MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. – The 2014 football season at Georgia Military College didn’t produce a run at another national championship or a trip to a postseason bowl game, but the 10-game campaign didn’t go unnoticed when it came down to a list of accomplishments.
Most notably, GMC head coach Bert Williams surpassed Lew Cordell as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in wins with 119 after a 20-8 win over Lackawanna College (Pa.) on November 9 in Huntington, W.Va.
Williams, who just completed his 15th season at GMC as head coach, now sports a 119-41 record that includes a 2001 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship.
Williams has also guided GMC to two other appearances in the NJCAA title game in 2002 and 2013, plus nine bowl games.
So now that the dust has settled after that final game five months ago and recruiting brought in a solid crop of talent, Williams and his staff can now look forward to the process of building a championship team for the 2015 season as the Bulldogs kicked off spring practice this past Tuesday.
GMC will have a total of 19 practice sessions through May 14 and wrap it up with a spring game on Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. at Davenport Field.
GMC is coming off a 6-4 season in which the Bulldogs were a streaky team – starting off 0-2 before winning three in a row, losing two straight and then finishing out on a three-game win streak.
But GMC has always played a tough schedule and 2014 was no different as the Bulldogs played five opponents that ended the season in the final NJCAA Top 20 – the most of any program in the nation.
That included No. 6 Nassau Community College (N.Y.), No. 12 Tyler Junior College (Texas), No. 14 Navarro College (Texas), No. 16 Kilgore College (Texas) and No. 17 ASA College (N.Y.).
In the end, the three-game win streak to close out the 2014 season also earned GMC a spot in the final national rankings at No. 20.
“We had a very difficult season in regards to the level of opponent and road schedule and we didn’t handle the challenges well enough to reach our goals,” Williams said. “We did improve as the season progressed, especially our young offensive linemen and quarterback. That should help in 2015.
“Recruiting also went well overall, exceptionally well at skill positions on both sides (offense and defense). We still need some late pickups on the defensive front.”
So now the focus turns to spring practice and preparing for the 2015 season, which is only a little over four months away.
GMC returns 11 starters from the 2014 squad, including six on offense and five on defense.
Quarterback Tyler Herman will be back to lead an offense that finished 16th in the nation in scoring at 40.4 points-per-game.
Herman went 142-for-264 for 2,183 yards and 23 touchdowns and only eight interceptions in nine games.
GMC also brings back tailback Jordan Brown, who had 525 yards on 72 carries and five rushing TDs. Brown also caught five passes for 65 yards and finished third on the team in all-purpose yards with 623.
Akeem Cooperwood, who was named NJCAA second-team All-America, and Omar Staley are back to anchor the offensive line while running back Tresvon Coakley also returns after coming in last season to rack up 286 yards on 64 attempts and six TDs.
Meanwhile, GMC will have to replace running back Jovon Robinson, who has moved on to Auburn University to continue his career.
Robinson played in nine games last year and piled up 811 yards on just 116 carries and added nine TD runs.
Robinson finished his GMC career with 3,198 yards on 388 carries and 43 TDs.
GMC also said goodbye to lineman Chase Nixon, who is heading to Alabama State, along with wide receivers Julian Williams, Dominique Taylor and Zyrecus Letman.
Williams is off to Florida International while Taylor is en route to James Madison and Letman to Appalachian State.
Williams had 498 yards on 37 receptions and four TDs while Taylor collected 23 catches for 510 yards and six TDs.
Letman had 14 receptions for 247 yards and a TD.
A list of incoming and outgoing football signees is posted in stories on February 4 and March 4 at www.gmcbulldogs.com.
On the other side of the ball, Mike Parrish is back on the defensive line along with linebacker Brenten Wimberly and defensive back Devontae Freeman.
GMC’s defense allowed just 19.4 points-per-game and limited four opponents to eight points or less, including a shutout of Atlanta Sports Academy.
Wimberly had 41 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception while Freeman had 39 tackles, one sack and one interception.
GMC will miss free safety Corey Neely, who led the Bulldogs with 91 tackles along with a forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions.
Neely was the NJCAA defensive player-of-the-week for August 23.
GMC will also miss strong safety Jarnor Jones, linemen Devante Covington and Blake Robbins, and linebacker Dezmin Reed.
Jones recorded 40 tackles with two interceptions, Covington had 39 tackles and five sacks, Robbins had 10 tackles and one sack, and Reed had 56 tackles and six sacks for the Bulldogs.
Punter John David Mote, who averaged over 41 yards-per-punt, is headed to the United States Military Academy in West Point.
So GMC will be looking for some new faces to join the veterans to propel the Bulldogs back into a bowl game and a national title hunt.
“We need to reestablish our tempo offense and develop some young, raw, untested guys on defense during spring drills,” Williams said. “Then as we look ahead to 2015, we have to play our best each week and get better as we move through the season. It is another tough schedule, but we have six home games and the travel is spread well. It will be a rebuilding year for our defense, so our offense must take advantage of the returning linemen, quarterback and running backs to set the tone early.”
Along with spring practice, GMC will also host its 11th Annual 3-5-3 Defensive Clinic on April 24-25 on the GMC campus. Individuals interested in this clinic should contact the GMC football office at (478) 387-4705 no later than April 20.
DATE OPPONENT SITE TIME
Sat., August 22 Navarro College (Texas) Milledgeville, Ga. 1 p.m. ET
Sat., August 29 Middle Georgia St. College Milledgeville, Ga. 6 p.m. ET
Sat., September 5 @ Kilgore College (Texas) Kilgore, Texas 2 p.m. ET
September 12 or 13 vs. ASA College (N.Y.) Neutral Site – TBA TBA
Sat., September 19 College of DuPage (Ill.) Milledgeville, Ga. 1 p.m. ET
Sat., Sept. 26 OPEN
Sat., October 3 Nassau Community College (N.Y.) Milledgeville, Ga. 3 p.m. ET
Sat., October 10 @ Tyler Junior College (Texas) Tyler, Texas 2 p.m. ET
Sat., October 17 Jireh Prep (N.C.) Milledgeville, Ga. 1 p.m. ET
Sat., October 24 Arkansas Baptist College Milledgeville, Ga. 1 p.m. ET
Sat., October 31 @ ASA College (Miami) Miami, Fla. 1 p.m. ET
Sun., November 8 vs. Lackawanna College (Pa.) Huntington, W.Va. 1 p.m. ET
All Times Are Eastern Time (Milledgeville, Ga.)