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Football team at halfway point of fall camp

Stockstill liked effort in morning practice

August 18, 2010 · Athletic Communications

STOCKSTILL ON THE REST OF THE WEEK: "We will really spend the rest of this week focusing on fundamentals. It's still not about scheme right now. It's giving great effort and everyone knowing their assignments. We simply have to execute better on both sides of the football and that comes with reps and studying what you have to do."`

TODAY'S FUN BLUE RAIDER QUESTIONS WITH SENIOR ANTWAN DAVIS
1. What Blue Raider would do the best on "Dancing with the Stars"? Dearco Nolan
2. Who has the best nickname on the team, and what is it? Josh Walker - Dirty Man
3. Which one of your teammates would be the most likely to appear on "Survivor"? OL Jordan Johnson
4. What teammate would most likely get involved in politics? S Jeremy Kellem
5. From the Twilight series, do you like Team Edward or Team Jacob? Team Jacob
6. Who should be the next judge on American Idol? Shaq
7. What Super Hero would you like to be? Batman
8. What food did your mother have to make you eat as a youngster before you left the table? Broccoli
9. What song would you pick to be played when the Blue Raiders run out onto the field before a home game? "I see you"

TODAY'S FUN BLUE RAIDER QUESTIONS WITH SENIOR ROD ISSAC
1. What Blue Raider would do the best on "Dancing with the Stars"? Craig Allen
2. Who has the best nickname on the team, and what is it? Jamari Lattimore - Bozilla
3. Which one of your teammates would be the most likely to appear on "Survivor"? OL Colin Boss
4. What teammate would most likely get involved in politics? OL Mark Fisher
5. From the Twilight series, do you like Team Edward or Team Jacob? Team Jacob
6. Who should be the next judge on American Idol? Chris Brown
7. What Super Hero would you like to be? Superman
8. What food did your mother have to make you eat as a youngster before you left the table? Lasagna
9. What song would you pick to be played when the Blue Raiders run out onto the field before a home game? "Lets go get em"

SMITH LIKES DIRECTION OF DEFENSIVE LINE: Dwight Smith has started at defensive tackle for Middle Tennessee for two seasons, and is looking forward to his senior year being the best ever. The 6-2, 272-pounder from Swainsboro, GA has earned three letters during his time with the Blue Raiders.

Not big by defensive tackle standards, Smith makes up for it by exceptional quickness, and an uncanny knack for knowing where the ball will be. He recognizes that the front seven on the Blue Raider defense is a point of concern, having lost five of the seven to graduation last year. But he also knows that there is a wealth of young talent waiting to fill their shoes.

"Losing Chris McCoy, who was the Defensive Player of the Year in the conference, and Brandon Perry is going to be huge, because they were more than just great football players, they were great people. They led the team on and off the field, and were big in the bonding of the D-line players.

"This year, Jamari Lattimore, Emmanuel Perez and I are trying to take over the bonding part that McCoy and Perry did last year. We also have guys with a lot of experience like SaCoby Carter and Gary Tucker who will step up," Smith declared.

"We also have a lot of young guys like Derrek Upshaw, a red-shirt freshman, who we call 'Diesel'. He could have played quite a bit last year, but we had enough depth that we were able to red-shirt him. Coach Palermo has done a great job with him this year, and he'll help us a lot. Also, Jesse Kirkland, a junior college transfer, will help us in the middle. He'll take Brandon Perry's place in a lot of situations."

Smith missed part of spring drills after suffering an injury, and has been a little behind in his conditioning as a result.

"But I have been working hard to catch up and feel like I am real close to 100 percent," he added. " I'll definitely be ready before the Minnesota game."

KELLEM JUST WANTS THE BALL: In his three seasons of starting at safety for Middle Tennessee, senior Jeremy Kellem has earned the reputation as a ball hawk for the Blue Raiders, a fact he is proud of, but won't take credit for.

Kellem has eight interceptions, four fumble returns and four blocked kicks in his career. He returned both a fumble and an interception for touchdowns last year. The TD on the fumble return came on a lateral from Jamari Lattimore. He has played in all 37 games, starting 30 of them, including every game the past two seasons. He has played an incredible 2,437 snaps in three years, including 1,019 in 2009.

"There is nothing special about me," says Kellem. "I have been blessed by the Lord with my mindset of 'I Want the Ball'.

"I tried to play offense a little in high school, but didn't do too well, and was moved to defense. Well, the only way I can get the ball on defense is on turnovers. I just want the ball. I love to touch it, to knock it away from my opponent, to have it in my hands with the clock running."

Kellem has seen a lot of progress in the program since he came to Middle Tennessee three years ago, along with Kevin Brown and Rod Issac. All three are from Florida, and have nine letters and 78 starts between them.

"As a group, all of our defensive backs have played a lot. We are the most experienced segment of our defense. We have experience and we have a lot of speed. Guys like (Rod) Issac, Malcolm Beyah, Sammy Seamster and Kenneth Gilstrap could put a relay team together with no problem," said Kellem.

But Kellem points out that there are other factors as well.

"We are very close as a defense, and as a team," he added. "It was that way last year, too. The best teams are the ones that are close. The positions are close, the units are close and the whole team is close. We've got each others back. For that reason, I really believe that we are going to have a better season than we did last year."

Blue Raider fans will take it.

FOOTBALL HIGHLIGHT VIDEO IS READY: "March to New Orleans", presented by The Cavender Financial Group, is on its way to season ticket holders who took advantage of the early bird renewal special after the 2009 New Orleans Bowl and is available for sale in local stores.

The 49-minute video is a permanent record of the memorable 2009 season that included wins over Memphis and Maryland, the first visit to Floyd Stadium by an SEC team, a seven-game winning streak to close out the year, and the New Orleans Bowl victory over Southern Mississippi. Chocked full of highlights, the story of the incredible season is told from the point of view of many of the players and Coach Rick Stockstill.

"March to New Orleans" is on sale for $20 per copy at the Floyd Stadium Ticket Office, Lightning's Locker Room, Phillips Bookstore, The Learning Circle, and Reeves-Sain Drug Store.

NEXT PRACTICE: Following Wednesday nights practice, the Blue Raiders will practice on Thursday at 4:10 PM. The practice is CLOSED.

SEASON TICKETS: 1-888-YES-MTSU OR GoBlueRaiders.com.

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