West Alabama second in first NCAA Region Two poll

The initial NCAA Division II Super Region Two Poll has been released and West Alabama holds the No. 2 spot. The Tigers are 6-1 in Division II play.

Wingate holds the top spot with a 7-0 record against Division II opponents. The top seven region finishers after the regular season earn a berth in the 2017 NCAA Football Playoffs. The top seed will earn a first-round bye.

Virginia State (6-0) is third in the region, followed by Bowie State (7-1), Delta State (6-2), West Georgia (6-2) and Catawba (5-2) in the top seven. Eight through 10 is Albany State (5-3), Miles (5-2) and Virginia Union (5-2).

The NCAA Division II Playoffs begin Nov. 18.

UWA overcomes deficit for win over nationally-ranked West Georgia

Tra Fletcher scores on a 34-yard pass from Harry Satterwhite with 3:22 to play Saturday night, pushing UWA over West Georgia.

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Harry Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherconnected on a 34-yard pass and run with 3:22 left to play, completing a 34-31 come-from-behind West Alabama victory over West Georgia in a battle of two nationally-ranked teams Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

Ranked 15th in the D2Football poll and 23rd in the AFCA poll, West Alabama extended its winning streak to five games by beating a ranked opponent for the third time in four weeks. The Tigers are 6-1 overall and 5-0 in Gulf South Conference play.

West Georgia, ranked 17th and 22nd, had its winning streak snapped at three games, dropping to 5-2 and 2-2. Both Wolves losses have come on the road to nationally-ranked opponents.

When Fletcher weaved his way into the north endzone with the game winner, it marked the only time West Alabama led in the game. West Georgia led 28-17 at the half, but the Tiger defense limited the GSC’s top total offensive team to just three points in the final 30 minutes.

“That was my first game-winner,” Fletcher said. “They play wasn’t intended for me, but Harry was scrambling so I came back to the ball and just made a play.”

West Alabama was forced to kick off from its own 20-yard line following Fletcher’s game-winner due to an excessive celebration penalty. The Wolves drove to the UWA 23 before Jordan Jones blocked a 31-yard field goal attempts Trey Wiggins, but UWG was called for delay of game and handed another play to either tie or take the lead.

The Wolves opted to go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Tiger 28 and Candler’s pass was picked off by Tiger linebacker Khalia Hackett.

With three West Georgia timeouts left, the Tigers were forced to punt, giving West Georgia one last shot from its own 16 with three seconds to play. Willie Candler completed a 28-yard pass to Shannon Smith as time expired.

“We executed and did just enough to win, but we also did just enough to lose,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “I am proud of our defense, especially in the second half to hold a great West Georgia offense to just three points.

“We challenged our players about our energy and intensity at the half,” Gilliland said. “It was an emotional game with a lot of ups and downs.”

UWA’s 34 points is the most given up by West Georgia this season. The Wolves came into the game as the top scoring defense in the GSC, allowing just 14.2 points per game.

Satterwhite celebrated his 22nd birthday by completing 29-of-42 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Candler was 13-of-21 for 212 yards, one TD and one interception.

“We had some mistakes, but that’s a really good football team,” Satterwhite said. “We just try to control what we can control and our playmakers made plays at the end. If we can get the ball to those guys in space, they can make plays.”

In addition to the game-winner to Fletcher, Satterwhite also hooked up with Corey Davis for scoring tosses of 26 and 16 yards. Lakendric Thomas scored on a 3-yard run, while Colin Douglas made field goals from 27 and 36 yards to complete UWA scoring.

“West Georgia has some great defensive backs,” Davis said. “It was a rollercoaster ride, but we kept the faith, played as a team and came out with the victory.”

The game began with a penalty and points for West Georgia. The Wolves were penalized 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct during warmups, but Devontae Jackson returned the opening kickoff from his own endzone to spot the Wolves a 7-0 lead.

Jackson scored again in the first quarter on a 77-yard run and Candler connected with Mikell Lands-Davis to give West Georgia a 21-14 lead after one quarter, marking the most points UWA had allowed in the first period this season.

Candler used his legs to score again before the half on a 6-yard run with 8:25 to play in the second quarter. It would be the final time West Georgia visited the endzone. UWA outscored the Wolves 17-3 in the final 30 minutes.

Jackson led all rushers with 169 yards on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 59 yards and returned four kickoffs for 145 yards while amassing 373 all-purpose yards.

“Jackson is a really good back. Arm tackling won’t work on him,” Tiger linebacker Terry Samuel said. “We just had to bow our back and be relentless. We knew we had to stop them.”

Davis led all receivers with eight catches for 79 yards, followed by Donta Armstrong with six for 69 yards and Qua Boydwith five for 69 yards. Thomas was the leading rusher for UWA with 62 yards on 15 carries.

Taderion Myhand piled up 12 tackles, nine solo, for West Alabama to lead all tacklers in the game. Samuel added 10 more. Myhand had 1.5 tackles for loss and Samuels two more. Terrence Jones and Michael Williams each recorded a sack for the Tigers. Tevin Madison recovered a fumble.

Cameron Magee had 10 tackles for the Wolves, followed by Korie Rogers with nine. UWG managed just three tackles for loss, with two of those coming on sacks by Deondre Gardenhire and Chad Price.

West Alabama remains in GSC play next week, traveling to Florida Tech (4-3) for a 1 p.m. CDT kickoff in Melbourne. West Georgia stays on the road to face Mississippi College (0-7).

UWA outlasts No. 9 Delta State for GSC win

CLEVELAND, Miss. – In a top 25 match-up that featured the top two offenses in the Gulf South Conference, it was the defenses and special teams that were the difference in a 29-26 West Alabama victory over Delta State Saturday at McCool Stadium.
The victory leaves West Alabama 5-1 overall and the only undefeated team in the GSC at 4-0. Delta State dropped to 5-1 and 3-1.
West Alabama built a 29-10 lead after three quarters, only to see Delta State cut the lead to the final margin before Vince Sciorrotta’s 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 1:05 left in the game.
“This was a GSC game on the road versus a great football team,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “They are the No. 9 team in the country for a reason.
“They are a playoff team and I hope we are,” Gilliland said. “We made some mistakes tonight that we haven’t done all year, and a good team like Delta State will take advantage of that.”
Hanging on to a 29-24 lead with 3:53 left, Delta State picked up a safety when a Tiger punt snap sailed over punter Zach Gaines head and out of the end zone. After trading punts, the Statesmen had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Sciorrotta’s miss sealed the deal.
Delta State started fast, picking up 89 yards on its first two drives, but the Tiger defense limited the league’s top rushing offense to just 36 yards on the next seven drives. The game of runs didn’t end there, however.
The Tigers and Statesmen traded interceptions right before the half. Tevin Madison corralled his third of the year off man coverage deep in UWA territory, but DSU returned the favor when Jamoral Graham intercepted Harry Satterwhiteto set up a Statesmen TD on a 54-yard pass from Collin Willis to Willis Chambers to make the halftime score 16-7 UWA.
West Alabama took control of the football game in the third quarter, outgaining Delta State 180 to 42 total yards, only to see the Statesmen outgain the Tigers 148-0 in the fourth period.
“That was a long, tough night,” UWA offensive tackle Dontavius Blair said. “Our defense really stepped up big and pulled on their big boy underwear. This was a night for big boys.”
Colin Douglas opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal at 10:08 in the second period. Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherhooked up on a 42-yard scoring pass and Taderion Myhand scooped up a DSU fumble and returned it 23 yards for a TD with 2:42 left in the half.
Tyler Rogers popped a 62-yard run for a touchdown with just two minutes gone in the second half to stretch UWA’s lead to 22-10, but the two-point attempt failed. A 38-yard Sciorrotta field goal and a 1-yard plunge by Lakenderic Thomas gave the Tigers a 29-10 lead after three periods.
“We had to fight for everything we got tonight,” Rogers said. “We tried to pound them all night and I just saw an opening on the long run. We had to fight for all we got.”
Willis scored on a 4-yard run and Sciorrotta kicked two more field goals, from 43 and 32 yards, in the fourth quarter.
Satterwhite finished 17-of-34 for 189 yards, a TD and an interception. Willis completed 20-of-37 for 230 yards and a score after replacing starter Breck Ruddick, who was pulled late in the second quarter after completing 16-of-27 for 74 yards.
West Alabama stymied Chris Robinson, the leading rusher in the GSC, to just 16 yards on 12 carries. Ruddick led the Statesmen with 47 yards on seven trips. Kam Myers had nine receptions for 78 yards and Mario Lanier caught seven for 53 yards.
Thomas led UWA rushers with 80 yards on 26 carries, followed by Rogers with 70 yards on five rushes. Donta Armstrong led Tiger receivers with six catches for 36 yards. Fletcher caught four for 64 yards.
Terry Samuel led West Alabama defenders with 11.5 tackles, followed by Devante Davis with 9.5. West Alabama had seven sacks to increase the total over the last three games to 19. The Tiger offensive line did not allow a Satterwhite sack.
“We knew they had a great offense and we got what we expected from them” UWA defensive lineman Ashton Dericosaid. “We got what we expected from a great team. I am glad to come out of here with a win.”
The Tigers had 12 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers. UWA lost one fumble.
West Alabama returns to Tiger Stadium to host West Georgia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Delta State travels to West Florida.

Tigers handle Mississippi College, 42-13, in GSC opener

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – West Alabama outgained Mississippi College by just three total yards, but the stat sheet doesn’t decide the outcome the way trips to the endzone do.

When the humid evening at Tiger Stadium was done Saturday, West Alabama had made it to the endzone five more times than MC on the way to a 42-13 Gulf South Conference victory.

West Alabama (2-1) had 391 total yards to 388 for Mississippi College (0-3), but the Tigers blocked two punts, one for a touchdown, and ended the night clearing the bench for the final minutes of the game.

Averaging 43 points per game, West Alabama scored four times via the run to cap extended drives, once on a long pass and on the blocked punt in the third period. Baylee Blanchard blocked the punt and Seth Knotts covered it in the MC endzone to effectively put the game away with 4:12 left in the third period.

“The biggest thing is we made plays,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “That’s what our offense is designed to do and we definitely made them when we needed to tonight.

“Anytime you can block two punts and it leads to scores, that’s big,” Gilliland said. “It’s been a big week for Coach (Lamont) Seward. He and his wife Bebe had a new baby and his special teams blocked two punts. Of course, the latter doesn’t come close to comparing to the former.”

Seven of 10 West Alabama drives ended in touchdowns. The Tigers lost two fumbles and Zach Gaines punted once for 62 yards.

Mississippi College’s only TD came on an 87-yard pass from Ty Jobe to Nathan Faciane, taking advantage of a blown Tiger coverage down the left sideline. A pair of field goals by Greg Nickles from 24 and 23 yards completed the Choctaw scoring.

UWA answered the MC bomb with a 4-yard TD run by Rashaad Lee, who would score later on a 2-yard run and finish the game with 99-yards on 13 carries. Lakendric Thomas and Tevin Moore scored on runs of five and 23 yards for the Tigers.

In addition to the two blocked punts, the West Alabama defense forced Mississippi College to turn the ball over on downs three times, giving the Tigers seven fourth-down stops in eight attempts this season.

“It’s always good when you can make those fourth-down stops,” cornerback Tevin Madison said. “We want to kill a fly with a sledgehammer, just keep beating folks down.”

Harry Satterwhite and Donta Armstrong hooked up for the third time in the last two games, this one a 34-yard scoring toss to make the score 21-7 with 2:14 left in the half.

“Anytime you can get Donta Armstrong one-on-one he will make the play,” Satterwhite said. “He just beat the guy deep and I hit him.”

Satterwhite finished 29-for-35 for 215 yards and the TD. Armstrong had eight receptions for 83 yards and a score, followed by Broc Malcom with six catches for 43 yards. Qua Boyd and Lee both had four receptions for UWA.

Ken Hibbler and Madison combined for 27 tackles. Madison had 13 stops while forcing and recovered a fumble. Ten of Hibbler’s 14 stops were solo. Terry Samuel chipped in nine tackles for UWA, who had five tackles for loss.

The Tigers limited Mississippi College to just 106 yards rushing.

“Those kind of games come from playing within the system and executing fundamentals,” Hibbler said. “You just read your keys and get to the football.”

Jobe completed 18-of-29 passes for 256 yards. Ja’Moz Mark caught six passes for 59 yards and Tiberias Lampkin had 36 yards rushing on 14 carries for the Choctaws.

West Alabama hits the road for the third time in the first four weeks of the season, traveling to North Alabama on Saturday. Mississippi College is host to Florida Tech.

Pride, Headley earn preseason All-Conference team bids

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – TeMia Pride and Aleah Headley have been named to the 2017 Gulf South Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason All-GSC Team in an announcement on Thursday. West Alabama is ranked fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Pride, a forward from Huntsville, Alabama, returns to the Tiger attack after a standout freshman campaign in 2016. The Tigers’ striker led the team in goals (13), game-winners (4), points (28), shots (71) and shots-on-goal (42). Pride’s offensive stats also rank in the top five across the GSC, earning the rising sophomore a First Team All-Conference nod.
Headley, a midfielder hailing from Tilbury, England, was also awarded a spot on the preseason All-GSC squad after leading UWA in the middle third of the pitch a season ago. Headley transitioned from defender to attacker, dispossessing opponents and setting up the UWA attack.
Defending league champion West Florida was picked to repeat their success in 2017, receiving 12-of-14 first-place votes and 168 points. Lee grabbed the remaining two first-place votes, following the Argos with 155 points.
Mississippi College (141) and North Alabama (129) sit third and fourth in the poll, while West Alabama (121) rounds out the top five.
Incoming Tiger defenders Brianna Forrest and Lexi Pund were selected as two of the GSC’s Top Newcomers for the 2017 season. Forrest, a Canadian transplant, is a two-time Most Valuable Player and Student Athlete of the Year at St. Stephens’ Catholic in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Pund, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, took home First Team All-Area and Offensive MVP honors in 2016, netting 26 goals for Tupelo High School.
West Alabama opens the 2017 season under the lights at Tiger Stadium, facing off against South Atlantic Conference co-champions Tusculum College on Sept. 1, at 7 p.m.

UWA football six days into camp with no surprises

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – West Alabama head football coach Brett Gilliland has seen his team through six practices since preseason camp began – two in helmets, two in shells and two in full gear – and he hasn’t changed his mind.
With 28 seniors and 19 returning starters on offense (9), defense (7) and special teams (3), the former Tiger quarterback is expecting great things from this 2017 team, his fourth at West Alabama.
“We are pretty close to where we thought we would be. We didn’t have a lot of unanswered questions coming into fall camp,” Gilliland said. “Obviously, there are concerns in certain spots, as there always are, but a lot of our guys have put a lot of offseason work in and it shows.
“It shows with their effort at practice, and it shows when they are not passing out with the tempo we practice with,” Gilliland said. “We like to exert them in practice, to push them. They are responding well to that.”
Any remaining questions will begin to be answered when the Tigers conduct the first game-type scrimmage of camp Saturday morning at Tiger Stadium. Gilliland and his staff will put the Tigers through their paces in full gear Thursday and in shells Friday prior to the scrimmage.
“The scrimmage will be the first true test, especially for some of the new guys, and it will be the first big test for the quarterbacks,” Gilliland said. “Instead of getting four-play sets, you are going to get a drive. Let’s see which quarterback drives the team and moves the offense.”
Junior Harry Satterwhite, who has played in 13 games and passed for more than 1,300 yards over the last two seasons, emerged from spring as the leader at quarterback, but is being challenged by Gabe Tiller, along with newcomers Austin Bray and Jacob Murphree.
“Will know a lot more after Saturday as far as who goes where and can begin moving forward some on game prep,” Gilliland said. “We have a good football team. We still have things to iron out, but we like the athleticism that we have.”
One thing Tiger fans might notice is a more athletic, faster defense. Gilliland said he liked the work of defensive backs Tevin Madison and Khalia Hackett, along with defensive linemen Michael Williams, Terrence Jones and Ashton Derico. Madison transferred from Texas Tech and Hackett from Arkansas.
Saturday’s scrimmage is open to the public with just a couple of caveats.
“The scrimmage is open, unless of course you are an opponent,” Gilliland said. “We also won’t accept any videoing during the scrimmage, so if you come with a video camera, we will ask you put it up. (Strength coach) Joe Boyd will be on video patrol.”
The team takes the field at 10:15 a.m. and scrimmaging should begin around 10:30.

Four UWA players earn preseason All-GSC

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four West Alabama players have been selected by league coaches to the 2017 Preseason All-Gulf South Conference Football Team and the Tigers have been picked by the coaches to finish fifth in the league.
Wide receiver Donta Armstrong, defensive end Darius Ellis, linebacker Terry Samuel and place kicker Jordan Bennettwere tabbed by the coaches as members of the preseason all-conference team.
Teams received eight points for a first-place vote, seven for second, etc. Head coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team. Vote totals are listed parenthetically in the next paragraph.
North Alabama (62 points, 7 first place votes) is the coaches’ preseason league favorite, followed by Valdosta State (54, 1), West Georgia (49, 1), Florida Tech (47) and West Alabama (32). Delta State (31), West Florida (25), Mississippi College (16) and Shorter (8) round out the preseason rankings.
Armstrong was an All-Gulf South Conference, All-Region and All-America selection in 2016. He had a GSC-leading 91 receptions for 904 yards with six receiving touchdowns. He led UWA with 1,195 all-purpose yards.
Ellis earned All-GSC and All-South Region honors in 2016 while leading the GSC in tackles for loss with 20 for minus-108 yards. He led UWA tacklers with 42, 32 solo, and recorded 10 sacks. Forty-eight percent of his total tackles came behind opponent’s line of scrimmage.
Samuel recorded 37 total tackles, 23 solo, last season. He also had 5.5 tackles for loss (-27) and was credited with three sacks (-23). He also intercepted one pass and returned it 43 yards.
Bennett was also a 2016 All-GSC selection after leading UWA in scoring with 62 points. He made 10-of-14 field goals (71%) with a long field goal of 48 yards at Stephen F. Austin. Bennett converted 32-of-35 extra points.
Four other Tigers were recognized as 2017 newcomers to watch. Included in that group are offensive tackle Dontavius Blair, safety Khalia Hackett, cornerback Tevin Madison and receiver Broc Malcom. All four are transfers from FBS schools, with Blair coming from Tennessee, Hackett from Arkansas, Madison from Texas Tech and Malcom from Idaho State.
The Tigers open the 2017 season on Aug. 31 at Lenoir Rhyne.

Gilliland expects big things from Tigers

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Brett Gilliland is beginning his fourth season as head coach at his alma mater, and by his own measure, believes that the time is now for his West Alabama Tigers to contend for a Gulf South Conference title and an NCAA postseason spot.
“This team will be the best one we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Gilliland said. “It’s the deepest we have had throughout, but especially on the defensive line and at the skill positions on offense.
“I believe fair expectations for this team are to go after a conference title and make a playoff run,” Gilliland said. “That’s what we expect as coaches, and what our guys expect to do as players.”
West Alabama returns nine starters on offense and eight on defense, along with the long snapper, punter and place kicker. Four Tigers, receiver Donta Armstrong, defensive end Darius Ellis, linebacker Terry Samuel and kicker Jordan Bennett, were selected as preseason All-conference players.
GSC coaches picked the Tigers to finish no better than fifth, but Gilliland’s zeal for his 2017 team isn’t diminished following the preseason vote.
“I am excited because we have so many guys back. Have a lot of talented returning players who have played a lot of football for us,” Gilliland said. “The Gulf South Conference is the toughest conference in Division II and preseason rankings are difficult because there are several teams that could win it every year.”
One of two positions where a starter doesn’t return on offense is quarterback. Austin Grammer graduated after passing for 2,940 yards and 21 touchdowns last season with a passer rating of 136.97. Harry Satterwhite emerged from spring as the leader at the position, but will be challenged by Gabe Tiller, along with newcomers Austin Bray and Jacob Murphree.
“The biggest competition throughout fall camp will be at quarterback. Harry came out of spring as the top guy,” Gilliland said. “We are excited to see them all in action.”
Over the last two seasons, Satterwhite has played in 13 games, passing for 1,364 yards and 16 touchdowns, completing 56 percent of his throws.
A pair of all-conference receivers return in Armstrong and Corey Davis. Armstrong was an All-America choice after catching 91 passes last season and David lead the team with eight TD receptions despite missing games with nagging injuries. Seniors Tra Fletcher, Broc Malcom and Barnard McGhee make the receiver spot one of the deepest on the team.
Lakendric Thomas and Rashaad Lee, the top two rushers in 2016 are both back, plus junior college transfer Tevin Moore and four starters return on the offensive line. Tennessee transfer Dontavius Blair will help solidify a group that returns all-conference center Call Dyer.
“Along with receivers, the defensive front is one of our strongest spots with Michael Williams and all those guys,” Gilliland said. “Terrance Jones came in from Itawamba Community College, plus Jordan Jones is back healthy and Darius Ellis is back after leading the league last year in tackles for loss.”
Ellis registered 20.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks on the way to All-GSC and All-NCAA South Region honors last year. Williams is a seasoned veteran who is very valuable as a run stopper.
Devante Davis, Ladarius Johnson and Samuels have all logged considerable playing time at linebacker. Arkansas transfer Khalia Hackett will begin drills at safety, but could also get a look at linebacker as well.
“We feel good about their knowledge of what (defensive coordinator Steve) Coach Sisa is trying to do,” Gilliland said.
The secondary will be without all-conference cornerback Dee Virgin, who is in NFL training camp with the Houston Texans, but Texas Tech transfer Tevin Madison steps in with returners Se’Quan Steele, Greg Bell and Jamal Blackwell.
Montell Dent is back from injury at safety and the addition of Hackett to veterans Ken Hibbler and Tavarius Hutchinson at safety has Gilliland saying the secondary competition “will make for a fun fall camp.”
As for special teams, long snapper Jared Adair, punters Zach Gaines and Reed James, along with Bennett, all return. Bennett was all-conference after hitting 10-of-14 field goals last year and is a preseason pick in 2017.
West Alabama opens the season with a pair of Thursday night games on the road, first at Lenoir Rhyne on Aug. 31 and then at FSC member Samford on Sept. 7. The Tigers home opener is Sept. 16 against Mississippi College to open GSC play.

Forever a Tiger: Demopolis, MMI alum Tripp signs with UWA

Former Demopolis High standout Charles Tripp has signed to play with the University of West Alabama following a strong two-year run at Marion Military Institute.

Tripp averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebound per game for MMI this while helping the Tigers to a 19-8 overall record. For his efforts, he earned NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American as well as the Alabama Community College Conference North Division Player of the Year.

“We first knew of Charles when he was a Sr. at Demopolis HS. We really became interested in recruiting him during his freshman year at MMI,” UWA coach Allen Sharpe said of Tripp. “What has stood out the most is how much he has improved in two years at MMI; ACCC north division player of the year and NJCAA honorable mention all American.”

“Charles Tripp has been a model of consistency and determination here at MMI,” MMI head coach Phillip Stitt said. “Charles has come from not even being All-State in high school to the Player of the Year in our league and an Honorable Mention NJCAA All American. He will not only continue to improve as a player but as a person. UWA is getting one of the finest young men I have ever coached, who will represent the university with class and character.”

Tripp chose UWA over a handful of offers that also included Freed-Hardeman University, Emmanuel College, University of Mobile and Auburn-Montgomery.

“The thing that stood out the most about UWA is how big the campus is. I never knew it was that big. I also know a lot of people that go there,” Tripp said of the welcoming environment he found in Livingston.

Tripp, a 6-foot-7 forward who started every game for MMI the last two seasons while aiding the Tigers to a 43-15 record over that span, looks to plug right into the rotation at UWA after having shot 60.5 percent from the floor in 2016-2017, good for third best in the ACCC.

“They really haven’t been specific on how they’ll use me yet. They have made it clear that I will have the chance to be a big part of making this team a lot better,” Tripp said. “It really doesn’t matter what they need me to do, I’ll be ready to do whatever they feel is best for the team.”

“We do not sign junior college kids to sit on the bench. We are counting on him to contribute right away whether that’s 10 minutes a game or 30 minutes a game,” Sharpe said. “He will determine that.”

Tripp also shot an impressive 35.3 percent from three-point territory in his sophomore season, a number indicative of a shooting touch that could well help his newest set of Tigers after the UWA men’s team shot only 29.5 percent from deep a season ago.

“His versatility and his ability to score gives him the best chance of playing early in the schedule. All our players will defend and all our players will play hard. However, the ability to score is something that is difficult to coach,” Sharpe said. “Most of the time, either a kid can score or he can’t. Charles can score the ball and he can do it in a variety of ways.”

“I feel like my game has gotten better everywhere. I am shooting the ball better, my handles are getting better, I feel like I’m playing defense better,” Tripp, who will study physical education, said of how MMI has prepared him for his latest opportunity. “MMI has definitely helped me step up my game a lot.”

Tripp joins Hale County star Kaddell Perry as the only UWA signees to date, though Sharpe said the program will sign several other players in the coming weeks.

UWA’s Virgin signs with Houston Texans

West Alabama cornerback Dee Virgin has signed a free agent deal with the Houston Texans.

From Donalsonville, Georgia, Virgin recorded 43 tackles, intercepted three passed, broke up seven and had 5.5 tackles for loss as a senior. He was tabbed by GSC coaches as an All-Gulf South Conference performer.

Prior to playing his senior season at UWA, Virgin was a two-time All-Southern Conference performer at Tennessee Chattanooga.

Virgin’s free agent deal gives West Alabama six former players who will be reporting to National Football League camps, three of them defensive backs. Also reporting to NFL camps are New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, Baltimore defensive back Otha Foster, Miami linebacker Deon Lacey, Kansas City receiver Tyreek Hill and Oakland receiver Seth Roberts.