Bucs to play with dealt hand

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   GREENVILLE, S.C.- It was looking like a couple of weeks ago that the East Tennessee State football team might have two 1-A transfers in the cards, but now the Bucs will just have to play with the original deck.
   North Carolina offensive tackle Greg Wooster and Notre Dame running back Julius Jones will apparently not attend ETSU despite rumors floating around Johnson City that they were coming to the school.
   Wooster is an NFL prospect, but wasn't very happy with the firing of Carl Torbush. Wooster refused to play for new coach John Bunting, and considered transferring to ETSU.
   But Wooster, who already has his degree, has decided to attend graduate school at North Carolina.
   "Greg decided to go on to grad school at Chapel Hill," ETSU head coach Paul Hamilton said Tuesday at the Southern Conference Football Rouser. "He really had a hard decision on that. He's a great young man, and he came and visited our campus. And certainly it was a tough decision for him, but he's so deep into his graduate courses now at Chapel Hill that he feels like that's the thing he needs to do."
   Jones was declared academically ineligible at Notre Dame this season, so he considered coming to Johnson City. But Jones' plans will most likely not include ETSU according to Hamilton.
   "They have had contact with us," Hamilton said. "We have talked to them about that possibility. We've had a release on him and those kinds of things. But the biggest thing with Julius is to be able to transfer you have to be in what they call good academic standing. At Notre Dame right now he is not in a position to return back and play for them. They had hoped to try and work something out, because from an NCAA standpoint from what I understand Julius is eligible to play. It's just the academic restrictions and requirements at Notre Dame that's keeping him from being eligible.
   "I don't know how that will end up working out. Certainly they're great people and a great family. I feel very comfortable at our tailback position right now, but you're not going to turn a guy like that down if you have the opportunity."
   Hamilton isn't letting the fact these two guys are apparently not coming to ETSU get him down. Hamilton remains optimistic about the talent he has on the team.
   "What we need to do is dwell on the guys that we know are going to be there," Hamilton said.
   A DRINKING PROBLEM?
   Alcoholic beverages were served at the Southern Conference rouser, and Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore thinks some people might have had too much to drink when they made their predictions on who was going to be on top of the league.
   The Mountaineers were picked to win the league in both the coaches and media polls. In the coaches poll, it was unanimous.
   "Sounds to me like all those guys have been drinking," Moore said. "The thing that surprised me was that unanimous thing. That happened because you can't vote on your own team. Somebody's got to be the fall guy. But we've got a good ball club. We could it, but there are three or four other teams that could do it, too."
   Appalachian was picked primarily due to having a lot of players back, and the graduation setbacks and coaching changes at Georgia Southern and Furman. The Eagles finished second in both polls, while the Paladins finished third in both polls.
   ETSU and Western Carolina tied for fourth in the coaches poll, while the Catamounts just edged the Bucs out for fourth in the media poll.
   The Citadel, Wofford, Chattanooga and VMI finished sixth-through-ninth in both polls, respectively.
   BUCCANEERS ON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
   Six ETSU players made the coaches pre-season All-Conference team, with five of those being on the defensive side of the ball.
   Wide receiver Cecil Moore and defensive back Tony Tiller were first-team selections. Defensive lineman Brandon Calton, linebacker Marco Bryant and defensive backs Gerald Sensabaugh and Montreal Harkley each made the second-team.
   "We've got a lot of names on defense," Hamilton said. "We probably left off the best linebacker we've got on the team in Scott Brumet. I noticed Mike Cornegay didn't make it either, and I think Mike is a pretty good inside linebacker for us. But when you look at our defensive football team, I really like those guys. We've got a lot of experience on that side of the football."
   Appalachian State had the most All-SoCon players with 11.
   NOT SO PRECIOUS MEMORIES
   It was the upset of the year in Division I-AA football last season, and Georgia Southern defensive lineman Freddy Pesqueira remembers it well.
   The Eagles came to Memorial Center as the No. 1 team in the land, but were dethroned from their perch by the Bucs in a huge 19-16 upset.
   "I think about it a lot," Pesqueira said. "I had a friend who played there last year (Bobby Guarino). Everytime I go home I've got to hear about it. It's always on my mind."
   The Eagles outgained ETSU by almost 200 yards on offense, but had trouble finding the end zone. That was mainly due to some costly turnovers by GSU.
   Some people say the ETSU win was a fluke, but Pesqueira thought the Bucs deserved to win on that cold October night.
   "We just didn't do what we were supposed to do," Pesqueira said. "They capitalized on big plays that they got, and we didn't do defensively what we were supposed to in stopping their offense. They made a bunch of big plays on us, like that (Cecil Moore) catch. Offensively, we just couldn't get into the end zone. But we just got beat that game.
   The Bucs have to travel to Georgia Southern this season, and Pesqueira will be ready for some payback.
   "Anytime anything like that happens you always want them to come to your house," Pesqueira said.