Tigerivlle, S.C.—The North Greenville Football Team will head into the 2015 season with plenty of optimism as it looks to build on its success from last season.
NGU wrapped up the 2014 season winning three of its last four contests including a triumph over rival Newberry College (34-14) while adding a third NCCAA Victory Bowl title with a 42-16 win over Shorter College to cap a 7-5 campaign.
Coach Farrington's staff saw plenty of turnover this season as three new coaches found their way to Tigerville. There are plenty of familiar faces in the locker room however, as 17 returning starters leave plenty of room for optimism, and even more talent for new staff members to work with.
The Crusaders return eight starters to an offense, which had little trouble moving the ball last season. NGU racked 5042 total yards of offense last season, good enough for 420 yards a game, 153 of which came on the ground with 266.7 yards through the air.
The North Greenville offensive attack was spearheaded by now senior quarterback Nelson Hughes. The 2014 USA College Football All-American ranked 21st in the nation last season in passing, While he lead the passing category by a large margin, the Spartanburg native was also one of NGU's biggest threats on the ground finishing with 406 rushing yards and 2 touch downs. Hughes threw for 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Stacked directly behind Hughes in the backfield is NGU's three headed running back monster. Trey Walker, Simeon Byrd, and Tristen Jackson form NGU's running back corps, a group that combined for 1,466 yards last season. Walker led the attack for NGU with 639 yards on the ground and four touchdowns while Simeon Byrd added 439 yards and led the trio with seven touchdowns. Tristen Jackson cemented himself as the squad's power back, rushing for 388 yards while accounting for five touchdowns.
The NGU "O-Show" as it is called by players and coaches alike, returns a slew of experience at wide receiver, giving Hughes several big play potential targets. Leading the group is junior Robbie Brown who had a breakout season in his 2014 campaign. Brown ranked in the top 25 in three receiving categories last season including being in the top 10 with 1166 receiving yards on the season with eight touchdowns. He also ranked 20th in yards per game with 97.4 and receptions per game with 6.7. The youngster, who earned All-Super Region honors from BSN and a USA College Football All-American nod, capped his 2014 campaign with a 139-yard performance with a touchdown in the NCCAA Victory Bowl, earning him the Most Outstanding Player selection.
The receiving corps also returns nine other receivers who played in at least 10 games last season. Among the nine are Tyrell Hillary, Mason Sanders, Tyrecous Garrett, and Ricki Delos Santos. Hillary, Sanders, and Garrett combined for nine touchdowns last season, each crossing the goal line three times while combining for 785 yards on 66 receptions. Delos Santos added 229 yards to the mix on 22 receptions but has yet to find the end zone as a Crusader from his tight-end spot.
North Greenville's offensive line will be a sturdy group heading into the 2015 season. The Crusaders return three of five starters from last season including Matthew Rochester, a senior guard from Greer, South Carolina. Rochester started all 12 games for NGU last season and has been a fixture on the North Greenville front five. Casey Stewart returns to his right guard spot for the Crusaders while Micheal Thomas also returns to his center spot.