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Weekly Blue Raider notebook

July 6, 2005 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee had eight football players named to the preseason All-Sun Belt team by CollegeFootballNews.com this week.

Offensive linemen Marcus Gates and Willie Hall were first-team honorees, while junior specialist Colby Smith earned commendation as a first-team place-kicker. Smith was a semifinalist for the Groza Award in 2004.

Quarterback Clint Marks, running back Eugene Gross, receiver Chris Henry and offensive lineman Germayle Franklin were all named to the second-team offense, while lineman Jeff Littlejohn was a second-team pick on the defensive side of the ball.

CollegeFootballNews.com also lists its Top 30 players in each conference and Marks was rated the No. 10 overall player in the SBC. He was the second quarterback listed, behind UL-Monroe's Steven Jyles at No. 5.

"We are proud for our players anytime they are recognized for honors," Middle Tennessee football coach Andy McCollum said. "At the same time, our players realize these are preseason awards and most of it is based on what you did the previous year. My hope is that all of these players, and many more, are on the postseason all-conference lists."

Middle Tennessee will play Alabama in the season opener in Tuscaloosa, Sept. 3, before playing host to North Texas in the home opener, Sept. 10.

SOCCER CLASS HIGHLY REGARDED: Soccer coach Aston Rhoden's 2005 signing class has been rated among the nation's best by SoccerBuzz.com, a highly respected publication in soccer circles.

The Blue Raider signing class is rated No. 1 in the Sun Belt, and is regarded as a Top 15 class in the Central Region. Middle Tennessee's signees, which include nine newcomers to the defending Sun Belt Conference champions, also are a Top 55 class in the country, according to SoccerBuzz.com editor Randy Diggs.

"It's always good for our student-athletes and our program to get that recognition and it's also good for our staff to know the time and efforts placed into getting these quality players has not gone unnoticed," said Rhoden, who is entering his fourth year at Middle Tennessee. "To get this type of attention from a recognizable women's Division I soccer publication such as SoccerBuzz adds to the validity of such a ranking. While we are pleased and very excited we still have to put our newcomers on the field and make them play together, buy into our system, style of play and philosophy before we can consider them to be a great recruiting class. It's not the start of the season, but the end of the season, that determines how good this recruiting class is."

Rhoden's previous recruiting efforts have enabled Middle Tennessee to have the Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year in all three seasons in which he's coached the Blue Raiders, and this year's class is loaded with student-athletes boasting strong credentials.

The 2005 Blue Raider soccer signing class includes: Brittany Buford, GK, Daniel Hand HS in Madison, Conn.; Nenita Burgess, D/MF, Cardijn College in Adelaide, South Australia; Ingrid Christensen, D/MF, Oslo University College in Sandefjord, Norway; Katie Daley, MF, St. Illytds Roman Catholic in Cardiff, Wales; Courtney Fortner, GK, St. Joseph HS in Lakewood, Calif.; Lauren Fox, D, Springboro HS in Springboro, Ohio; Elizabeth Hutter, D, Miamisburg HS in Miamisburg, Ohio; Kala Morgan, F, from Aberoare, Wales; and Caitlin Reeves, D/MF, McKinney HS in McKinney, Texas.

Middle Tennessee will begin preseason camp in August and play its season opener at Lipscomb University, Aug. 26.

WINE TASTING FUND-RAISER SET: The Blue Raider Athletic Association (BRAA) will be hosting a wine tasting fund-raiser to benefit the Emmett and Rose Kennon Sports Hall of Fame at the Middle Tennessee Foundation Reception House on, July 15, at 6:30 p.m.

Cost of the event, which is called "Reds, Whites & Blue," is $50 per person and the money raised will be used for the completion of the Hall of Fame. The tasting will showcase 10 different wines, courtesy of Charlie Patel at Stones River Liquors, and dishes prepared by Through the Grapevine will be available. Each guest will receive a souvenir Riedel wine glass.

There also will be champagne greeting with Middle Tennessee Director of Athletics Chris Massaro, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The wine tasting begins at 7 p.m.

"This is an opportunity for Blue Raider fans to meet and mingle with Chris, enjoy a wine tasting and help raise money for the Emmett and Rose Kennon Sports Hall of Fame," said Lillian Rucci, administrative assistant in the BRAA office. "We believe this is a different form of fund-raiser so it is unique in that way and we believe people will be receptive."

Space is limited to only 100 people so interested persons are encouraged to contact the BRAA office at 898-2210 to make reservations at their earliest convenience.

BRAA HOSTING BUS TRIPS: The Blue Raider Athletic Association is announcing its travel plans for our 2005 Football season. The BRAA will be sponsoring bus trips for the University of Alabama, and Vanderbilt games.

"The BRAA will provide comfortable bus trips for Middle Tennessee fans to travel and watch the Blue Raiders play this fall. We have worked to provide a great value and convenience for our fans", said Alan Farley, Associate Athletic Director for Fundraising.

The BRAA bus trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama will depart on Friday, Sept. 2 and return after the game on Saturday. This allows our fans to take part in pre game festivities. The cost of the bus trip is $130 per person, which includes hotel and transportation or $180 per couple, which includes hotel and transportation. This does not include cost of ticket for the game. Tickets can be purchases through the MT ticket office by calling 898-2103. Cost of game tickets are $30.

The BRAA bus trip Vanderbilt will depart on Saturday, Oct. 1 and will return after the game.

"This bus trip will make it more convenient for our fans and will make for easier access to the stadium by not having to worry about parking," Farley said. "The cost of the bus trip is $25 per person. This is a good deal for our fans. By the time you calculate gas, time and cost of parking, our fans will have saved time and money. Tickets for the Vandy game are $30 and can also be purchased at the MT ticket office."

"The Alumni Association will also be coordinating a tailgate event for all MT alumni and fans traveling to these away games. This will create more excitement for our fans and get them in the game day spirit", stated Farley.

The BRAA will also be checking into bus trips to North Carolina State and Troy University.

To make reservations for the BRAA bus trips, please call the BRAA office at 898-2210. Reservations are on a first come basis. Space will be limited.

SPIRIT PACKS AVAILABLE: The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce is again pleased to announce their endorsement and sale of Middle Tennessee Spirit Packs for the 2005 season. These Spirit Packs are an ideal way for local businesses to support MTSU athletics and help to "Paint the Town Blue" for all Blue Raider sporting events.

The Spirit Packs come in two sizes, priced at $55 and $80, and include blue and white pennant strings, blue and white pom-poms, MT static window clings, MT car-size magnet and MTSU Flags.

"The Spirit Packs are a response to the local business community and their desire to help promote MTSU athletics." said Mark Meadows, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing "We hope to make supporting the Blue Raiders a little easier as everything you will need to decorate your business in Middle Tennessee colors is available in the Spirit Packs."

Middle Tennessee is an important member of the local business community and will host five home football games and the 2006 Sun Belt Basketball Tournament in Murfreesboro this year. Additionally, the Blue Raiders will host football games in the future against nationally ranked Virginia (2007) and Maryland (2008) from the ACC.

"Murfreesboro is very unique in the fact it is one of only 117 communities in the country with Division I-A college football," said Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. "There is nothing like driving through a community and seeing the outpouring of support for the local college team and just as we believe it is important to have community involvement it is equally imperative that our athletic department also is supportive of our town."

To purchase a Spirit Pack, please visit the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce or contact them at 615-893-6565. Spirit Packs are also available for sale at the Blue Raider Marketing office located in the Kennon Hall of Fame building on the MTSU campus. For more information please contact Jodi Greeson in Blue Raider Marketing at 615-494-8951. Spirit Packs will be available beginning June 6 while supplies last.

PREATOR HIRED AT EVANSVILLE: Former Middle Tennessee softball player Stayc Preator was hired by Evansville University Head Softball Coach Gwen Lewis as an assistant coach. Preator will work primarily with the Purple Aces' pitchers. A three-time All-Conference selection, Preator was a standout pitcher for the Blue Raiders, and holds the school record for consecutive innings without allowing a run (59.2) and she also owns the mark for consecutive innings without allowing a walk (42.1).

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