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Russell, McCoy features

By mrasor Published: January 30, 2006


Here is the year's first Rasor's Edge column. I basically tell students that things are different at Akron now. This is a sports school...

When the 2005-2006 school year began, Akron was just another commuter school with mediocre sports teams.

That era is over.

Since classes ended in December, Akron has gone from a ho-hum mid-major school to the elite team in the Mid-American Conference that is beating larger schools in many sports.

I'm sure you heard about how Akron lost a close game in the Motor City Bowl to Memphis 38-31. Coach J.D. Brookhart and his staff followed that loss with several wins - about 20 of them.

Brookhart is orchestrating another outstanding recruiting class that already includes the best quarterback to enter the MAC in five years, the nation's No. 5 kicker, the No. 7 center and a stud running back.

Last year's class was tops in the MAC and superior to some Big 10 teams. This year's might be even better.

What about basketball? The men are gaining momentum and attention across the country. Many analysts expect Akron to make its first NCAA Tournament since 1986. While you were gone, sophomore guard Nick Dials and freshman small forward Nate Linhart have emerged as major contributors.

The Zips are 8-1 in the MAC and 15-4 overall. That includes a win over Mississippi State and a near win over Clemson in the San Juan Shootout championship game. Akron is tied with Kent State for the conference lead.

Maybe you heard the Zips lost men's soccer coach Ken Lolla to Louisville. He was a great coach, for sure. However, the athletic department replaced him with the most qualified candidate: Caleb Porter, Indiana's top assistant and recruiter.

And of course you've seen the Field House, at least from the outside. Inside it, Zips pole vaulter John Russell set a mark of 18-01, a conference and school record. It is the highest jump in the nation this season, collegiate or professional. Russell is a favorite to win the national championship this spring.

The women's track team, ranked No. 19 in the country is good, too.

Face it, you missed a lot. But a lot is still to come.

Earlier, I mentioned last year's football recruiting class. Most of the stars from that class were redshirted. You'll see plenty of them during the Blue-Gold Scrimmage this spring. You will also see Nate Robinson, a transfer from Rutgers via Miami. When Robinson came out of high school two years ago, experts unanimously considered him the No. 1 defensive tackle recruit in the nation. His two years of action at Rutgers only confirmed the scouting reports. Robinson could be a phenom. You will see him in blue and gold this spring.

And it was announced Monday, that the men's basketball team will play at Nevada in its Bracket Buster game on Feb. 18. The game probably will be televised across the nation on one of the ESPN networks. If the Zips win, they will have a good chance of playing in the postseason, even if they don't win the MAC Tournament in Cleveland.

The Buchtelite will also keep tabs on how new baseball coach Pat Bangtson is faring. In a couple weeks, we'll talk to new athletic director Mack Rhoades, who is more than worthy to follow Mike Thomas.

Maybe we will see some surprises from the rifle, softball or swimming teams as well. Long story short, the Zips are on fire. Two months ago, ESPN's Chris Berman said Akron was the hottest program in the country.

It's only going to get hotter.


Here is a feature on pole vaulter John Russell from the Buchtelite. It also talks about the No. 19 ranked women's team.

Women's basketball

Here is a feature on star freshman Niki McCoy from the Buchtelite.

Swimming and diving

Here is a story about how the season is going from the Buchtelite.

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