140-plus players report next week
Cumberland football was picked third in a tightly-bunched group at the top of the Mid-South Conference West Division in a poll of league coaches released last week by the conference office.
The Bulldogs and second-year head coach Donnie Suber return 13 starters and 34 letterwinners from last season’s 7-4 squad, including the quarterback tandem of seniors Broc Loveless and Reed Gurchiek, who combined for 1,346 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns as well as 1,287 passing yards and five more TDs.
The offense also returns leading pass catchers Michael Green (30 receptions, 248 yards, 2 TDs), Anthony Woodard (25 catches, 290 yards, 1 TD) and Blake DeBoard (17 receptions, 148 yards, 1 TD).
The unit must replace all five offensive linemen from a year ago, four of whom graduated.
Two of the club’s three leading tacklers also return – sophomores Nathan Jernigan and Christopher Golden – both linebackers.
Jernigan led the club with 66 total stops with 8.0 tackles for loss and a team-leading four interceptions, while Golden made 52 tackles with three tackles for loss last season.
Faulkner University and Reinhardt University tied for the top spot in the division with 22 points apiece, while the Bulldogs received 19 points in the voting from league coaches. Campbellsville University, Belhaven University and Bethel University rounded out the West Division.
CU opens the season at home against the University of the Cumberlands on September 6 and will take on Belhaven University, Campbellsville University, Reinhardt University and Alderson Broaddus at Nokes-Lasater Field in 2014.
The Bulldogs play road games at UT Martin, Bluefield College, the University of Pikeville, Union College, Faulkner University and Bethel University.
More than 140 players are expected to report to campus the week of August 11-14, as the Bulldogs begin preparation for the season opener.