GREENVILLE, Ill. -- Fast Start!!! The 2012 Greenville College football program looks to get off to a fast start in 2012 and build on the momentum of seven straight regular season victories to close out 2011. After an 0-3 start, the Panthers finished with a 7-4 (6-2 UMAC) season record and a return invitation to the NCCAA Victory Bowl in Campbellsville, Ky.
"This is what our program is about," Coach Walker explained. "We try not to focus too much on the scoreboard. We simply want to do our best to become our best no matter the situation. Our team showed character, determination and toughness to finish the season the way they did. In 2012, it's all about starting fast."
The Offense will return eight starters from a group that completed one of the greatest statistical seasons in Greenville history. The Panthers look to improve on an offense that averaged over 500 yards and 39 points per game in 2011. The 2012 group has a solid core of returning players at every position and the Panthers will use last season's bowl game experience to make a push toward recapturing the UMAC championship.
As in any offense, things begin with the quarterback play for the Greenville College Panthers, and there is no one better in the UMAC than Brendan Chambers. In 2011, Chambers was named first team all-conference, rushing for 1,274 yards, scoring 19 touchdowns, and passing for 16 touchdowns during the season.
The running back position is stock piled with talent as Bobby Hughley (815 yards, nine TD's) and Manny Gamble (626 yards, seven TD's) both return along with Justin Honeycutt who started the first two games of 2012 until he was lost for the season with a knee injury.
The receivers and tight ends will feature some new faces as the Panthers will lose their two leading receivers from 2011. However, Cody Hutchin will return from ACL surgery, and Nathan Butler enters his sophomore year as both will lead this young group.
Most important to the Panthers is the offensive line. It returns as strong as ever with senior and pre-season All American Jeremy Burrows anchoring the line along with senior three-year starter Trendon Amuzie and junior Jesse Tyrell.
The 2012 offense is filled with strong leadership. Along with the addition of young talent, there is a lot of optimism that the Panthers can put up a lot of points in 2012.
The Greenville College defense returns in 2012 with a new look as head coach Ordell Walker will return to a familiar role as the defensive coordinator along with his head coach duties. Lamar Bell was hired as the defensive backs coach and defensive graduate assistant. Rich Stewart returns to lead the defensive line. Former Panther player and now student coach Jake Foster makes the transition from the defensive line to the outside linebackers.
The defensive line has two returning starters who will be counted on to be impact players. Nose tackle KC Gilbert is expected to be a force in the middle of the defense in his senior campaign. At defensive end, junior Isaac Barber provides experience on the edge of the defense.
Walker will coach the inside backers. He expects junior Cody Lopez to lead the defense and shine as one of the top linebackers in the conference. Lopez is the top tackler returning for the Panthers. Anthony Osuna returns for his senior season to lead the outside linebackers. Osuna had a breakout season in 2011 and should log heavy minutes in 2012. Sophomores Jacob Bronars and Jacob Rodriguez are also expected to compete to get on the field.
Junior Anthony Everett finished 2011 as good as any cornerback in the league. He is expected to play alongside Anthony Moore who makes the switch to cornerback from offense. Bryce Wright also made the switch to defense. They are all expected to compete with a deep recruiting class for playing time.
Overall the Greenville defense will return five starters from last year's group.
"I have no clue who will be impact players for the 2012 defense," said Walker. "There are so many new faces that we have not seen on the field. But what I do know is we have players who know how to work and they have a ton of heart. We have some great leaders on defense. When you have hard workers and great leadership that should lead to good results on the field."