts is in his fifth year at Arkansas State after leading the Indians to the Sun Belt Conference championship and New Orleans Bowl last year.  He has guided ASU to 23 wins since his arrival.  The football programs’ 20 victories during Roberts’ first four years at the helm are its most over a four-year span since winning 21 games from 1987-1990.  Roberts was named the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.  Tiger head coach Tommy West is in his sixth season as the head coach at Memphis.  Under West, the Tiger football program has enjoyed success that is unmatched by any previous Tiger football team.  For the first time in school history, the Tigers have played in three consecutive bowl games, and West is already the third-winningest coach in school history, with 34 wins in his five-plus seasons.  The Tigers have posted a 22-12 record at the Liberty Bowl under West.

SCOUTING THE TIGERS:  Memphis enters this week's game after falling 35-28 at Alabama-Birmingham last week.  The Tigers took a 26-21 lead over the Blazers with under six minutes to play in the third quarter, but followed the score with a pair of turnovers that thwarted any chance of a Memphis comeback.  Memphis quarterback Martin Hankins passed for 303 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception in the game.  Hankins completed 22-of-30 passes against the Blazers, connecting with receivers Ryan Scott and Duke Calhoun six times each.  Scott logged 120 yards in receptions, and Calhoun added 81, with both players hauling in one touchdown pass each. 
The Memphis defense, which is now under the direction of West after defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn was relieved of his duties following the Tigers' 35-20 loss to East Carolina in Week 3, surrendered 279 rushing yards to the Blazers.  Two UAB players rushed for more than 100 yards in the game.
The Tigers are averaging 246 passing yards per game, and 338 yards of total offense, but give up an average of 395 yards per game on defense, including 207 yards on the ground.

THE MEMPHIS SERIES:  Memphis leads the all-time series 27-20-5.  The Tigers have defeated ASU in the last 10 meetings, including a 47-35 win at Indian Stadium in 2004, the last meeting between the two schools.  ASU’s last win in the series was a 17-13 win in 1989, and the two schools battled to a 24-24 tie in 1990.

THE LAST TIME vs. MEMPHIS:  JONESBORO, Ark. (9-17-04)—A sack with 2:30 left in the game turned the tide in Memphis’ favor as the Tigers (3-0) scored 21 points in the final 2:45 of the game to claim a 47-35 win over Arkansas State here on Saturday night, and sent the majority of the stadium record 30,427 home stunned.
The game reached epic proportions in several areas. The contest lasted four hours and five minutes, making it one of the longest regular-season games in school history. Both offenses rolled up enormous numbers and ASU quarterback Nick Noce threw for a school record 418-yards.
But it was not enough for the Indians.
The Indians faced a third-and-five and were ahead, 35-33, when the Noce dropped back for a pass. Looking left, Noce didn’t see the blitzing Tim Goodwell, who jarred the ball loose from Noce. Goodwell scooped up the ball and carried it ten yards to the end zone to give the Tigers their first lead of the game, at 40-35, with just 2:22 left to play.
It wasn’t how the Indians had hoped to end a ballgame in which the home team led 14-0 and 21-10 in the first half.
ASU’s lead seemed insurmountable after Noce found redshirt freshman receiver Levi Dejohnette over the middle for an 18-yard strike, one of four touchdown tosses on the night for Noce. That score put the Indians ahead of the Tigers, 35-26, with just 4:19 left to play in the game.
But that is where the wheels came off for ASU (0-3) and Memphis made just enough plays offensively late to pull out the win.
It was the first time ASU would host a top-25 team and the first time that the Tigers had played as a ranked team. Making a statement, the Indians struck early against the heavily favored Tigers as Noce found Chuck Walker on the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown pass on just the second offensive play of the game. After stuffing the Tigers on their first possession, ASU came back to fire another touchdown pass, this time to Jerome Stegall, a 28-yard completion to put ASU up 14-0.
The game featured 774-yards of passing and 1,041-yards of combined offense in what can only be described as an offensive shootout.

ON THIS DATE:  Arkansas State has played seven times on October 14 since the 1955 season and holds a 2-5 record in those games.  The last time the Indians played on the date was 2000, and the Indians fell 42-25 at Idaho.  ASU dropped its last two games played on the date, and its last victory was a 21-16 win over McNeese State in 1989.  ASU's other victory on Oct. 14 was a 26-24 win over Southern Illinois in 1978.

WADE HONORED:  ASU senior linebacker Devrett Wade was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week following his team-high 11-tackle performance in the Indians’ 10-6 victory over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday at Indian Stadium.  With the Warhawks threatening to score on ULM’s final possession, Wade broke up a pass on 4th-and-10 with 28 seconds remaining to help seal the win.  Wade’s 11 tackles in the game were a season high for the senior from Galveston, TX, and one shy of his career high.  Wade’s 11 stops also put him over the century-mark for his career, with 109 tackles.

THE LAST TIME OUT:  JONESBORO, Ark (10-7-06) - Quarterback Corey Leonard's 10-yard touchdown run with 2:07 remaining lifted the Arkansas State Indians to a 10-6 victory over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in a Sun Belt Conference battle Saturday night at Indian Stadium
Leonard's touchdown helped the Indians overcome five turnovers in Warhawk territory, and kept ASU unbeaten in Sun Belt play at 2-0. Arkansas State improved to 3-2 overall, and stretched its Indian Stadium win streak to seven games with the win. With the loss, ULM dropped to 1-4 overall, 0-2 in league play.
ASU's game-winning drive began at the Indian 38 with 5:20 remaining.  Leonard hooked up with tailback Cedric Wilkerson on the second play of the drive for a first down at the Warhawk 38, then hit wideout Gary Vincent for another first down on third-and-nine at the ULM 21 with just under four minutes remaining. Tailback Reggie Arnold picked up another first down on a run to the Warhawk 11 with 2:55 remaining, and two plays later, Leonard did the honors on a draw play from nine yards out.

ROBERTS CLIMBING VICTORIES LADDER:  In just a little over four seasons as the Indians head coach, Steve Roberts already has the fifth most victories among ASU’s 26 all-time head coaches with 23.  Larry Lacewell (1979-89) holds the record for victories with 69 and is followed by Bennie Ellender (1963-70) with 52 wins, Bill Davidson (1971-78) with 51 and Forrest England (1946-53) with 49.

ROBERTS IN CLOSE GAMES:  Fifth-year skipper Steve Roberts has seen numerous close games during his tenure with the Indians, holding a 13-6 record in games decided by eight points or less (35 percent of all his games).  Roberts’ teams have been especially successful recently in games decided by just one score, holding an 11-3 record in its last 13 games that ended under those circumstances.  Following is his record in close games:
Margin Roberts record
1 point 1-0
2 points 1-0
3 points 3-3
4 points 3-1
5 points 0-1
6 points 2-0
7 points 2-1
8 points 1-0

ROBERTS AND INDIAN STADIUM:  Arkansas State head coach Steve Roberts has led the Indians to a 16-5 record at Indian Stadium over the last five years for a .761 winning percentage.  Not only that, the Indians have won their last seven home games for their longest home winning streak since capturing 17 in a row from 1984-86.

MILESTONe Victory at Indian Stadium:  Arkansas State’s 10-6 victory over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday night was the 100th victory for the Indians in their home stadium.  ASU now stands at 100-63-1 all-time at Indian Stadium.

17 AND UNDER:  Arkansas State holds a 13-2 record under head coach Steve Roberts when holding its opponents to 17 points or less.  However, ASU is 10-28 over the last five seasons when allowing 17 or more points.  The Indians have won their last 10 consecutive games when holding their opponent to 17 or fewer points and has won 25 straight games when holding their opponents to 10 or fewer points.

UNBUCKLE THE BELT:  Arkansas State is in its sixth year as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, joining the league for its inaugural 2001 season.  After defeating Florida International in its Sun Belt opener Sept. 30, ASU is now a perfect 6-0 in Sun Belt openers with wins over Louisiana-Lafayette (2001), Louisiana-Monroe (2002-2004) and Florida International (2005-2006). 

BEST SUN BELT START:  With its win over ULM Saturday, Arkansas State matched its best-ever start in Sun Belt Conference play.  The Indians stand at 2-0 in league play, matching the 2002 start that was accomplished in Steve Roberts’ first year as head coach.

THREE IN A ROW:  Dating back to last season, ASU has won four consecutive Sun Belt Conference games.  That is the longest winning streak ever by ASU in the Sun Belt.  The last time ASU won four or more consecutive games in any league was 1985-86 when it won 10 Southland Conference games in a row.

RISING STAR:  Arkansas State redshirt freshman tailback Reggie Arnold leads the Sun Belt in rushing with an average of 93.8 yards per game.  That figure is also good enough to rank Arnold at No. 26 nationally. Arnold rushed for 140 yards in the season opener against Army, then topped that number with 142 yards Sept. 30 against Florida International.  Arnold gained 48 yards against ULM despite suffering a first-half injury.  Arnold came back in the fourth quarter to pick up a key first down on ASU’s game-winning drive.

OFFENSIVE HIGHS:  The Indians posted a season-high 372 yards of total offense against Louisiana-Monroe, and also logged a season-high 200 yards passing against the Warhawks.

CAREER HIGHS:  Numerous Indians posted career highs last week vs. ULM - Freshman quarterback Corey Leonard attempted 26 passes, completed 13 passes, rushed for 52 yards, and passed for 130 yards, all career highs...junior linebacker Koby McKinnon logged a career-high 11 tackles...freshman tailback Cedric Wilkerson rushed 10 times for 42 yards, with a long run of 11 yards, caught five passes for 47 yards, with a long reception of 18 yards, all career highs, and sophomore wideout Kevin Jones caught a career-high three passes.

MOVING UP:  ASU Junior wide receiver Levi Dejohnette of Bastrop, LA moved into 12th place in career receptions with his four catches against Louisiana-Monroe.  Dejohnette now has 74 receptions in his career, and passed Jason Wood, who had 73 receptions from 2001-04.

DEFENSE SHINES:  The Indian defense sits atop the Sun Belt and is ranked No. 19 nationally in total defense.  ASU’s defense yields just 273.6 yards per game.  The Indian defense is also tied for 13th in the nation in turnovers gained, taking the ball away from its opponents 14 times through five game.

ASU IN TOP 3 NATIONALLY IN INTERCEPTIONS:  Only two teams are ranked ahead of Arkansas State’s defense in total interceptions, and both of those teams have played one more game than the Indians.  Through six games, Ohio State and Baylor lead the nation with 12 interceptions, while ASU ranks third nationally with 11, despite having played just five games.  The Indians have intercepted at least one pass in all five games.  Cornerback Dominique Williams leads the team with three interceptions, and is tied for 11th nationally among interception leaders.  Williams is ranked third among players whose teams have played just five games.

TOP 10 PASS DEFENSE: ASU’s pass defense is ranked 10th nationally.  The Indians are giving up just 152.6 yards per game through the air, a figure that is the best in the Sun Belt Conference despite having played the Sun Belt’s top two passing teams, FIU and ULM.

HOT STARTS:  For the second consecutive week, the ASU defense forced a turnover on its opponent’s opening possession.  Against Florida International two weeks ago, the turnover came on the first play from scrimmage.  Against ULM, ASU linebacker Josh Williams intercepted a pass on the second play from scrimmage.

DEFENSIVE STREAK BROKEN:  When ULM tailback Calvin Dawson scored a touchdown on an 8-yard run with 14:55 remaining in the second quarter, it was the first touchdown that ASU had surrendered at Indian Stadium since Louisiana-Lafayette's Josh Harrison scored on a 3-yard run Oct. 13, 2005 in a 39-36 ASU victory over the Ragin' Cajuns.  That amounts to a time span of  349 days, or 195 minutes and 57 seconds of game-time.

THIRD DOWN THREAT:  The ASU offense leads the Sun Belt Conference in third down conversion percentage, making good on 41.7 percent of its third down tries.  The Indians also rank second in the league in rushing offense at 159 yards per game, and third in the Sun Belt in total offense at 294.2 yards per game - just 18.6 yards behind league-leading ULM, which averages 312.8 yards of total offense per game.

SPECIAL TEAMS THREAT:  Defensive back Darren Toney became the seventh player in school history to surpass 1,000 kickoff return yards in a career earlier this season and is now ranked fifth all-time at ASU with 1,107 yards to his credit.  Toney needs 69 yards to take over fourth place.  James Hickenbotham (1999-02) is the all-time leader with 1,746 yards to his credit.

BEST START UNDER ROBERTS:  With the 10-6 win over Louisiana-Monroe, ASU matched its best start since 1998, and the first time in head coach Steve Roberts’ career that the Indians have started 3-2. 

CONTROLLING THE CLOCK:  The Indians have won the time of possession battle in all five games this season, and lead the Sun Belt Conference in time of possession at 33:39.  That figure also ranks the Indians at No. 5 nationally.  ASU is sixth in the nation for fewest plays ran by an opponent.  ASU's opponents are averaging 56.4 plays per game, which is 10 fewer per game than the Indian offense.

SPREADING THE BALL AROUND:  A season-high eight different players caught a pass against SMU  on Sept. 23 and 13 different ASU players have caught at least one pass this season.  ASU has completed a pass to at least seven different players in four of its five games this year.

VINCENT’S CATCH STREAK CONTINUES:  Senior wide receiver Gary Vincent has caught at least one pass in all five games this season and dating back to the 2005 campaign, has now caught a pass in 11 consecutive games.  Vincent caught four passes for 39 yards against Louisiana-Monroe.

FAN INTEREST:    The Indians opened its season at Indian Stadium for the first time since 1995 and the crowd of 23,426 in attendance for the Army game was the fourth largest in Indian Stadium history...  The largest crowd in school history was 30,427 when ASU played Memphis in 2004...  The official attendance of 18,785 at Saturday’s game vs. ULM was the 11th largest crowd in the history of Indian Stadium . . . The 23,816 fans on hand to watch ASU’s game against Oklahoma State was the largest ever to watch an Arkansas State game at War Memorial Stadium.

AT THE TOP OF THE RANKINGS:  While the season is still young, ASU is ranked among the top three teams in the Sun Belt Conference in 13 statistical categories.  The Indians are No. 1 in total defense, pass defense, opponent first downs, third down conversions, and time of possession.

STANDOUT LINEBACKER MAKES RETURN:  Linebacker Josh Williams is back after missing the entire 2005 season and recorded 29 tackles in his first five games, the most on the team.  Against ULM Saturday, he notched his first pass interception of the season.  As a freshman in 2004, Williams started all 11 games, led the team in tackles with 110, and was the top freshman tackler in the nation. He was also named first-team Freshman All-America by and second-team Freshman All-America by the Sporting News and by The 6-1, 255-pound junior from Beaumont, Texas, was the only freshman in the nation in 2004 to finish among the top 50 tacklers in the country.

ARNOLD NAMED SUN BELT OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Redshirt freshman running back Reggie Arnold was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4 after rushing for a game-high 140 yards and one touchdown to help lead ASU to a 14-6 victory over Army.  In his first collegiate game, Arnold carried the ball 25 times for a 5.6 average and had six rushes that went for at least 10 yards.  His longest run went for 22 yards, while his touchdown rush covered 17 yards.

JAMES NAMED SUN BELT DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Senior defensive lineman Jamarrow James was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4 after recording a career-tying seven tackles, including three for a loss of 12 yards, in a 14-6 victory over Army.  His seven tackles tied the second most on the team and his three tackles for a loss led all players.  Out of his seven tackles, five were solo.

THE ROCK CLASSIC:  Arkansas State returned to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock for the first time since 2003 when it played Oklahoma State on Sept. 9.  ASU’s games played at War Memorial Stadium have been branded “The Rock Classic” and there is a trophy that lists the scores from each previous ASU game at the stadium.  Following is a list of “The Rock Classic” games:
1967, ASU vs. The Citadel (L, 7-20)
1968, ASU vs. Trinity (W, 31-14)
1969, ASU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (W, 26-0)
1970, ASU vs. The Citadel (W, 24-7)
1971, ASU vs. Abilene Christian (W, 35-9)
1972, ASU vs. Louisiana Tech (L, 17-38)
1973, ASU vs. Xavier (W, 37-0)
1975, ASU vs. Southern Illinois (W, 35-12)
1978, ASU vs. Southern Miss (L, 6-21)
1983, ASU vs. North Texas (L, 0-17)
2002, ASU vs. San Jose St. (L, 14-33)
2003, ASU vs. Louisiana-Monroe (W, 44-41)
2006, ASU vs. Oklahoma State (L, 35-7)

FOR STARTERS:  Arkansas State won its season opener for the first time since 1995 with a 14-6 victory over Army.  The game also marked the first time the Indians had opened the season at Indian Stadium since 1995 and the 11th time that ASU had ever opened its season at Indian Stadium since it opened in 1974.  ASU improved to 9-2 in season opening games at Indian Stadium.  ASU is now 43-43-6 all-time in season openers.

92nd SEASON UNDER WAY:  Arkansas State kicked off its 92nd season of football with its game against Army.  The Indians hold a 393-418-37 record since the inaugural 1911 season and have played in seven bowl games.    With seven more victories, ASU can become the fifth Sun Belt school with 400+ wins.

BREAKING THE TREND:  ASU's victory over Army was its first over a non-conference Division I-A opponent since defeating Tulsa 21-19 in 2002.  Arkansas State has not defeated two Division I-A non-conference opponents in the same season since returning to D-IA in 1992.

ON A ROLL AT HOME:  ASU has now won its last seven home games, its longest home winning streak since capturing 17 in a row from 1984-1986.

STRONG DEFENSE:  The ASU defense held Army to just 164 yards of total offense, which is the Indians’ fewest offensive yards allowed since holding Sam Houston State to 150 yards in 1986, in its season opener. 

TEAM CAPTAINS:  ASU’s senior class, made up of 15 players, will alternate throughout the year as team captains.  The team will vote on permanent captains at the end of the year.

PRESEASON PICKS:  Defending Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State has been picked to finish second in the 2006 Sun Belt Conference football race according to a preseason poll of the league's eight head coaches.  The Indians received 50 points, just eight fewer than preseason favorite Louisiana-Lafayette, and picked up two first-place votes.  Troy followed Arkansas State with 48 points, while North Texas was selected fourth, Louisiana-Monroe fifth, Middle Tennessee sixth, Florida Atlantic seventh and Florida International eighth.

FOUR-YEAR IMPROVEMENT:  Since head coach Steve Roberts arrival in 2002, Arkansas State’s football program has seen its win total increase by almost 100 percent over the previous four years.  ASU has posted 20 wins over the last four years, nine more than it recorded the four years prior to Roberts.  In fact, ASU’s 20 wins over the last four years are the most for a four-year span since it collected 21 victories from 1987-90.

AMONG THE BEST IN THE BELT:  Since the first season of Sun Belt Conference football in 2001, Arkansas State has recorded the third most conference victories (18) and overall wins (25) among all teams to have ever played in the league.  North Texas is No. 1 with 28 conference victories and 31 overall victories, followed by MTSU with 20 conference wins and 28 overall victories.  Louisiana-Lafayette follows the Indians with 15 conference wins and 23 overall.

JENKINS & JOHNSON NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SUN BELT:  Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson and center Tanner Jenkins were named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Football Team, the league announced Monday at its 2006 Media Day.  Johnson was an All-Sun Belt Conference selection his first two seasons with the Indians, actually leading the team in tackles last year as a sophomore with 112 stops to his credit . . .   Jenkins, the Indians player representative at the Sun Belt Media Day, continued to pile up his accolades with his selection to the preseason All-Sun Belt Team.  The senior standout has also been named to the Dave Rimington Trophy List and the Rotary Lombardi Watch List.  He was a First Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection in 2005 . . . Louisiana-Lafayette quarterback Jerry Babb was named the league's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Florida International linebacker Keyonvis Bouie was picked as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

SUN BELT ANNOUNCES TV SCHEDULE:  The Sun Belt Conference office released its 2006 football TV schedule on Monday at its annual Football Media Day and defending league-champion Arkansas State will play five televised games during the upcoming season.
The Indians TV schedule features two non-conference games, including its game against Oklahoma State on Sept. 9 in Little Rock and its game at Auburn on Nov. 4, and three games against Sun Belt opponents . . . Two of ASU's three televised conference games will be played at Indian Stadium.  The first of those two will be against Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 7 and the other will be against North Texas on Oct. 21.  The Indian's final televised game will be on Nov. 18 at Troy . . . All five ASU games be seen on Cable Channel 22 in the Jonesboro area.
Arkansas State's Televised Games
Sept. 9 Oklahoma St. at ASU.+ ESPNU
Oct. 7 L.-Monroe at ASU ESPN Regional
Oct. 21 North Texas at ASU ESPN Regional
Nov. 4 ASU at Auburn CSS
Nov. 18 ASU at Troy ESPN Regional
+War Memorial Stadium (Little Rock, AR)

A NEW LOOK:  Arkansas State will play four games on brand new ProGreen turf in Indian Stadium during 2006. The Indians host Army (Sept. 2), Louisiana-Monroe (Oct. 7), North Texas (Oct. 21), and Middle Tennessee (Nov. 11). ASU’s fifth “home game” is set for Sept. 9 in Little Rock against Oklahoma State.

HIGHLY DECORATED:  Center Tanner Jenkins is looking to be one of the most decorated players ASU has had. He has been selected to the 2006 Dave Rimington Trophy Watch List, the Outland Trophy Watch List, and to the Rotary Lombardi Watch List. The Sporting News has tabbed him as a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference performer and has picked Jenkins to its 2006 preseason All-america team. Jenkins has also been chosen to the preseason All-America list by Street & Smith. He is also a selection to the preseason All-SBC team.

SAFETY WORTH MORE THAN TWO POINTS:  Safety Tyrell Johnson was named to The Sporting News 2006 Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference football team and the publication’s Defensive Player of the Year.

AMONG THE BEST IN THE BELT:  Eight members of ASU’s football team have been named to the preseason All-Sun Belt  Conference team and four are listed in the organization’s Top 30 players in the Sun Belt. LB Josh Williams and S Tyrell Johnson are ASU’s representatives on the first team defense. The second team includes WR Levi Dejohnette, C Tanner Jenkins, OL Matt Mandich, DL Jamarrow James, LB Devrett Wade and DB Khayyam Burns. Williams is rated the third-best player in the SBC followed by number four by Johnson. Burns is ranked 22nd and FB Oren O’Neal is 30th.

SPECIAL DATES:  Several promotional events are being featured during the 2006 season. On Sept. 2, former ASU football players will return to campus for the “Larry Lacewell Era” reunion. Homecoming is set for Oct. 21 versus North Texas. And, on Nov. 11, in addition to Senior Day,” Indian Stadium is the site of the Jazz in Jonesboro festivities as well as the Memphis in May barbeque qualifying event.

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY:  Fullback Oren O’Neal, a walk-on who overcame serious medical problems to come back and earn a scholarship, has been recognized in a special feature for “Walk-on of the Year” on The 6-0, 248-pound senior from Stuttgart was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after ASU filed an appeal for the extra year due to medical reasons. After arriving in 2001, O’Neal was diagnosed with chylothorax, a condition that produces a buildup of fluid in the chest through a duct. Surgery repaired the duct and O’Neal returned to the team and worked on getting stronger and earned a scholarship.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION:  Speaking of O’Neal, he was the named the recipient of the 2006 Terry Gwin Award at a special senior recognition ceremony in April. The Gwin Award is the highest award an ASU senior may receive and recognizes the academic and athletic accomplishments along with character and leadership qualities.

LETS SEE THAT AGAIN:  XOS Technologies, a leading provider of sports technology and media solutions to professional and collegiate teams and conferences, has been selected by the Sun Belt Conference to provide in-game instant replay capabilities during all of its conference and non-conference football games in 2006. XOS Replay is a fully integrated digital video recording solution that will enable replay officials to watch, and simultaneously record, live feeds from the various cameras mounted in the stadium.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS IN THE CLASSROOM:  The Indian football team has won the Sun Belt Conference team academic award twice in the last three years, including 2005.  This marks the first time the team GPA award and conference title went to the same football team in the Sun Belt. Along the academics line, ASU traveled 98 players to the New Orleans Bowl in 2005. In a recognition ceremony at the hotel, 41 of those players were cited as having a GPA of 3.00 or better.

RETURN TO CHAMPIONSHIP FORM:  ASU’s conference championship in 2005 was the first for the Indians since 1986 when ASU finished the season with a record of 12-2-1 and earned a trip to the Division I-AA national championship game—the Diamond Bowl. The last time ASU played in a Division I bowl game prior to 2005’s New Orleans Bowl was in 1970.

ROBERTS RECEIVES LEAGUE’S TOP COACHING HONOR:  Head Coach Steve Roberts is the 2005 Sun Belt Conference “Coach of the Year.”

“RED” RECOGNIZED:  ASU’s spirit character “Red” finished second overall at the national mascot competition in January 2006.

THERE IS A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING:  Arkansas State faces two opponents in 2006 for the first time ever. The Sept. 23 game at Southern Methodist marks the first these two schools have met on the football field and the matchup with Auburn Nov. 4 is a first for the Indians. SMU will come to Jonesboro in 2007.

TWO-SPORT STARS:  Darren Toney and Evan Van Dolah also compete as members of ASU’s track and field team. Toney competed both indoors and outdoors with Van Dolah competing indoors only. Toney, had an indoor season best of 6.56 in the 55-meter dash while Van Dolah clocked 6.83. In the 60-meter dash, Toney ran 7.01 and then 22.70 in the 200. Van Dolah turned in his best of 8.60 in the 60-meter hurdles. Outdoors, Toney posted the fastest 100-meter time on the team with 10.85 and third in the 200 with 22.12. He also ran the anchor leg on the 4x100-meter relay which ran a best of 41.35 and the third leg on the 1:26.96 4x200-meter squad.

FAMILY TIES:  Players Chris James and Jamarrow James are cousins.  Quarterback Travis Hewitt’s father is the equipment supervisor for the NFL St. Louis Rams.

A TIME TO BOND:  When Head Coach Steve Roberts came to ASU, he brought a tradition with him which caught on in a hurry with the players. The night before each game, team members and coaches get together for milk and cookies. During this time, each player sits by and visits with at least three other players he has not visited with throughout the week in order to learn more about his teammates.

FIVE INDUCTED INTO ASU HALL OF HONOR:  Five Arkansas State University athletic legends joined the ASU Hall of Honor Friday, Sept. 1, when induction ceremonies were held at the Fowler Center.  The inductees, which bring the Hall total to 114, are former football coach Mike Malham, Sr., football All-American Charlie Fredrick, track and field NCAA All-American Jerald Spencer, volleyball record holder and 1994 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Margie Kolat McGee, and football standout Major General James E. Simmons. The group was recognized during halftime of the ASU-Army football game Saturday (Sept. 2).

NFL Great Ray Brown SpeakS To ASU Touchdown Club: Former Arkansas State and National Football League great Ray Brown was the featured speaker at the ASU Touchdown Club meeting at the Holiday Inn in Jonesboro Thursday evening.  Brown, who played at ASU from 1983-85, recently retired after 21 years in the NFL. After being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1986, he went on to an illustrious career with the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers. He joined the Detroit Lions in 2002 and immediately earned a starting spot and won the Eric Andolsek Top Offensive Lineman Award. He rejoined the Redskins in 2004 and played in all 16 games and started 13. Brown played in the Pro Bowl in 2001. At ASU, Brown was an All-Southland Conference selection and the first player in conference history to be named first-team all-conference at two different positions in same season (OL and TE).
Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce Hosting Paint the Town Red:  The ASU Committee of the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting “Paint the Town Red,” last week celebrating the first ASU home game of the season. The committee organized several events leading up to the ASU vs. Army game last Saturday.   Now in its 10th year, “Paint the Town Red” began with a balloon launch at Indian Stadium. Businesses around Jonesboro decorated both inside and out to show their support for the Indians. The decorating contest judging was held from 1-4 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31.   The “Big, Great A-State Tailgate” took place Friday, Sept. 1 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in downtown Jonesboro. The tailgate party featured live music, free food and activities for children. Coach Steve Roberts and the ASU football team will be downtown, along with Red, the ASU cheerleaders, A-team and band.   The week-long celebration will come to a close with Paint the Stadium Red, when the Indians faced the Black Knights of Army Saturday at Indian Stadium.