Sailes earns another honor; Defensive line providing team leadership

Golden Eagle Football Fall Camp Notebok / Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009

Sailes recognized by CSN


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech junior runningback Henry Sailes (right) has been named preseason honorable mention All-America by College Sporting News (CSN), the second time in the past month that the Golden Eagle speedster has earned preseason recognition.

Sailes, a junior from Palmetto, Fla., was one of seven players from the Ohio Valley Conference to earn preseason NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision honors from CSN. The honors were chosen by the 10 member staff of CSN.  Since 2000, CSN remains the largest news organization exclusively covering the FCS at www.CollegeSportingNews.com and www.ChampionshipSubdivisionNews.com.

Sailes led the team in rushing last season and ranked second in receiving. The all-purpose back also led Tech in kickoff returns. Coming into his third season, Sailes ranks first among Tech's current players in career rushing yards (640), and comes into 2009 with 2,149 all-purpose yards, needing 534 to climb into Tech's all-time Top 10. He ranks second in career kick return yards with 1,003 in two years, and ranks first among all the conference returnees in kick return average last year.

Leadership coming from defensive line

With four of the team's nine seniors playing under defensive line coach Sam Williamson, it's a position that is providing plenty of leadership to the 2009 Golden Eagles. His group includes the defensive tackles and defensive ends, as well as outside linebackers in the "dime" package. Among that group are seniors Derek Dickerson, Kelvin Quarles, Brendon Fisher and Brandon Harris. Both Quarles and Fisher are among the team's four elected captains.

"The defensive line ought to be the ones who set the tone, and they are doing that," Brown said. "Now, the offensive line needs to catch up."

Williamson is proud that his players are showing leadership.

"I think we're getting really strong leadership from these guys," he said, " both on the field and off. They want to be leaders, and they take that responsibility seriously. They're working at teaching the younger guys, and I think they can have an outstanding year."

One luxury that Brown and his staff will have is the depth along the defensive line, where players expected to contribute come from the first and second units equally, and some from the third unit.

"We hav e a chance to be very good in the defensive line because of our depth," Brown said. "Our two-deep is very strong. There's not much difference between the one's and the two's, and we could even put all our three-deep out there."

The list of defensive linemen includes those four seniors, plus sophomore Travis Adkins, freshman LaDarrius Verge, and juniors Justin Hilliard and Charlie Seivers. In addition to those linemen, the group includes a couple of outside linebackers who will line up in the "dime" package to give the Golden Eagles a more effective pass rush.

  One of those is Gerel Harlan (left), a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Cookeville who is into his third year on the roster.

"We have a different defensive line when we go to the 'dime' package," Brown said. "Our pass rush is totally different than it has been the past two years. I thik we'll very very good on the defensive line against the run and in passing downs. It's our deepest position and probably the strength of our team right now."

Harlan is excited about the opportunities he'll see this fall in tracking down the quarterback, and it's his tremendous speed that will make a difference.

"I'm really enjoying this," Harlan said. "I'm not the biggest guy out there, but these guys are really pushing me and making me get better. It's made me tougher. I'm learning to be more physical because I'm lining up against bigger players. I get a chance to use my speed and just get after the quarterback, but now I am also learning more about technique and how to use my hands."

Filling some holes at wide receiver

Take five wide receivers out of the two-deep lineup from an offense that loves to throw the ball, and what do you have? Opportunity for some younger players to step forward.

That's exactly what's happening for redshirt sophomore Jeremy Woods (left), a quarterback for the past two years who was moved to wide receiver during spring drills. With the absence of five receivers, Woods is seeing plenty of action during practice and quickly learning his new position.

"Things are going well, and I'm just glad to be on the field and help the team any way that I can," Woods said following Tuesday's morning practice.

Injuries have sidelined four Golden Eagles, while a death in the family took a fifth receiver out of the mix for a week. Corey Watson is out four weeks with a broken collarbone and Alden Olverson is out, possibly for the yea, after suffering an injury during spring drills. Recently, sophomore Tim Benford and junior Antonio Robinson are banged up and not practicing. Freshman Demetrous Garrett was gone last week because of his grandfather's death.

"Right now I'm glad we moved Jeremy out there," Brown said. "We've got a lot of receivers hurt right now, so he's getting a lot of reps because of those injuries. He knows the position. He knows what to do, now he just needs to learn how to do it. It helps having him out there every other play."

The 6-foot-2 Woods played quarterback throughout his career at Ooltweah (Tenn.) High School, and was calling signals the past two seasons in Brown's system.

"I know the routes and where to be," Woods said. "I just need to learn the physical aspect of the position. I'm learning how to get off the line, sustain my blocks, and so on."

Another position switch has moved freshman Cory McDonald from defensive back to wide receiver. McDonald is a 6-foot newcomer from Redwood City, Calif.