While many students were partaking in a well-deserved rest over the winter, APSU athletics were hard at work over the break.
As some teams were signing the future of their program, others were playing in front of a national television audience. Multiple APSU alumni were also in the news for furthering their professional careers.
Scotty Walden was named APSU football’s 21st head coach on Oct. 27. Ever since becoming the man behind the headset for the Govs, Walden has been hard at work looking for the future of his program.
National Signing Day on Dec. 16 saw three players commit to the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions. Jackson Griner, a 6’3” quarterback from Glenwood High School in Glenwood, Ga. was the first to announce his commitment to the university. Following Griner, Harrison Wilkes, an offensive lineman from Houston High School in Tennessee, committed to Walden’s first recruiting class at APSU. Lastly, Denver “Dip” Parker, a safety from De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, Mo. also announced he would be joining the Governors next fall.
In addition to the signings, the Govs received two transfers from FBS-level programs: Matthew Rigney, a punter from MTSU and Sheldon Layman, a quarterback from the University of Memphis.
Jeremiah Oatsvall, who was the Governors’ starting QB in the fall, announced that he would be transferring to Memphis. Oatsvall accounted for 43 touchdowns in his three years at APSU.
Since a rather unusual resignation over the summer, many have wondered what former coach Mark Hudspeth has done since leaving Clarksville. Hudspeth, who led the Governors to the FCS quarterfinals in his only year at APSU, was named the next head coach at Gulf Shores High School on Jan. 8. Hudspeth will also be coaching the Dream All-American Bowl high school showcase game in Gulf Shores, Ala. on Jan. 18.
On Jan. 4, the New York Jets announced that they had signed nine players to Reserve/Future contracts, on the list was Governors’ alumni D.J. Montgomery. Montgomery graduated from APSU in 2019 and totaled 1,025 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in his two years for coach Will Healy.
Former Govs wide receiver Kyran Moore, of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL), signed a one-year contract extension which was announced by the team on Jan. 13. Since 2018, Moore has played for the Roughriders and has accounted for 1,471 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his professional career. The CFL looks to resume play in 2021 after its 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.
OVC Championships announced
In preparation for the upcoming spring sports seasons, the Ohio Valley Conference has announced their tentative dates and locations for some of the conference championship games in the spring.
APSU will host the cross country championship meet on March 1. Other dates include: basketball, March 3-6 in Evansville Ind.; volleyball, April 1-2 location TBD; soccer, April 15 & 17 location TBD, women’s golf, April 18-20 in Owens Cross Roads, Ala.; tennis, April 24-25 location TBD; men’s golf, April 25-27 in Muscle Shoals, Ala.; beach volleyball, April 29- May 1 in Martin, Tenn.; softball, May 13-15 in Oxford, Ala.; outdoor track & field May 13-15 in Charleston, Ill.; baseball, May 27-29 location TBD.
The conference also announced that there will be no Indoor Track and Field Championship, meaning that the Governors will not have the opportunity to defend their 2019-20 title this upcoming semester.
Men’s and women’s basketball both continued their seasons over the break. Each team faced the difficulty of having games postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus during the winter, but both are in a prime position to finish off the regular season strong as they look to punch their ticket to Evansville for the OVC Tournament.
Since the final day of exams on Dec. 10, David Midlick and the women’s basketball team have come away with five wins, bringing their overall record to 7-4. The women dropped their final two non-conference games of the season—a 54-72 loss at Southern Illinois, followed by a loss at the buzzer to Chattanooga in the Dunn—but have started their conference season hot.
The Governors began their conference slate of games on Dec. 19 with a win on the road against the Mu**ay State Racers. After the victory, APSU would go on to win their next four games, the best start for the program since the 2002-03 season that saw them go 16-0 in the conference and win the OVC.
Since the 5-0 start, the girls have dropped their last two games. The team’s first conference loss of the season came in Martin, Tenn. The Skyhawks defeated the Govs 53-69. Next, the Governors fell to the 2019-2020 OVC Champion SEMO Redhawks 61-74 on the road.
Since the conference season began, APSU women’s basketball has only had one game postponed—a game against Tennessee State that was moved from Dec. 30 to Jan. 4. The postponement was due to the Tigers not having the necessary number of players heading into the contest.
The APSU men’s basketball team went 4-2 over the break, bringing their overall record to 7-4. Throughout the winter, Terry Taylor continued to climb the record books and also received recognition from CollegeInsiders.com multiple times, along with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt.
Throughout his first 11 games of the season, Taylor has averaged 21.2 points per game which includes three 30-point contests over the break. The senior is also the only player in the nation to receive the Lute Olson award for National Player of the Week twice this season.
Taylor’s second Olson award stemmed from a 38-point 17-rebound game against Eastern Illinois, where he hit a deep three-point shot at the buzzer to send his team away with a 74-71 win in Charleston, Ill. Scott Van Pelt showed Taylor’s buzzer-beater on SportsCenter later that night, finishing the segment off by saying, “Let’s Go Peay.”
While head coach Matt Figger and his team have found success –including Figger’s second ever win against Mu**ay State on Dec. 21— the Govs’ season has been heavily altered due to the coronavirus.
Prior to their game against the Panthers, assistant coach Nikita Johnson was called to replace Matt Figger, who announced a day prior that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Three days after the Govs victory against EIU, the program announced that they had paused basketball activities for the men and that their games against UT Martin and SEMO would be scheduled for a later date. The games were eventually rescheduled to Feb. 8 and Feb. 16, respectively.