Sports With Walter Moore

SSU Alumnus to Umpire 2018 Super Bowl

Savannah State graduate Roy Ellison has been selected as the umpire on the officiating crew for Super Bowl LII which will be played on February 4 at U. S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It is the second Super Bowl assignment for Ellison, who also worked the 2009 game between Pittsburgh and Arizona (Super Bowl XLIII). He also worked the 2005 Pro Bowl. A former SSU football player (class of 1987), The Lakeland, Florida native has been a National Football League official since 2003. Ellison has also officiated games in NFL Europe, Arena Football League, XFL and aF2 in addition to working on the college level in several conferences (SIAC, MEAC, MAC and Conference USA). The NFL awards spots in the Super Bowl to officials with at least five years of experience who grade out the best over the season.

Funeral Services Set For Dawson

Former Savannah State running back Ken Dawson died on January 22 at his residence in Brunswick, Georgia.

Dawson, who worked as a longshoreman, was a bruising back who played for the Tigers from 1978-80. In his three seasons, he ran for 2,035 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. His best year was in 1980 where he ran for 974 yards, and scored 13 touchdowns. Dawson’s 13 touchdowns in 1980 ranks third all-time among SSU running backs in the single season touchdowns scored category. His efforts on the gridiron led to Dawson to become the first player at Savannah State to get drafted. He was selected in the 10th round of the 1981 draft, 252nd overall, by the Seattle Seahawks. However, a shoulder injury kept him from playing in the NFL. Funeral services for Dawson are set for February 3 at 3p.m. at Greater Works Ministry located at 4020 Wylly Avenue in Brunswick.

Former SSU Coaches On the Move

Several former Savannah State football coaches have been on the move in the new year started.

The biggest headline was former Tiger head coach Steve Wilks being named the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL. Former SSU assistants Michael Villagrana, Jerome Riase and Thomas Balkcom have been hired at new jobs recently.

Villagrana, who spent the 2014 season as the Tigers wide receivers coach, has been hired as the recruiting coordinator at Mississippi State. He spent the past two years in that same role at Penn State.

Riase was the defensive line coach at Wofford since 2014 and now is the new defensive line coach at Georgia Tech. The Miami of Ohio grad was the offensive line and offensive coordinator at Savannah State during the 2007 season. Balkcom has been named the interim football coach at Ridgeland-Hardeeville in South Carolina. The former Georgia Tech standout was a defensive coordinator this season for the Jaguars and teaches physical education at the school. Balkcom was the safeties coach and special teams coordinator for two seasons at SSU (2011- 12).

SSU Assistant Gives Instruction At Convention

The American Football Coaches Association held their 2018 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina January 7-10 at the Charlotte Convention center. This year convention organizations added a new segment to the event called Skill & Drills where coaches taught position-specific drills. Position groups were divided into one hour drill sessions with a coach providing 25 minutes of instruction.

One of the coaches selected to provide instruction was Savannah State defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Jonas Jackson.

Jackson spoke for 25 minutes on Jan. 8 about defensive line techniques followed by Antoine Smith from Boston College. “They had 15 yards of turf on the floor and a big screen monitor so that everyone could see. We did about 12 drills.” Jackson stated that organizers sent him an email about a story he did for the AFCA magazine back in 2013 and asked if he wanted to be one of the presenters in this new segment at the convention. “I was honored to do it because there are a lot of defensive line coaches out there.”

Jackson added that it was good exposure for SSU and that everything went well. “I got a lot of positive feedback and I was invited to help with a clinic in Pennsylvania.

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