Football team signs talented prospects

FAMU flexed its recruiting muscle in the state and around the country, putting together a talented 2003 class of 32 high school and junior college players, featuring eight first-team and three second team All-State players from several states.

The headliner of the class is Jacksonville Episcopal quarterback Albert Chester, who earned All-State honors as a junior and senior. Chester’s family has ties to FAMU. His father was the quarterback for the Rattler’s 1978 National Championship team.

“At the [Division] I-AA level, the only way you can land a great recruit like Chester is to have him ‘delivered’ to you,” Billy Joe, FAMU’s head coach.

Joe said he placed emphasis on the offensive and defensive lines during the recruitment period. The Rattlers recruited 19 players that are capable of playing on either Side of the line. Both lines were hit hard by the injury bug, which forced the coaching staff to move personnel to compensate for the losses throughout the season. Joe said he wanted to make sure he doesn’t have that problem again.

“We didn’t have a lot of depth on the [offensive and defensive] lines going into last season,” Joe said. ” The fact that we had as many injuries as we did during the season didn’t help either. We had third and fourth-string players starting.

“We met our needs in a big way with this recruiting class, so hopefully that will alleviate that problem.”

The Rattlers also needed to address the receiving corps, where they lost their top three receivers from last season, and linebacker, where they lost Joe Sanders, their top tackler from last year, and Rickey Funches, who started the past two seasons for FAMU.

“Linebacker may be the only position that I think still needs to be addressed,” Joe said. “We’re working on that as we speak.”

FAMU placed emphasis on the southeastern region. Twenty recruits are from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi or South Carolina. However, the Rattlers also managed to get seven players from California, all from junior colleges.

The Rattlers lost 22 players from last year’s team, many of whom made a significant contribution. “Our goal was to go after players we knew we had a chance of landing,” sports information director Alvin Hollins said. “I think we did a good job of getting everybody we set out for.”

FAMU releases 2003 football schedule

The football team recently released its 2003 schedule. The highlight game is at Florida on Sept. 13. The schedule features four home games, all against Mid-Eastern Athletic conference opponents.

FAMU will also have four ‘classics,’ including the inaugural Detroit Classic against Alabama State to start the season. Other out-of-conference classic games include Jackson State at the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis and Tennessee State in the annual Atlanta Football Classic.

Player/Position, City/State, School

Eliott Berry, OG/DT, Kansas City, KS, Independence JC

Michael Bode, OL, Miami, FL, Coral Gables Sr. HS

Joshua Brown, DE, Columbus, OH, Marion-Franklin HS Albert Chester, Ath, Jacksonville, FL, Episcopal HS

Justin Cooper, DB, Carson, CA, L.A. Southwest CC

Allen Dickens, LB, Marianna, GA, Cottondale HS

Matt Douglass, FS, Belfonce, CA, Compton CC

Andrew Gill, DL, Los Angeles, CA, L.A. Southwest CC Gale Green, WR/DB, Vero Beach, FL, Sebastian River HS

Daniel Henderson, OL/DT, Columbus, OH, Marion-Franklin HS

Paul Johnson, PK, Tallahassee, FL, Chiles HS Kyle Joiner, OL/DT, Bartow, FL, Bartow Sr. HS Broderick Jones, OL/DL, Stone Mountain, GA Lynnel King, OL, Houston, TX, Elsik HS Roosevelt Kiser, Jr., Lauderdale Lake, FL, Boyd Anderson HS

Richard Koonce, OL, Boynton Beach, FL, Boynton Beach Community HS

Darwin Laidley, OL, Inglewood, CA, Compton CC

Charles McCullum, QB/DB, Atlanta, GA, Fredrick Douglass HS Gary Mack, TE/DE, Kingston, PA, West Chester HS

Mario Palomino, OT/OG, Los Angeles, CA, L.A. Valley CC

Bryant Pontoon, OT/DT, North Augusta, SC, North Augusta HS

Willie Pope, WR, Miami, FL, West Laurens HS

DeMarcus Sapp, LB, Crawfordville, FL, Wakulla HS

Faafetai Seti, DT, Long Beach, CA, Compton CC

Walter Showes, OT/DT, New Hebron, MS, Copiah-Lincoln CC

Ron Smith, OL/DL, Dexter, GA Adrain Spence, OT/DT, Pembroke Pines, FL, Charles W. Flanagan HS

Bruce Taylor, WR, Miami, FL, South Miami Sr. HS

Rodney Thompson, OG/DT, Miami, Fl, Norland HS

Jarvis Thomas, OL/DL, Cochran, GA, Twiggs County HS

Mafello Vakalahi, OL, San Bernadino, CA, San Bernadino JC

Derek Williams, Ath, Port St. Lucie, FL, Ft. Pierce Central HS

Kevin Fair can be reached at