Tuskegee picked to repeat as SIAC Champions at conference’s Kickoff Luncheon
On Tuesday, August 6th in Atlanta, GA, select coaches and players from every football school in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) gathered in the conference’s hometown to take part in the annual preseason Kickoff Luncheon. As the defending champions from the 2012 season, Tuskegee was chosen by the coaches and sports information directors in the conference to repeat as champion for the 2013 season. No institution was allowed to vote for their own team, as TU was chosen to win both the West Division and the SIAC Conference Championship Game for a second consecutive year.
Tuskegee Head Coach Willie Slater was interviewed by Doug Stewart, who is most famous as co-host of the sports talk radio program 2 Live Stews. In the interview, Slater said that he understood that the Golden Tigers would be watched more carefully as the defending champions (29th overall SIAC Championship, most in conference history), but that he liked where his team was.
“I understand as I am talking right now, that every team in this room has their eyes on us,” Slater said. “We know that we have a bullseye on our backs. But, I’d much rather be in this position that in the place where our team was last year, trying to recover from a 4-6 season.”
Donald Pittman, the head coach at Fort Valley State University, said that he admired Slater’s success, and that he was one of the coaches who was trying to determine what to do to get the conference championship this season. The Wildcats were the one team that had the grand misfortune of losing twice to TU last season, both in-town Abbott Stadium and in Atlanta for the 2012 SIAC Championship.
“I've been trying to pick Willie Slater's brain on how to win,” Pittman said. “He's been winning championships ever since he's been at North Alabama. We want to be like Tuskegee.”
The Golden Tigers had over a dozen players who made the first-team and second-team All-SIAC squads, with redshirt sophomore linebacker Quavon Taylor and offensive linemen Devonte Jones and Chris Tolbert making the first-team.
A total of ten Golden Tigers made the second team, led by third-year starting quarterback Justin Nared. Running back Michael J. Thornton and offensive lineman Michael D. Thornton also made the second unit, as did Thornton’s teammate on the offensive line in Matt Reese. Marquel Gardner, the top wide receiver for Tuskegee a year ago, was also named to the second-team, along with tight end Stephen Clements to round out the offense. On defense, linemen Kevdrick Blue and Reginald Woods joined their six offensive teammates on the second unit, with linebacker El-Malik Chinn serving as the second linebacker for Tuskegee to serve on an all-conference preseason team. Punt returner Desmond Reese rounds out the second team for the Golden Tigers.
From left to right: Wide receiver Marquel Gardner, Doug Stewart from 2 Live Stews, Tuskegee Coach Willie Slater and quarterback Rashard Burkette discuss the 2013 TU Football season at the SIAC Kickoff Luncheon in Atlanta, GA on August 6th.
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