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2019 Season Outlook CRUSADERS GEAR UP FOR YEAR TWO IN THE GULF SOUTH

North Greenville is coming off of its first season in the Gulf South Conference and the results from 2018 garnered mixed reviews, finishing with a 4-6 record overall, and a 3-4 mark in league play.
Kwame Livingston celebrates after a stop against Shorter.
The challenge heading into 2018 was clear as the GSC is widely known as the "SEC of Division II Football" but as the year revealed itself, the Crusaders found themselves in the midst of one of the toughest schedules in all of Division II.
NGU QB Will Hunter (C/O 2019) tosses a pass against West Florida.
NGU took on three teams which finished in final '18 polls including the eventual National Champion, Valdosta State. Lenoir-Rhyne finished at #8 while West Georgia finished 16th. The Crusaders also downed a West Alabama team which was ranked #21. (West Alabama and Florida Tech also received votes).
Theres no rest for the weary in 2019 as NGU faces another daunting line-up. Three of the Crusader's '19 opponents are currently ranked in the pre-season polls including Valdosta State at #1.
2018 Record: 14-0 (8-0) | Ranked #1 in Pre-season
2018 Record: 6-4 (4-4) | Ranked #7 in Pre-season
2018 Record: 8-4 (5-3) | Ranked #25 in Pre-season

KEEP SCROLLING FOR FULL 2019 LINE-UP

A LOOK AT THE 2019 NGU FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

2019 SCHEDULE

The Crusaders open the 2019 season on a Thursday night as Newberry College takes the short trip up I-26 on September 5th.
NGU head to Cullowhee on September 14th for a week two showdown with FCS opponent Western Carolina.
NGU hits the road again on week three to take on Mississippi College on September 21st in the first ever meeting.
A hopeful triumphant return is in store for the fourth week as NGU hosts Delta State on September 28th.
No rest for the Crusaders in week five as they head to Bama to take on the Tigers of West Alabama on October 5th.
KEEP SCROLLING! MORE SCHEDULE BELOW!

SCHEDULE CONT.

West Georgia comes to town on October 12th for the first time in program history.
A trip to Rome, Georgia is in the books for October 19th as NGU looks to even the series record at two wins each.
North Greenville's homecoming weekend should be eventful with defending National Champions coming to town on October 26th.
A trip to Florida wraps up the regular season road-trips for NGU as they head to West Florida on November 2nd.
The regular season comes to a close on November 9th as Florida Tech heads to Tigerville.
THE SEASON AHEAD: WHO COULD STEP-UP AND SHOW-OUT IN 2019
2019 POSITION BATTLES: WHAT TO WATCH FOR DURING FALL CAMP.
THE SIGNAL CALLERS: Perhaps the most intriguing battle of the pre-season will be the battle for starting quarterback. Donny Baker is the familiar face in the room with a pair of transfers looking to break through. Also available is sophomore Bryce Fields.
FACES IN THE ROOM
Donny Baker made the most of his opportunity in 2018 after waiting patiently behind three-year starter Will Hunter. Baker set new career highs after earning a pair of starts and led North Greenville to a comeback win over #21 West Alabama after Hunter exited in the first quarter with an injury.
Logan Byrd, a transfer from Arizona Western Junior College will depth and experience to the QB room. Byrd, a former 4-recruit out of Georgia Committed to NGU in December. Once ranked the 15th best pro-style quarterback in high school, Byrd originally enrolled at UNC before his transfer. His 6-3, 230 lb frame adds size and strength to go along with Baker's athleticism.
London Johnson made his way to Tigerville from Charleston Southern and brings a great deal of experience to the NGU quarterbacks room. The grad-transfer played in 25-games for the Bucs from 2016 to 2018.
Bryce Fields will also look to earn the snaps this season after seeing his first action last season. While it looks like Fields will have another season to learn behind more experienced players, he adds athleticism to an already talented player pool.
THE STAT COLUMN: QUARTERBACKS
BY THE NUMBERS

DONNY BAKER: Completed 46 of 91 passes last season with a pair of touchdowns on 574-yards. He also ran for a pair of scores and finished with 68-yards on 21 carries.

LOGAN BYRD: Tossed the rock for 1,510-yards on 141-completions. He hooked up for four scores. Byrd also ran for another three scores and put up 184-yards on 70-carries at Arizona Western.

LONDON JOHNSON: Threw for 554-yards on 55-completions last season and four touchdowns. Also ran for four more touchdowns and accumulated 427-yards on the ground on 110 carries in CSU's triple-option offense.

BOLO: Bryce Fields & Eric Tutle.

THE RUNNING BACKS: The 2019 running back group could be one of the deepest in a while with three players returning this season, boasting three guys with at least 45-carries. The group is led by EJ Humphrey who shouldered a bulk of the load last season but Jarvion Norman-Miller and Dashonnell Wright also bring valuable experience. The position will be boosted this season by a pair of talented new-comers in the form of a transfer and true freshman.
FACES IN THE ROOM
EJ Humphrey was the leader in three different categories for the Crusaders last season including yards, carries, and touchdowns in his first season of full-time action. He set a career high with 98-yards against West Alabama and his lone touchdown was the go-ahead score for NGU in final minute of the game.
Jarvion Norma-Miller also turned in a solid showing in his first year of quality playing time. He was second on the team in yards and carries but was the biggest home run threat for the Crusaders with a 50-yard touchdown against North Alabama in the final game of the season. He finished the day with a career high 86-yards on just 11 handles.
Dashonnell Write was NGU's short-yardage back last season, but the 6-0, 215 pounder also had big play ability. He was second on the team in touchdowns last season among running backs and posted a 17-yard score against Shorter. His best game of the season came against Shorter when he ran for 90-yards on just 11-carries.
Transfer Tyler Bell transferred to NGU from Wake Forest earlier this season and spent his summer in Tigerville. The 5-10, 210 pounder spent three seasons at Wake Forest but had his career with the Deacons cut short due to injury. Even after sitting out a pair of seasons, Bell brings valuable experience to the Crusaders and a touch of Division I talent.
Dre Williams will bring some local flare to the NGU running backs room, but the true frosh will also bring the big-play ability NGU missed last season. The Greer native doubles as a track & field athlete and turned in some impressive numbers with the Yellow Jackets including more than 2,000 yards on the ground and a Shrine Bowl appearance.
THE STAT COLUMN: RUNNING BACKS
BY THE NUMBERS

#29 | EJ HUMPHREY: Put up 391-yards last season on 138-carries, and three touchdowns. All three were team and career highs. He also caught five passes for 55-yards out of the backfield.

#28 | JARVION NORMAN-MILLER: Norman-Miller was second on the team in rushing last season, posting 276-yards on 59-carries and one score. He turned in the longest run of the season for NGU against North Alabama and caught three passes for six yards.

#48 | DASHONNELL WRIGHT: The big bruiser of the group racked up 227-yards on 48-carries last season and found pay dirt twice.

TYLER BELL: The transfer from Wake Forest played in just two games over the last two seasons. In his first two seasons in Wake though he carried the ball 149-times and finished with 548-yards and a pair of scores. He also caught 20-passes for 142-yards.

DRE WILLIAMS: Williams finished a stellar career at Greer High School with 2,087-yards on 238-carries and 21-touchdowns. He averaged 8.8-yards a carry and finished with 160-yards per game.

THE PASS CATCHERS: The wideouts this season will be a mixed bag with only two players returning with more than 20-receptions. But while the numbers may drop off slightly, the experience does not as four of the team's returning receivers played in at least nine games in 2018. Lucas Catalfomo and Christian Bruce will headline the group but Matthew Martin and Kyle Belack are also back to help anchor the group with quality minutes. Also back in the fringe for North Greenville is tightend Jordan Helms who looks to build on his success from a year ago.
FACES IN THE ROOM
Lucas Catalfomo enters this season as the team's leading receiver in yards and in catches, doubling up the next best in the group. The PC transfer quickly because on the most reliable targets last season and caught at least two passes in each game, including nine catches against Lenoir-Rhyne for his first 100-yard game of the season.
Christian Bruce is back for his senior year and is looking to put an exclamation point on a solid career. Last season Bruce finished as the third best on the squad, catching just over 20-balls. his best showing of the season came against North Alabama when he finished with 58-yards on a season high nine catches.
Kyle Belack was a do-it-all guy for NGU last season, playing all over the field including tailback, wide receiver, and on special teams. At wideout, Black collected a career high 94-yards against Shorter and season's longest reception. He also totaled 3.5 tackles on special teams and recovered a fumble for NGU against North Alabama which led to an NGU touchdown.
Matthew Martin is a another veteran presence in the meeting room for the NGU receivers. Martin played in nine games for NGU last season. He also played in eight games at Charleston Southern before transferring to North Greenville prior to the 2018 season. Martin was a steady target for NG passers all season, but his best game came against Delta State where he collected three catches for a career high 70-yards and a touchdown.
Jordan Helms prepares to take over as NGU's #1 tight end this season after backing up Bobby Foos the past few seasons. Helms is up to the task though as he has been a solid option in the passing game as well as helping lead the way as a blocking tight end. '18 was a break-out year for Helms who set career highs in three different categories including a single game high of 48-yards against Valdosta State.
THE STAT COLUMN: WIDE RECEIVERS
BY THE NUMBERS

#19 | LUCAS CATALFOMO: Catalfomo finished 2018 with a team high 645-yards on 44-catches. He added three scores to the mix and a long of 60-yards. His 14.7 yard average was third among returning starters.

#9 | CHRISTIAN BRUCE: Bruce put up solid numbers last season including 250-yards on 22-catches and a score. His catch count ranks him second among returners.

#5 | KYLE BELACK: The do-it-all wideout played several roles for NGU last season but his best numbers can at receiver where he caught six passes for 115-yards and a pair of scores. He averaged a team high 19.2-yards per catch and also rushed the ball nine-times after lining up at tailback.

#21 | MATTHEW MARTIN: Martin could be looked upon this season as a break-out guy for the Crusaders. he had 10-catches for 155-yards last season and also found the end zone one time. His yards-per-catch average lands him second among returners at 15.5 per grab.

#16 | JORDAN HELMS: Helms enters the season as the most likely starter at tight-end for NGU. He set career highs last season in catches with 13, yards with 165, and touchdowns, scoring three times.

BOLO: Quindarius Jefferson was a local standout at Hillcrest High School and a Shrine Bowl participant. Look for one of many possible candidates to emerge as back-up tightend as camp progresses.

THE OFFENSIVE LINE: One of the focuses in the off season was to bolster the front five. The offensive staff will be tasked with replacing three starters from 2018, players which combined for more than 80-starts between them. Among those returning, Jewl Bell is the most experienced while Jonathan Holton and Phillip Lark look to nab two other starting spots.
FACES IN THE ROOM
Jewl Bell will be the veteran anchor on the line this season as the only senior on the front five. Bell has 20-games under his belt including nine starts. An injury sidelined the Columbia Native for a small portion of the 2018 season but he returned to play in eight games and notched five starts in that time. Bell has moved around the interior offensive line the last three seasons but looked to settle in to his role at center late last season.
Jonathan Holton is the only other player among returners with double-digit games to his credit. Holton played in 10-games last season as a sophomore, starting seven of those 10. His first career start came last season against Lenoir-Rhyne where he got the nod at left tackle. He also spent some time at guard last season opposite Bell. While nothing is given as summer drills unfold, its safe to pencil in Holton into the initial starting line-up.
Dalton McKittrick rounds out the 2019 returners with at least five games notched. Played in six games last season and started the first three before being sidelined. If experience is any measure, McKittrick is a safe bet to be at the top of the depth Chart on September 5th.
Tyler Lilly is the only other returner to this year's offensive line with a start tallied next to his name. Lilly played in just two games last season with one of those games being a start in the season finale against North Alabama. Lilly, a 6-5, 320 pound redshirt sophomore has the stature to be a force at the tackle position and looks to lock down the spot this summer.

BOLO: Matthew Johnson returns this season to bolster the depth at offensive line after playing in three games during the 2018 season. Johnson spent some time at guard for the Crusaders and started in two of those three games. Phillip Lark and Matthew Kesler also have a small amount of playing time under their belt.

FINAL THOUGHTS: OFFENSE LOOKS TO SPEED IT UP

POUND THE ROCK: Numbers don't lie, and the numbers from last season leave something to be desired, especially in the run game. NGU averaged just 82.6 yards per game last season, the lowest in more than 10-years. NGU rushed for 100-yards just four times last season and were 2-2 in those games, one of which was to Division I north Alabama.

AIR IT OUT: The passing attack last season was NGU's lifeblood on offense. The Crusaders averaged almost 250-yards through the air and 17-touchdowns. One area that needs improvement is pass protection where NGU quarterbacks were sacked 31-times through 10-games.

STEP UP: Several questions will need answering as summer drills inch closer to game prep. The two most glaring of those questions will put the focus on starting quarterback and on the offensive line. However, the departure of starters at receiver and new faces in the backfield could make for races at wide-out and at runningback.

NGU'S DEFENSE WAS THE STRENGTH OF THE TEAM LAST SEASON AND LOOK TO DUPLICATE THAT PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON. THE CRUSADERS RETURN SOME OF THEIR TOP PLAY-MAKERS FROM A SEASON AGO INCLUDING THE DEFENSIVE LINE, LINEBACKER, AND THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD.
Aaron Watson leads the Crusaders into Younts Stadium.
THE DEFENSIVE LINE: North Greenville's defensive front has the potential to be one of the best in the Gulf South in 2019 with several key contributors returning from the 2018 season. Names that include Chauncey Haney, Zeke Stringer, and Kwame Livingston can control the line of scrimmage and alter the game plan of any opposing offense.
FACES IN THE ROOM
Chauncey Haney had his best season as a Crusader in 2018, posting career highs in tackles, sacks, and tackles for a loss. The rising senior had his best game of the season against Shorter the he made four stops but led the team with three tackles in the backfield which was also a single game career high for the edge rusher.
Zeke Stringer is one of the strongest men on the team...Ask opposing offensive lineman. The redshirt sophomore is one of the leaders in the weight room and on the field. Last season, the Spartanburg native drew the attention of opposing coaching staffs and often times fought off double-teams to still make a play. As a redshirt frosh, Stringer played in nine-games and led the team in tackles for and sacks and was tied at the top with four hurries.
3Kwame Livingston is another VERY strong presence across that NGU defensive front. How strong? His name is on the top of several weight room boards, and what he brings to the weight room, he brings to the field. Livingston, a true sophomore makes a dangerous one, two, punch when paired with Zeke Stringer and gives offensive lineman very little time to catch their breath. The former North Myrtle Beach HIgh School standout also finished with career bests in ever major defensive category and was third on the team in sacks.
Emmanuel Tatum tallied seven games played last season and is the next man up when it comes to experience on the d-line. Tatum earned time as a true freshman last season and was fourth on the defense in quarterback sacks. He'll look to take the next step this season and build on valuable first year experience he gained in 2018.

BOLO: Josh Chester played in two games last season for NGU and could be a guy that has a breakout season while adding depth to the front. Julius Thompson and Adam Foxx, a pair of recruits from the 2019 cycle could also be a pair of guys who start a few games for the Crusaders this season.

THE STAT COLUMN: DEFENSIVE LINE
BY THE NUMBERS

#44 | CHAUNCEY HANEY: Chauncey Haney became one of the leaders on the defensive line last season, setting career highs with 16.5-tackles including 6.5 for a loss and 2.5-sacks. Haney Also had a quarterback hurry and blocked a kick on special teams.

#90 | ZEKE STRINGER: Zeke Stringer led all returners on the d-line last season with 20.5 total tackles, behind only senior Seth Laughter. Stringer led the Crusaders with 9.5 tackles for loss, five of which were quarterback sacks. He also finished with four hurries.

#50 | KWAME LIVINGSTON: Kwame Livingston was also a force last season and finished the year with 7.5-tackles. he also had 2.5 quarterback sacks which ranked him third on the team in that category.

#53 | EMMANUEL TATUM: In just seven games last season Tatum made 4.5 stops and tallied two tackles for a loss as a true freshman. He also batted down an opposing team pass to tally a break-up.

THE LINEBACKERS: From middle to outside, the NGU linebacking group brings back a decent amount of experience including senior Brandon Burger and juniors in Jacob Harper and Eddie Martin. Guys like Junior Caleb Bynum and sophomore Dantevian Byrd will bring experienced depth to the group which lost its top tackler from last season in Dominique Hunt.
FACES IN THE ROOM
Brandon Burger is the lone senior in the group and brings a great deal of experience to the mix, playing in 33-games, 27 of which he started. He was second on the team last season in total tackles, top five in tackles for a loss, and third in passes defended. Among linebackers Burger was first on the squad in breakups and also forced a fumble.
Jacob Harper was all over the field for NGU last season for North Greenville and has the second most tackles among returning linebackers. He played in nine games last season and 19 over his career. He picked off his second career pass against Shorter and also had season high in tackles on the same day.
Eddie Martin enters 2019 looking to become a three-year starter for the Crusaders. In his previous two seasons in Tigerville, Martin has played in 18-games with 17 of those being starts. He played in eight games last season and had his career first interception against Delta State which led to an NGU field goal.
Caleb Bynum brings unquestioned energy to not only the LB's but to the entire team. In 2018 the rising junior played in six games for the Crusaders and provided a much needed boost. He recorded his first career tackle against West Georgia last October and is looking to garner more attention this summer.

BOLO: Micah Bryant, a redshirt freshman is a guy high on the coaching staff's radar. The 6-3, 200 pound linebacker brings speed and athleticism to the fold and could become a household name in 2019. Dantevian Byrd played in seven games last season for North Greenville and recorded 4.5 tackles as a freshman.

THE STAT COLUMN: LINEBACKERS
BY THE NUMBERS

#51 | BRANDON BURGER: Burger was second on the team last season with 45.5 tackles and five total tackles for a loss. He also recorded 1.5 sacks and added a quarterback hurry. His six passes defended are the most among returning linebackers.

#49 | JACOB HARPER: Harper has the second most tackles among returning linebackers this season with 13.5 stops in 2018. He accounted for 1.5 tackles for a loss and was one of three linebackers to intercept a pass.

#41 | EDDIE MARTIN: Martin is the second of three linebackers to intercept a pass last season which was the first of his career. Martin tallied 11-tackles last year and also had a quarterback hurry.

#52 | CALEB BYNUM: Caleb Bynum played in five games last season and recorded his first career tackle, one of four total on the season.

THE DEFENSIVE BACKS: NGU's defensive backs are arguably the deepest and most experienced group on either side of the ball, returning 11 guys that have combined to play in more than 133-games, 46 of which were starts. All-Conference, All-Region, All-American defensive back Aaron Watson returns to anchor the gruop while Johnny Worthy heads into his junior year as one of the team's top tacklers. Adrian McGee, Jermiah Bogan, and Azende Dixon round out the players who have played in at least 19-games over their careers.
FACES IN THE ROOM
Aaron Watson's side of the field quickly became a "no fly zone" for opposing quarterbacks and those who tested it often found their way back to the sideline. Watson stands 5-11 but made life difficult for even the tallest receivers in the Gulf South. He led the conference in interceptions for the entire regular season and was ranked 9th in Division II football. He also set a career high in tackles last season and was 6th on the team.
Johnny Worthy was another obstacle last season for offensive coordinators around the GSC as he was second among DB's in tackles and was second on the team in passes defended. The junior also forced a fumble and blocked a kick in NGU's first game against Tusculum College
Adrian McGee returns the third most tackles among defensive backs from the 2018 season.He set a career high in total stops as well as total interceptions and passes defended over nine games. He also posted his first career touchdown against Shorter.
Azende Dixon brings 28-games of experience to the DB's, adding more quality depth to the mix. Heading into his senior campaign, the Orangeburg Native has played in more games than any other defensive back on the roster and will be another veteran presence on the field for the Crusaders on an already experience loaded unit.

BOLO: Close your eyes and point to a name. Jeremiah Bogan, Kendall Brooks, and RJ Wooten on the roster, you can't miss. Marquavious Jefferson is also capable of producing some big plays for North Greenville.

THE STAT COLUMN: DEFENSIVE BACKS
BY THE NUMBERS

#13 | AARON WATSON: Watson will switch numbers this season but under the old jersey will be a career high in tackles with 27.5 from last season to go along with a league high six interceptions. He also led the Crusaders with 14-passes defended, which also ranked him first in the GSC.

#14 | JOHNNY WORTHY: Johnny Worthy finished the 2018 season with 26.5 total stops and half a tackle for a loss. The stellar pass defender also picked off a pair of passes and deflected nine, earning him 11-defenses on the season. He also forced a fumble and recorded his first blocked punt.

#6 | ADRIAN MCGEE: Adrian McGee played in nine games last season and tallied 21.5-tackles last season and one half of a tackle for a loss. He broke-up four passes during that stretch and also scored a touchdown against Shorter College when he recovered a block kick in the endzone.

#32 | AZENDÈ DIXON: Azendè Dixon made 12.5 stops last season in nine games for NGU. The rising senior recorded a tackle for a loss during the nine-game stretch and also returned an interception 24-yards for a touchdown in NGU's win over Delta State.

FINAL THOUGHTS: VETERAN DEFENSE LOOKS TO SHINE IN 2019

LEAN ON EXPERIENCE: If it wasn't obvious already, NGU's defense will have one of the most experienced groups in the Gulf South this season. The Crusaders return starters and role players at defensive line, linebacker, and especially defensive back, a group which could be back-bone of the squad.

THIRD DOWN NIGHTMARE: in 2018, the Crusaders proved to be one of the toughest defenses on third down, holding opponents to just a 30-percent conversion average. That number ranked NGU 19th in Division II as offenses converted just 43 of their 142 attempts.

GET IT BACK: NGU defenders were one of the best teams in D-II last season in take-aways with 20. NGU's 13-interceptions ranked them top-50 in that category while they also recovered seven fumbles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: KICKERS | PUNTERS | RETURNERS: The special teams in 2019 will have one familiar face missing with the graduation of Bobby Foos, NGU's punter for the last several seasons, but Matt Gravely is more than capable of filling in. Gravely, who battled some ailments last season is back to full strength and will add a boost to the Crusaders. Seth Dover is back as the team's long snapper but coaches will be in search of depth at both return spots.
FACES IN THE ROOM
MATT GRAVELY: Matt Gravely's first two seasons on campus were record book worthy. The upstate native was 34-47 in field goals and 79-81 in extra point attempts. Included in these numbers were a pair of record breaking kicks including a 47-yard field goal and a punt of 76-yards. Gravely was 7-9 last season but was limited in his work.
SETH DOVER: Seth Dover returns this season to anchor one of the more difficult positions on the field as the team's long snapper. No news is good news in this case, and Dover has kept his name out of the headlines. Dover played in eight games for the Crusaders last season and was consistently down the middle with his snaps helped pressure opposing returners on punts. Dover finished with three tackles last season and forced a fumble which eventually led to NGU score.
RETURNERS: With the departure the top returner from last season, Aaron Watson could be relied upon heavily as well as Matthew Martin. Watson returned 11-kicks last season while Martin saw time as punt returner, catching six for an average of 6.5 yards on returns.
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