Local talent drawing attention at Samford

Published 9:34 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

A number of local athletes have impressed Samford University football head coach Pat Sullivan in recent weeks.

The Bulldogs held their first scrimmage of the fall on Saturday, working six quarterbacks under center. Redshirt freshman Richie Fordham, a former Oak Mountain quarterback, completed 9-of-13 passes for 78 yards for the second best performance of the day behind true freshman Dustin Taliaferro, who was 6-of-9 for 155 yards.

“For the first scrimmage, I thought the composure of the young quarterbacks was outstanding,” Sullivan said. “You can see they all have talent.”

Sullivan was also impressed by another local talent – former Briarwood running back Jonathan Sillers. Sillers rushed for 29 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, scoring on a 6-yard run and two 1-yard runs. His offensive production was second only to freshman receiver Riley Hawkins, who led all wide outs with 118 yards on four catches.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to see that Riley Hawkins is a play maker,” Sullivan said. “Jonathan Sillers made some nice runs as well. It was just a very encouraging day.”

Another true freshman from Briarwood, Alex Davis, helped lead the defense with one of three sacks.

Samford practiced twice on Monday, when another Briarwood player caught his eye.

“Wes Nichols is starting to do some things at guard for us, and all of the young quarterbacks are starting to pick up some things,” Sullivan said Monday.

The Bulldogs still have a few players with minor injuries following Saturday’s scrimmage, including former Briarwood defensive back Andy Davis, who transferred to Samford from the University of Alabama before last season.

Samford moves to the Southern Conference this year and opens the season Aug. 28, when the Bulldogs play host to West Georgia at 7 p.m. at Seibert Stadium.