Nov. 27, 2009
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The 2009 football season was one full of trials and tribulations for the Rams of Winston-Salem State University. Despite posting a 1-10 overall record, the Rams were successful both on the field and off as WSSU completed the 68th season of football at the history-laden HBCU. The Rams posted successes on the field, as a youthful and talent-laden roster gained another year of invaluable college football experience, and off as those same Rams gave back over 300 total hours of community service back to the Piedmont Triad region as the football program continues to embody the University’s “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve” mantra.
The 2009 football season saw the Rams post a 1-10 overall record and saw WSSU post a 1-8 mark versus Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents. WSSU’s lone win came on October 24, 2009 as they defeated the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman 16-10 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Despite the 1-10 record, the Rams dropped seven games by 10 points or less and WSSU lost five games by a touchdown or less. In five home contests, the Rams’ faithful came out to support their team as WSSU averaged 11,727 fans per game as the Rams boasted a total attendance of 58,636 over the span of the 2009 season (five home games).
The 2009 season was the 68th season in Winston-Salem State University football history. Through 68 years of play, WSSU owns a 354-286-25 (.532) record.
A Quick Look At The Rams
• The Rams posted a 1-10 overall record, an 0-5 mark at home, a 1-4 record on the road and an 0-1 record at neutral sites.
• Winston-Salem State closes the season riding a three-game losing streak after having snapped an eight-game losing streak dating back to 2008 as the Rams earned a 16-10 victory over Bethune-Cookman on Oct. 24 in Daytona Beach, Fla. for WSSU’s only win of the 2009 season.
• The Rams close the 2009 season riding a seven-game losing streak at home as WSSU has not won at Bowman Gray Stadium since a 34-10 victory over Howard that came on Oct. 4 of 2008.
• The Rams, owners of one of the most esteemed rushing offenses in the nation, failed to have a 100-yard rusher in 2009. WSSU has not had a 100-yard rusher since Nic Cooper posted 111 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown on Nov. 22, 2008 vs. Norfolk State.
• In 2009 the Rams favored the run in 62.5 percent of their plays. The Rams ran the ball 405 times and passed only 243 times in 2009. Despite this propensity for the ground attack, the Rams averaged marks of 4.4 yards per pass and 3.1 yard per rush.
• The Rams defense was, by far, the more effective unit in 2009 as WSSU allowed just 21.2 ppg, 134.5 rushing ypg, 165.9 passing ypg and 300.4 ypg overall.
• If officially ranked among FCS teams, the Rams would be 50th against the rush and 23rd in overall total defense. Their scoring defense (51st) and passing defense (54th) would also rank among the top half of teams in Division I FCS.
• The Rams ranked in the top-25 in the nation in four statistical categories. WSSU was 19th in the country in pass efficiency defense (120.00); 23rd in the nation in total defense (300.4 ypg); 19th in the nation in net punting (31.1 ypp) and 14th in the nation in punt returns (12.7 ypr).
• The Rams ranked second in the MEAC in both net punting (31.1 yards per punt) and in punt returns (12.7 yards per return).
• There are 118 Division I-FCS teams in the nation. The 2009 Rams were in the top half of the nation’s 118 football teams in eight statistical categories. WSSU was 19th in the country in pass efficiency defense (120.00); 23rd in the nation in total defense (300.4 ypg); 19th in the nation in net punting (31.1 ypp); 14th in the nation in punt returns (12.7 ypr); 50th in the nation in rushing defense (134.5 ypg); 51st in the nation in scoring defense (22.2 ppg); 54th in the nation in passing defense (165.9 ypg) and 56th in the nation in tackles for loss (6.1 TFL per game).
• The Rams recorded only two 100-yard passing games in 2009. Jarrett Dunston’s 152 yards passing versus UC Davis marked WSSU’s first 100-yard passing game of the season and Dunston’s third career 100-yard passing game at WSSU. Dunston followed that performance up with his fourth career 100-yard passing game as he recorded 190 yards on 12 of 16 passing versus Hampton on Oct. 31.
The Rams On TV
Over the past seven seasons (including 2009), the WSSU football team has appeared on television 11 times and the Rams have posted a 6-5 mark while doing so. The Rams’ were featured on television twice in 2009 as WSSU dropped a 19-10 decision to North Carolina A&T on Sept. 5 in a contest shown on Time Warner Cable and WSSU dropped a 34-10 decision to Florida A&M on Sept. 10 on ESPNU.
Giving Up The Big One
The 2009 Rams gave up 50 plays of 20 yards or longer. Conversely the Rams recorded only 43 plays of 20 yards or more. In comparison WSSU gave up only 29 long plays (20 yards or more) in 2008. In 2009 the Rams gave up an average of 4.55 plays of 20 yards or more per contest while WSSU averaged only 3.82 plays of 20 yards or more per game.
In 2009 the young Rams’ offensive front gave up 32 sacks. Despite the youth of the offensive line, the Rams improved over the 2008 season when they yielded 36 sacks.
The Rams had no problems at kicker during the 2009 season. Freshman kicker Landen Thayer, a graduate of West Forsyth High School, handled both the placekicking and punting duties for the Rams in 2009. The 5-10, 185-pound Thayer was extremely impressive in 2009 as he made nine of his 16 field goal attempts (56.2 percent) and successfully converted 15 of his 16 point after touchdown attempts (93.8 percent). He led WSSU in scoring with 42 points.
Career Best Kick
Landed Thayer’s 46-yard field goal in overtime versus Hampton on Oct. 31, 2009 marked the freshman kicker’s longest career field goal as a Ram. It also marked WSSU’s longest successful field goal since Chad Oakley’s 48-yarder in a 38-6 victory over Savannah State on Oct. 21, 2006 in a game played in Savannah, Ga.
The Rams’ 7-3 loss to Howard on Oct. 3, 2009 marks the lowest scoring game for WSSU since a 23-0 shutout loss to Florida A&M on Oct. 9, 2008 in a game held in Tallahassee, Fla.
The 2009 Rams were not afraid to go deep into their depth chart of personnel. 44 different players saw playing time in the Rams’ loss to North Carolina A&T; 48 different players saw playing time in the loss to Florida A&M; 44 players saw the field in WSSU’s loss to Morgan State; WSSU saw 45 players take the field versus #14 South Carolina State; 38 players played in WSSU’s loss to Howard; a season-high 52 players saw time at UC Davis; 41 players took to the field at Bethune-Cookman; 48 players stepped onto the field versus Hampton; 49 players saw playing time against Delaware State; 50 players took to the field versus North Carolina Central and 41 players stepped on the field for at least one play at Norfolk State.
Former Ram Playing Well In NFL
Former WSSU defensive end William Hayes (no relation to current WSSU Director of Athletics, William “Bill” Hayes) is playing well in his second NFL season. Hayes, a standout defensive end for the Rams that appeared in 29 games for WSSU, was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 103rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Hayes finished his rookie campaign in 2008 with 21 tackles, a sack, two quarterback pressures, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass defended. Hayes earned the first start of his NFL career on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009 when the Titans faced the Indianapolis Colts. Hayes has started the Titans’ last seven games.
The 2009 Rams scored only 138 points for an average of 12.5 points per game. The Rams scored over 10 points in only five games in 2009. The Rams’ 12.5 points per game marks the lowest scoring output for WSSU since the 1975 season when the Rams scored only 6.6 points per game. WSSU was shut out five times during the 1975 season. The Rams 2009 scoring output of 12.5 ppg marks the fourth lowest points per game average in the history of the program. The three worst scoring averages came in 1975 (6.6 ppg); 1940 (3.3 ppg) and 1945 (3.1 ppg).
Stepping Up When It Counts
WSSU junior redshirt wide receiver Omar Kizzie had a breakout year in 2009. Kizzie led the Rams in receiving with 28 catches for 298 yards and three touchdowns. Kizzie averaged 10.6 yards per catch and 27.1 yards receiving per game. As well he scored four of the Rams’ final five offensive touchdowns of the 2009 season including WSSU’s final three offensive TD’s of the season.
Longest Scoring Play
The Rams’ longest scoring play of the season came courtesy of the defense as sophomore defensive end Joshua Newkirk’s 61-yard interception return for a touchdown marked the Rams’ longest scoring play of 2009. The play also marked WSSU’s only defensive score of the season.
Offensive TD Analysis
The Rams scored 15 offensive touchdowns in 2009, for an average of 1.36 offensive touchdowns per game. The Rams’ average touchdown drive took 2:36.01 to complete in 2009. The Rams’ shortest touchdown drive of the season was a one-play, six-second drive at UC Davis on Oct. 17 and the longest offensive scoring drive of the year for the Rams was an 11-play, 46-yard drive that took 5:11 versus Delaware State on Nov. 7.
The Rams blocked three kicks in 2009 as redshirt freshman defensive back Cameron Demps blocked a pair of kicks and senior defensive back Alex Chandler blocked on kick. The three blocked kicks pale in comparison to the 1986 WSSU team that still owns the NCAA Division II record for blocked kicks in a season with 27. The 1986 Rams blocked 16 punts, seven field goals and four PAT’s.
Beaten All But Two
During the Rams’ five-year transition to the NCAA Division I level, WSSU beat every team in the MEAC at least once, except for two. The Rams have never beaten the Spartans of Norfolk State or the Bulldogs of South Carolina State since the start of the transition in 2004. During the transition the Rams have posted an 11-22 (.333 winning percentage) record versus MEAC opponents.
Head Coach Kermit Blount Steps Down
Winston-Salem State University announced on Nov. 19 that Kermit Blount, the head football coach since 1993, will step down from his position following the completion of the 2009 season. Blount will remain at Winston-Salem State and will be reassigned other duties within the university.
“Over the years, Coach Blount has done a great job of leading our football program and building an academic foundation for our student athletes,” said Chancellor Donald J. Reaves. “We truly appreciate the contributions Kermit has made to Winston-Salem State as an athlete, a coach, an alum and a leader.”
“Having known Kermit for so many years, I have tremendous respect for him,” said Bill Hayes, WSSU Director of Athletics (starting on Jan. 1, 2010). “However, I support a change in leadership for the football program in order to improve our recruiting efforts, to create more excitement and enthusiasm for the program among the students, and to build support among the alumni and within the community.”
Blount, a 1980 graduate and former quarterback for the WSSU Rams, is completing his 17th season as coach and has posted a 91-86-3 record. He led his teams to two CIAA titles and two Pioneer Bowl appearances.
A native of Richmond, Va., Blount began his college coaching career as an assistant at East Carolina University in 1983. He was offensive coordinator for Howard University from 1984 until 1989 and was on the coaching staff at South Carolina State University for the next four years.
Kermit Blount Finishes In First Place
With his 27-26 victory over Delaware State on Nov. 8, 2008 Winston-Salem State University head football coach Kermit Blount became the winningest coach in WSSU football history. Blount, who finished his 17-season career as the Rams’ head coach after the 2009 season, posted an all-time mark of 91-87-3 and with his 90th victory moved into first place atop the WSSU all-time win chart, one victory ahead of legendary WSSU head coach and current WSSU Director of Athletics, William “Bill” Hayes.
Division I Transition Decision
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) announced on Sept. 11 that it would inform the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) that the university intends to remain a Division II institution for intercollegiate athletics. The process to remain in Division II will begin immediately, but the school will continue to compete in the MEAC at the Division I level through the 2009-2010 season.
At a special called meeting, the university’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the recommendation of Chancellor Donald J. Reaves to bring to a close the reclassification to Division I process that was begun in 2004. Reaves praised the vision of former WSSU chancellors who had supported the move to Division I, but stated that “in the final analysis the resources to complete the reclassification simply were not available, currently nor prospectively, in sufficient amounts”.
“This decision is probably the hardest one I have ever had to make because I believe that WSSU belongs in Division I,” said Chancellor Reaves. “If there were any reasonable way to complete this transition without diverting resources from competing academic priorities, I would have recommended that we stay the course.
“Over the past two years, we have continued to be concerned that budgetary constraints would not allow us to successfully complete the transition,” Reaves added. “As the athletics deficits continued to mount, there appeared to be no rational way we could continue the process. I believe that this is the right decision for WSSU at this point in time given our resources.
“Our goal now is to complete the move to NCAA Division II and find a conference home for our athletic program before the 2010-2011 season begins. We have been reviewing all of the options in our region and our preference would be to return to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). We will, however, have to complete the reclassification process with the NCAA and file a letter of interest with Commissioner Leon Kerry at the CIAA.”
The spending side of the budget for the WSSU athletics program has grown during the three-year period of 2005-2006 through 2008-2009 from approximately $2.88 million to $5.58 million while total revenue grew from $2.07 million to $3.77 million. Just for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the athletic program generated a deficit of approximately $1.8 million. The increase in expenses was directly connected to the transition to Division I which requires that an institution field a minimum of 14 teams and add substantially more resources such as scholarships, coaches and facilities.
“While our expenses have increased as one would reasonably expect, the budget problem that we have encountered is a revenue-side problem” Reaves added. “Currently, nearly 80% of total revenue comes from a single source, student fees. While the university has the second highest athletic fee in the UNC system, our fee is among the lowest in the MEAC where we are competing. With the size of our student body, it became evident that we were always going to be at a financial disadvantage.”
UNC President Erskine Bowles also expressed support for Chancellor Reaves’ recommendation. “I know that Chancellor Reaves explored every viable option before reaching this difficult decision, but in the end WSSU - like every other UNC campus - must operate its athletic department on a fiscally responsible basis. And it cannot put the burden of doing so all on the backs of its students. Particularly in light of current economic conditions, Chancellor Reaves made the hard - but right - choice to put academic priorities ahead of athletic aspirations.”
“Even though the decision has been made to remain at Division II, we will continue to develop options for increasing revenue for our athletic program,” said Reaves. “We have increased our marketing efforts for the 2009 football season and we hope that will support our efforts to increase ticket sales, sponsorships and other fund-raising activities.”
The process of reclassifying the WSSU athletic program to Division II will begin with a letter of intent to the NCAA Division II Membership Services Sub-Committee. The university will also have to reduce the size of its athletic program from the Division I to the Division II level, which includes reducing the number of athletic scholarships. There also may need to be reductions in the size of the athletic staff in order to generate the savings needed to run the program within the parameters of the resources that are available.
“With regard to our students-athletes, some of whom will be affected by this decision, we will be working with each affected-student to ensure that to the extent possible they are held harmless. Those who may be affected by this move, either through loss of scholarship or the move from Division I athletics, will be given as much guidance and assistance as possible,” Reaves explained. “While our athletic program is very important to the university, our number one short-term priority is the well-being of our student-athletes.”
About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina, is a public university founded in 1892 in Winston-Salem, NC. WSSU is a historically black university that today is a recognized regional institution offering baccalaureate and graduate programs to a diverse student population. U.S. News and World Report has ranked the university among Top Public Comprehensive Colleges in the South -- Bachelor’s Category for the last nine years (2001-2009). WSSU currently offers more than 40 baccalaureate and 10 master’s degree programs to a student population of more than 6,400.
Student Athlete Contact
Home and cellular telephone numbers for student-athletes will not be provided and players have been instructed not to accept calls from media members without prior notice from the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations. Please do not attempt to make contact with WSSU student-athletes or coaches without scheduling the interview through the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations.
WSSU Football Practices
The WSSU football team practices at the dual-field practice facility located adjacent to the Bowman Gray Stadium Fieldhouse (at the Civitan Park site). The new state-of-the-art practice facility officially opened in the spring of 2009. Practices are open to the media and are the opportune time for lengthy print or television interviews. Practice times vary according to academic schedules, so please contact the Office of Athletic Media Relations and Assistant Director of Athletics, Chris Zona for the specifics.
Weekly Football Press Conference
The Winston-Salem State University football team will hold a weekly press conference/media day every Wednesday during the season at 11:00 a.m. in the Media and Hospitality Lounge of the WSSU Athletic Fieldhouse, located on the upper level of the WSSU Athletic Fieldhouse. The weekly press conference is open to any member of the working media. The first press conference of the season will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 2 with the remainder of the weekly press conferences to be held every Wednesday prior to a Saturday game. The remaining press conferences will occur on September 16, 23 and 30, October 14, 21 and 28, Nov. 4, 11 and Nov. 18. The only exception to the 2009 weekly press conference schedule will be the week of the Rams’ Sept. 10 contest at Florida A&M. Due to time constraints imposed by the Thursday evening television contest, the Rams will not hold a weekly press conference the week of Sept. 6-12. At all weekly press conferences head coach Kermit Blount and select players will be on hand to give general comments and field questions. Requests for the attendance of specific players must be made no later than Monday at 11:00 am prior to the upcoming press conference. Following the press conference, a complimentary lunch will be served to all members of the working media.
All interviews with Winston-Salem State University football student-athletes and coaches should be arranged through Chris Zona in the Office of Athletic Media Relations. Please make interview arrangements at least 24 hours in advance. Most interviews will be arranged to start prior to practice or, with time permitting, will be scheduled to take place on the Rams’ weekly media day (Wednesday). Players will not do interviews on game day, except for postgame interviews. Telephone interviews may also be arranged through the Office of Athletic Media Relations.
Official Web Site
Parents, fans, and alumni from around the world can tune into Winston-Salem State University football on the official Internet site of Winston-Salem State University athletics, WSSURAMS.com. In addition to having all the up-to-date information on WSSU athletics, all games broadcast on WSNC 90.5 FM radio will air live on the Rams’ website as well.
WSSU Athletics On Twitter
Follow all of the latest, breaking news on WSSU athletics on Twitter at twitter.com/WSSUAthletics. Scoring updates, game analysis and post game wrap-ups will be posted live on the Rams’ and Lady Rams’ Twitter account. Create an account of your own and follow the WSSU action.
The WSSU locker room is closed to the media. At all home games, the post-game interview format will be as follows: After a 10 minute, NCAA mandated cooling off period the visiting coach will be escorted to the media room/area. After all visiting interviews are completed, WSSU Head Coach Kermit Blount and all requested WSSU players will report to the media room/area. The media room is located on the upper level of the WSSU Athletic Fieldhouse which is located in the north end zone of Bowman Gray Stadium (contact a WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations staff member for additional information). If the visiting team’s locker room is closed to the media, interviews with opposing-team players are generally held outside the locker room in the hallway (contact the opposing team’s SID for additional information).
WSSU Media Services
A media packet including, but not limited to, a game program, game notes, lineups, roster cards and statistics will be available for each media member before the game. During the game, quickie statistics will be distributed after each quarter of play. Complete play-by-play, scoring summaries, individual, and team statistics will be distributed following each half and at the conclusion of the game in the postgame package. A media meal is provided and is usually served 60 minutes prior to kick-off. Only credentialed media will be allowed in the media dining room. A fax machine will be provided for media use on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no charge for this service. Statistical monitors will be provided for live TV, both radio stations, the Winston-Salem Journal, and the Associated Press. High-speed Internet access is available in the media room and in all press areas.