Brevard, N.C.- The Brevard College football team travels to Clinton, S.C. to open the 2012 season against Presbyterian College at Bailey Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
The Brevard College football team begins its fifth season as a member of the South Atlantic Conference and its sixth under Head Coach Paul Hamilton. Returning nine offensive starters, the Tornados look to make an impact in front of the Brevard faithful in 2012.
Coach Hamilton’s offense returns after their second consecutive season in the top 10 in NCAA Division II rushing offense, finishing eighth with 257.91 rushing yards per game in 2011. Brevard’s defense also returns six starters from last year’s squad, including Second Team All-SAC linebacker Rufus Jenkins.
Quarterback Aaron Reese returns for his senior season after finishing among the conference’s rushing and passing leaders in 2011. The 5-9 senior passed for 904 yards and 10 touchdowns last season on his way to several Brevard passing records. Reese also led the Tornados with 747 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
Kelvin Jeter, a 2012 preseason All-SAC Second Team running back, returns along with senior fullback Derek Church to lead the Tornados in the backfield. Jeter picked up 517 yards rushing last season on 97 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, while Church was averaging 88.7 yards per game on the ground before suffering a season-ending injury against Mars Hill. Andre Overholt and a host of freshmen look to continue the Brevard rushing successes after the Tornados accumulated 200-plus rushing yards in seven of the team’s 11 games last season.
Eric Watts, Brevard College’s all-time leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, will lead the Tornados receiving core this season. The senior finished up the 2011 season with 33 catches for 533 yards and eight touchdowns to lead Brevard’s receiving efforts, while Overholt, Jeter and Church also show great potential.
Preseason All-SAC First Team selection Garrett Johnson and Second Team selection Andrew Velazquez lead a talented and battle-tested group on the offensive line for the Tornados. Jordan Bookhart, Cody Anderson, Dylan Hornor, Dusty Holder and Jeremy Blake also return to provide depth and experience, while a host of freshmen will battle for playing time.
Jenkins, whose 14 tackles for loss were second in the SAC in 2011, will lead a Tornados defense that finished fourth in the SAC in both rushing and scoring defense last season. Brevard looks to an infusion of youth under new Defensive Coordinator Kevin Adleman to continue putting pressure on opposing offenses. Rommie Fairchild returns to lead the Tornados defensive line after finishing eighth on the team in tackles last season with 42 stops. The rising sophomore also had four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. A strong incoming class will keep the rotation going up front as Brevard looks to a host of freshmen competing for playing time in the trenches.
Led by Jenkins, C.J. Wilson and Michael Gruber, the linebacking group remains the most experienced on the defensive side of the ball for the Tornados. Wilson finished second on the team in tackles on the season with 78, while Jenkins and Gruber combined for 108 tackles. Chris Jones, Philip Curcio and Anthony Shakir return in the secondary for the Tornados and will battle a strong incoming class for playing time on the Tornados defensive backline.
On special teams, the Tornados will again rely on the leg of Watts, who led the conference and finished 12th in the nation with 41.61 yards per punt last year.