ETSU football set to kickoff 2023 season Saturday at Jacksonville State



JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (Sept. 1, 2023) – A new football season begins on Saturday as ETSU travels to Alabama to take on Jacksonville State. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET on Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium.


Date: Saturday, Sept. 2

Time: 2 p.m. ET

Location: Jacksonville, Ala. | Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium

Teams: ETSU (0-0) at Jacksonville State (1-0)

Weather: 85° | Partly to Mostly Cloudy | Winds ESE @ 5-10 mph

Live Video: ESPN+

TV Crew: Chase Robinson (pbp); Mickey Shadrix (analyst)

Live Audio: WXSM-AM 640 | 104.9 NASH ICON

Radio Crew: Jay “Voice of the Bucs” Sandos (pbp), Mark Hutsell (analyst), Robert Harper (sideline)

Live Stats: (StatBroadcast)

Twitter: @ETSUFootball


The Buccaneers open their 89th season in program history on Saturday … In the previous 88 openers, ETSU has gone 44-41-3 … The Blue and Gold defeated Mars Hill 44-7 last year and took down Vanderbilt 23-3 in 2021 … ETSU is 6-2 in season openers since restarting the program in 2015.


ETSU is 1-0 all-time against Rich Rodriguez as the Bucs defeated Glenville State 49-17 on Sept. 14, 1996 … James Russell set the program record for most sacks with seven and tackles for loss with seven … That 1996 season was a memorable one for the Blue & Gold as they went on to finish 10-3 overall, 7-1 in the SoCon and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Playoffs.


Saturday marks the fifth time ETSU will be playing on this date with the Bucs going 4-0 in the previous contests … The last time ETSU played on Sept. 2 was in 2017 when the Bucs opened William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium with a 31-10 win over Limestone … The Bucs won at Liberty in 2000 (37-20), defeated The Citadel in 1999 (28-10) and won at Liberty in 1989 (17-16).


With the departure of eight starters on the defensive side of the ball, ETSU only returns three starters from 2022 … The three returning defensive starters include defensive lineman Max Evans, linebacker Di’Andre Davis and defensive back Chris Hope … In addition to those three, defensive back Sheldon Arnold, II made five starts a year ago and linebacker Stephen Scott started five of the six games he played in 2022 … Arnold is the Bucs’ top returning tackler from a year ago as he notched 53 hits (39 solo), while adding two tackles for loss, two interceptions and four pass break ups … Hope is right behind Arnold in the tackles category as he finished 2022 with 48 hits (34 solo), two tackles for loss, one interception and six pass break ups … Between Arnold and Hope, they have each played in 30 games for the Blue & Gold, combining for 123 tackles, five tackles for loss, four interceptions and 12 pass break ups … Scott has registered 78 tackles (42 solo), along with 6.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 28 career games with the Bucs, while Evans has totaled 87 tackles (38 solo) with 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 31 games during his career at ETSU.


The Bucs have to replace eight starters, including their top three tacklers from a year ago … The biggest loss is defensive back Alijah Huzzie, who earned seven all-American honors in 2022, as he transferred to North Carolina … Huzzie finished 2022 with 59 tackles and 16 pass break ups, while his 22 passes defended led all FCS players and his six interceptions were tied for second-most … The Bucs’ top tackler – linebacker Chandler Martin – moved to Memphis after he earned first team all-SoCon honors following a team-leading 99 tackles … Martin also posted 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks … Erek Campbell was second on the team with 61 hits (34 solo) and he transferred to Mississippi Valley State … Other starters from the defensive side include defensive back Mike Price (43 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 1 INT, five PBUs), defensive lineman Rodney Wright (35 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 TD), linebacker Jalen Porter (34 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3 sacks) and defensive lineman Davion Hood (23 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks) … Overall, the Bucs lost 61-percent of their players who registered tackles last year, while four of the six players who notched an interception are gone and eight of the 11 players who had a hand in a sack are no longer back for 2023.


ETSU returns five starters of the offensive side of the ball from a team that averaged nearly 30 points per game last season … A pair of wide receivers Will Huzzie (42 rec., 541 yards, 6 TDs) and Einaj Carter (30 rec., 436 yards, 4 TDs) are both back in the Blue & Gold, while quarterback Tyler Riddell – who started 10 games a year ago – is back for a fifth year … Riddell, a HERO Sports Freshman All-American and 2022 preseason all-SoCon selection, completed 151 passes for just under 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last season … Noah West is back after playing in 11 games with eight starts last season at tight end and offensive lineman Braxton Shipp – who made four starts before missing the remainder of the year with injury – is returning for a fourth season in the Blue & Gold.


The Bucs have six starters to replace on offense with the key loss being running back Jacob Saylors – who finished his Buccaneer career with 3,851 rushing yards, 6,058 all-purpose yards and 33 rushing touchdowns … The 3,851 rushing yards rank third all-time in program history and the 33 rushing touchdowns also rank third among Buccaneer leaders … Last year, Saylors – who earned STATS Perform FCS All-American honors – tallied 1,307 rushing yards on 225 carries and 15 rushing touchdowns … Saylors registered 1,701 all-purpose yards and finished the regular season ranking seventh nationally in all-purpose yards, rushing yards, rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns, while ranking eighth in total touchdowns … Saylors signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Cincinnati Bengals following the 2023 NFL Draft … Other key departures on offense include offensive linemen Joe Schreiber, Tavon Matthews, Blake Austin and Shaun Hastings, while the final starter lost was wide receiver Isaiah Wilson.


ETSU redshirt senior wide receiver Will Huzzie enters his final year in the Blue & Gold nearing a personal milestone … Huzzie has totaled 1,979 receiving yards in 38 career games with the Bucs … With 21 more receiving yards, Huzzie will become just the third Buccaneer of all-time to reach 2,000 career receiving yards … B.J. Adigun (1994-97) is the all-time Buccaneer leader with 2,802 receiving yards and Cecil Moore (1999-02) is second with 2,488 yards … Huzzie also enters the season with 148 receptions, which rank third all-time … Huzzie needs 14 catches to pass Moore for second and 25 catches to break B.J. Adigun’s school record of 172 … In his 38 games played, Huzzie has posted 16 touchdown receptions … The Duluth, Ga. native needs three more touchdown catches to move into the top three Buccaneer leaders and 11 to break Adigun’s record of 26.


Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Riddell also finds his name among the Buccaneer career leaders … The Tampa native has totaled 5,182 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns and 429 completions in 31 career games played in the Blue & Gold … Riddell is fourth all-time in passing touchdowns, fifth in completions and seventh in passing yards … Riddell needs three passing touchdowns to leap Larry Graham (1967-70) for third, 56 completions to pass Randy Meredith (1988-91) for fourth and 230 passing yards to pass Meredith for sixth.


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